In the past, people used to open the print edition of local Yellow Pages to find a restaurant, a doctor, an attorney or a bakery. Today they go to a search engine like Google, Yahoo, Bing or AOL to find products and services they need. Once they find what they searched for, they open any specific business's website to get more information: prices, menus, special offers, benefits of any product or service, address, phone numbers or electronic forms to make an appointment or a reservation. Furthermore, they search for driving directions to your brick and mortar office or store.
If you don't have a company website, you may be missing a lot of sales. In fact, you are allowing your competitors to beat you to a sale just because your business doesn't have a website.
A company website has become an important marketing tool to attract new customers and to keep the existing ones informed of what your business is doing.
The point is not that your business needs a website, the point is that your customers expect your company to have it.
Once you have decided to own a site, you should find a professional web designer to design your Internet presence. Don't tempt fate by doing it yourself, unless you're a professional designer. Even worse, don't assign this task to your youngest nephew just because he is very good at handling amateur Internet tools. As your brochures, catalogs and print ads, your website must show a very professional image of your business. A poor image will discourage customers.
You and your designer should discuss what you really need to show in your site: images, sections, navigation tools, interactivity, colors, types, information, promotions, animations. Let the designer decide what script language is better for the good of your site. Web design technologies are changing every day. As you do with any other marketing material, you have to approve the final draft of your site before the designer posts it online.
Once your site is fully operational, you should go to the next step. This next step is to let your clients, prospects, friends and relatives know that the site is online. Print the site's name (www.mycompany.com) on your business cards, flyers, print ads, catalogs, brochures and any other marketing material. If you have an advertising budget, consider to advertise on the Internet. You may choose a search engine or a news site with a high volume of visitors to buy banner ads hyperlinked to your site. When a visitor click on your banner, she will jump to your site.