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Focus on these things to succeed in Small Business Owner

The Web Changes Everything – Or Does It?



The Internet has changed our lives in more ways than we can imagine – and some we’re not aware of!  Every business owner or principal understands that they need to have a presence on the web and there are thousands of tools that will help you - from providing hosting for a site you design to designing, hosting and managing all aspects of your site. 


But as we move forward in this ‘cloud’-based business environment, there are a few key things you need to keep in mind.


4 Things You Need To Know About Your Web Presence


1. Keep It Simple


Your website is the most important way to communicate the value of your company and your products.  In the old days it was enough to just replicate the information in your marketing brochures. Today you need to think of your website as your key spokesperson because more and more people turn to the web first when they start their research. That means in addition to the ‘About’ page describing your company in a few short sentences, you need to have a consistent theme that talks about your products and or services;  the value proposition of those products and services; and what it means to your industry.


Make sure your website is easy to navigate with a logical flow to the information.  If you were looking for information about your product or service, what would you want to know?  Make that information easily available from the Home page and not buried several layers down in cascading menus.  Use fonts that are easy to read and don't overload with graphics.  Use key words or phrases that will resonate with your industry and link those to key pages that tell your story.


Make it easy for visitors to contact you. Provide both phone numbers and e-mail addresses to make it easy for someone to get to the right person and/or department. Rather than just an info@ e-mail address think about setting up a sales@ and support@ so that visitors can feel like they are sending their request to someone that can address their request.  When responding to these requests by e-mail, many spam blockers will send messages from non-personalized e-mail addresses right to the Junk file – so, if possible, have the responses come from an individual e-mail of someone that can actually help with the question or request.


Many websites are deploying tools that let individuals interact directly with you while they're online and these can be very valuable but must be manned when they are live.  Nothing is more frustrating than having someone ask you online if you'd like to talk to a contact and then tell you that they're not available.  For a couple of examples check out BoldChat, Pidgin and ClickAndChat.  



2. Keep Improving Your Message


When you build your website think of it in terms of a very short story that gives a synopsis of your products and services. Don't forget your history as it's very important for me to know that you have been around for a while; that you have experience in the area that I'm interested in; or that your products have been in use for a number of years.  If you're a relatively new company or introducing a new product or service then build up your credentials in terms of why you and/or your staff have the expertise to deliver on the promises and the statements that you make.


This is where customer testimonials can be enormously valuable. If I go to a website looking for a product or service and can read how someone similar to me has used your company or your product, that gives me a level of comfort. Be sure that in some way you qualify the testimony, meaning a partial name of the organization or something that will let me know this was from a real customer - seeing testimonials from Executive Director XYZ Company tells me this may have been made up.


3. Keep It Fresh


There is nothing worse than a stale website. If you're going to have a PR or Blog section, make sure it's updated even if the press releases are ones that you send out with regards to a new customer, a new feature, or a new service. The first sign that an organization is not as robust as they present are blogs that have outdated information or have not been updated in months or even years.


Just like a social media presence, your website needs to be a living environment. While developing and hosting a website costs money, probably your largest investment is having someone that keeps it updated, publishes new pages or information, and manages all aspects of your SEO (search engine optimization) - basically the keywords that make sure people find your site when they do searches.  Today SEO is probably the single biggest factor in getting your site to come up in search engines.  There are numerous tools available that will help you identify what the keywords are in your industry to make sure that you come up in the list of potential providers.  Some of these are also associated with Pay Per Click services – so make sure you understand what is being offered and the long-term costs.


4. Know How Your Customers & Prospects Use The Web


One of the most frustrating aspects of sales is hearing that you weren't included in an opportunity where you could have provided a positive solution. In recent years the web has provided a phenomenal shopping environment for your customers and prospects. Surveys indicate that vendors have been either selected or excluded before the prospect or the customer even lets people know they're looking for something – by then it’s too late as they have already narrowed what vendors they plan to evaluate.  


If you think about your last major purchase, new car, flat screen TV, smart phone, etc. – where did you get the information you used to make your decision?  If you did like most of us – researched the web – ‘Googled’ for reviews and information – then that is exactly how your prospects are determining who they will solicit proposals from.   


Review the keywords in any RFP (Request for Proposal), talk with your sales staff about what prospects say are their biggest issues and reasons for searching for a new product and/or service and make sure these are included as keywords in any  press releases, testimonials, new or updated pages on your website, or articles you or your staff publish.


Your website is one of your most powerful marketing tools and will shape how people view your company and products.  It is an investment that needs to be made on an on-going basis and either you or someone on your staff has to be responsible for keeping it fresh and actively bringing new prospects to your door.

{#/pub/images/RobertWalters.jpg}Written by Robert (Bob) Walters, President & Founder of RH Walters Associates- 
Bob is a successful Entrepreneur who grew his vertical market software company to over $2 Million in annual revenues.  He now works with small business owners to help them experience exponential growth. For the past 10 years Bob has worked with small businesses to automate their practices with a focus on improving profitability, streamlining operations and increasing business development opportunities.  Through his seminars & speaking engagements, he has successfully built a market niche with customer centric product features & an understanding of the relationship between ideas, marketing, sales and customer service.


Do you have a question for Bob?  Please visit our Small Business Owner Community, he will be happy to help: Ask an Expert


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Marketing 101 With A Twist…Making It Effective

Eight Steps to a Successful Integrated Marketing Program

The Difference Between Price & Value: Create A Profitable Balance 

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Start-Up Feasibility Report Card


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