steven powell

The World Wide Web of Confusion

By Steven Powell

Does your business really need a web site? Almost definitely. These days, people and businesses of all ages do most of their purchasing or research online. Also, there’s a certain credibility gained by a web presence – even more so when it’s obviously professionally produced. Okay, so you need a web site. But what kind of a site and how much should you spend?

Next question: Do you need a multi-tiered, multi-product, multimedia-rich storefront that dazzles the consumer, markets and sells online, processes credit cards in real time and ranks high on search engines? Or, will a simple on-line brochure be enough? These factors will greatly effect the cost of designing, producing, hosting and maintaining your web site, so this is a big question to consider.

Hmmm.

To answer the above, let’s try a short exercise. Ignore all the hype about technology and cost-free marketing on the information highway. Think in terms of mail order. There’s good money to be made in a successful catalog business model.

So, is your product or service the kind that could be sold by mail order? And, are you able to  fund your very own catalog operation?

Let’s back up and try a different question. It’s a radical one, so get ready.

What is it you want to accomplish?

Let’s follow this train of thought and see where it leads us.

Are your products/services customized to individuals’ needs such as home remodeling or professional services? Then, you already know better than to try anonymously mass-selling, don’t you? You might advertise this way, but what are you really hoping to pull in? Sales or leads to sales?

More questions. Are your widgets priced competitively? Or are they more costly due to higher quality, production issues or added value? Remember, without name recognition, truly unique features or timely availability, the name of the game on the web—as in catalog sales—is price.

Okay, let’s keep going. Do you have a product or service that can be sold in large quantities? You know; books, mass-produced widgets or discount car insurance. Should your widgets be sold to a large mass market? Are you prepared to fulfill orders that come from around the corner or around the world?

Yes? Alright, then. I officially allow you to ‘need’ more than an on-line brochure. You’re a good candidate for an e-commerce site registered with the major search engines, seeded with dozens of esoteric keywords and capable of offering and selling products through a dynamic e-commerce database.

Last questions. Are you prepared to invest some serious money to have a site designed and maintained with search and find databases and all the rest? And, are you serious enough to support your on-line “storefront” with good customer support, ongoing marketing efforts, Google AdWords and monthly search engine maintenance?

Or, is a well designed on-line brochure that reinforces your marketing message in a credible way and ‘feeds’ the search engines all you really need?

Not really so confusing is it?

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