Most businesses equate using the Internet with building a Web site, but even without a site you can take advantage of opportunities to use e-mail, keep an eye on your competition, and connect with networks of business consultants and management resources, as described in the following sections. Once you create a Web site, your opportunities expand even further. You can:
– Use your site like an extension of your business lobby. Increasingly, instead of walking into or phoning your business, your prospects meet you online. Design and use your site to make a good first impression with a clean look, efficient service, easy-to-access information, and quick response to prospect needs.
– Use your site the way you’d use a toll-free phone number. In the same way that ads and mailers traditionally sent prospects to a phone line, e-mail and ads now send people to the information-rich environment of your Web site.
– Use the Web as an advertising vehicle by getting your site ranked in search engines and directories and achieving links from other sites in an effort to drive new prospects to your business.
– Use the Web to background and pre-sell prospects, job applicants, and suppliers, who frequently do a Web search to find your business online before pursuing a personal contact.
– Use your site to sell your products to current and new customers.
Communicating via e-mail Few small business owners need to be convinced that e-mail is a great way — and increasingly the preferred way — to communicate one-to-one or with many customers at the same time. And hitting Send is free, everyone’s favorite price.