by Sarah Dopp
If you offer services to the public, you understand the importance of listing your business effectively. You put your name in the Yellow Pages. You list it in directories and with professional associations. You place your advertisements where they'll be the most appreciated. You know your customers need to be able to find you.
Today, a presence on the web is your most crucial business listing. Your website contains the information you want your audience to see, and it's personalized to fit you. Take advantage of the internet's free sharing of information. Use it as your most powerful marketing tool. With a website, you reach an unlimited audience at very low costs.
Imagine your business on the web. Picture its perfect website—from the smooth, professional design to the way it interacts with you visitors. Your logo proudly stands at the top of each page. The content reflects exactly what you want to tell the world.
Now picture your customers -- the people you want to reach. Consumers today know that search engines are far more effective than the Yellow Pages. One search brings up your business's thorough website. It may hold your hours of operation, prices, special deals, news, events, recommendations, immediate shopping, and professional presence. It appeals to your customers. You've sold them.
Even better, that web search also brings your listing and web link on a few directory websites. That article about your business in the local paper is listed, too. Your customers can check other sites, see what people are saying about you, and confirm the quality of your business. This is good old-fashioned "asking around" at its finest.
Now come back to reality. Those customers searched the web today and didn't find you. Instead, they kept looking until the found your competitor. You just lost their business -- possibly forever.
Your website, once acquired, is your biggest asset. Its reaches are infinite. This is the best marketing, communication, and networking tool available today. You simply cannot afford to be without it.
Get started now. Take a look at our Guide to Getting a Website, and start developing a plan for your web presence.