A website is not a silver bullet

I just finished reading Harry Beckwith’s What Clients Love: A Field Guide to Growing Your Business. One of the chapters that stood out to me was the one where he talked about having realistic expectations for your website. He writes:

Osborn Drugs in Miami, Oklahoma, pioneered the commercial use of the Internet. In 1996, it created an easy-to-use Web site, publicized it well, and waited for the cash to roll in.

It didn’t roll in. It crawled.

The site produced moderate growth–about 5 percent annually. More significant, however, was where that added 5 percent came from: 90 percent of the people using the site already were customers.

The Web site, in the end, has not changed Osborn Drugs’s business. It has merely tweaked it, shifting a few store buyers over into online buyers.

Osborn Drugs learned that for most businesses, the Internet is not an enormous marketing tool. It just creates one more communications medium and distribution channel that can attract a few new customers and help you satisfy your current ones….

Year 2001 Beckwith Partners
Estimated New Business Inquiries

From all sources = 325
From firm Web site = 3

The Internet is not your business. It merely supports the fundamentals of business–basics that the Internet does not change.

I couldn’t agree more. Net Elevation sometimes gets business inquiries from potential customers that seem to think a new website will rescue their struggling company, or, even worse, that their fledgling company will depend on its website for all their sales leads. We try to encourage these folks to think of their website as providing no more than 10% of their overall inquiries, just to be safe.

It may seem odd for a web design company to be discouraging potential clients from “dreaming big” with their online business goals. But our mission is to help our customers, even if it means turning down a project that could provide us with a short-term profit. We hope that all of our customers will stick around for many years to come, not burning out due to a faulty marketing plan that is overly dependent on magical results from their website.

2 Responses to “A website is not a silver bullet”

  1. Noah Says:

    Interesting article. Where did you got all the information about sales… 🙂

  2. how do I get a website Says:

    Awesome! I’m getting updates now! When will you create another post?

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