I’ve spent the last 20 years working with real estate agents, small businesses owners, and non-profit organizations by helping them with their Internet presence. From new “start-ups” to well established businesses with many years under their belt, I’ve developed websites, performed SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and helped them with their online visibility. I enjoy working with serious, forward thinking small business owners who recognize that their company website is just as important as any other aspect of their business.
It’s disheartening to watch unprepared “penny pinchers” struggle, make mistakes, waste valuable time, energy, resources and money because they treat one of their most important marketing, advertising, and promotional tools as an afterthought!
Several years ago I witnessed a new business owner, after purchasing a camping, lodging and dining business, invest nearly $300,000 in property improvements, cabin and structure rebuilds, restaurant equipment, and campsite upgrades… only to tell me that he couldn’t afford to pay the $2500 (it’s less than that these days) that I was going to charge to develop a fully search engine optimized website! After printing his own business cards on his PC (to save money), and then printing and mailing home-made fliers to all the locals… (to save money… and to the locals? Really??)… he designed his own website. The motorcycles, RV’s, hikers, and campers drove on past… and three years later, the property was in foreclosure and he quietly disappeared. Advertising, marketing, and his website were last on his list.
Here are four approaches that are guaranteed to do more harm than good to your business, your brand, and your reputation.
- The “I’ll wait until I can afford it” approach.
Really? Your website should be one of your TOP priorities and a line item in your budget! It’s your method to reach the masses. It’s your gateway to potential clients and customers. Every day you wait is another day lost when it comes to search engine visibility and giving consumers the opportunity to find YOUR business rather than your competitor! If you’re saying that you can’t afford $1500 to $2000 for a marketing and promotional tool that has the potential to reach millions, then you really need to question whether or not you should even BE in business!
- The “DIY” (Do-It-Yourself) approach.
Sure, there are many “DIY”, template style, “drag and drop” website solutions out there, however, most have limitations of some sort… with one of the biggest being in the area of SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Without an in-depth understanding of SEO, I can assure you that you’re not going to be finding yourself in search engines any time soon. The reality is, you’ll waste much of your valuable time working on your website and trying to figure out how things work. Need I remind you that you actually have a business that you want to run?
- The “I have a family member who knows this stuff better than me… or a friend who’s going to school for this stuff… they’re going to help me” approach.
This one baffles me. You’re going to let someone experiment with you and your business? You really can’t afford to have people learning at your expense! Unless they are in the business and have a proven track record, you’re just another step in their ladder of learning and you’re the one who will pay the price… by NOT paying a price!
- The “I need it now, but you’re too expensive… I found someone cheaper” approach.
All I can say on this one is that you get what you pay for. Cheaper isn’t always better. There’s a minimum amount of time necessary to install, set-up, and develop a website. There’s also a significant amount of time required to correctly optimize a site for search engines. Time is spent analyzing a number of things including your business, your competition, your geographic location, and your audience. These are used to help determine where the focus should be when it comes to SEO. $500 or $1000 isn’t going to cut it. Sorry.
Listen folks… I haven’t cracked open a phone book in over 10 years. I don’t buy newspapers and magazines like I used to. The chances of me finding you in some hard copy publication is slim to none… and I’m among the norm. People are using the Internet. They’re using their smartphones. Websites aren’t going away any time soon. If you’re not out there, you’re invisible. If you ARE out there but visitors aren’t impressed… you may as well be invisible.
Stop treating your website like it’s an afterthought… or something that you’ll “get around to”. You don’t have that kind of time anymore. Your business success depends, in part, on having a professional, search engine friendly website. Do it right the FIRST time and you’ll save time and money in the long run. The best part? It won’t take more than three days for you to have exactly what you need!