the Internet to help your business
Of the many questions
from those not already on the Net, these three seem to
be the most popular: "Why
should I have a website?"; "What use is the Internet
to my business?"; and, "How do you grow using the
The answers come from yourself, when you
analyze your business needs and values.
What is the real value of the Internet to
your business? Can it reduce your expenses; generate new
business; help develop new business opportunities; and improve
operations? Yes. Will having a website answer my business
needs? Can it: provide customers awareness of my products
and services; offer ready information and support; extend
my trading hours capability; expand my markets; increase
my income; and, ensure private and secure communication between
me, my staff and my best customers? Yes.
With paths already well worn, the benefits
to having a website are apparent everywhere. Amazingly though,
only 6% of the world's population are participating. We like
to appreciate this information as positive, proposing huge
market growth to come over the next two years. Businesses,
who are just awaking to the fact that they are being left
behind, realize that they must have at least a minimal of
presence on the Internet.
Some of the many benefits to having a website
are: the ability to display a catalogue of products and services;
that ability to extend your business hours to 24-7 without
a physical presence; and, to update information which is
seen by the world, immediately. This gives you an equal status
with more affluent companies, providing easy communication
with current and prospective customers. This is an excellent
means of generating sales leads, while keeping present customers
aware of new products and services.
There are the benefits of close interaction
with your customers. A good website will incorporate smart
visitor interaction: this will include basic elements of
e-commerce, such as forms, surveys and other data acquiring
applications. With Secure Socket Layer (SSL) capacity, one
can offer safe and secure online transactions.
What instantly comes to mind is the ability
to offer credit card facilities, so to allow immediate online
sales: more income 24-7. The long-term benefits are clear
too. With unlimited space you can convey your entire message
for an unlimited time; it is more affordable and economical
than the Yellow Pages; the market is greatly increased, even
reaching internationally; and, once an audience is established,
new ideas can be tested in real time, with instant results.
There is good practical value in having
a website; for instance, a map can provide your local location;
statistics on who is visiting your site can determine where
you should spend your dollars; of course, no shoplifting;
no staff; no insurance; no air-conditioning; and, less time
on the phone.
An important concern for businesses, especially
in these days of global mobility, is communication: communication
with regular clients and, equally as important, with staff
in the field. A website can securely provide current information
for use in immediate situations, one can download vital packages
within seconds from the other side of the world, with or
without password security. The future of the Net is looking
golden. People are now associating reliable businesses with
the Internet, with research indicating that businesses with
a website have grown 46% faster than those without.
Customer service is improving too, when
customers have access to product details and technical support
solutions, they become satisfied clients. There is one HUGE
incentive to getting your presence on the Internet, and,
not easy to avoid, the fact that your competitors are probably
already there! It is not difficult to build a web site, there
is many software packages that cater for the skilled and
the not-so-skilled; there are automatic web site builders,
usually free, aimed at selling you web hosting; and, there
is the aged old method of getting someone to do it for you.
available to provide the look and, in some cases,
suggestions of customer interactive
solutions; but, the web developers are the back-end creators,
they provide varying degrees of skill, from the development
of simple forms and actions to database control systems and
analysis. Once you have thought up a unique 'domain name',
which is advised for the serious business, and created your
website 'locally', using an editor such as ,
or Pagemill, you must find someone to 'host' it for you.
A 'web host' provides a folder on a server,
for your website's files, images and pages, to be stored.
A 'server', is a computer, which is connected to the Internet
24 - 7. You can find these companies by asking discussion
groups or newsgroups online; using search engines; by asking
your local provider; or even friends and neighbors. Many
people have websites these days and if not, still know where
to enquire. Maintaining your website is painless too. Check
your emails regularly, these are the lifeblood of the Internet;
check your links are valid, click on them and see if they
go to the right place; update old and expired information;
and always keep it fresh.
Once you have your website up you will need
to let everyone know about it. Email people, in discussions
groups and newsgroups, people who are in associated industries
to your business: suppliers, and clients.Submit your site
on search engines using 'Site Submission Software', create
associated web pages and submit them too, upload articles
as web pages, and try keyword ads. Networking online is easy.
Contact related businesses and exchange buttons and links,
your button on their website, and theirs on yours. Talk to
friends of friends, and leave postings on Message Boards.
It has been known in business, for centuries, that the best
form of promotion is in articles and press releases.
Write about what you know, experiences
in all things business, get another member of your staff
to interview you. Put your articles on article directories,
there are hundreds of them online, send them to media houses
offline and online; and remember, press releases are not
of use unless they are news! Of course there is still the
aged old method of promotion: offline advertising; stationery;
Yellow Pages; classifieds and many other forms; unfortunately
these are costly and in my belief, with a good online plan,
not immediately necessary.
By analyzing business needs and the value
of the Net to your business, you can determine whether having
a website is the right idea for you. With the furious rate
of increase of users to the Internet, the high presence already
established, and the projections for the future, it may prove
that just having an online presence, however minimal, will
prevent your businesses losing touch with their industries.
thanks to Ratemyhost.com