There Is No More Delaying It –
You Need a Website
Paul Page, Creative Director of Page Design Group
Let's just pretend you own and operate a small business that supplies products or services to the local agricultural market. You are out on a Saturday morning standing on the sidelines of your daughter's soccer game and you strike up a conversation with one of the other parents. It turns out that she is a major agricultural grower who needs your services. Between "Atta Girl!"s and "Nice Kick!"s you manage to sneak in the fact that you might be a good fit for doing business together and you get a business card into her hands. Nice job so far....
Later that evening as your potential customer is emptying out her pockets, she comes across your card among the lip gloss and car keys and she remembers that conversation. Now that she thinks about it, she does need a new supplier of just what you are selling. She wonders if you are a legitimate business and decides to look you up on the Web.
And you don't even have a Web address on your card!!!
In today's business world, a Website is proof of your business' legitimacy. If you don't have a Website, you don't exist. This is especially troubling for a small business who thinks they cannot afford a site. But there is hope.
Building a Website is extremely easy and can be almost free. There are two steps. First, come up with a list of ideas for a domain name like bobsagsupply.com. Then log on to GoDaddy, Network Solutions or any other registry site and search for your name's availability. You might have to try a few combinations to get a name you can register. Once you have it, it will only cost a few dollar to register the name for a year (Better buys are available for longer periods).
With the name in hand, you next go to WordPress.com and follow the simple instructions to creating your own site. If you are at all handy and can follow simple online instructions, you can have a Website up and running in no time. Be sure to have some nice pictures and some words to describe you and your services. While there are upgrades you can pay for on WordPress, the basic service is free. There is a small charge to launch using your custom domain name.
DIY has two major components: Do it – We have already established that you and your business need to "Do It" when it comes to a Website. It's the "Yourself" part that has way too many small business people stymied. Too many small business people just don't trust themselves to hang the success of their business on a do-it-yourself, amateurish Website. And the fear of outrageous design costs keeps those boots stuck in the mud.
There is a simple first step your business can take to get a professional-looking presence on the Web while not breaking the bank. That is to have a design firm create what is called a Splash Page. The best way I can demonstrate this concept is to direct you to two splash page sites we have created for clients.
With these simple sites, both of these clients have a presence on the web. In fact, if you type the names of either California Heritage Mills or Prima Frutta Packing into your Google Search Box, you will see that the actual splash page URL comes in very high in the search.
Each of these splash pages shows the company identity, a small statement about the business, a phone number, address and email address. The email address is linked so all you have to do is click it to go to email.
Harry Cheim, a director at RVCB, had Page Design create a hybrid splash page for his business, Union Lumber. Harry's site has a few extra features and has served him for several years.
We like to think of splash pages as first steps toward a more robust Website. But this splash page seems to be working well for Union Lumber.
Yes, professionally designed Websites will cost you thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars, depending on what sort of functionality you are seeking. But a splash page budget should be discussed in the hundreds and no more. It is not a perfect step, but an essential one if you have a business with no Web presence.
Paul Page is creative director of Page Design Group in Sacramento. Page Design is responsible for the new and improved River Valley Community Bank site.