J. W. Rider Consulting -- Growing Web-wise 011101

Growing Web-wise

Do You Really Need a Website for Your Business?

You might be expecting an unqualified "Yes!" from a businessman who promotes Internet development. However, the actual answer is "It depends." It depends upon your business. It depends upon your customers. It depends upon you, also.

A website is an Internet location where a business interacts with its customers electronically. Put that way, a website is not that much different from a store or shop where customers can come in and browse through the merchandise before purchasing, or they might come back and ask questions about how to use what they bought. Nor is website much different than an advertisement you might place in a local newspaper, or a listing in the yellow pages, or a sign you put up in your office window. All of these are ways to interact with your customers. However, they are all different. Each works better in some situations than others.

The reason for that is because customers make their decisions in different ways. They'll ask their friends. Some read the newspaper. Some will call you up. Some glance at flyers and brochures. The way the Internet has changed customers is to get them to search for information electronically. To be sure, a business with an entirely local-based customer market is still going to get the best advertising return through the word of satisfied customers, followed closely by local newspaper advertising, phone directory entries, and community flyers. However, a growing number of your existing and prospective customers are finding these sources inadequate. These consumers are looking for more information, more ways to compare information between various sources.

Even if you are a locally grown business, you and your customers can benefit from an informative and interesting website. For existing customers, a website is a place where they can go to find out more about what they bought and how to use it. The existing customers tell other people, who will visit your site, find out more about your business, and learn that you know what you're doing.

To borrow a slogan from the Syms stores, "An educated consumer is your best customer." However, your competition is not going to educate the consumer in your favor. You need to educate your customers on your own.

You know what your customer's questions are. You know the kinds of answers that they need. You usually can't answer these questions in a small advertisement. However, a webpage is great place to answer your customers' questions the way that you always wanted to answer them.

So, perhaps whether or not you need a website is the wrong question. The better question, "How much can I educate my customers the way they want to be educated?"

Put yourself in your customer's place.
What questions would you want to find the answers for on your website?

How do I use your product?

Who works for you?

How do I purchase your services?

When should I schedule my purchase?

Do you deliver?

Could you make it larger?

How do I pick the right product?

What do your products look like?

How long have you been in business?

Why do I need your product?

How do I determine how much of your services I need?

Can I get that customized?

Where's the best place to use your product?

How do I get you if I need help?

What's the difference between your services?

Can I order over the phone and pick it up?

Where can I learn more about your service?

Which products do you recommend?

How can I maintain my purchase?

What kind of specialized equipment do you use?

Can I order by email?

Which credit cards do you take?

Local Businesses that could be Web-enabled

Home improvements


Cars and Trucks


Carpets and Rugs

Ground covering

Barbers and Beauty Salons



Automotive servicing




Carpet cleaning

Schools and Academies





Real Estate

Medical and Dentistry





Banking and Finance

Photography and Artwork




More web-wise ideas are available from

J. W. Rider Consulting
Box 1806
Herndon, VA 20172-1806