Web agencies always say that a website is a must-have for any business, and for a majority of cases this is true. There are, however, some cases where a website just doesn’t make sense.
The business can’t handle additional clients
Some businesses just aren’t ready to grow. If you have a core of loyal customers, the capacity to offer them exceptional service, and aren’t looking to take on new customers, then you might not need a website.
Maybe you don’t want to grow because you don’t want the quality of service to suffer, or maybe you don’t want to deal with the stress that comes with a larger company. Perhaps you have some other reasons you don’t need additional clients. Whatever the case may be that’s fine.
While a website might work as a platform to educate and provide tools and resources to your customers, there is a good chance that you just don’t need a website.
The business can’t afford it
Effective and well-done websites can be expensive, and if your business can’t afford it at the moment, you might be better off looking at other alternatives. Having no website in many cases is better than having no website.
That said, there are companies that offer credit for the construction of a new website. In Canada, the BDC has a program especially for technology (website and online marketing included). If a website will increase business, then these might be worth exploring.
A website doesn’t fit in the marketing strategy
You might focus on networking, or cold calling or some other avenue to get business, and a website just doesn’t have a place in your marketing plan.
Whatever your plan is, make sure that you commit to it. Changing plans frequently (more than once every two years) is worse than sticking with a plan that isn’t performing well. Some plans take time to pay off, and switching prematurely will just have you starting from the beginning again.
You could still argue that a website reinforces trust, and provides additional information, however, it’s not a key or central part of the marketing plan.
A website won’t have a positive return on investment
When a website, or any other marketing strategy, will cost you more than what it will bring in, don’t get a website.
When choosing any marketing activity, you need to look at the cost to acquire a new customer Vs. how much revenue that customer will generate for you over their lifetime.
Despite what some people say, a website isn’t a magic bullet that will instantly get you more customers and in some business sectors, it just doesn’t make sense.
A website isn’t the best tool for the job
A website can be a powerful marketing tool, but it’s not always the right tool for the job. Sometimes other options make more sense than a website. You need to look at your target market, and how they would respond to different forms of marketing.
Selling a car, selling a cup of coffee, selling one-off masterpieces, selling business software, and selling industrial solvents each have a different market and a different customer buying cycle. Business software and cars have a much longer research stage and are rarely an impulse buy. Coffee, for some, is a requirement every morning and isn’t something that is researched at length before purchase. All of this to say that for many customers, a website will not be part of the buying decision, and in many cases, other tools such as direct mail, media ads (TV, Radio), samples and social media may be far more effective and getting business than a website.
A small case study
A mobile hairdresser who was just starting out asked for a quote on a website. After looking at the expected returns versus the cost, it was determined that this was probably not the best option. She acquired her customers often through word of mouth, and after looking into her business some more, it was recommended that she put more focus on social media (accompanied by photos of her work), a select few local listings, and once business got bigger a mobile app.
Do I need a Website?
Before getting a website, see if there is a good business case for it. Look at how your customer buys, what influences their decision. Look at how much it would cost to build a quality website, and what you could expect as a return. Look at alternatives, would social media be more effective?
Before dismissing a website, though, ask yourself if it would support your other marketing activities, or if it would help reduce your workload by answering commonly asked questions.
Always keep in mind that a website is just a tool. It’s not always the best tool, and certainly isn’t the only tool. At the end of the day the website needs to be there to help your business, and if it doesn’t do it effectively then don’t get a website.