published in The Jerusalem Post, November 2002)
Do I Need a Website?
With the economy at crisis levels,
a natural inclination is to tighten belts and avoid extra
expenditures. But as markets shrink, it's even more important
for your company or organization to attract new business and
retain current clients.
So what's the most cost-effective method
of promotion? A Web site.
Q: WHY A WEBSITE?
A: First of all, the public
now expects businesses and organizations to have a Web site
-- one that can, at the very least, supply basic information
and a means of getting in contact. A Web site has become nearly
as essential as a telephone or fax machine or printed brochure.
But apart from fulfilling the public's expectations,
a Web site will also help your business increase profits. Increasingly,
people search the Web rather than the Yellow Pages when looking
for a service or product. Yes, even in Israel.
If they don't find your business represented,
they will find your competitor 's.
Q: WHAT CAN A WEBSITE DO FOR ME?
A: A few examples of immediate,
- Expand the effect of a print
ad. Addition of a Web site address to an ad,
even a very small one, means that anyone intrigued by the
ad can immediately access much greater amounts of information
about your company. The effect is heightened when you add
suitable photos to your site.
- Save time. Much
company time and effort is often wasted by repeatedly providing
the same information either by phone or in person. Have
a section on your site that provides answers to frequently
- Make it easier for potential
customers to find you. Include a detailed
road map on your site, and make things even easier for customers
by indicating parking lots and bus stops.
Q: WILL A WEBSITE MAKE MY BUSINESS IMMEDIATELY
A: Does a phone, or fax
machine or brochure? All are tools for communication and promotion,
but need to be used effectively. On the other hand, neglecting
to have one of these tools can put your company at a serious
disadvantage. No company operates without a phone. A Web site
-- and the services it can provide -- is equally essential
for a 21st century business.
To get some indication of how immediate your
need for a site is, check out the Web presence of your competitors.
None of them have Web sites yet? Lucky you -- you've not only
got some breathing space, you also have a good shot at being
the first to attract new markets. Your competitors already
have Web sites? Get to work -- fast.
Q: GIVE ME SOME EXAMPLES OF HOW A WEBSITE
WILL HELP MY SPECIFIC BUSINESS:
A: The possibilities are
limited only by imagination and budget, but following are
some benefits that can be provided by even the simplest, most
basic "brochure" site:
choose restaurants not only for their food, but also for their
ambiance and convenience.
- Show attractive photos of the interior, and sample entrees
on a beautifully set table.
- Have you had good reviews? Reprint them on your site.
- Show your menu.
- Advertise special offerings and services such as business
lunches, catering, etc.
- Post testimonials from satisfied patrons.
- Include a printable map, which shows the location of parking
and bus stops.
Professional services (attorney,
doctor, dentist): For these services, which
can't use conventional advertising methods, a Web site is especially
valuable. Here is an accepted way of showcasing your areas
of specialization. Do you have publications? Cite them. Awards?
Display them. Articles or case studies that demonstrate your
credentials? Place them online.
Design services (architect, interior
designer, home renovator, illustrator, etc.):
Here a picture isn't worth a thousand words. It's worth a
million. Before & after pictures can tell your story --
without the costs of 4-color printing, plus distribution.
Here, too, pictures are a great tool. Show off properties
with lots of full-color, large-format photos. Sites are easily
kept current with new information and properties.
Retail store: Even
if you're not yet ready for the expense of full-blown e-commerce,
a site can effectively promote your business. · A user-friendly
online brochure is easily done -- and saves thousands in printing
and mailing costs.
- You can publicize sales and special offers.
- Looking for employees? Post the positions and let prospects
contact you by e-mail.
- Post a printable map showing your location.
- Customer service is faster and friendlier when customers
can contact you immediately, 24 hours a day, by e-mail --
rather than have to wait on the phone, listening to Muzak,
and getting more impatient by the second.
- Post clips with copyright information, and refer editors
to this page in your queries.
- Promote published books.
- Sell your books from your site via an affiliate link to
an online seller such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble. You'll
earn up to 15% in referral fees, apart from royalties.
It's important to establish credibility -- especially when
you're engaged in fundraising. Document your organization's
progress, achievements, contributions. Once your site is launched
and properly registered with search engines you may be found
by sectors of the public that you'd never have been able to
otherwise identify and reach.
Q: WILL I BE ABLE TO AFFORD A WEBSITE?
A: Prices vary widely,
depending on the specifics of each individual site. But when
considering the benefits that even the simplest Web site can
provide, the question to ask is less "Can I afford to
have a Web site?" than "Can I afford not to have
Do you have any questions? Contact
me and I'll try to answer them in upcoming articles. Also,
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