Everyone will tell you that if you have a business today you need a website. At a minimum, a website gives your business legitimacy. It makes it true. I am a small business owner, just go to my website and you’ll see.
A website is the modern day equivalent to an office or a storefront.
Yet, even in the days of bricks and mortar, it was very quickly realized that the “build it and they will come” philosophy fell short of bringing success to any type of business in the long run. Sure you could have a great location for your concept and that always helps. You can pick and secure a great URL for your website, too.
Ultimately, we need more than a great location, or perfectly applicable URL, to create a successful, growing business that can sustain itself in the long run.
What is a Website for Today’s Businesses?
A website is a marketing tool.
A website is a hub.
A website can be a store front.
I agree that a website is standard legitimacy for a business. As a marketing tool, you can use it to communicate…
- the vision and mission of your business.
- the personality and values of your brand.
- to your ideal client why you are relevant to them.
As a marketing tool it can also be the hub for…
- your content.
- your products and services.
- your overall business plan.
And in actuality, it can work like a bricks and mortar business, as today websites…
- have stores in them for virtual shopping.
- can sell directly to end consumers.
- can receive payment and fulfill orders instantly.
These are all the functions of the website as a tool, but this is not the full marketing plan. In order to create a long-term successful business, you have to have a full marketing plan to:
- Build awareness of your brand
- Establish your point of difference from competitors and sell your wares
- Drive traffic to your products and services whether these are ultimately online or in person
- Provide customer service and a winning customer experience
- Keep your brand in front of your ideal customers to encourage and create repeat business
If you think all of this will happen just by launching a website, you will be disappointed, and somewhat unfair to your website, that may be doing everything a website can possibly do as a tool.
Without a Marketing Plan Your Message Is Never Seen
To ensure that your website works for you, you have to include in your marketing plan tactics that will achieve the goals listed above. This is just a partial list, however, you may include tactics such as:
- Social media marketing
- Other digital marketing
- Ad words or other paid advertising to send people to your website
- Landing pages to sell specific products or services
- Email marketing campaigns to build trust and a relationship with your ideal client
- Podcasts or YouTube channels that ultimately interact with your website
- PR – digital or traditional
- Interviews with other online brands or local media
- Sending press releases about your business – local media and online
- Getting other online companies/experts to review your products or services
- Traditional media to get your brand name and message out – traditional media still works for some brands and companies. Everything from billboards to television commercials; radio and print ads. The key is to determine where your ideal client is and market to them there
- Promotions and campaigns that help your customer interact with your brand
- Contests and games
A Logo and Business Cards Fall Short in Creating a Brand
Many ad agencies today will tell you that a branding package is creating a logo and developing business cards and stationary for your brand. These days we throw in the website as another staple to the branding package.
To me, this falls very short of creating a brand. It is just the first step and when you are deciding on marketing for your business if your budget only includes the resources for these first steps, you will quickly feel disappointed.
I hear from small business owners:
- A website has never brought me any business
- Marketing is a waste of money it never works
- I invested a ton in marketing last year and it didn’t improve my sales (they only got the website up and never did any true marketing)
I believe this is because most small business owners believe that building the website is the marketing.
A website is just a tool.