So you’ve set up shop and you are doing well for yourself, you’ve got a steady stream of loyal customers who refer you to anyone within hearing distance, for now you’re sitting pretty.

But you’re a business person and you know it isn’t good to rest on your laurels and rely on plan A without having a B and C thoroughly worked out. You know that the next inevitable step to keep the cash a-flowing is doing a bit of marketing and so it’s high time to get on the online branding train and start raising your ‘online presence’, which means creating or improving your company website.

Internally though you’re rolling your eyes, you’ve got this creeping suspicion that it might actually not be worth the investment, especially if you’re doing well without it, right?

Trust me

First things first, websites aren’t just a money-making machine (although all websites should perform this function to some extent). If you get most of your clients through referral then your website’s primary goal is to confirm what your referee is saying about you. Kind of like an online backup, a trust-o-meter.

People generally like to fact check and have third-party assurance, and one way they do that is to Google you. If for example your referee has told your potential customer that you have a shed load of experience designing bespoke metalwork for bars in the city centre. So they do a little search on you and find a gaggle of case studies on your site which talk about those very projects, which backs up the claim and makes you look like a specialised expert. Or say you’re a jack-of-all-trades and have press releases, case studies and testimonials showing exactly that, then the customer will find it and think Aha, just as I was told!

Your website is part of your customer service and using it to forge a positive customer experience acts as the first building block for a trusting business relationship. And that first brick happens before they even getting get in touch with you because your website is basically carrying out the first customer service step by just floating about on the internet.

Are you alright?

And in this digitally switched-on world most people will check you out online. And when they do, they’ll use it to form part of their opinion on your company by looking for your website, social channels and third-party review sites.  If you have no online trace, they will start thinking one of two things –

  1. There is something wrong with you
  2. You aren’t moving with the times

The particularly judgemental people among us, will probably think both. And if you are lucky enough to have clients that don’t care if you have a website or not, who just want to see honest work done properly, then fantastic. But times are a-changing, so the next bout of clients from the infamous millennial pool or generation Z will care.

Think of it this way – every person who looks you up and doesn’t find you is a missed opportunity. A website could’ve either helped the potential customer identify who you are in the market or decide whether they should spend money with you.

Back in 5 minutes

Having said that, no website is always better than having a bad website. My personal web design pet peeve is the ‘this website is under construction’ landing page – the equivalent of airing your dirty laundry in public, nobody needs to see it and it makes you look like you don’t know what you’re doing.

If you are working on your site but you want people to know that you care about your online presence, then use your social channels as a proxy. Especially Twitter and LinkedIn, which have great Google rankings and will help show your professional face in public. As long as people can find a trace of you and are able to discern your principles then you are absolutely fine and dandy.

While I’m on a roll, another cardinal website crime is sites that aren’t mobile friendly or bring you out in a sweat just trying to navigate through it. The whole point of a website is to show your best business self, and so the website needs to navigate like a dream, function well and look like you are ahead of the crowd. If your website isn’t doing that, bring it down for now and work on it, or better yet get the Bamboo boys to step in.

Dollar signs

Once you have your website up and running and it’s strutting its stuff on Google, it’s effectively acting as a free advertising beacon. It cost a lot of money to regularly advertise in trade magazines and industry journals, and so if you get your SEO bang on and write relevant content, you will help guide the flock right to your website and your brand with no extra money spent. Think of your website as full-page Ad spreads that have a potentially global and niche audience.

And if you’re willing to loosen those purse strings you can get cracking on some Google Ads campaigns which, when done right, can be cheaper than traditional advertising and reap better rewards or return on investment.

Not sure how? Ask us if you like, and we’ll help you give it a whirl.

Lead the way

Your website is also a chance for you to show who you are to the outside world and have some sort of control over what they see. This may sound slightly creepy, but if you are truthful then it doesn’t have to be dodgy.

For example, if you manufacture products that are hands down the best in the market, then tell your audience! Put up all the snazzy accreditations you’ve achieved and explain to them what makes your product the bees-knees. When you create sharp, crisp copy that lets you flaunt your best attributes it sets your company apart from the rest.

Or let’s say that you produce some pretty delicious cakes and sell them locally, you are doing well but you want to keep building awareness in the region. You actually really care about supporting local producers to make those cakes, so you buy your eggs and milk from the local farm shop and you purchase your flour from a fellow small and local business. Your first port of call is to tell your audience exactly that! because the type of customers that buy from you will care that you support local causes and will more likely become loyal and tell other people about you. It also strengthens your brand identity, so when people think of you they think of delicious cake and wholesome business practices.

Look into my eyes

If the eyes are the window the soul, then websites are the online doors to your business.

In the end, your website is part of your professional image and is important to get right for any size business. A good website can bring more business to your door, help elevate your brand, set you apart from the rest and provide a back up to what your established customers are already saying about you. And who wouldn’t want that?

Photo by Miguel Sousa on Unsplash