Whether you’re just starting out, or looking to grow your business, there’s so much to consider – finance, premises, equipment, staff, the list goes on. It’s easy for the promotion of your business to slip down the to-do list.
But how you market yourself is a reflection of your business and who you are, and online consumers make decisions in the blink of an eye, or click of a mouse.
Customers are savvier than ever, and even if you’re not selling online, you will be judged by your online presence.
That doesn’t mean that you have to have every social media account going, or develop an e-commerce store when you sell cupcakes at local markets.
But it does mean that you need to carefully consider the whole range of tools at your disposal for promoting your business to the people you ultimately want to buy your product or use your service.
The first thought for most businesses is to create a website. But where do you start?
There are so many options, from your friend’s son who is studying web design at school and can build something for you at weekends, to template sites you can put together yourself – and of course, you can get the professionals in to help too.
Budget is often a factor when deciding how to get your business online, and there are a range of free or low cost tools such as WordPress or Moonfruit which can get you online relatively quickly.
You need to consider what your website will look like, how many pages your site needs, what functionality it will have, what the domain name will be, where you will host it, whether you need to be able to update the site yourself, and if so, how IT literate you are – and how much time you have.
The old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ is generally true. If a site is free or very cheap, it’s likely that its design will be the same as hundreds, if not thousands, of others, and not bespoke to your business. It might also be lacking in functionality, accessibility and usability.
So don’t add stretched photos, lots of pages that say ‘coming soon’ or make all of your text yellow and in Comic Sans font, because it’s unlikely to be reflecting the professional you.
If budget allows, it’s certainly worth getting the pros in to help, and don’t forget, if a well-made website gets your more customers, it will soon pay for itself.
Dedicated web companies can help you to develop your website, from considering the design and layout, to how a user will travel through your site, ultimately ending at the call to action you want – whether it’s picking up the phone to call you, seeing your opening hours and paying a visit or making a purchase directly online.
They will also help with the more technical aspects of functionality, where you may not have the skills required to do it yourself, or simply don’t have the time or inclination.
Ultimately, it’s important to do what works for you and your business – and using the right tools and getting the best advice will help you make the best decisions to help you succeed online.