How can I use my website to market my business?
Website architecture 101 - building something structurally sound
You wouldn't build a house without plans. And you shouldn't build a website without planning the online architecture.
Many businesses think that they have an online presence purely because they have a website. Their thinking is similar to that seen in the movie Field of Dreams:
"If you build it, people will come."
(But will they?)
Instead of maximising the potential of their website, what most companies really have is a wasted opportunity.
An online presence means NOTHING.
Think about it - you could have a BAD online presence or a GOOD online presence. An INEFFICIENT one or an EFFICIENT one. (It's a bit like the latest fad of "content marketing" - pointless in itself unless the content is actually useful to people who are likely to be able to give you money!)
So much potential...often wasted.
A website is capable of being so much more than the average business owner ever thinks of. It can be:
- a 24/7 brochure for your business (the most common type of website)
- a resource for capturing leads (often done poorly or inelegantly)
- a virtual salesperson
- a place to offer support and information to your clients (when you're not there to reply to emails or answer phone calls)
- a marketing funnel (simple or complex)
- a platform to showcase new products or services
- an online training hub (delivering valuable content- not poorly-disguised sales pitches - to your clients)
- an e-commerce site (i.e. an online shop)
- an online portal to other micro-sites/platforms for your business
- many more things!
Start at the beginning: know what you want your website to be about
To build an effective website, start with the end in mind. Know what you want your website to actually do for your business. Know your intended outcome. Is it:
to capture leads?
- to drive sales?
- to engage people?
- all of the above?
- none of the above?
When I ask business owners what the main purpose of their website is, 80% of the time they say "erm, well, it's mainly just to have a online presence because everyone's online now."
Map it out on paper
Whenever I help a client develop the architecture of their website, I map it out on paper with them first. Often I'll use Post-it notes to help visualise the structure - write a page heading on each one (i.e. home page, contact page etc.) and then lay them out and move them around until I have a website structure that makes sense.
Ironically, building a website begins with a pen and paper. The very last stage of the process is to actually create the website!
Never forget who your website is for
Many business owners forget who their website is actually for. Never forget that the website is not (and should never be) for or about you. It is for your clients and needs to be designed with them in mind. Make your content informative, engaging and genuine (no robotic "corporate-speak"). Be genuine.
Make it about them
A business thrives or dies with its customers. If you have no customers you don't have a business, you have a fantasy! Make your website about them, not about you.
- How can you solve their problems?
- How can you help them?
- Why should they do business with you?
- Why should they do business with you NOW?
Over to you! Get your pen and paper out and start designing a website that is structurally sound and that is entirely focused on your clients/potential clients.