Online isn’t really my sweet spot, so fair warning. But I tend to both agree and at the same time disagree with many of the previous replies.
I think a web presence is necessary, because it’s validation that you’re not some guy in a truck who washes on Tuesday and lays tile on Wednesday.
Where I disagree is on the caliber of site necessary,
When I started my printing company about 10 years ago, I paid for business mail so I could have a personalized email (@mycompany as opposed to @yahoo or @gmail) because I felt that was important. To get this required a domain. Along with the domain came a website. A generic, boring, website. Templates available! I chose the least ridiculous template. I had a 1-page website that said 'Under Construction". On the site I included a little background and contact information. It’s the exact same today as it was then,. I think I pay about $76-100 a year for the email, the domain, and the website. I haven’t changed a thing.
I’ve been approached a hundred times with people wanting to upgrade my site. I haven’t done it for 2 reasons:
1, I don’t need it. 90% of my business comes from referrals. It comes from satisfied customers telling potential customers. I don’t care how tech-savvy this country gets, people would rather buy from people than from a website.
- I don’t want to compete in that space. I have no desire to go toe-to-toe with Vista Print on their business cards. And while my price on most other things is either the best or pretty damn close to it, the return would have to be MASSIVE to justify the spend in order to get to the top of a google search. Not interested.
I’m a huge fan of the internet. I buy completely unnecessary tools online on a regular basis. I am an Amazon Prime member. You know what I buy a TON of? Shipping labels. I bet I order them monthly if not more often. Always Prime. Here in 2 days, and sometimes 1. You know which ones I buy?
Shipping labels, to me, are a commodity. Out of the thousands I’ve bought, I have yet to receive an order that wasn’t effective in performing the expected task. They are run through a printer and then peeled off the backed and then adhered to a carton or envelope. Once I received some that had a yellow backer instead of white. That seemed odd. But the label face was white and they worked so, different…but same.
Point is, the internet is awesome. It’s allowed for a huge expansion of small business and free market exchange and I wholeheartedly believe in that. But I’m not going to make what I do a commodity. Internet purchasing has led to cost basis purchasing which has led to a competition among providers to see who can drop their pants the furthest. As the market expands, loyalty declines.
Don’t believe me? Pick a commodity. Something you buy for your home or business on a regular basis. Could be bleach or toilet paper or pop tarts or anything. Let’s say you pay $10 for it.
Someone online has it for $9.
Look harder. Someone else has it for $8.
That’s not a competition I want to participate in.
So yes, a web presence is important, but before I dropped a couple grand on a website I’d think long and hard about if the payoff was worth the investment. That depends on your business. The answer is different for everyone.