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What? No Website?

From the comments and emails I receive, I know that this blog receives regular visits from furniture makers as well as furniture buyers and rustic decor enthusiasts. For the most part, this post is aimed at furniture makers (actually anyone in business) because it is about your website – or lack thereof.

On two separate occasions just this week, I received requests to add a company’s information to our directory, yet neither company had a website. Unfortunately for them, we only list a company if they have a website; we are not trying to act as a “phone directory”. Or mission is to list websites so that anyone using our directory can click to many online resources to find what they are looking for.

The point of this post is not to admonish anyone, but to share my opinion (didn’t you ask?) about the value of – and the reason for having a website. It is my belief that if you are in business (any business) you must have a website – IF you want to stay in business.

The world has changed. People today use the Internet before they reach for the Yellow Pages. If you do not have a website, you are simply missing business opportunities. Every year this becomes even more critical as countless numbers of people (read your prospects) get more comfortable Googling for information and leaving the phone book to collect dust.

I have been online since before the Internet was open to the public. When the Internet was introduced to the world (circa 1993) and businesses started to grasp the potential, the world became a different place. Forgive my rambling, but I have an interesting story that demonstrates how this convergence of current events and business opportunity can affect your company.

In 1997 I moved from Plano, Texas to a small community about 40 mi. N, called Sherman. Living in the center of “Tornado Alley”, we decided to buy an in-ground storm shelter… just in case. Having been involved with the Internet for the past five years, I was already one of “those people” who searched online before looking at the yellow pages. To my surprise, I could find nothing in my area and was forced to check the phone book for a supplier. I found one, bought it and arranged to have it installed.

During the excavation, I had the opportunity to tell the owner (and only employee) about my problem in locating him. As it happened, he said that he was contemplating putting up a website, but wasn’t sure what to do or how to go about it – or even if it would benefit his business. Making a long story much shorter, we renegotiated our storm shelter price in exchange for me building him a website. I did, he was happy and we parted ways.

Within a few months, devastating tornadoes hammered Oklahoma City causing widespread damage and loss of life. My new client’s business went through the roof in a matter of days. He later told me that within weeks, he had hired a crew, bought additional trucks and sold more storm shelters in 30 days than he had in his entire career. All of this business came through his website. When the storms were past, individuals and government agencies searched for local manufacturers who could respond to an immediate need.

Now, do I think there is going to be some massive shortage of log or twig furniture? Of course not, but there could be a TV show (as there are many like DIY Network, Home Makeovers, etc.) that features a log china closet or an Adirondack chair that causes scores of people to go online and see if they can find such a piece for their home.

We never know what news story, magazine article, movie or TV show will create awareness for our products. I tell you this to illustrate my point. But more importantly, I am convinced that any business who plans to be in business – MUST have a website.

To answer the obvious question, no – I am not mentioning this to drum up web design clients as I no longer build websites for the public. I’ve heard all the reasons why someone chooses not to have a website, they’re too busy, it costs too much, it is too difficult to maintain, yada-yada-yada. There’s some truth in all those excuses, but having a small “brochureware” website can solve the problem of being “found” by prospects who are looking for your products.

There is no need to build a website to entertain someone. Keep it simple and informative. A few product pictures, some descriptive verbiage, your contact information and anything else you think might motivate someone to pick up the phone or send you an email. There! You’re online and people searching for YOUR products will be able to find you.

Down the road you may see a need to beef-up your site, maybe hire someone to tweak it for better search engine positioning, etc. but let your website dictate that, not some salesman who wants to sell you a “SEO” (search engine optimization) service. As to cost of getting a domain name and hosting it – it has never been cheaper than today. For inexpensive, but reliable hosting, look at 1&1 Hosting (FREE templates, marketing tools & FREE ad $ and cheap domain names) . ALthough geography doesn’t matter, our Canadian friends may want to look at a Canadian company called Stormweb Hosting

Good luck!

Oh and BTW, we actually did need that storm shelter one year when tornadoes touched down less than one mile from our home. They missed our property, but my wife, the dog, two cats and me sat out the storm in our shelter…. ya’ just never know!

2 comments to What? No Website?

  • Anonymous

    That is good advice and a good wake-up call for those of us who have been putting this off. I have been meaning to put up a site for a couple of years now and I just keep putting it off because I’m just too darn busy. But I do agree with you and I plan to put up a brochure this fall when my work slows down. Your comment about people using the internet instead of the yellow pages rung my bell. I do that myself so it made me think.

    I found you blog when I was looking for some info on a company who is actually a competitor of mine here in Maine and I like what you do for our business. I am not sure if I will pay someone to do a web site for me or maybe try a blog. Is there any better way to do this? Is a web site better than having a blog? Thanks.

    PS: I am not signing my name cause I’m embarased about not having my site up yet. Soon I will.

  • epson ink cartridges

    i think beyond website there are other sources.. i mean marcom materials like brochue etc.

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