If you’re just starting out in business today you need a website. But what if you’ve worked hard to build a successful business without a website? Do you really need one?
A successful business without a website
Herlihy’s, in Florence, MA is my favorite women’s clothing store. The store has been at the same location since 1927 and has changed hands only 3 times. In 2001, Linda Warburton bought Herlihy’s and transformed it from “…the place your grandmother shopped for bras and girdles,” into a women’s clothing boutique attracting customers from near and far who are fashion conscious, professional women, of all ages: These women want personal service and need clothes that are appropriate for business, casual wear, and special events like weddings and semi-formals. Linda did all of this without a website.
Remarkably, if you type in “herlihys womens clothing” into the leading Internet search engine, you’ll see that this store dominates the first search page on Google. There are positive customer reviews on Yelp, details about the business from Manta, location and phone information in the White Pages and Superpages, a five-star rating in YellowPages, and four-stars on Insiderpages.
With all the free links and positive customer reviews online, why does Linda need a business website?
“We know that greater success will occur if we have a website,” says Linda. “We also want to keep building the business with new customers.” She’s also concerned that not have a website resurrects the old Herlihy’s image she’s worked so hard to retire.
Websites today are all about building your list
Although Linda hand writes notes to many customers, thanking them for shopping at her store, she wants to communicate with more customers on a regular basis. She also wants to let her customers know as soon as new items arrive, and when Herlihy’s is having promotions and special offers.
If she has a website with an opt-in form that’s linked to an email marketing list service like AWeber, she can easily keep in touch with her customers, plus build a list of new customers while she sleeps.
“ We know, for example, that after a year of asking our customers for their email addresses, we only have a fraction from those women who shop in the store. To be able to ask our customers for their e-mail addresses via a website — and for them, to be able to enter their information on our website, would be great.”
It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in business: start small
Even though Linda has been in business for 12 years, she needs to do what every small business owner should do when starting a website — keep it small and build your list. These are the pages I’ve suggested Linda start with:
- Home page
- About page
- Contact page
Done is better than none
Your website doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be done. If you choose a WordPress website, you’ll be able to easily add text, photos, and even new pages as you need them. If your 3-page website also has an opt-in form on every page, you can build your list 24-7. Before you know it, you’ll have a website that works for your business.
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