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Why SMBs Need a Website

Why SMBs Need a Website, Not Just a Free Facebook Account

In light of the infinite number of free social media and networking platforms available online, there has been a lot of talk lately about whether small-to-medium sized businesses now even need a website. This article sets the record straight: You need a traditional website. Here’s why:

  1. Stand out from the crowd. Taking the easy, cheap route rarely wins new clients or influences prospective customers. If anyone can start a blog or be on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, what distinguishes one company from the millions of others? By having a traditional website, you show you have a little investment in the game. Sure, creating new digital marketing channels can boost your business star power online, but these social media platforms should not stand alone.
  2. Navigate traffic to your website. The whole purpose of establishing free platforms is to supplement your website. They bring greater awareness to your business, build a community that can have compelling conversations about your brand, and drive traffic to your website. You may want to build a site that features, among other things, an e-commerce platform, automated invoicing and a list of key employees with important background notes.
  3. Look legit. Building credibility matters in our highly networked world, but it takes time. Startups always wish they had more years of experience when they attempt to access capital or conduct business with established companies. A fully customized website provides you with that “been around the block” look and feel, and a sense of stability. It’s your chance to shape your unique image and share it with the world as you announce, “It’s official. We’re open for business.”
  4. Prioritize. Present your business in a way that gets and keeps customers coming back to you over a lifetime. This is your #1 priority, not gaining search engine ranking. Yes, search engine ranking is important once you achieve excellence at what you do, but it shouldn’t be your primary focus. If you are that good at what you do, you’ll rise to the top online. People will find you.
  5. Inform. A traditional website is where you host and protect your very best ideas (e.g., company name or new product launch). Visitors should feel a sense of calm and noted expertise when they explore your site. This is their time to determine whether they want to do business with you. It’s one-sided intentionally. Yet if they want something more from you immediately, they can always click on a “Follow us” or “Contact us” button.
  6. Be still, listen and serve as a stable presence. A good website serves that purpose. Not every business has to have a wildly provocative and engaging conversation with its customers (e.g., Mashable.com or The Huffington Post). In times of challenge and upheaval, we turn to businesses that have an established online footprint. We seek out companies that freshen content to coincide with new developments, ensuring information never languishes or becomes irrelevant. Think back on the last time you needed to double-check something on a firm. Where did you look? Most likely the website.

You can hang on pretty long without a website, but sooner or later you’ll need one if you want to own your online brand identity, build a broader base and move sales.

About the Author: Global business expert Laurel Delaney is the founder of GlobeTrade.com (a Global TradeSource, Ltd. company). She also is the creator of “Borderbuster,” an e-newsletter, and The Global Small Business Blog, all highly regarded for their global small business coverage. You can reach Delaney at ldelaney@globetrade.com or follow her on Twitter @LaurelDelaney

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