Creating websites for small businesses
Once I worked in a web-studio that was engaged in the creation of Internet sites. I was a customer acquisition manager, to put it simply, a salesman. Entire days were spent in communication with potential customers to create or rework their sites. The most difficult group of clients has always been “Small companies and private entrepreneurs”. On the proposal to create a site, we were answered with a sincere surprise in the voice with the question: “Why do I need it?”
Since then, much water has flowed, but the question: “Why …?” did not sound rarely. In order not to waste your precious time and my operational memory, I propose to consider three questions more simply, answering which you will understand whether you need a website.
What is a website for a small business?
If you are an entrepreneur, you know that to make a product is half the battle, the main thing is to find a way to sell it. To do this, you should be well aware of “your audience”, potential consumers of your product, and regularly remind her of your existence.
In this sense, the site for an entrepreneur is a full-fledged media channel. Most often, small businesses operate in a mode of reducing costs, and media channels such as television, radio, outdoor advertising and the press are too expensive. Of the alternatives are the Internet, telephone and rumors. Rumors – the channel is excellent, just to measure it is impossible. Every entrepreneur uses the phone, and often very successfully, but that’s another story …
Why do I need a website if I trade pies?
Suppose that at your enterprise at different times from three to ten people work , from morning till evening you bake pies, buns, and when there are specific orders – cakes and pastries. How can the site help you?
First, by creating a website, you declare your project to the Internet community as a long-term business. You can argue that there are a million “such” sites, and you will be right. But people are baking cakes also, much more, and, nevertheless, it did not stop you? How to select your website from a million is a topic for a separate conversation, and we will come back to it.
Secondly, you can tell site visitors about the differences between your products, for example, about the unique method by which your cakes are baked, or about the uniquely tasty stuffing that you put in them.
The main thing – to find your ID, which will associate the consumer only with you.
Thirdly, you can arrange feedback on the site. For example, put on it a form for ordering pies.
Here is an example of using such a service: a year ago I told one of my acquaintances, who runs a wine shop, about the possibility of organizing online orders. The lady was very adventurous. Without hesitation, she ordered simple flyers in which she wrote the following: “The best wines of all countries of the world are next to you. We will help you make a choice. Wine tasting is held on Tuesdays and Fridays. You can find our shop at www … who will send an application for the participation from www … will get a gift from the company. ”
After that, she sent her courier to all offices and shops that are within a kilometer from the “shop”. The effect exceeded all expectations. The action brought her about 50 regular customers, and the order form is now used for reserving tables in the cellar. The tasting was not at all free, so talking about playing on the love of others for freebies is not necessary. The main goal of this action was to attract and retain the target audience. It succeeded: the consumers’ expectations were justified, and they became regular customers – the most valuable capital of any entrepreneur.
What will be the cost of creating the site?
The cost of building a site depends on several factors: what structure will you determine for your future site, who will be your contractor, do you intend to work with the site in the future?
There is a classification of sites depending on the tasks for which they are created. There are three main directions:
Individual. Site card or showcase. Such sites mainly contain information about the company or product.
Corporate. Designed for companies that want to get a powerful tool for expanding their business. Often these sites include product catalogs and online stores.
Business sites that are themselves the basis of business. For example, news and content sites, which, in addition to providing information, may be advertising sites, internal portals, etc.
The first stage of your trip to the Internet is determining the scale of the site. Considering the pie context taken as a basis, we are interested in an individual business card site: the minimum costs in exchange for opportunities, though not exhaustive, are quite sufficient for the first time.
The second stage – the definition of a specific goal that your site will solve. Five main types of targets can be defined:
1. Reducing the costs of the enterprise (sale of finished products with an automatic machine). The goal is applicable for an online store where the site works as a sales manager-consultant. Here is an example of such a site. In our case with buns, it is difficult to imagine a more comical situation when you are asked to make a catalog with buns and pies, and the visitor will have to independently collect the goods in the online basket. Of course, this scheme is applicable, but it is applicable on a large scale, for example, for confectionery factories. In addition, the “engine” for an online store is not cheap, so for a small business baking buns, this service will be a burden.
2. Making contact. This means that the scheme of your site, the way in which you direct the audience, the materials themselves (in general, everything), brings the visitor to contact you. An example of a site with a good idea and not very good navigation. That is, the main information on your site should be a page with an address, telephone and map. In the case of buns – this is the perfect option to start.
3. Support. The main purpose of this site is to ensure that your customers visit it again and again. Such sites are created mainly by companies that provide services (maintenance and repair of household appliances, training, etc.).
4. Research. The purpose of such sites is to form audience groups in the community, conduct surveys, and prepare and sell all kinds of reports on these studies – are offered as finished products.
5. Advertising platform. Of course, in its pure form, no one sets such a goal. At the very least, this is not entirely correct in relation to the audience. Usually they create a platform for the community for certain interests, which later, having gained a critical mass of visitors, begins to attract advertising.
After you have determined the main goal that your future site will pursue, I advise you to make a list of sections on the site. Not sure what it is and how it is done? Then go to the third stage.
The third stage: the choice of the contractor. The cost of a business card site ranges from $ 600 to $ 1,500, if you do not take into account the popular studios that take money not only for the quality of the product, but also for the brand. The price that you call will depend on your level of training. A huge number of studios and private developers are engaged in creating sites. Finding such offers will not be a problem; you just need to type “site creation” or a similar query in any search engine. A much bigger problem is the choice of studio. I will not tell you who exactly you should give the money to, and to whom not to – in any case, you will make your choice on your own. But a few recommendations that will help you avoid the most common mistakes and prepare for a conversation will not interfere.
Do not be lazy to read the educational literature, which will help you to better understand the problem. For example, the “Encyclopedia of Internet advertising.” Even knowing two or three basic terms will allow you not to look like a layman ordering a fashionable toy, not a business tool.
Excessive savings are bad. It is always. A “tolerant” website for less than $ 600 will not be made for you. By paying less, you run the risk of being alone with a problem that you obviously cannot solve without the intervention of a specialist. Specialists are not free …
Before ordering your own website, make a list of 10-15 sites of companies with a similar type of business. Then, following the list, carefully examine the “usability” of these sites (usability means the usability of something). Having understood what there is good on the sites of your competitors, make a map that will contain all the main components of your future site (site map).
Try to create a website yourself. At Google there is a service with which you, having a map of the results of your research, can create a prototype site on your own. Using a website created on such a service is not the best solution. But this is an effective way to test your model. You will become the first visitor to your own site and check the convenience of obtaining information for visitors.
The best advice, as usual, is not free. Consult an agency that optimizes websites for search engines. It is important. There are many examples of beautiful sites that are completely impossible to find if you do not know the exact address of the site or, in extreme cases, the exact name of the company. Specialists of the agency will help you even before creating a site to avoid many mistakes. Typically, these agencies can either independently develop a website for you, or recommend an experienced and reliable contractor to you.
I hope you are not afraid of the amount of work? If you are committed to developing your business, you are on the right track. And yes good luck to you!