I’m Going To Have To Disagree With David Strom of ReadWriteWeb

Mar 26 2012

I was forwarded this interesting article from David Strom over at ReadWriteWeb.  It basically states that the need for a corporate website is dying.  Here’s the article

Web Informant, March 25, 2012: No website? You don’t need one anymore.

For those of you who have procrastinated about getting your corporate
website together, I have some good news for you: you can pat
yourselves on the back because you have just saved a bunch of money.
For many smaller businesses, you don’t really need one anymore.
Welcome to the post-Web era.

Now, this doesn’t mean that the Web is dead. Far from it, as you might
expect from someone who writes for a variety of Web-based
publications. But the stand-alone website, in all of its pixilated
glory, is becoming obsolete. Yes, you do need something for potential
customers to bring up in their browsers when they type in
companynamedotcom. But you also don’t need to put a lot of effort into
its creation. Here is why.

The days of building community are happening outside of your own dot
com. It used to be that you created brand awareness and a destination
for your customers by having your own site. No longer. Now, there are
plenty of others who will do it for you, and often they will do so
without you having to pay them. Remember the phrase OPM? It used to
mean other people’s money. Today it means Other People’s Marketing.
Let me give you a few examples.

My wife is an interior designer and supervises a small staff. Some of
her business is coming from the communities that she participates in
with HGTV.com and Houzz.com, two places that people go to look at
pretty rooms and get ideas for their own decorating. By writing
comments on these and other discussion forums, she is sharing her
knowledge with the people most likely to hire her. It doesn’t cost her
anything to participate in these forums, other than her time, and she
is reaching a ready-made audience of thousands of women (let’s face
it, we guys generally don’t concern ourselves with design) who are
hungry for this kind of information.

Yes, she does have her own business website. She does need it to give
her business a sense of legitimacy and purpose. But that site gets
dozens of visitors a week, rather than the hundreds or thousands that
the other sites do. (And on Houzz she is top-rated for all St.Louis
professionals, go Shirley!) She is using OPM.
http://www.houzz.com/pro/shirleystrom/sk-interiors

Here is another situation. All of us writers at ReadWriteWeb
participate in varying degrees on Twitter too. We post and repost
links to our stories and that of our colleagues, and many people
follow us as a result. All well and good. But wouldn’t it be better if
someone else posts a link to our stories on their Twitter account?
Doesn’t that link carry more weight than just our own flogging of our
content? Yes. Remember, OPM! I was covering a conference not too long
ago: one of the participants of the conference liked one of my
stories, and Tweeted about it. That was far more effective than my own
Tweet. I was being validated by someone else’s point of view.

The same can be said about Pinterest. Again, why should I try to post
photographs of my work (if I am a visual artist) when I can do the
same on a site where millions of people are clicking and recommending
what they see to others? Certainly I can spend the time and create
some very nice HTML that showcases my art on my own dot com. But if I
am trying to reach a wider audience? OPM has already built a pretty
nice way to distribute this information.

Now, I don’t think we are going to just forgo our websites entirely,
but certainly we should place less effort into making them the
sprawling digital places of c.1999. No need. A friend of mine, Bruce
Fryer calls this the “Cheap Bastard Startup” method of IT. He even
owns the dot com. Just make it good enough to get by, and count on OPM
to push you further along.

Yes, OPM does have some drawbacks: Like Blanche DuBois, you do have to
rely on the kindness of strangers. Particularly when it comes to
online discussions, there are trolls and others who don’t hesitate to
take people apart verbally. You do have to develop a thicker skin, and
try not to take these folks too seriously. And you have to constantly
feed your discussions and other sites with content, with
recommendations, and spend time to make sure that you are part of the
ongoing conversations online. It certainly is easier to just put up a
piece of content on your own website, press publish, and walk away.
But it is more satisfying once you get your OPM network working for
you.

Welcome to the post-Web era. And if you are looking for some window
treatments, I can point you in the right direction.

I get what he is trying to say.  He’s trying to say that the corporate website is not going to be the driver of traffic.  It’s going to be the holding place for more information.  In many cases it’s true.  People are much more likely to visit Pinterest and forums rather than visit your website every day.  He’s saying that the positive talk and information being shared about your company at these places trump your website.  Probably all true but when it’s said and done you want a place that you control. Simply relying on others to do your work is a big mistake.  Let them add but don’t ditch your responsibilities because you now have other outlets to promote and share.

Ideally you want your happy customers being your sales reps.  You want the free buzz.  It merely compliments what you are doing with your website and your staff.  You NEED to have a place where they can find out more.  They have become interested from one form or another and now they want to know more.  Your website does that.  In my opinion, a facebook page or a twitter account is not enough.  You need some form of a main site.  A site that can give them more info than the can get on the social media sites.

Ordering is the easiest example I can give.  You can now shop on Facebook but I think a customer would be much more comfortable ordering at your main site.  Another example. We pushed setting up landscape appointments in our newsletter and facebook page with little response.  We put a giant graphic and button on our homepage of our site and within 2 days had two quick bookings.  I realize its only been a few days but I truly feel by putting it on our main site it made the customer feel like they would get a better response than booking it by just sending us an email.

In short, David is partially right in my eyes.  There is so much more to a business than just their site in today’s world.  Your customers will outsell your sales team 5 to 1.  But its not that simple.  The customer also wants trust and I feel that trust comes from your homepage.  That combined with all the other things he mention and I think you are ahead of most businesses.

 

Read the original article here. 

Share This

About the author

Outsmarting the Dumb, Outworking the Smart

View all articles by ShaneCultra

5 comments

  1. Richard

    Your can dominate your little niche on a forum or site like the above but your own website adds credibility and professionalism still. Additionally, all of the things posted on pinterest came from a website. . . someone else’s website maybe . . .why should you let them have the traffic and have your user going back to them for the “answers” you have ?

  2. Johnnie

    Yeah, it was a dumb article he wrote. Those other sites can go out of business. Ownership is where it’s at.

  3. Andrew (from Flippa.com)

    Hi Shane.
    Absolutely agree with your notion that the article is way off the mark – suspect he was looking to ruffle feathers rather than make a coherent argument.

    Rather than argue against the value of a website, it seems more about suggesting that the channels traditionally used to attract users to a website are fragmented: not just direct or via search engines, but also increasinly via community/social networks (and not just facebook/twitter/pinterest).

    As a marketer, I absolutely agree with that as an idea – we need to be active in more places (or more selective about where we are active ;-)).

    What this does do, however, is raise questions around the degree to which a domain contributes to the success (or otherwise) of a website. Personally, while I’m with most domainers in thinking that a strong domain can do good things for website success, I feel that websites still can succeed by tapping into the aforemontioned channels even though it may have a so-so domain.

  4. Anon

    Yes, the web is evolving, yes, ones presence on the web takes a different shape than it did in 1999 but his entire narrative is absurd and his conclusions are all tortured.

  5. Roverwhelming.com

    Shane,

    You fell for the fallacy of false choices presented by David. You don’t have to choose, they are two different animals.

    You spent your write-up agreeing with him, and then titled it a disagreement. You were for it before you are against it?

    Mega-sites play a completely different role from a business or personal site, and the handsome thing is that you can have both.

    What David wrote is a useless information, if you agree that you should have both.

Comments are closed.