For New Businesses
New businesses have the unenviable task of building a site from scratch with a very limited budget. There is a whole universe of objectives that their website can achieve so the key is to identify those goals which will create the most benefit while minimizing the initial capital expense.
Basic Online Identity
The first thing a new business needs to do is purchase their domain name. A domain name is the online name used for the website, in marketing materials, and in email addresses. There are a few things to remember when selecting a domain name:
- Keep it Short - Short domain names are always better
- Easy to Say and Spell - Try and avoid using dashes (-) or unusual spellings of common words
- Say What You Do - Many good domain names aren't the business name but are more of a description of the business. This can be a double edged sword, however, as people will not think of this first when looking for the business online.
- .Com if You Got 'Em - By default, the .com name is always preferred. However, online users are becoming more sophisticated and will accept other extensions (like .net, .org, .cc). For non-profit groups, .org is preferred.
Once the new business has purchased the domain, Site Street can host an email-only account for just $5/month. It is important to get away from an ISP account (like AOL or Road Runner) to establish credibility. Site Street will also publish a single page about the business at no additional cost.
How much website do I need?
The challenge for a startup company is how to divide up the initial budget between operational and equipment expenses, employees and payroll, and marketing... of which web is just one part. Many new businesses opt to hire a buddy or college student to build a quick website. But a bad website can often do more harm than good! Consider what a potential customer will think if they just cannot find your website... or if they do and it is a poor representation of your services. It's important to know when you should spend for what you need and not skimp on an important aspect of your business.
The biggest difference between websites and other marketing avenues is persistence. Where other marketing options only benefit your business when you spend the money (direct mail, print advertising, radio/tv advertising, networking groups, etc.) a website is paid for up front but lasts for many years for no more than a nominal hosting fee. It's harder to bite the bullet and spend the amount of cash required for a good site.... but that site will be a continuing asset to the business and the marketing efforts.
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