Do I Need a Business Website?

The Hidden Dangers of Marketing on Other People’s Sites

Imagine you’ve worked for over a decade to build your business’ reputation and brand awareness. Then, one day, somebody you’ve never even spoken to decides to take it all down as a punishment for some minor infraction, then refuses to hear your appeals or even listen to you. Some business owners don’t have to imagine – they’ve already lived through it, and have the scars to prove it. If you’d like to learn how to protect your business from a similar fate, then read on.

A Story of Hope and Loss

Meet Hope (not her real name, obviously). Hope had started her small business over 10 years ago armed with little more than a couple of dogs and a dream. She began by paying a company to allow her to post her adoptable puppies on their website. Not long after, she was building a solid reputation for supplying healthy, happy puppies to loving families, and earning many glowing reviews from delighted parents in the process. Thanks to her positive reviews on the adoption website, people from all over the US felt comfortable adopting from her. Things were going great, and looked to be improving all the time. Then it all came crashing down.

In the process of trying to help someone else find a home for their puppy, she unknowingly violated one of the puppy website’s conditions. With just the click of a mousebutton, all of her reviews vanished into thin air, and her account was permanently closed down. In the eyes of her potential customers, she’d gone from a highly respected and loving professional to an absolute beginner without a single word of praise in her favor.

She contacted the puppy website and asked them nicely for help straightening out this misunderstanding, but all of her pleas fell on deaf ears. The company didn’t have the courtesy to even reply to her message, much less allow her an appeal. All her years of paying to use their website meant absolutely nothing to them; all her hard work and the sincere feedback it resulted in was simply gone – deleted in a moment without the faintest hint of compassion, empathy or respect.

Was Hope’s fatal mistake violating the puppy site’s conditions? Partly, but no matter the transgression, the punishment should fit the crime. That didn’t happen here. Instead, Hope’s web presence was found guilty by some random internet judge, denied a fair trial, and executed by firing squad for nothing more than a minor infraction, and all without warning. In the end, Hope’s only real mistake was trusting a third party with her company’s reputation.

The Danger Lurking Unseen

Any time you add content to a website owned by someone else (like Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, Google or a host of pet adoption sites), you’ve basically given them complete power over your material. From that point on, they can do essentially whatever they want, including deleting it, holding it ransom, or selling it to the highest bidder. You might not think they have the rights to do that, but are you sure you didn’t already give them those rights? Did you read every line of their “End User Agreement” and “Terms and Conditions” policies to be certain, or did you just click “I Agree” like basically everyone else does? How do you know exactly what you’ve given them permission to do?

What’s the best way to avoid having your business’ reputation held hostage by some Zuckerberg, Russian social media expert or worse? Simple: Don’t use the Internet. But if you, like most businesses, can’t afford to not have an online presence, the safest bet is to establish your own home online – and that means having a website.

When you own your own website, you’re in complete control. You determine what gets posted, when it gets posted, where it’s posted and if/when it gets updated or removed. You choose who can leave reviews, what comments are acceptable, and who gets a say in your business. Owning your own website means not having to worry about violating someone else’s terms, or wondering if they’ll shut you down tomorrow and flush all your hard work down the drain, or sell it to shady characters around the globe.

Some companies think they’re too small for a business website. They’re not. Some owners think websites aren’t worth the money, or can’t be affordable. They are, and they can be. Just ask Hope, and all the other business owners that have learned the hard way not to trust trendy, faceless corporations with their most valuable assets. They’ll tell you exactly how much peace of mind having their own website brings, and how much they regret not having taken control of their online presence sooner.

Starting Over Again

Thankfully, Hope’s story has a happy ending. After the puppy site destroyed her account, a distraught Hope knew she had to do something to get her business back online, and fast. Remembering a referral she’d been given previously, she quickly called Castlewood Studios (our web design and Internet marketing company), and spoke with us at length about her ordeal and how important it was to get her business back on track again a soon as possible.

Saddened by her plight, but not surprised by the way she’d been treated, our team put their heads together and soon came up with a plan to get her pups online once more. Working together with Hope and her helpers, it wasn’t long before we had a professional website up and running, and an optimized Adwords campaign sending scores of visitors to her new website daily. Within a week or two we had helped her get back to finding great forever homes for her puppies online, and now more efficiently than ever. Best of all, she could breathe easy, no longer fearing her business might be someday held hostage by another’s arbitrary policies.

If you’d like to learn how your business can protect itself from similar third-party nonsense, or escape the shackles of their stacked-in-favor-of-the-house terms & conditions, give us a call. We’d love to discuss how we can help you grow your business, and all without any strings attached!

By Eric S. Streeter

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