That is an interesting question for a Web designer and I am glad you asked :)
Here are some interesting facts about our world: researching information online before taking decisions is now the norm. “Google it” is now a verb and something we hear every day.
Researching online before buying is the norm
According to this 2018 Google Consumer insights survey:
53% of shoppers say they always do research before they buy to ensure they are making the best possible choice.
A bit more than half the population doesn’t seem like a big deal at first look, but when you think about it, it ‘s really a crazy number because it concerns all kind of purchases, including the most trivial one including all the consumables.
If 53% of people do research before buying toilet paper, we are surely nearing the 100% with more significant purchases
Most Business needs a strong online presence to grow
What it means for you as a service business owner?
That it will be extremely hard to grow your business without having a strong online presence (there are of course some exceptions, like local business getting work through word of mouth & referrals but this doesn’t scale well - a google business profile could help building a local online presence in this situation)
Does this mean a website is mandatory to grow your service company? The short answer is “As a service provider, most likely, yes”
Before I elaborate on that, there are some situations where investing in a website may not be your best choice and you have better alternatives
You may not need a website if...
Let’s say you are starting a new business, and you want to sell hand made products locally (like my sister in law)
One way to do that is to invest in a proper e-commerce website (Shopify is a good bet) that will take couple of weeks and thousands of dollars to be built (Ever heard of the Hofstadter's law? It states that a project always takes longer than expected, even when the law is taken into account)
An other way would be to use a Facebook page or set an Etsy shop, start marketing and selling your products today. No investments required - you pay a fee to the platform based on your sales (that are likely to be limited at the beginning) and you can start leaning about your clients preferences immediately, experiment and optimize…It will still be time to invest your own website when the business has taken off and you want to reduce the platform fees
You could also focus on Instagram and develop a community interested in your products than can be bought via your posts, stories and Instagram store (this would be a good strategy for hand made products that have a story and unique look with limited editions)
As a service provider you need a website
As a service company, you may not want to follow these approaches.
Because having an online presence serves a different purpose in your case: you want to create connections with your potential client, start building trust while informing them about what you could do for them
And the most efficient way to achieve this is via a website that you can fully control with your brand, your tone of voice and your content:
- You unique value proposition
- Your clients testimonials
- Your visuals
- Your call to actions
With a website, you can tell a story that drives your visitor through the different chapters of your future shared success and concludes with an invitation to leave a message
With a website, you can make this happen 24/7 without even you being present. This will do wonder for your work life balance
With a website, you can also build passive income stream by selling expertise packaged as digital assets
There is a bigger question
In fact, there is a much more interesting question to ask about Website and service companies.
It is about how much should you should invest in your website. I get this question frequently from clients and here is what I usually tell them:
You should invest enough to serve your purpose.
A website is a tool with a purpose that is directly connected to your current objectives, your business maturity and available resources
When you are launching your business, your main focus is about finding clients and a website can become a distraction. At this stage, the main purpose of your website is to back your sales pitch, reinsure by showing you are a business and expose people to your new brand. It is nothing more - and you don’t have much to show (as a business) anyway
In this situation, your best move is to limit your costs and use a website builder like Wix to publish a website quickly. Take the time to choose great visuals and write good copy. Getting help will save you time but doing it yourself is also a valid option
When your business is more established, things gets more interesting. You have more content to show as you are getting recognition from clients and peers. Your vision on your environment and yourself is also richer: you know better what works for you and what doesn’t and your current website doesn’t reflect all this maturation and it may be time for a redesign
It is usually at this time that service companies choose to invest in their website as a proper lead generation tools, start a content / SEO strategy to drive traffic and experiment with layout to stand out from the crowd. As this require some expertise, it is better to get professional help to achieve your goals
As a service company, you need an online presence to grow your business. Because of the nature of your activities (you don’t have product to show), a website is the most condensed and efficient way to create connections and educate your potential clients
At the end, the real question is not about having a website or not: It is more about having a clear purpose for it and not being distracted from your main challenges
Here is the link to my sister in law Etsy shop, pretty neat no?