Other than sales, what else are business websites good for?

Sculpture of two surprised gold miners examining a large chunk of gold.
Gold Strike” by Flickr user Tamsin Slater — licensed as Attribution-ShareAlike

Short answer? Everyone knows websites can be important for sales and marketing, sure. But what about recruiting and reputation management?

Early in my career I got a 2nd-hand referral for a surprisingly large B2B company that didn’t have a website. The referral was from a consultant who felt they should have one, even though the owners didn’t think they needed one.

Do you need a website for sales?

Thing is, these particular owners handled 100% of company sales with other CEOs on luxury resort golf courses. I don’t think they even had business cards! (Their assistants and attorneys probably did.) They correctly believed they didn’t need a website for sales.

That’s an extreme case but it points out that websites are important if and only if you need clients who will look you up either in search or to check your suitability after they get a referral or introduction.

For sales? Maybe not. But how about recruiting?

That said, the consultant wanted them to have a website because the company was off the beaten tracks and was having a hard time recruiting executives and high-skill employees. So the consultant felt a recruitment oriented website could help prospective hires get over concerns about relocating to the middle of nowhere.

Again, an extreme case, but the point is that websites aren’t just about direct sales.

If not for sales and recruiting, how about reputation management?

Final point: the first website I was paid to build was for an elementary-school curriculum company. As with almost all curriculum companies, back in the 1990s, there were 20-30 times more negative articles and reviews than positive ones. Without a website anyone searching for the curriculum online saw page after page of negative results. With a website and just a minimum of SEO key phrases (basically the company and product names plus “curriculum” and “education”) they became the top hit. And their pages and blog posts could directly counter the negative publicity, even though they didn’t need it for direct sales.

An extreme case yet again but it illustrates the point that a website can protect a company’s reputation even if it doesn’t need it for sales.

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