Why go it alone when other small businesses around you are in the same situation? Share the load, share the wealth…
Joining together with other like-minded companies can reduce the direct cost to your business when you set up and maintain a Web site.
There are many ways of splitting the cost and complexity of an Internet presence, depending on your circumstances, and the nature of the other partners. You may be looking to share the load with nearby stores in your shopping complex; with other business tenants in your office building or commercial estate; or with a company across town who offers a complementary product or service.
A small shopping centre, for instance, could be modelled on the Internet as a ‘virtual mall’, in which a central starting page acts as a mall concourse, leading into small Web sites for the individual stores contributing.
The member stores of the virtual mall could have space allocated on the front page of the Web site to advertise their presence deeper in the site, in the same way that stores in a mall can advertise through their attention-grabbing shop fronts.
Space can either be divided equally between the participants, with some form of rotating allocation of ‘top billing’, if the site is an equal partnership between them, or space could be allocated proportionally, depending on the financial contribution of the member stores.
If your company operates with resellers for the products and services you provide, perhaps a combined site would fit the requirements. With your company providing the background information on the products, services and set the context, the individual resellers could purchase space on the Web site to advertise their own particular details, whether they are defined by geography, skills or target markets.
Your company may provide services that can form part of an arrangement as far as the customers are concerned – such as in the expanding wedding services sector. A florist, for instance, may have an established mutual recommendation arrangement with a local formal hire store, and a nearby cake store. Customers buying their wedding cake are recommended the florist and the formal wear, and vice versa. This relationship can be translated to a shared Web site – whether split evenly down the middle or in some other manner.
Through a relevant trade association or market specific publication you may be able to find a company in a similar position to your own, but serving a distinct geographic region. In this way there will be a shared interest and viewpoint, but no direct competition between the Web site partners.
A shared Web site need not be divided up evenly – it may be that in your particular situation, a more applicable way of lightening the cost would be to rent out space within your Web site to other small businesses or sole traders, looking for an even cheaper means of getting their name onto the Internet.
When it comes to sharing the costs and overheads of a Web site, there are many ways to slice and dice the deal, depending on your circumstances and your requirements. One or other possible division methods is sure to suit your particular needs – and the needs of your potential partners.