A business website. Do you have one? As I mentioned in an earlier post, every business in today’s market needs a website. It amazes me that some business people are still dragging their feet on this one. Perhaps its because there are still some people out there telling business owners that they don’t necessarily need one. I believe that’s like telling them they don’t need a telephone. The Internet is where the majority of people go for their information now, if you don’t have a presence on the web, you’re missing out on reaching new clients and meeting the needs of the ones you already have. Don’t believe me? Conduct an experiment and ask your current customers how they find information they need. I’m pretty sure the Internet will be their number one answer. I’ll state it again. Every business needs a website.
Some of you will be smiling right now, thinking to yourself, I’ve got that covered. We have a website. Did you know that a bad website can be worse for business than having no website at all? Once upon a time I worked for a company that thought they were doing OK on the Internet front because they had a website. They were living in a fairy tale. What they considered their website was nothing more than a static page that listed the name, address and phone number of the company. Nothing else. No information. Not even a link allowing visitors to e-mail the company. This is an excellent example of how having a bad website can hurt your business, not help it.
People landing on that particular website would probably disregard it and the company immediately. Why? Several reasons. First, it’s obvious the company hasn’t put any time or effort into the website, what does that say about their commitment to customers? Unfair assessment? Perhaps, but that is the message you’re giving to anyone that visits your page. Secondly, there is no information for a potential client or a current one to find and utilize. It doesn’t tell anyone anything about the company, what it does or produces, or why people should do business with them. And lastly, it gives the impression that your lagging behind technologically. This is huge. People want businesses who are always growing, improving and finding the best ways to give them what they want. Customers want to be able to go to your website and have questions answered that they might have. A static name, address and phone number gives them nothing. They can get that from the phone book. But they won’t. Why use a phone book when the Internet is so much easier. They’ll just click on the next guys website and if he has it together, he’ll get the business.
You should look at your website as an integral part of your business plan. Use it to advertise. Internet marketing is big business. Things like search engine optimization (SEO) for websites have become businesses themselves. You can paint a picture of your company for all the world to see. Put your best foot forward and show everyone why your business is their answer. Use it to communicate. Have a frequently asked questions page where current customers can go to find the answers to the questions they ask most often. This will also free up you or an employee from answering the same questions over and over. Provide an e-zine, blog or newsletter on your site that is updated with new information on a regular basis. You can let everyone know about changes, events, introduce them to personnel…the possibilities are endless. Have a page where you give a ‘resume’ of the company. It instills trust when you share the company history. Make sure you include a page about what you do or what you offer. It may seem silly, but there are businesses that forget this vital piece. Be sure you have some way that visitors to your site can contact you right from that webpage. For example a link allowing them to e-mail you or a contact form that they can fill out and gets e-mailed directly to you.
Another important aspect should be links to other sites. Partner with compatible businesses and provide a link to their website and ask them to do the same for you. For example, if you’re selling baked goods, link up with the local coffeehouse. It’s sort of like the high tech version of ‘word of mouth’. Also provide links to sites that you feel would be a benefit to your customers. An accountant might have a link to the IRS website for instance, or perhaps you could link to your local chamber of commerce, allowing local customers to find other local businesses.
Whatever you do, don’t let your website become stale. Update it on a regular basis. Add holiday greetings to your front page perhaps. Start a blog.** Or advertise ‘web-only’ specials for customers that find you via the web. Keep it fresh and up to date. It is not good if someone calls the number on your website to find the phone has been disconnected because you moved or some such thing. Make your website as informative as walking into your office and speaking to you would be.
So let me ask again, What’s on Your Website?
If you have questions regarding websites or anything else you’ve read here at the Conference Table, head on over to the Ask the CAVA page and leave a comment. Or feel free to e-mail with the question if you’re ‘comment shy’.
** In my next post we’ll explore business blogging and why you should consider it a valid marketing tool.
Also, I’m honored to have been asked to be a contributor for the Home Office Warrior, the Internet Magazine for the Home Office Entrepreneur. It’s a great magazine and I encourage you to check it out.