Covid-19 is a wake-up call for B2B firms with dated websites

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Over the last couple of decades pretty much every industry sector has wholeheartedly embraced the web.

There are well optimised websites for every conceivable kind of consumer product or service – from fast food to fitness.

It is well understood in the business to consumer (B2C) world that investing in a beautifully designed website is a necessity if you want to attract custom in a highly competitive landscape.

This is especially true for independent businesses that suddenly find themselves fighting to capture direct customers against venture-backed tech giants – whether its Amazon, TripAdvisor or JustEat.

But there have remained many pockets of resistance. And this is especially true in the business to business (B2B) category.

Here it is still common to find websites that at best could be described as cursory.

Outdated template based websites with low resolution graphics and stock photos of hands being shaken and white boards being drawn upon by white teethed Americans. Websites that are still, 13 years after the launch of the iPhone, not optimised for mobile.

A journey through certain niche categories of business really is like travelling back through time, to the days of the early web, when hit counters, Flash players and buttons with drop shadows competed for attention.

But it did not matter, the owners of these businesses would say, because they did not win work from the web.

New business came from trade shows, exhibitions, conferences and from going to see prospective customers face to face.

The roads and skies have been full of travelling sales executives for decades. This has kept many airlines and hotel groups in business.

In some specialist areas of business, such as engineering and manufacturing, it worked. There are many very successful companies with terrible websites.

But Covid-19 has been a wake-up call. With events cancelled and travel curtailed, companies that had never prioritised a digital footprint before are having to do just that now.

When your website is your main means to build trust and establish credibility, when it becomes the primary way to communicate your unique value proposition, and to drive enquiries, then it becomes a priority.

A version of this article was published as part of a weekly column by Guy Cookson on marketing, design, trends and strategy in the Lancaster Guardian, Blackpool Gazette and Lancashire Post. See our brand, web design and marketing recent projects.
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