Yep, you read that right.
You might be surprised to hear this coming from a guy who makes his living creating websites, but I don’t want to lead you astray.
My goal is to help you create the best solution to succeed in your business.
Look at it this way:
Does everyone need a car? No.
Does it help the MAJORITY of folks? Yes.
Though some lifestyles don’t require having a car, it can sure make getting around easier. This applies to your business as well.
COMMON QUESTIONS WHEN IT COMES TO HAVING A WEBSITE:
- When should you consider a website?
- Who absolutely can’t live without one?
- But what about Social Media?
WHEN YOU SHOULD CONSIDER A WEBSITE
As I mentioned a website isn’t for everyone (at least not in the beginning).
That said, let’s look at the phases of your business and find exactly what stage you really need to consider one.
Phase One: Humble Beginnings
Warning: The following contains references to 80s movies. We cannot be held accountable for your lack of movie knowledge of classics and therefore subsequent confusion about such antiquated references. You have been warned.
So you’ve just started, you’ve got an amazing product/service you can’t wait to reveal to the world, and you’re so excited you can hardly sleep.
You’re Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, baby — “Build it and they will come.” (like we said, 80s references).
Yet you launch your company and…crickets.
When you first begin, you’re small and you’re getting the word out.
Going back to our car comparison, you might actually be better off to start the conversation with those closest to you — and in that case, all you would need is a bike.
This is the worst time to shout into the great expanse we call the internet that you exist.
If you fell off a boat in the ocean you wouldn’t waste time trying to see the best way to get your message to shore a million miles away, would you?
No. You’re going to call out to the person nearest you to lend a hand.
So what should you do?
Well, first ask yourself about your future goals.
The major question is how big do you want to scale your business?
So maybe you begin small by building an Instagram following to get the word out.
If you’re only dealing with people in a small part of town a bike is just fine, but the minute you need to get across town you’re going to need bigger transportation.
Phase Two: Growing Pains
You get a little bigger, sales are growing, people across town are starting to take notice.
Now all of a sudden, that bike isn’t as efficient — you might want to consider an upgrade.
I know what you’re thinking, “how does this analogy apply to my online presence?”
Well, nearly 80% of Americans do their shopping online according to a study conducted by Pew Research.
Furthermore, do you know what ranks among the top places shoppers get product info from? Your website
In fact, a survey done by Local Search Association found that 73% of customers choose to go directly to a company’s website in any given month to learn product information and see content about a company’s brand.
When I first launched my comic business years ago, I started by creating a following on Instagram and posting my comics on Tapas (a comic sharing platform).
But as I grew and began to gain traction, I started merchandising and soon I wanted to find a better way to track my data, make a strategy, and control how I marketed/sold my merchandise.
So I eventually needed a website.
An artist can bring awareness through Instagram and sell through Etsy, Amazon, etc.
But when you’re on an online selling platform you’re competing with a whole host of other people, not just your direct competitors, you’re competing with a shopper’s attention span.
Do you want to risk your customer finding you on Amazon, only to see another product next to you and click away?
Another key factor to consider is that when you’re on Etsy or Amazon you are limited to the data they present, but on your own website you can use analytics to see your consumer
But maybe you don’t have a lot of money to begin an online store.
These are great options for beginners because they are easy to set up.
Both have their advantages over the other and give you more control on how you sell your products.
Shopify is great for beginners who just want a shop page.
Woocommerce has more flexibility and control and is one of the best for scaling with your business.
WHO ABSOLUTELY CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT ONE
The simple answer — Service Providers
If you sell products you can get away with a little more than service providers.
Say you have an IT company, how would you advertise and get the word out?
Are you going to start with a Facebook page? Probably not, no one would take you seriously.
Are you going to put yourself on Etsy or Amazon or have a Shopify site? No, what could you put on there?
For you, a website is almost essential because:
- It gives people a space to find you
- Shows you have authority in your field
- Shows you are established
- Gives legitimacy to your company
- Your competitors have one
- Customers can find the answers and solutions to their problems
- Customers can call you directly and get directions
BUT WHAT ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA?
Very often I hear people say I don’t need a website, I have a Facebook, Instagram, etc.
Here’s the thing, while these platforms can be great to grow an audience, you have little control over how you’re represented.
Consider this, with all that’s happened with privacy concerns on Facebook, do you know what your strategy is to deal with this?
Are you comfortable relying on Mr. Zuckerberg to care about what’s in the best interest of your company’s brand image?
Also, have you considered your target demographic?
Rewind a few years back, Facebook was where all the cool kids hung out.
If you are targeting a younger audience, then I hate to tell you, they aren’t on Facebook.
But you might say, no worries, I have an Instagram.
Remember what people often cite as the main cause for the decline in social media engagement on Facebook? In spite of it beginning as a platform for friends to socialize with each other, it became too commercialized.
People like me and you started advertising on the platform and now there is a mass exodus (actually for many younger people, it’s impossible to exit something they’ve never used).
So while social media isn’t going anywhere, it might become a ghost town that you are stuck in when everyone leaves.
Your website gives you full control to style it and restyle it to keep up with trends, and to ensure you are being true to your brand and its values and core motivations.
While you might be pressured to get a website immediately, the best thing is to start by doing some market research and let your online presence grow with your business.
Do what’s best for your brand at the stage it’s at.
And while you might be tempted to think you’ll never need one, if you want to ensure the longevity and accessibility of your business, the fact is, you’re probably going to need one.