Depending on who you ask, you will get many answers. And for some, the answer may seem very simple. One! But let me ask the question in a different way: “how many business cards do you need for your business?” Now the answer becomes more complicated. The more people you want to reach, the more business cards you need to hand out.
What is the point of handing out business cards?
- To entice people to call you when they have need of your product or services
- To help people remember who you are.
- To show people where you are by having your address on your business card
- And to help brand your name.
These are just a few of the reasons you hand out business cards. Getting people to recognize your business and logo when they see it other places, getting new business and giving people a way to contact you. And the nice thing about business cards is that you can have them professionally printed for about $35.00 per/thousand.
Now let's take a look at a website. One of the things that most people don't realize is the fact that if you have a website; (designed properly of course); after a few months it starts to get regular monthly traffic. Even if you don't do much of anything to market your website, there are always a few people that will find it. You will start to see traffic of a few hundred unique visitors to around a thousand visitors per month.
Now, let's take the low side of a hundred visitors per/month just to keep the numbers simple.
Because you are a person who is really trying to grow your business, you attend regular business networking meetings and you pass out some business cards. Every morning when you go to your favorite coffee shop before work, you make it a point to talk to a few new people and hand out your business card. When you are at the grocery store or even a park, you meet people, get friendly and hand out some business cards. (This is called social networking by the way.) At the end of the month, you've handed out a thousand business cards.
Wow! That's a lot of hard work.
But you're industrious. You're an entrepreneur and you know it takes hard work to build a business and acquire new customers so you can build them into loyal customers. What you also realize is that these people generally do not need your products or services when you meet them. Many of them will forget about you, others will eventually throw your card away or put it into a file where it collects dust. And fewer still will have that information at the point in time when they realize they need your services.
Now let's say for the sake of numbers that out of every 1000 business cards you hand out, you acquire 10 new customers. That number is probably on the high side but for the sake of demonstration, it sounds good.
Compare that to a website. Think of it like a dynamic business card. The fact remains, that if you don't do anything with it, it will eventually get indexed by the search engines (Google, Bing...) and when people are searching, a certain number of them will find your website every month. Let's also say (on the low side) that the number of unique visitors is only 100.
What is the difference?
The difference is in the quality of the visitor. The ones who find your website on the Internet are actively looking for your product or service. They are seeking you out at the point in time when they are more likely to purchase.
Your website offers all the same things as your business card:
- your name
- the name of your company
- your location
- and a phone number to contact you
But it offers so much more:
- you can have detailed information about your company
- share with your visitors how long you've been in business and instill confidence
- rich details that describe your products and services
- vivid imagery, and
- interactive media
You are not limited to the information you can share with your visitors and it is all designed to give your customers a reason to contact you or make a purchase online.
How many more calls do you think you'll get from the one hundred people who found your website because they were looking for your products or services, verses someone you gave a random business card to just because you met them at your favorite coffee shop?
Really? Do I have to answer that? Wouldn't you rather have 100 qualified active customers who are looking to do business with you or 1000 people you randomly met.
So how does this relate to how many websites your business needs?
For the answer to that question, we need to take a deeper look at the business card analogy. We all know that it would be almost impossible to hand out a thousand business cards every month and still work your business. It would take up all of your time and you'd never get any work done.
So what is the solution?
Start with your coffee shop. Get to know the owner; after all, you stop by every morning. You ask if you can put a small card display near the register, so that even when you are not there, you have the opportunity of getting in front of new customers.
Your next point of contact is at your weekly business networking meeting. Once everyone in the group has your business card, what do you do? You work on building relationships of trust. You get to know these people, their business and their needs. You learn about what kind of customers their looking for and how you can recognize them. At the same time, they're doing the same with you. After awhile you give each of them a handful of business cards so they can hand one out and recommend your business when someone needs it.
The more points of contact you have, the more relationships you build, the more exposure you will get and the more recommendations you will receive.
So how many websites do you need?
- Your main website: is like your business (it is not your business). But it is the primary point of contact for your business. It is the place where a potential customer can find the most detailed information about you, your products, your services, your company and how to contact you or place an order. It is your business front on the Internet. It is the homeplate on a baseball diamond.
- The coffee shop: where you leave your cards is like Twitter. People talk and chat about everything. It's a place to make first contact. People are not there to look or find your business. They are there for other reasons. But every now and then you will encounter someone who takes your card.
- Your business networking group: is more like Facebook. This is where you spend a little more time getting to know people, taking an interest in them and building relationships. You don't really want millions of followers. You want to start out building 10-20 strong personal relationships. If those 10-20 people could recommend your business to 10-20 more people, at the point in time when they need your services, that could add up to 200+ new customers. Could your business handle two hundred new customers?
Linkedin: your second business networking group and possibly one of the most powerful.
Linkedin is one of the social networking groups that is often overlooked by business owners, but when it is correctly used, it can be more powerful than Facebook and Twitter. Why? Because it was made for business networking; whereas, Facebook and Twitter are both personal, social networking websites. They were not designed for business even though businesses use them for connecting socially.
That is the real power of social marketing.
There are many more we could discuss but let's stop here. So the answer to our original question is at least one, four is not a bad number, and there are many other social avenues at your disposal depending on the time you have to manage each one.
How do you make these websites work for you to help grow your business? For the answer to that, you'll have to read my most popular article: “Don't Follow Me on Facebook”. It is filled with experience and insight of the do's and don't's of social marketing.