Do you know what your online image says about your business? Take this little two-part test:
You meet two people at a networking event and both tell you that they sell and install fine replacement windows for your home. You gather their business cards for later reference and a week later decide to inquire about replacing your windows. You’ve forgotten who handed you which business card, but they both have email addresses. One says email@example.com and the other says firstname.lastname@example.org. To which company will you feel best about trusting your window replacement needs?
Suppose you don’t want to get an actual quote just yet but want to do some research first. Are you more likely to go to www.finewindows.com first or to http://sites.google.com/site/billybobsfinewindows? And if you didn’t have the website address for www.finewindows.com, how likely do you think it is that a search on Google or Bing or Ask would find http://sites.google.com/site/billybobsfinewindows near the top of the list versus www.finewindows.com?
With so many small businesses running on shoestring budgets these days, it is indeed tempting to use free email accounts and set up websites using free templates available from Google, MSN and others. Or to just set up a Facebook page and hope for the best. But what does that say about your business to someone who doesn’t know you? If you chose www.finewindows.com above instead of http://sites.google.com/site/billybobsfinewindows you already know the answer to that question.
Getting your own domain name for your website, and so-called “vanity” email accounts using that same domain name, doesn’t have to be expensive. And setting up the website doesn’t have to require a degree in web design (or rocket science!). Many ISPs can provide you with bundles that include domain name registration, email addresses, website templates and even more sophisticated capabilities such as newsletter broadcasting, blogging and e-commerce. It might really pay to look into these options before making a decision. Unless you really don’t think your image is that important.
Do you have questions on anything mentioned above? Give me a call or an email, or post a comment, and I’ll be happy to discuss them with you. Do you any have experience using one or the other or, even better, both kinds of approaches mentioned above? I’m betting that lots of people would love to have you share your experience. Let us know what results you’ve experienced. Thanks for reading!