You just started a new business. You have created a Facebook page and an Instagram account, and now you’re thinking, does my small business need a website? So you naturally go online and search for advice to learn as much as you can, as fast as you can. Let me let you in on a little secret if you’re starting a new business, and you’re not making a profit yet, right now is not the time to get a new website. Here are a few things you should consider doing before getting a website:
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Focus on creating an audience
If you don’t have clients yet, or at least an audience to sell to, a website will not magically solve this. Why? You ask. The internet is a magical place, but it does not work like magic. For the same reason you wouldn’t invest in a brick-and-mortar shop, remodel the site, buy furniture, and hire and train some staff members, you shouldn’t get a website and hope clients pour in by themselves.
Everything requires time and planning. You first have to develop a minimum viable product or MVP and market it to people in your area to see if they’re interested in what you have to offer. In other words, you need to find a market for whatever you’re trying to sell before you stock up.
The same thing applies to a website. Websites are expensive. Sure, people say great things about starting an online business simply because creating an online business is cheaper than starting a physical one, but it doesn’t mean it is cheap or free. A website requires time and money, even if you build it yourself.
Instead, it would help if you focused on getting people’s attention on social platforms like Facebook and Instagram. See if people are interested in what you offer. Look at the analytics. If you see there’s a business opportunity, it means you’re on the right path. Once you’ve done this, you can move to the next step.
Simply put, a lead is an individual or another business interested in what you are selling or offering. Their interest is expressed by sharing contact information, like an email address, a phone number, or even a social media handle.
So you have created a Facebook page and an Instagram account, awesome! Each new follower you get is a lead. It is a potential buyer to whom you may offer something through social media. Followers are the reason why everyone on the internet craves them. It is not merely a number to look at and brag about; their value lies in the fact that they are potential customers. Take note and engage with each of your followers; this is also a great way to do market research. Ask them what they need or are looking for in a product or a service, and shape your business model around it.
Build an email list
People say, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” Have you ever thought what would happen if one day you wake up and Facebook has gone down, or they experienced a loss of servers and a bunch of accounts got deleted? Believe it or not, this could happen at any time; that’s why you need to build an email list. Having an email database is like having a backup of all your phone contacts. It guarantees you that you still have other means to reach your audience and potential clients whatever happens.
Researchers have proven that reaching customers through email marketing campaigns is still the best way to convert followers into clients. So don’t be afraid to contact them through email. An email list can be your most valuable asset, so it is worth investing time and money in it first.
There are tons of websites designed to help you build landing pages for free, where you can create a one-pager offering something in exchange for contact information. In a future post, we will look at some of these services, so make sure you’re following me on our social media or sign up for my mailing list. See what I did there? There’s no shame in doing this. You have something your clients want, and they have something you’d like. It is a fair exchange. Speaking of asking people to sign up or follow you, make sure you sign up to our e-mailing list so you never miss a tip!
Now you might be thinking, and how do I convince people to follow me on social media or sign up to my email list? Simple, you give them something they want or need for free in exchange for that valuable information.
Ever wondered why every single store or website you go to asks you if you want to join their rewards program, and then they ask you for your phone number or email address? They’re giving you something you’d like (being rewarded for your purchase), and they get something they need (your valuable contact information).
Generating value doesn’t mean you have to design a convoluted and complicated rewards system, but it does mean you have to give potential clients at least something they crave. You can offer some help for free if you’re in the service industry. Or maybe give them some free tips and tricks to help them out if they sign up. Do you have a business that sells physical products? Ask them to sign up in exchange for a discount code they can use next time they purchase something from you. Whatever you think your clients need, generating value is the best possible way to build your new email list.
Get a website
“But you said I didn’t need one!” you may be saying to yourself, and you’re right, I did say that. A website is a terrible idea if you don’t have an audience and an email list yet.
I don’t recommend new business owners get a website right away after starting their business. I do it because some of them think that because they have purchased a domain name and hired an agency or a developer to design their website, it’ll magically and automatically get traffic and new clients.
A website is a place where you send clients, followers, and other people. It is the next logical place to send your leads, so they become loyal customers, but that’s the key. You need to have an audience and their contact information to get in touch with them first, and then give them content that they will want to read and click on to visit your website.
Think of it as renting out a retail space and spending lots of money on remodeling and hiring employees. Sure, your business might get lucky, and someone passing by might decide to stop and go in, but the place won’t be thriving overnight. You need to put your business on a billboard ad and possibly pay for an ad in the local newspaper; that way, prospective clients can find out about your business and what it has to offer. Otherwise, You’re just playing the waiting game and rolling your dice to see if anyone walking or driving by decides to come in.
To sum it up, if you’re starting a business and haven’t completed any of the steps mentioned above, I don’t recommend getting a website just yet. I’d encourage you to spend time and money building an audience, a following, and leads first. But don’t just take my word for it, Margo Aaron from Inc.com has a similar suggestion, and you should read her article, “Why You Don’t Need a Website To Build A Successful Business“.
Once you’re ready to build your website, you can do it yourself or hire a freelancer or an agency to do it for you. One of the biggest questions you’ll face is what platform to use. I recommend using WordPress. You can read all about it in my blog post “5 Great Benefits of Using WordPress.”
Like always, until next time,