I headed along to the Pallet Pavilion in Christchurch (the site of the old Crowne Plaza, near Victoria Sqare) the other day and the place was humming. It was something of a swansong market day, with the ‘temporary’ gap filler project being dismantled in just a few weeks. But the atmosphere was anything but morbid on this sunny Saturday and throngs of Cantabrians came to show their support for this marketplace that has essentially achieved iconic status in the 18 months or so it has been in existence.
Stallholders were abundant throughout the pavilion and setup around the wooden arched arcade, from vintage hand-me-downs and hand-made jewellery to decadent cakes and photo booths. It has become an attractive way to do business in the new normal that is post-quake Christchurch; quick to setup, portable and quake safe.
One thing that most stallholders have in common is a stack of business cards, often those free ones you can get from Vistaprint. Always curious to see if they have their own website, of all the many stallholders present on the day, I think I could count on one hand those that actually had their own website.
Most had a free email address, maybe a Facebook page and possibly a page on Felt if they’re the crafty type of seller. It’s a good start and obviously done to keep costs down, which is good business sense.
If you asked most of these small business owners if they felt they needed a website, most would say no. They would say I have all the online presence I need, and anyway websites are too expensive. It’s a fair comment; we have business owners coming to us frequently relaying stories of outrageous quotes for even a garden-variety website so it’s no wonder most are content to stick with outlets such as Facebook, Trade Me or Felt to reach their customers.
So why get your own website? Here are three good reasons:
1 – It doesn’t have to be expensive
Sure a lot of website companies are overpriced. Fortunately we’re not one of them. Our affordable business website packages start from just $299 all-inclusive. That’s a complete website with a fully-featured content management system so you can add as many extra pages as you need, or make changes at no extra cost. It includes a modern design, with many responsive for smartphones and tablets as well as a contact form, photo gallery and email address (no more [email protected]).
2 – You control your own website, not them
The problem with running your whole business through third party services such as Facebook or Trade Me is that they are the gate keepers to your customers. And while it might be free and easy now, you have no control of what changes they may make in the immediate future. They may add extra fees, limit your interaction with customers or start showing more ads (maybe ads for your competition).
Think of it in the same as the market management for stallholders. As a stallholder you’re at the mercy of the market management – if your entire customer base comes to you at a specific market then it doesn’t matter how much your fees go up you have no choice but to keep coming back to the same market (or go out of business).
Now if you had your own website, and had been actively promoting it to all your customers (such as printing it on your bags, including a business card with every purchase etc.) then your customers know they can still buy from you, even if you decide to bite your thumb at market management and setup elsewhere.
It’s fine to use third party promotion tools such as Facebook, Twitter or Trade Me but don’t get painted into a corner – keep your independence with your own website.
3 – It’s about building your brand
Every business needs to have an identity, a persona, preferably one your customers align themselves with. You build that identity through your products, your logo, your choice of colours, even the voice and tone when you communicate with customers (think of the witty signs outside your favourite cafe). That brand, over time, becomes incredibly valuable and is, in many ways, the cornerstone of your business. Others may have the same product but only you deliver it in a way that makes you stand head and shoulders above the competition.
The longer you’re in business, the more closely you guard that brand. You take seriously any attempts to mimic or tarnish your brand. You pay close attention to every ad you run, every promotion, every marketing campaign – why let someone else like Felt control your online storefront?
Your own website gives you complete control over your online look and feel, a tailored storefront that you get to window dress exactly the way you want it. Content that talks to customers exactly the way you want them to hear you and visuals that tell the right story. And for businesses that love their brand this is of paramount importance.
If you feel like it’s time to cut the apron strings and get your own website, see what we can offer in the way of professional, affordable business website packages.