It’s 2018:  You need a website.

True, right now many of your leads may be largely generated from face to face activities, building relationships and good old referrals. And I’m not advocating that scenario is going to change anytime soon. But we can all agree the internet is not a passing fad. While asking for a business card is still a conversational cornerstone at business meet and greets, “Is your website on here?” is the next question on the list.

At a trade show two years ago my client razzed his buddy asking him about why his website was a piece of crap. His buddy said, “We just built that new office last year, so the budget was stretched pretty tight.”

To which my client replied, “And how many people do you get to show off that nice new office to?”

His buddy shrugged his shoulders and said, “Some.”

“Huh,” countered my client, “Bet you’ve got a lot more traffic on that ugly website. Maybe you should find the budget to do something about it.”

That awesome gentleman definitely got a drink  — or five — on my tab that night.

A website is an expectation.

People don’t ask, “Do you have a website?” They ask, “What’s your web address?” In turn, the question to ask yourself isn’t, “Should I have a website?” It’s, “What kind of website should I have?” Build a website that makes you proud. Just as proud as you were of your first business card, the logo on your trucks, or your kid being the first in your family to graduate from college. Not just good enough for government work but good enough to get government contracts.

You’re getting older but decision makers are staying the same age.

Businesses are feeling a shift. Decision makers are turning over as businesses and management positions are earned by Gen-X and older Millennials. It’s not just decision makers, your next hire is also scoping you out online before applying for the open position. You can bet after shaking hands with Joe and Jane Millennial they’re googling you to see if you’re legit.

These younger decision makers won’t forgive you for your crappy website like their predecessors. You may still have a chance at doing business with them if they know you and know your company does amazing work. However, it’s just as likely that your website is their first impression of your business. Don’t embarrass yourself, show up with your boots polished and shirt tucked in.

Google it.

Your clients will only continue to use technology more, not less.

Relationships don’t just start around a banquet table anymore, they begin online with a glance at your website. If you don’t know the answer to a question and you don’t have anyone to ask, what do you do? Google it. Consider your target market. Retailers don’t repave their parking lot very often, and let’s face it, the decision makers may turn over as often as the pavement. The new manager probably doesn’t have anyone to ask who fixed it last time. It makes sense he or she will turn to the web to find a company for pothole repairs. Wouldn’t it be great if they found you? If your website doesn’t show up on Google, you don’t even have a chance to start the conversation.

Good news is Google rewards businesses with well built websites, placing them higher is search listings. The search engine also favors local companies, or businesses near in proximity to the person searching. So you don’t have to be a national company to show up on the first page when people search for your services. But you do have to have a website that doesn’t stink.

Your website is your platform.

Your website virtually shakes hands with business prospects and prospective new hires allowing them to identify whether you do the types of projects that interest them. You have the opportunity to share your story as only you can.  You control the photos, words, and movement on your site. Show off your company culture to attract new hires. Highlight your work and prove you’re a thriving company that others trust with their hard earned money.

An old website isn’t a classic.

An antique website doesn’t have the same wow factor as a classic car. It just looks old. You want to look established, capable, exceptional — not geriatric. You may have invested a bundle in your website seven years ago, and it may have been exceptional, even stylish at the time. The only thing that’s still in style from seven years ago are your cowboy boots.

Say goodbye to pinching and zooming.

As of the end of 2017, 51% of website visits happened on a mobile device. It’s not just your visitors that are judging you negatively for neglecting your site. Google passes judgment as well, favoring sites that are mobile friendly. If you want Google and your site visitors to like you, you need a site people can use easily on their phone.

Don’t procrastinate.

Building a website may only take a few months, but building a web presence is an ongoing activity. In five years your need to show up on the first page of Google search results will be even greater than it is now. But you can’t get there in five years without a plan today.  We both know a commercial deal takes months, if not years, to close. If the hands you shake today will be retired tomorrow, you have a problem. Keep your boots on the ground, and your focus in the cloud, to guarantee your sales funnel stays full of leads to close five years from now.

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