Public relations: Web sites are essential

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Q. We have a dedicated base of referral sources and our resources are limited. Do we really need to invest in a website?

A. In today's business world, it is essential to have a good website that provides basic company information. It should be well laid out and easy to navigate, and it should include writing and photos that are easy to comprehend for people with different educational levels.

At the very least, a website provides a form of validation that a business is legitimate, which is vitally important when a hospital or physician's office is trying to determine to which HME provider they should refer patients and when patients are looking to find a provider.

But beyond providing basic company information, a website can serve a much broader role and can strengthen an HME provider's bottom line. A website can be used to promote the newest products and update patients on the status of special orders or deliveries. It can feature video or print testimonials from satisfied patients and referral sources.

A good website does not need to be a budget-busting proposition. Web developers can build a content management system so that the HME provider can upload their own content on a regular basis. Product offerings, photos, press releases and most other information can all be uploaded directly by the provider with little time involved. With a content management system in place, most of the expense of developing a website is one-time. Small annual fees cover the cost of hosting the site.

Basic but attractive websites that are professionally written and designed can be had for well under $10,000. Adding in functionality like online ordering and purchasing will cost extra. But even these add-ons can generate substantial return on investment.

When evaluating whether to have a website or what kind of site to have, HME providers must think not about the expense but the added revenue it will generate.

Can you afford to have a good website? How can you afford not to?

David Ball is president of Ball Consulting Group, LLC. Reach him at 617-243-9950 or