Websites for Small and Medium Size Enterprises
What is your real business opportunity?
The Internet has become a well-used and daily presence for many people in developed nations. Most large organisations have spent large sums of money to develop web sites to utilise this communications channel. However, many small and medium sized organisations, whether for profit, not for profit, or social enterprises struggle to understand how they should use it. This article discusses how to decide what the web can do for your small or medium sized enterprise or organisation.
Your website is another communications channel
A website built for your organisation, is another communications channel to your world of customers, employees, partners and other persons or organisations associated with your organisation. Think of other communications channels that you use now; your retail outlet, sales staff, telephone directories, newspaper and mass mail advertising and even word of mouth. The Internet and your website provide a means of communicating that has many of the benefits of other channels and some unique ones of its own. As many of you are aware, your website can even be a means of selling your goods but that does not mean it should be.
Many of you may already have a website for your organisation but are not entirely satisfied by it. By considering the following steps, you begin to understand what you can do to improve your existing website.
For advertising, marketing and sales
Think about the people and organisations that you would like to communicate with.
Identify those persons and organisations that you currently communicate with as well as those who you do not now communicate with but would like to in the future. This basic question is the first step to understanding what your website should do for you.
Think about what you want to communicate to those people and organisations.
This follow-up question is the second critical step in understanding what you're your website should do for you.
For communicating within the organisation
A website can be used to communicate with your own employees in a cost effective manner. Using the Internet in this way is known as an intranet site and only your employees will be able to see it and use it.
For communicating with partners and other stakeholders
A website can be used to communicate with your suppliers and those companies that you have business alliances with. Using the Internet in this way is known as an extranet site.
For selling to your clients
A website can be used to allow your customers to order and buy products and pay for those orders. Using the internet in this way is known as electronic commerce or e-commerce for short.
What people and organisations would you like to communicate with?
What do you want to communicate to those people and organisations?
Answering these questions begins the process. Organisations vary enormously in what their core purpose is?Most for profit organisations can clearly define who or the type of people they would like to talk to, what they want to say and why they want to say it. Not for profit organisations or social enterprises have a greater challenge in answering these questions as their missions and how to achieve success are less tangible. None the less, the same basic questions apply to not for profit or social enterprise organisations.
First think about how you communicate now?
For profit organisations communicate to sell their products or services.The communication enables previous or existing customers to decide whether they want to buy additional products or services and allows you to communicate to potential new customers. Your answer to these questions will vary largely depending on the nature of those products and services. Thus - What you should use a website for will also vary largely based upon the products and services.
How do you determine what your website should contain?
What makes up a website is known as content. The content can be quite varied within a given web site.It can include narrative that describes your company and its products, graphics about your products or pictures of your staff and location and even videos that deliver your message. What makes sense to place as content on your web site is determined by a balance of usefulness and the economics of maintaining it. For more information, please see Content and Your Website.