In the past, when consumers were looking for a product or service, the easiest option would be to consult the Yellow Pages for a business local to their area, offering the products or services they are in need of. Thanks to the internet today, the same consumers can go to a search engine or index and be presented with a large variety of supplier options - each with a website containing product pictures, price lists, maps and phone numbers, and even online shops for ordering the goods - all without leaving their homes or offices.

In order to survive, even the Yellow Pages have gone online! When next you use the Yellow Pages, have a look at the number of listings that include a website address. These businesses have realised that their websites can expand their listing with 10, 20 or more full colour pages.

We live in an information age and customers expect the information about your business, your products or your services to be readily available. A website is an easy and cost-effective method of managing this expectation. Think how much easier and more effective it is to refer enquirers to your website than it is to mail them a brochure - think how much cheaper it is to have a website than it is to print brochures.

Even if your best business comes from word-of-mouth, your potential customers may want more information regarding your business. A well-designed, professional website can give you added visibility and credibility. Additionally, the price of hosting and maintaining a website is probably the most cost-effective advertising you will ever invest in.

Unless you have all the customers you can handle and have no desire to grow your business any further, a website plays an important role in your marketing strategy.

WebsiteBeware of thinking that you do not need a professional website, as you serve other businesses rather than retail customers. Many businesses search for new suppliers online - if they do not know about you, they cannot contact you. And even if your business is only local to a specific area, it can still benefit from having a website that shows your contact details and location, list your services and products, or offers special promotions. In short, if you want more customers, you should be online - regardless of your industry.

Think of having a website in the same way as having a telephone - without creating adequate awareness, your phone will not spontaneously start ringing with new customers wanting your services and products. But if you do not have a telephone, you will definitely be losing business. The same is true of a website.

The reason why so many companies are disappointed with their website's performance is that they have failed to maximise their potential. A website is a passive device - remember the example of a telephone. Unless you have a well recognised brand name you need to have some way for people to find your site. If you have not marketed it properly, it is like taking a bunch of brochures, putting them in a cupboard and then wondering why sales are not improving.

To be most effective, your website should be part of your overall business marketing plan. By aligning online marketing with your offline efforts, you will present a consistent style and message across all points of contact with potential customers and better achieve your overall objectives. Registering your website on search engines will only provide you with temporary boosts in traffic - this is not enough. In order to ensure a steady stream of targeted traffic over time, it is important to incorporate your website into your overall, long-term strategy and ensure continued exposure.

AccessWeb provides professional website development and hosting services, with each package carefully designed to offer our customers with a solution appropriate to their needs and right for realising their online potential.