Website? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Website*

Not all businesses have (or want) a website

Marketing without the Web? Who does that? Who can be profitable without generating content and hanging it out on the Internet? A lot of small businesses can.

Can you imagine business life without a Web presence? How would you tell your story and do content marketing? How would new customers find you and existing customers follow you? What would you do if you couldn’t say, “Yes, let’s put that on the Website”?

It’s nearly inconceivable for most marketing managers, of course. When was the last time you tried unsuccessfully to find a business online, or heard one of your peers say, “We don’t have a Website yet”? It takes one back to the mid-1990s.

What? No Website?

Would it surprise you that many of the small businesses you’ve visited in the last month have no Website? Or that those business owners don’t feel that they need one?

In “Less than Half of Small Biz Have Sites,” MarketingCharts points out that

Less than half (45%) of small businesses have websites, according to data analyzed by online form builder Formstack. Formstack defines a small business as having maximum annual sales of less than $5 million.

A survey from Discover Credit Cards found that, although small businesses are beginning to embrace e-commerce, less than half of small businesses surveyed (2007: 33%; 2009: 45%) have a Website.

You’ve been in plenty of <$5-million businesses lately: day care centers, shoe repair shops, liquor stores, barber shops, corner groceries. Did they seem odd or unprofitable because they don’t have a Website? They have credit card relationships, according to Formstack and Discover, and cell phones and maybe even e-mail.

But they think that their business does not currently need a Website (41% of those without one), think it would cost too much money (19%), think it would cost too much time (16%) or think it would be too complex (9%).

Many corner markets, dry cleaners, bakeries and other mom-and-pop operations have enough neighborhood foot traffic that they really don’t need the Internet to turn a profit.

What must that be like?

Information cost and the Web

Why do Websites exist? Why do the marketing managers who run them and the marketing writers who populate them have jobs?

It’s because there is an information cost associated with getting buyers and sellers to find each other. Sellers create Websites and generate content in order to lower that cost to just a few clicks.

Isn’t it funny that such a large percentage of today’s buyers and sellers still find each other without incurring those costs, and without using a Website to lower them?

Could you go back to marketing without a Website? How would you do it?

*With apologies to Alfonso Bedoya, who had the privilege of delivering a similar but far more eloquent line in “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” (1948).

photo credit: Maurice Koop


Author: John White

John White of venTAJA Marketing is a content marketing writer for technology companies. He posts about technology writing from the perspective of the marketing manager. It’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it. Download his eBook, “10 Questions to Ask When Hiring Your Content Marketing Writer.”

2 thoughts on “Website? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Website*

  1. As a frequent writer of business profiles, I encounter the challenge of no Website often. If a business has no Website, creating meaningful, profitable copy is much more time-consuming. I’m obliged to track down meaty comments from the owners, who are so busy running their businesses, it’s difficult for them to set the time aside for an interview. So we play phone and email tag, or I need to physically visit their business to get a sense of it myself.

    The time involved in communication tag and physically foraging for relevant information means it’s more expensive for me to write the profile. A good Website saves time- and money. It helps writers work more efficiently, so they can spread the word about your business. The first step to relevant marketing today is building an active Website.

    1. It’s a lot like lighting a candle and putting it under a bushel, isn’t it? Doesn’t make any sense to me, either.

Comments are closed.