This is the net generation, meaning more and more people are looking for searching for goods and services online either through internet search engines like Google and Bing and etc or social media platforms like Facebook. One of the reasons is they don’t want to waste time and energy going from place to place looking for the providers of the goods and services they are looking for and then compare the different prices and final make a choice to purchase. They are right as customers or clients because, when it comes to customers, main factors are cost, convenience and what they consider as value for their money.
So, for big businesses, they’re easy to locate because they have been in business for quiet a long, build up their brand reputation, located in prime areas in the main urban centers in PNG. But for smaller SMEs or Individual Free Lancers and family operated businesses, marketing is mainly dominated through contacts and networks. Marketing through contacts and networks are good but limit the potential the organization has in terms of getting new customers and clients. For example, regular contacts who give businesses might ask for their commission payment, switch to other providers and etc. Getting general genuine customers is important as well as those regular customer through contacts. To do, SMES need digital presence so people see their business presence on the internet when they search for the particular business name or it match their search keywords with goods and services the particular SME provides.
This leaves the key question? How do SMES create their digital presence on the internet? Basically, for SMEs in PNG, the two basic ones are Business Facebook Page and Website. This article will discuss both of these so SME owners can make a informed choice on which one to use, or consider both options.
Business Facebook Page.
Creating a Facebook Page for a Business or Organization is easiest thing to do with no cost at all. All that is required is for anyone to have a personal Facebook Account and then create a Business Page under their personal account and maintain the page by posting posts about the business.
Facebook page does have it’s advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of Facebook business page.
- It can appear on internet search result. When someone search for the business name on internet search engines like Google or Bing, it will show the Facebook page or post.
- People can share the post with their friends and contacts on Facebook or email.
- Can appear on Facebook search if someone searches for business name inside Facebook search feature.
- Interested people can become followers. This means any latest posts on the page will be automatically relayed to these followers Facebook wall as notifications.
- Important contact information like location, contact phone numbers and website address can be displayed on the Facebook page.
- Provide instant feedback to queries or comments.
Disadvantages of Facebook business page.
- Need to create regular posts. This requires time and extra work. Needs someone to do this on a regular basis.
- Need to respond to comments and queries. Facebook is a social network platform so whenever someone comments or query they expect an instant feedback or response. Again, it’s tedious task responding to comments and queries. Some comments can be negative by someone who might have had a bad experience with the organization. Although, it might be one time event but he/she might express it on the Facebook page and message is relayed to the followers and the public before it a response is posted.
- Most of the time people are on Facebook for social reasons, as such, whenever they see business related posted on their walls, most view it but skip through because their focus is interacting with friends and family members.
- As new posts are posted, old posts get less attention because users might scroll down normally less than 50 posts on a post.
- Hard to quantify whether Facebook page is actually bringing customers to the business, unless some form of question or customer feedback is provided to customers asking them of how they get to know the business, with Facebook Page as respond option.
So, the alternative solutions are to have a dedicated staff to respond and maintain the Facebook as part of his/her responsibilities. Other is to outsource to someone and pay him/her for his services.
Creating a Business Website
The second option is to have a business website. Unlike the Facebook Page, creating a website does have costs. Now, with cloud computing services (computing services offered through the internet), cost is far less than it was some years ago. So, here the basic cost factors to consider. Technical details are not discussed her for each factor but as cost factor only.
1: Domain Name Registration
Think of domain name as unique postal address for the business or organization on the internet. Domain name is often stated as website address. For example, www.yourbusinessname.com or www.yourbusinessname.com.pg When the domain name is purchased, it becomes unique, meaning there is no business or organization that have the exact website address.
If a business or organization wants a website address have the country tag .pg, then application for the domain name is done only through Papua New Guinea University of Technology (Unitech)-Domain Name Registry Services. One requirement in the Application form is to indicate the details of the domain hosting provider. Cost is K300.00 initial registration with 1 year fee and annually renewed at K100.00. Check with UPNG Unitech Domain Name Registry for latest fees.
Those website addresses that doesn’t require any .pg extensions, for example www.yourbusiness.com domain names can be bought from any online domain name sellers. In most cases, the domain hosting companies sell domains as part of their website hosting services. Doman name cost is roughly between $5-$50. This means, cost is less than K200.00, depending on the Hosting provider. Renewal is often annually.
2: Website Hosting Provider
Once the website domain or address is purchase, the second most cost factor is where it will reside or live on the internet. Think of websites domain address as the Post PNG Postal Address box or physical business location. Businesses need to decide which Post PNG branch they want to have their postal box with. This is where, cloud computing services becomes handy. There are so many web site domain hosting providers in the world where domains can be purchased as well as hosted.
So cost of hosting will vary depending on the hosting provider chosen. Some of the popular hosting providers on include www.siteground.com, www.hostgator.com www.flywheel.com . There are so many. It important to know the hosting provider and the and monthly or annual hosting subscription plan cost.
3: Website Construction Labor Cost
If the business is engaging a IT Person or business for it’s website, then labor cost is determined by the size of the website (how many web pages and content size). There are three(3) options.
1. Web Developer.
The costliest one would be to engage a professional website developer (someone with programming web programming skills) who can develop the website content pages, and then upload onto the hosting provider.
2. Using a Pre-Made Website Template
Second but least costly is to buy a pre-made website templates (Website Themes) to suit the business type, download and then install it on WordPress with the hosting provider and polish with up with content. Different website Themes can be bought from theme market place like www.envato.com and theme developer websites.
3. Using a Page Builder-Elementor or Divi
The second and third option, doesn’t require any coding skills and someone with IT skills can do it. However, it does require bit of training and learning curve to work with page builders and website templates to get a nice outcome.
3: Annual Domain and Hosting Renewal Payments.
Domain name renewal and website hosting requires annual renewals. Cost as mentioned earlier is determined by the hosting provider. If domain name is .pg one then domain name renewal will be paid to Unitech and Hosting fee will be paid to the hosting provider. If domain is .com or.org and purchased with the hosting provider, then both domain renewal and hosting fee is paid to the same provider.
Also, note that hosting providers provide different renewal payment option plans. Monthly, every 6 months, annually (12) months and even 2 years (24 months options).
Businesses can pay these fees direct or use third party (company that providers the website development and maintance service). For direct payments, they need to have access to Hosting Provider login details. If third party is used, they pay to the third party and they take care of the renewal fees.
For paying direct, Debit Credit Card details are required so when the renewal is due, the Hosting Provider will automate the payment via the Credit Card details registered with it.
Advantages of Having a website
- Having the most important information like contact details, details of goods and services provided and their prices, answers to frequently asked questions and etc are available 24/7 as long as the website is live (meaning hosting and domain name renewals are current).
- Customer interaction is through email and phone details provided via the website so, interaction is controlled and specific rather than public like the Facebook page.
- Appear on Google or Bing internet search results.
- Only the website address can be stated on Facebook Post or Newspaper advertisement if newspaper advertisement is needed. It reduces the cost of newspaper advertisement.
- Website address link can be posted on Facebook Page so followers and visitors can be rerouted to the website.
- Can be used on official business documents like the Business Profile, Proposals, and marketing materials.
- Minimal site content updates if and when needed.
- Easy to monitor site visitors and related statistics using free tools like Google Analytics. Depending on site visits and search engine ranking, it can help in terms of branding and marketing.
Cost of creating and hosting a website can be much cheaper. All that is required for SMEs in PNG is to find someone or company that can help having considered the above cost factors. Having a digital presence is no longer a option but is soon becoming a necessary to serve the digitally connected generation of this net generation customers.