Most websites are useless, a complete waste of money and don’t do a thing for the businesses they serve. But it needn’t be like that.
You may think that, as someone who develops websites for clients, I’m shooting myself in the head by coming out with this statement. But the fact is that I hate to see my clients wasting their money and that’s exactly what I see when I look around the web at many of the websites out there.
The simple fact is that a website is a tool that will enable you to communicate your marketing messages to existing and potential customers in a way that, if done properly, can be extremely effective in terms of results and cost saving. But to do this involves investment in terms of money and time.
I’m continually contacted by potential clients asking for minimal sites (I’ve even been asked for one page websites) in the belief that this will give them a presence on the Internet on the cheap and magically start bringing in business. Well I’ve got news for all the people who think like that. Don’t bother.
To explain, imagine that you are that client. I develop a 3-page brochure site for you and make it live. A few weeks later you start to wonder why that simple 3-page brochure site doesn’t appear on the first page of Google and why nobody contacts you from it. The simple reason they don’t is because your 3-page site is just like millions of others on the Internet. It tells people what your business does and how good it is etc.
But it would say that wouldn’t it? You’re not going to say that your business is no good. All those millions of other sites like your are saying the same thing. Your site simply doesn’t stand out.
What you need to do is to invest time, effort, and money into your site. To use it as a way of showing people how good you and your business are. Show client results. Add testimonials. Add case studies. Write articles about new innovations in your field of business. Make your site one where people will want to return to for information.
If you invest wisely in an Internet presence you will achieve spectacular results. If you think you can get away with a one off cost for a website and then sit back and hope that it will generate business, then forget it. Spend your money on something else.
A website done properly is as investment that will pay for itself many times over. Treat it like a cost and you’ll be wasting your money.
I see this all the time even with some of my own clients; even after I have explained to them how to use their blogs,
You see, the problem is that, these days, people are inundated with sales messages to the point where they are immune to them, and even where they are turned off by them. Your website pages should advertise the products and services that you provide. What’s point of writing a blog if it’s going to contain more of the same?
What should your blog be used for? It should be used to demonstrate your expertise. Post articles about trends in your field of business; your opinions about what’s going on in your field; educational posts about your field; results that you’ve obtained for your clients. All these things will demonstrate your expertise.
Your aim should be to establish yourself as an authority and expert in your field of business so that potential customers will trust you. If your blog makes you come across like a pushy sales person, then it will simply push people away.
I’m not saying you can’t talk about the occasional special offer or promotion that you’re running. But the main thrust of your blog should be informative content.
How do you use your blog? Are you pushing people away?
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A client calls you to ask why he hasn’t received the quote he requested last week. You pause, try to remember and then think “Oh s**t”. You remember opening his letter and throwing it in your in tray so you realize that it must be somewhere under the stack of paper that’s in there.
Sound familiar? We’ve all been in this situation at sometime or other. But in today’s fast moving world, “stuff” (i.e. all the things that come at us such as letter, emails, texts, telephone requests etc.) comes at us so fast that keeping up with it con become a nightmare. How can we handle it? …..Read More
One of the LinkedIn groups that I subscribe to recently had a post entitled “Do Businesses Really Need a Website”. The post referred to a survey that has recently need done where 24% of businesses surveyed replied that they didn’t have, or need, a website. My comment to that post was that most of these businesses who don’t have a website would be out of business in a few years time because of the increasing demographic trend towards the use of online technology by both consumers and suppliers.
Having given this more thought I’m now of the view that not all businesses require a website. However, I still stand by my claim that businesses that don’t embrace online technology will, at some time on the not so distant future, be out of business.
Many business’ website are useless. They are static online brochures that never get updated from one year to the next. And I’m not just talking small businesses here. Some of the larger businesses have websites that never get updated despite having spent thousands to set them up.
The key to unlocking the power of the Internet to promote business is to use it to hold a dialogue with your customers and prospects. The dialogue can be through a blog or social media such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, or iTunes, or whatever arises in the future. That dialogue doesn’t necessarily require a website. Many small businesses do very well just using Facebook. The key here is regular interaction with your audience.
Some people think that all these things that I mention are a passing fad that they can ignore. That is a big mistake because almost everyone, nowadays, is carrying around a computer. It’s called a smartphone.
Smart phone are now ubiquitous. They’re everywhere. Actually I hate the term smartphone. These things are actually personal computers. Yes I know that the term personal computer is used, wrongly in my opinion, for a desktop computer, but these so-called smartphones are really personal because we carry them around with us and use them all the time, not just for phoning people, but for all kinds of applications including accessing and interacting with people on blogs and social media site.
The fact is that technology is now in the hands of the people in the street. Most people under the age of 30 are 100% comfortable with it. What’s more, the development of that technology is accelerating and, overall, making it easier to use. So businesses that think they can carry on marketing by simply placing ads in the local paper and having Yellow Pages paid for entries, are fooling themselves.
Embrace the new technology now and start a dialogue with your customers and prospects. Fail to do that and at some point, in the not too distant future, you will go the way of the dinosaurs. Oh, and of you do have a website and it’s a static brochure site, then you fall into this category as well.
Here’s a website you’ be crazy not to look at - http://theoatmeal.com/
What’s the best way to get your points over to your readers?
Let’s face it, no one wants to read pages of endless text even if they do spell out all your important messages. Images are great but don’t really get the points over. I’ve always argued that the best balance is a combination of the two, but even then, whilst you will probably get your points over to your readers, how much impact will they have? Will your readers remember your message a day, a week, or a month later.
The Oatmeal website uses a unique cartoon style that is often hilariousness, whilst at the same time covering some topics that would otherwise be boring. For example, check out the item that explains how you should use semicolons. For me, semicolons were always a bit of a mystery. I now understand thanks to The Oatmeal cartoon; the impact it made was such that I won’t forget.
I found the Tech section to be highly amusing as well (I would wouldn’t I?).
The Oatmeal is different from other websites. It stands out; it’s highly effective; it shows what can be done by sidestepping out of the mainstream. I’m not suggesting that we all start drawing cartoons. The Oatmeal was created by a highly talented comic strip artist, Matthew Inman. However, in a world where there are more web pages that people on the planet, we all need to find ways to stand out from the crowd.
How do you stand out from the crowd? I’d be interested in hearing your ideas.Read More
What’s your USP?
On of the first things to decide before you even think about putting your business online is to decide what your USP is. Your USP will form the main theme running through your website, and other marketing activities, both on and off-line.
USP – Unique Selling Proposition
The unique things that a business offers to its customers that make it stand out from its competitors
Sadly many businesses appear not to have given a moment’s thought to their USP as the following story illustrates.
Here in my local town, Tenbury Wells in the Welsh borders, things tend to be a little bit behind the times, particularly so when it comes to local businesses. This is not a prosperous town, or even a prosperous area, so small traders need to do all they can to generate business just to stay afloat.
I noticed that over the recent Easter period, the local High Street traders have organized a poster campaign aimed a persuading people to “support your local shops over the Easter holiday period”.
Incredibly many of the shops have their ”support your local shops” posters displayed alongside their list of Easter opening hours showing that the shops are closed on Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday. A few are even closed on the Saturday afternoon.
The main thing that these local shops have going for them, in other words their main USP, is that they are convenient. I don’t have to drive 20 miles to buy a box of screws or to buy pet supplies, and I don’t mind paying a little bit extra for that privilege.
So I ask myself, if convenience is their USP, why do they make it inconvenient for me to buy from them? Do they know what their USP is? Have they given any thought to it? I don’t believe they have. I think many small businesses simply set up shop and go through the motions without any thought. The same it true for many small business’s websites.
So, if you are looking to put your business online, decide what your UPS is before you do anything else.Read More