Your Website in a Recession

What does your website mean to you in these current dark and dangerous times?  For many small businesses the answer is unfortunately going to be something like:

  • An unnecessary expense
  • A forgotten add-on
  • Certainly not a priority

We are a small business and for me the answer is:

  • The only place I plan to spend money for the foreseeable future

Why would it be that I feel the right answer for me is so diametrically opposed to the priorities of most small businesses?

I can’t say for sure but I am getting the very strong feeling in January that some small businesses are finding themselves caught in the headlights a little.  In many cases, the company website is a sideline, an offshoot that is not seen as central to the business of the company.  Often this stems from the site being established with little or no thought to it’s goals and who it will serve.  Many will jettison any notion of developing their website along with any other non-core expenditure in the understandable rush to cut costs.

The reason I say that some businesses seem somewhat caught in the headlights is that the stampede to cut costs just doesn’t seem well thought out.  Most herd mentality actions aren’t well thought out.  I am no business guru, no economical analyst or anything like that so I’ll just explain how I look at this. 

When times are difficult, I’m not looking to stop spending.  I think stopping spending would probably be suicide but I can’t be sure (since I’ve never been stupid enough to try).  What I am doing is desperately searching for every effective way I can find to spend money (what little I have). 

Now, the key word in the above sentence is effective.  I’m looking to cut spending all round the place if it won’t add to the bottom line but if I can find an avenue where the cost or sweat equity that goes in will produce profitable business then I will spend there.  In fact, I will increase spend there. 

Where I find expenditures that are not producing profitable business I will wonder why I didn’t notice wasting that money last year and I will cut savagely.

If your business is being hurt by the economic climate we are in, your biggest problem is often where you find those extra sales.  Business that was coming in last year is not coming in now.  Stop spending seems to be the answer adopted by many but how long can you stand in those headlights?  Is stopping spending going to increase your sales to the level you need?

The answer isn’t to stop spending but to radically cut unprofitable spending and to identify anything that can be cost effective and give it as much as you can.  You can only stand in headlights so long before you get run over.

Why will the website be the only place we plan on spending money for the foreseeable future:

  • The Internet allows me to measure the return on my investment in ways that just can’t be matched offline.
  • Cost effective advertising options on programmes such as Google’s adwords.
  • I can leverage my willingness to work into more ways to reach out to customers.

I know that we can use our website to provide actual business advantage and to reach out to potential customers in a way that is cost effective.  Many of the ways that I use the Internet to reach new prospects are free but even those that cost are measured and ruthlessly culled until only those that are profitable remain.  If it’s profitable, I’ll spend until it stops being profitable. 

If your company website is a forgotten add-on and a non-core activity for your company then you may well be right to decide that this is not the time to spend on it.  If, on the other hand, your website delivers business or you can see ways in which it could, then often your website will provide one of the cheapest, most cost effective marketing channels you have.

What will your website be to you in this recession?

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