Do You Really Need to Build a Business Website?

NOTE: the Link Roundup is beneath this post.

Do You Really Need to Build a Business Website?At least once a week, I get asked the question, “Do I really need to build a business website?”

It may seem strange to many of us who make our living working and consulting online, but yes, there are still many business folks, especially small business folks, who ask this question in 2012.

Like many, my answer to that question used to be, “Of course!”, but lately I realized that I’ve been answering the wrong question.

What folks are really asking is, “Why am I building a website?”

You see, when folks ask whether they need to build a business website, what they are really asking is, “Why am I building a website?”

Why “Why”?

Based on years of real-life experiences asking business folks, “Why do you you want to build a website”, I have found that:

If you ask most business folks, “Why do you want to build a business website?”, the answer is most often, “Because I’m supposed to.”
  • If you ask folks like me (those of us who make our living working and consulting online), you’ll get a whole host of answers ranging from the benefits of inbound and content marketing to the expanded opportunities to sell your products and services, manage and automate your business and create and maintain your professional relationships.
  • If you ask most other business folks, the answer is most often, “Because I’m supposed to.”

This answer should come as no surprise. After almost two decades of hearing it from the media, consultants and other business folks, many businesses now believe that they need a website. What they don’t know however, is WHY they need to build a website.

Most businesses believe that they need to build a website. What they don’t know however, is WHY they need to build a website.

Why do businesses need to know WHY they are building a website?

You see, the problem is that there are so many ways to create a website, and so many things that that website can do for your business, that it’s easy to get caught up in all the opportunities and excitement. The truth is, many people get lost when trying to figure out which solutions and approaches to use because they all sound so promising!

The solution? If a business first determines WHY it is building a website. Then, it can use that as a “WHY filter” to cut through all the noise online to determine what its website should do and how it should be built.

And, as with all aspects of your business, what your business needs to do in order to reach its goals should be the driver for WHY you take any action.

The Goal-Driven Website

There is no end to what your website can do for you however, only YOU can determine if you need your website to be doing those things for you right now in order to reach your goals.

Believe me when I say that there is no end to what your website can do for you. However, only YOU can determine if you need your website to be doing those things for you right now in order to reach your goals.

For example, a very popular question among my clients is, “Why does my website need to have a blog?”

Note the wording of that – they are asking “Why does it have to have a blog?” not, “Should my website have a blog?”

That’s a key point and a fine example of what happens when someone goes online and reads all the material that says that your website needs to have a blog to attract attention and drive traffic to your website and business location.

Now, if you want to build traffic to your site with inbound content marketing, then there is no better solution than a blog. Blogs allow you to post your content, hold conversations about your content in your comments section and use cutting-edge search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to bring boatloads of search traffic to your site. Blogs also allow you establish authority and credibility through your content.

However, creating and maintaining a blog takes time and money and, if you don’t want those costs, or cannot afford either, then it may not be the best approach for your business.

In addition, blogs are sort of the “big-cannons” of the online world. They can pack a really big punch, but are hard to target with much finesse.

The truth is that there ARE other effective ways to drive traffic to your website and business location such as:

If they don’t need a blog, I can suggest easier-to-use and less expensive solutions to use for building their business website.

Effective use of any of the three approaches above can replace the role of a blog and in all cases can help you target your audience in a much better way than blogging allows you to do. So, for some businesses, the answer to the question, “Why does my website need to have a blog?” is, “It doesn’t.”

Once it’s determined that they don’t need a blog, we can cross that requirement off our, “Must Have” list which allows me to suggest easier-to-use and less expensive solutions for my client to use for building their business website.

Bottom-line: yes, your business needs a website. The key to figuring out what your business website needs to do, and how it should be built, is to know WHY you are building your website – how do you expect it to contribute to reaching your goals?

Then you can use that WHY as a filter to choose the online solutions that will help you reach your goals quickly and least expensively in terms if both money and time.

BONUS: Alternative Options for Building a Business Website

Many of my clients fear that building a business website will be an expensive and time-consuming task.

The truth is, it can be, but it does not have to be. It all depends on WHY you are building your website and how you expect it to contribute to reaching your goals.

For many businesses, there are plenty of alternatives that will serve just fine for creating an online presence. These solutions are not only less-expensive than the traditional design-code-build approach, but they can be implemented and managed by folks without technical know-how and the end results look sleek, modern and inviting.

So, without further ado, here are some links to help you explore your options:

Virtual Business Card Solutions

These solutions provide a fast and easy approach to creating a presence online. The features vary from solution to solution, but some even allow you to use your own URL making this a great option for consultants, coaches and solopreneurs who just need a place online to send folks to learn more about them:

Resume Solutions

If you want to highlight your experience, these options beat the pants off of a resume! Many even allow you to attach or display work samples, a handy feature:

Portfolio Solutions

If you want to show off your creative work online, you should take a look at these solutions:

Traditional Website Solutions

If you’re looking to get a more robust website up and running quickly and easily, take a look at this guide I created with videos on three types of websites (jack-of-all-trades, blog and e-commerce storefront) and my top picks of online solutions for creating them:

Weekly Link Roundup

Weekly Link RoundupEach week, I collect the 10 best posts that I’ve read and share them with you here.

These posts focus on web-based solutions, online resources and up-to-date news for small businesses.

Enjoy!

10 Social Media Myths That Can Demoralize Your Business Strategies: Busting these myths can help you make more effective use of social media.

Make Better Video: Some great tips to use when creating videos for your site.

Is Your Site Mobile Friendly? Google Can Tell You: It’s important to be ready for mobile visitors these days. Find out how your site rates.

10 tips to get famous on the internet, because isn’t that what you really want?: I loved these tips on how to gain followers and fans without being sleazy or promotional!

Social Survival for Bloggers: a Peek from the Inside: A great list of sites to use when “casting your net” to pull in targeted audiences to read your content and be exposed to your calls to action!

Long-tail Search Marketing: SEO how-to content and videos earn 9% conversion rate: Conversion is key and these 5 tips can help you greatly increase the conversion on your website.

8 Easy Ways to Boost Your Website on a Budget: Some handy tips to make your website more effective without spending a ton.

3 New Apps to Manage Your Social Networks: Anything that can help you lessen the social media firehose is worth taking a look at. Here are three solutions to check out.

Social media for the complex sale: Where should you start?: Social media and online engagement is much more than just Twitter and Facebook. This post suggests many online spots where you can engage your target audience.

5 Tips: How to Recover When Your Tech Tools Fail: The SOPA boycott day let businesses feel what it would be like if the online solutions on which they depend went down. Learn some strategies for dealing with an outage in this post.

Comments

  1. “If you ask folks like me…” So true. The fact is that not every business needs a website. In fact, there are many businesses around here, local businesses, that do just fine with no website. A website would not increase their business and would likely not improve customer service. It would only create one more thing to deal with.

    • David,

      Thanks for your comment! While it’s true that not every business needs a full-blown website, I DO believe that every business needs an online presence, even if it’s just a one-page virtual business card like the ones I list above.

      Especially for local businesses, they need to assure that they can be found online especially at search engines and, if they have a page to list there, all the better. That’s because many folks look for local spots on their mobile devices and, as they used to say re: the Illinois Lottery, “You gotta’ be in it to win it”. 🙂

      -Matt

  2. Great post Matt. I still see this question all the time and you’ve gotten at the REAL question.

    • Thanks Nicole! It sort of makes me cringe when I think about how I treated that question before – I must have sounded so condescending.

      It is so important for those of use who use the web to make a living to remember that most folks DO NOT. 🙂

      -Matt

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