Connecting with customers is the key to business survival and growth, but many small businesses stay hidden because of misinformation. A report released earlier this year by Clutch found that 46% of small businesses don’t have a website, mainly because owners think they don’t need one or assume it will cost too much. We talked to two HostGator customers based in Seattle, Punch Drunk Productions and Cake N Iron Games, to explore why web presence matters to businesses of all sizes and types, whether they’re brand new or well established.
A digital calling card and portfolio
Punch Drunk designs and produces live video and other content for events and broadcasts and has a long list of clients ranging from the City of Seattle and Valve to YouTube and The University of Washington. Creative director Jacob Stone founded Punch Drunk in 1998 as a video production and dance-party VJ outfit. Today the company employs a dozen designers, directors, engineers, “camera ninjas,” and other professionals.
Punch Drunk has an established reputation and client base, but Stone still considers the company’s website an indispensable marketing tool. “Our industry is invisible to most people who aren’t directly in events and live production, so making a name for yourself can be difficult. Without a website, a business is a big question mark to the public,” Stone said. Punch Drunk’s site also serves as a portfolio customers can browse any time. “We reach hundreds of prospective clients with our demo videos and case studies through our website.”'Without a website, a business is a big question mark to the public.' -Jacob Stone of @getpunchdrunk Click To Tweet
For independent game developer and voiceover artist J.C. Brazil of Cake N Iron Games (cakeniron.com), the situation is different, but the promotional needs are the same. The Cake N Iron site serves as a portfolio just as Punch Drunk’s does. “Whenever I talk to new clients or network, all I have to do is offer my webpage and the details are there for them to follow up with at their convenience.”
Mobile optimization is a must for small business
Both company’s sites are mobile-optimized, because more than half of all searches now take place on handheld devices instead of computers. “The world no longer looks at billboards and commercials, but whatever comes across their phones,” Brazil said. “I wanted to make sure I had a reliable website for that reason.”
Mobile is another area where many small businesses lag behind larger competitors. According to the Clutch survey, nearly a quarter of small businesses websites are not optimized for mobile display. That problem is easy to fix by finding a web host that offers plans with fast-loading, responsive site themes that show up properly on any screen, regardless of size or type.According to @clutch_co, a quarter of #smallbiz websites aren't optimized for mobile. Click To Tweet
Responsive design is easy to opt into and relatively inexpensive. To get it, both Punch Drunk and Cake N Iron use HostGator. Stone said we “offer a huge bang for the buck and have been very reliable over the years.” Brazil cited cost and uptime as advantages for the business. “HostGator has the most competitive rates. All the websites I own are hosted by HostGator.”
Despite the low hosting costs, their websites have delivered real value. Stone says switching Punch Drunk and its extensive portfolio from a custom-built website to a HostGator WordPress site with a built-in content-management system was “a huge milestone, an absolute game changer.” For Brazil, the Cake N Iron site is delivering customers. “When I got that first sale, I just sat there and thought, ‘Wow. Someone enjoyed what I did enough to pay for it. That’s awesome! I should make more and see what happens!’”
This love for work shapes Brazil’s advice to other new business owners. “Do your own thing, be your own Dr. Frankenstein. Create your own art and vision that you are proud of and you’ll talk about it naturally instead of pitching it. It’s not the idea…it’s the enthusiasm behind it!” Stone agrees that taking action is the key to success. “Just say YES. It’s always better to do something than nothing.” For small business owners, doing something includes getting a mobile-optimized website to get found by customers on the go.
Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelancer who enjoys writing about business development and marketing, e-commerce payments and fraud prevention, and travel.