Your Web Site
There are over 120,000,000 unique web sites. Each one owned by someone who feels they have something of value to offer.
Can you believe there was a time when many business owners could not understand the value of having a web site? That’s because they did not understand how to use it; therefore they could not understand how others would use it.
In some ways, not much has changed. While most would agree that every business needs a web site, there is still a lot of confusion about how to effectively use it as a marketing tool.
Clients often ask me if they really need a web site to succeed. I believe that it depends on the type of business they’re operating and the kind of marketing they want to do. The fact is, for most small businesses, a web site is not the deciding factor in whether or not they succeed. For example, word of mouth is far more influential that even the best designed site. With that, I would tell anyone that it is better to have no site than a poor one.
What your web site should accomplish
A web site is the most unique marketing tool ever created. While it has the ability to present a dynamic and ever changing message, people (or visitors) must actively seek out your site to receive that message. Unlike posters or billboards that are in open view of anyone in the area, web sites are “buried” amongst the millions of other sites all vying for attention.
Getting people to visit your company’s web site can be a job in itself. Being listed on search engines like Google, MSN and Yahoo is a start. There have been dozens of books written on generating web site traffic and the art of search engine optimization (SEO). I myself have written an article about SEO for a popular computer magazine. You can download this article titled Appeasing the Search Engine Gods for free from my own site at http://marcgordon.ca/articles.htm.
From my experience having worked with clients from many different industries, I would have to say that SEO is more important if you are a web based business or a business that uses the web as your primary tool for generating new business.
But for most small businesses where products and services are delivered personally, many other marketing tools can be just as, or even more effective, than a web site at generating new business. For these kinds of businesses, a web site should be viewed as one of many tools in your marketing toolbox, rather than as the most important one.
A well thought out web site can help you inform, promote, and communicate with your market place. Current clients can use your site as a way of learning about new products and services, or finding out about special offers and promotions. Prospective clients can learn more about the advantages of buying from you over your competitors, what products and services you offer, and how to contact you.
Beyond the obvious information about you, your business, your products, and how to contact you, one very key component is appearance. Just as you would not want to shop in a messy store or eat in a dirty restaurant, a cluttered, confusing and visually unappealing web site can do more harm than good. For many visitors, your web site could be their first point of contact with you. What do you want them to see?
Ask yourself these questions to see if your web site is doing all it can in helping your business succeed:
- is the information contained within your site the kind visitors re looking for?
- what is the purpose of your site? (to sell, to educate, or to promote)
- are the messages contained in your site in sync with the rest of your business?