A number of years ago I was asked if I thought that every business should have a website. Of course I answered yes. “Even a business like a hamburger stand?” was the reply. “Why would anyone bother to visit a website for a hamburger joint?” The question was valid then and is still valid today – people do not want to visit a website when all you do is tell them about your business. They don’t care. But if you have something to offer them, they will visit your site over and over again.
Here is an example: I just returned from a trip to Washington DC. While we were there, we came across a street vendor selling cupcakes out of a van. There was a long line waiting to buy cupcakes, so we figured they must be good. On the side of the van, they had their website address painted in big bold letters: CurbsideCupcakes.com. Now this is a mobile business and it doesn’t park at the same place everyday, but the next day my wife wanted another cupcake (yes, they were good!). So using my mobile phone, I went to their website. They had a link for “Where is the truck?”, which in fact told us where the truck was currently selling cupcakes. Unfortunately, it was too far to walk there, but the concept was great. Curbside Cupcakes also has a Facebook account where they post information about their location and current selections, which is displayed in real time on their website with a RSS feed.
We also went into a very crowded sandwich shop called Potbelly. Potbelly had a sign over their counter that if you had ordered on their website, you could go right to the front of the line and pick up your order. Again, this is a great use of a website by a small business. If CurbsideCupcakes.com or Potbelly.com had only included a coupon on their Facebook page to drive people to their website (and thus to their store), the web experience would have been great. As it was, it is clear that any business can profit by having a web presence. With a mobile society using smart phones to look up your business wherever they are, every business not only should have a website, they NEED a complete web-presence.