Every small business entrepreneur knows that a credible web presence is a must have if you’re serious about getting your venture to fly.
For most start ups, one of the very first things on the ‘To Do’ list is the company website. You pick up the phone to a creative web design agency and instruct them to build you an impressive site.
From a quick poll of my small business clients, this can set you back anything from minimum £1000 for a basic version, to between £3000 and £5000 for more functional, better designed site. Some of my customers have paid up to £10,000.
No doubt, if you’ve picked the right web design supplier to help you, this route can get you a great looking corporate website. But if funds are tight, it may be reassuring to know that in terms of creating an effective web presence, this is not the only route open to you. There is now a plethora of free and very powerful web tools you can use to communicate with potential customers and start promoting your company online.
Here are 3 cost effective ways to represent your business on the web:
1. Start a Business Blog
A business blog is an easy way of publishing information and ideas online. Don’t just dismiss these as naval-gazing online journals; a well-written, regularly updated blog is a massively useful tool for small businesses who want to prove their expertise and communicate with potential customers.
Go to Blogger or Typepad or Wordpress, select a template and start to publish information, articles, and news about your new company. There are some very professional-looking templates out there. For one of the best, in my opinion, see Wordpress’ Thesis theme.
2. Participate in Social Networking
Like it, fear it or loathe it, online social networking is here to stay, and it can bring real benefit to your new company in terms of reach, contacts, credibility and sales.
Two of the most popular and effective tools for UK small businesses are LinkedIn and Twitter.
- LinkedIn is a business networking site which allows you to publish your profile and get connected with other business professionals. It’s a kind of online CV; you can explain what you do and your experience, show recommendations and even presentations you’ve created in Slideshare to demonstrate your expertise.
- Twitter is a ‘microblogging’ site. You create a page for you or your company and communicate short messages with links to things that interest you, articles you have written, books you like etc etc. Done well, this reinforces what your ‘brand’ is all about. You can extend your network and reach by following others in your field, and making connections.
3. Create a Google Profile
In the last couple of months Google has launched a new product to enable people to quickly and easily get their personal profile online. See www.google.com/profiles.
A Google profile is like a virtual business card. You can add a photo, content, links to other places on the web your company can be found and contact information. It takes minutes to complete and is a great way to make sure that, when someone searches for your name, they find the right information on you and your company.
The above are just 3 of many ways to quickly establish a web presence for your company, without breaking the bank. Used in conjunction with each other, they are hugely effective.
Once funds become available, you can invest in creating a traditional corporate website. But don’t ignore the free tools – link them to your new site, add informative content regularly, build your networks – and watch your business grow.
Remember: web presence is more than just a company website.