The majority of small business owners are not convinced they are able to find customers online.
Reported by IT Pro, the research done by BT Tradespace noted that these are not exactly tech-illiterate folks, either, since a similar percentage of these same people turn to the Web at least once a month to shop.
What proved more surprising to me was the fact that just 13 percent of the surveyed SMBs see marketing value in the Internet. Perhaps reflecting that opinion, only a meager three percent actually bother to leverage their Web sites to communicate with their customers, which is a pity.
While it is certainly prudent for an SMB not to splurge large amounts of money on a fancy e-commerce site with unknown or dubious returns, such a concern should not be confused with the intrinsic value that a properly designed site can deliver to the branding and outward professionalism of your organization.
SMBs will do well to remember that more often than not, a Web site is the first stop for potential new clients considering your products or services. In the past, we would form our initial appraisal of a company from things such as the quality of the printed letterhead or the conduct of the sales representative, as well as the appearance of its office. In this day and age, the humble company Web site has risen to the top of this list.
On the other hand, a poorly designed site will actually diminish your credibility as a reliable and established company. Think about it: have you ever visited the site of a company and found yourself turned off by cheesy graphics or pre-2000'ish design?
And guess what, contrary to what you might think, a "good" Web site does not have to cost an arm and a leg. With some basic knowledge and understanding of the Web design process, it might be possible for an SMB to avoid the expenses of an external consultant and work directly with a good web design firm. I will run through some pointers and terminologies to look out for in my next blog, so stay tuned.