Q: We’re a small company which provides unique Corporate and Hospitality gifts specialising in personalised Whisky and other alcoholic drinks etc. At the moment we have an extremely boring holding page, and we would very much like to develop our website asap. We are not looking for anything particularly elaborate albeit our website must be very eye-catching to reflect the quality and creativity of our company.
A: This question is very interesting as it presents a unique choice for any company looking at a Day One site build.
The choices are:
1 – Do I build a “quickie” site that will act as an online brochure
2 – Do I build a site that will last, that will grow to become a planned profit centre in its own right.
Choice 1 – The Quickie Build
For a relatively small cost your local web site builder can develop a site that will function as an online brochure.
The advantages of this are that:
> It’s quick and cheap to develop
> It will function as an online touch point for you to direct existing customers and sales prospects.
> You won’t be embarrassed by “not having a website”
> There’ll be someone local who can do this for you.
The disadvantage is:
> You’ll sooner or later want your website to deliver new business, which means you’ll need to build a brand new site as the original site will need so much tinkering with that you might as well start all over again from scratch.
> It’s definitely an “it’ll do for now” short term solution
Choice 2 – The Planned Profit Centre
This costs a lot more money to build and sustain, and requires expert advice that usually isn’t found around the corner.
It’ll probably need an online store which can pick up individual online sales, and an area for winning accounts that will become good repeat customers, the kind of customers that a small company can build and grow with.
But all of this needs planning and advice.
The advantages are:
> Why fool around with a quickie? Get serious about online business and win – just like the many other small companies you’ve probably read about.
> With the correct approach, you can be making online sales and winning large account sales leads
> Emarketing needs to be factored into any business these days. So starting as early as possible is wise.
This disadvantages are:
> It’s a big step for a small company, and will require you to learn certain aspects of web marketing, which can feel scary in the beginning.
> You’ll need expert advice and support and this isn’t usually found locally. This is relatively scary too, as it involves “expensive strangers”
> It costs. But it pays back. So you have to consider a relatively large investment in your own business.
To understand the truth of all these pros and cons, look at your own buying habits and the buying habits of your friends and colleagues.
> How many of them often buy online?
> How many are buying online who didn’t do so a year or so ago?
> What percent of businesses now expect to buy, or source suppliers, online?
> How important is online business for a small company to grow?
The Next Step
You need to make an informed choice about how and where you want to take your business.
The quickie build is tempting because it gets you an online presence for low bucks. But hardly anyone will ever go there. No matter how nice it looks, it’ll be like a like a leaf in a forest of leaves – virtually invisible.
It will never make you any money without a complete makeover or rebuild. It’s simply a support tool for existing sales enquirers. But that may be exactly all you want at this stage.
On the other hand, the in-it-for-the-long-term website will need determination and funding. For a small company it might need an emarketing plan/spreadsheet and a bank loan.
But the rewards can be great.
> What is the likely value of regular online sales?
> What is the likely value of a new large account rolling in every quarter? Or every month?
> What is the true lifetime value of a new large account.
If you can estimate these you’ll have an idea of potential of your website profit centre in Year One.
Is it worth spending many thousands today, or is it better to wait until next year? But by then your competitors will be steaming away with their websites, and ahead of you.
No one ever said business was easy. But it’s great fun, and very rewarding when it works.
Hopefully this Answer will help you clarify in your own mind what sort of new website you really want.