Is a website an essential tool for small business?
That was the question asked last week by Beth Murrison on a Facebook small business networking group that I belong to.
(In fact, you’re welcome to join the group! It’s hosted by PR Emma Collins and you can join here facebook.com/groups/EmmaCollinsPR/)
The responses to Beth’s question fell somewhere between ‘YES!’ and ‘it’s not absolutely essential, but you really ought to seriously think about it’.
Beth creates artwork for children on name plaques and canvases, plus other items like cushions and cotton bags. Up until last week she’d been selling from her Facebook page, but hadn’t found Facebook as effective for sales as she’d hoped.
Beth isn’t alone there. I hear quite a few small business owners saying that it’s hard to make sales from a Facebook page. Perhaps that’s because people generally don’t go to Facebook to buy – they go to be entertained or chat with friends. If you have this problem too, it’s a good idea to use your Facebook page as a way of letting your audience get to know you, but with the intention of getting them on your mailing list.
You get them on your mailing list by continuing to build that relationship that you began on your Facebook page – offer them something of value like a discount voucher or an e-course that will teach them something useful. It depends on your product, of course. Don’t bombard them with sales information, make sure you send them information they want to read.
Even if you are successfully ‘meeting’ your customers on your Facebook page, it’s a great idea to have a website for these reasons:
– You’re not in control of Facebook. If Facebook moves off in a direction that doesn’t suit your business, or if people no longer want to spend time there, then your business could be badly affected. If you’ve got your own website and mailing list then you are in control of what happens there. And you can create a back-up copy of your mailing list.
– It looks more professional. Anyone can create a Facebook page in a couple of minutes – it takes more effort to create an online store.
So Beth decided she did need her own website and last weekend she built herself one! Using Create‘s £4.99 a month package, she created (drum roll…)
Pretty good, eh?
Beth said it took her about five hours to get it done, and when you’re setting up an online store quite a lot of time is spent just adding products and prices. So the basic website took less than that.
I wanted to pass this story on, because I bet there are people who are nervous about the prospect of moving from Facebook page to online store. It doesn’t have to be as hard as it might seem.
If you’d like to read more about setting up an online store using Create, take a look at my post How to start an online shop.
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