Hey, it’s Hoz here with a brand new Ask Hoz session and in today’s session I’m going to be answering the prodding question: Why do I need a website for my business – I’m just a small local business?
Few can argue against the importance of having a website (especially these days). But what about small local business owners? I’m talking about butchers, and hairdressers and even funeral parlours… small businesses who serve a small community in a small town.
This makes for a very good question. And the answer may surprise you.
So let’s get right to it!
Here's what we're going to be covering...
- 1 Why Small Businesses Need a Website – Even Local Ones – The Reasons, Benefits and Importance of Having One
- 1.1 Why do I need a website?
- 1.2 Why do I Need a Website for My Business? I’m Only a Small Local Business!
- 1.3 Why Small Businesses Need a Website
- 1.4 The 2 Reasons to Have a Website if You’re in Business
- 1.5 The Immediate Benefits of Having a Business Website
- 1.6 Conclusion
- 1.7 How to Create a Free Website in 5 Minutes
- 1.8 Resources
Why Small Businesses Need a Website – Even Local Ones – The Reasons, Benefits and Importance of Having One
15 years ago I used to try to convince business owners that they needed a website. I’d literally sit there telling them they needed a website and I’d be bombarded with objections and counterarguments.
They kept coming back to the one question that had no satisfactory answer:
Why do I need a website?
A few years later, this objection vanished, literally overnight. The new argument became about the benefits of having a good website once the business site became a little dated.
It was a sign of the times, and when the web became the marketplace, the objection simply vanished.
The importance of the web was the factor that changed for these businesses.
But not for all…
I was recently asked that old question again, and it really caught me off guard for a moment, because I hadn’t heard it in such a long time that I actually thought it had been eradicated, like the black death.
Why do I Need a Website for My Business? I’m Only a Small Local Business!
That was it. It hit me right between the eyes. It was the old argument I used to battle against once upon a time, reincarnated and seizing hold of unsuspecting small local business owners.
To them, the web is not an essential marketplace. To them, it’s not even a marketplace. Their customers are outside their door. They walk in. Foot traffic is what puts food on their table and pays the bills.
So the old question seemed – at first – harder to answer than ever.
But it isn’t. It really isn’t.
Because, just like before, times have changed. Something that is a key driver for consumers today makes this question invalid.
Let me show you why.
Why Small Businesses Need a Website
Let me put this to you: is a business card essential to your business?
If yes, then the answer to ‘is a website essential for a small local business owner’ is yes. And that is because websites are today’s business cards, as I’m about to demonstrate.Websites are today's business cards.Click To Tweet
Let me start by saying that the reality is that a lot of small local businesses don’t need websites.
Unless one condition is true.
As I said at the beginning, a butcher or a hairdresser or a funeral parlour in a small town center are types of businesses that don’t normally need a website, especially if their catchment area is small.
For them, word of mouth keeps foot-traffic moving.
Here’s what changed when it comes to consumers…
Social Proof.For businesses, websites are a form of social proof that leads to consumer trust.Click To Tweet
And what’s the condition that I mentioned before?
Even if a website does not equate making more money or doing more business because your custom actually comes from foot traffic, if you have competition then a good website can be the differentiator, the one thing that sets you apart, the one reason your customers – especially new ones – need to make a buying decision.
The 2 Reasons to Have a Website if You’re in Business
- social proof
- differentiating yourself from your competition
Those 2 factors make the old question irrelevant.
Now let me demonstrate how these 2 factors actually work and why they make having a website important for your business.
If you have a website and your competitor doesn’t, that immediately gives you an edge. Add to that a little bit of social media and get yourself some likes, and now you have social proof.
In the real world, that edge leads to (mostly indirectly):
- more real business
- more money
The irony is that in reality, trust has no correlation to owning a website, nor does it have any correlation to having a Facebook page with a million likes – especially on a platform where you can buy likes.
But…Social Proof is real and it actually works, whether we like it or not.Click To Tweet
Let’s say you’re looking for a local plumber and you pick out two plumbers from the search engine results.
You open up both landing pages (websites) and each of them has a Facebook icon on their website, showing how many ‘likes’ they have on this social platform.
- one website shows two likes
- the other shows 10,000 likes
Which one are you swayed by?
It’s social proof at play, even though in theory the second plumber could have bought every single one of those likes.
But you’re not going to sit there doing your due diligence and actually checking through those likes to see whether those people are real or not, whether they’re actually customers of that plumber.
You’re not going to do it.People (including you and I) are in a rush, at least generally, and we make snap decisions.Click To Tweet
And things like having Social Proof at hand really works.
Even if your business is tailored to old age pensioners who, let’s say, would never search online – and of course that’s not true today, but I’m trying to come up with an example where you really had one audience that you could honestly say never go online.
Let’s say, for example, that your business catered to OAPs in local care homes. You could well ask why do I need a website when my customer base is not online?
I would argue that having a website is going to enable the sons and daughters and nephews and nieces of your target audience find you online, which indirectly is going to bring you more business and make you more money.
This is what I meant by saying that your website is your business card.
And on that note, even a funeral parlour needs to have a website because funeral parlours are typically open 9:00 to 5:00 – and that also happens to be the time that most people work.
When somebody requires those services, they still need to be able to search for and find those services online and inform themselves, and if you’re a funeral parlour and you have a website and somebody finds you and they can read about your service… you may just have yourself a brand new customer in the morning when you actually turn up and open up your shop.
And the same goes if you’re a butcher. You may think that all you need to do is open up the door and let people in, but those people are awake when you close your shop you close your shop at 5:00 p.m.
The rest of the world doesn’t go to bed at 5:00 p.m. They’re awake and they want information.
If your customer base is checking out online who’s their local butcher and there are two or three butchers in town, but you have a website, you’re already ahead in the game of trust.
If you list all the things that you do and explain why your meats are the best, where they’re sourced from and what your ethics are around all kinds of things, then when you do open the door you’re going have extra people coming in through the door because they made a decision when your shop was closed looking at your website – maybe even when you were in bed.
Is a website essential for a small local business owner?
The Immediate Benefits of Having a Business Website
- social proof
- accessibility (i.e. listing contact details such as telephone numbers and email, as well as opening and closing hours)
- trust (people trust that your business is not about to go bust based on the perception that you’re ‘up’ with the times)
- differentiator (if your competition doesn’t have a website, having a website become a key differentiator)
- branding (people see you, people remember you)
- engagement (use social media to engage your customers, become a part of their lives if you want to build loyalty and your business to thrive)
- marketing (your website sells for you 24×7. Additionally, you can offer a newsletter so that you can send your customer base promotions and offers, bringing more business
I could go on and on and list a few dozen benefits of having a business website, but the above short list should already be enough to convince you of the importance of having a web presence.
You need a website. Period. So if you haven’t got a website, go and get one.
If budget is a concern right now, then here’s how to create a free website. That article will give you a start.
How to Create a Free Website in 5 Minutes
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