Using the internet to build your business
Brand building on the web, part 1
Take the time to make sure that you get a web designer who has the skills to make your website a place that generates qualified prospects or direct sales.
Many web designers are very good at graphic design, but not as good with content issues. A website that looks good but delivers the wrong marketing message will not produce sales.
When you evaluate your designer, get past looking at the portfolio to assess his or her grasp of marketing basics. Does he or she understand your unique selling proposition, does he or she understand who buys from you and why?
Creating an appealing image for your company on the web is important, but not nearly as important as making sure that you are offering something to your customers that will motivate them to make an inquiry or place an order when they visit your site.
If your web designer is preoccupied with “building your brand” and less concerned with how the site will produce transactions, you have the wrong person.
Make sure that the designer knows what your customers want and what is unique about the way you fill those wants.
Now don’t misunderstand me, the way your site looks and functions is important, but remember that people are only interested in what you have to offer today. What can you do for them today? And let’s get real; they don’t give a toot, in most cases, about your brand. Unless it offers what they need today.
Does the site you are creating give your prospect what they want?
I have done a lot of consulting for businesses in the auto salvage niche because of my background. Visitors to websites want to know if the company has a part needed by the visitor.
Many times, the owners of these sites had created paths that required several clicks to search for a part. Make sure that your design makes it easy for the prospect to do what they came to do.
You should be involved in creating the content for your site because you have the best understanding of your customers and your business.
You should evaluate the proposed design and content by asking how easy it makes it for your customer to do business with you on the site. For auto parts sites, I like a simple design with a prominent search box. Make it easy for visitors to buy.
Does your designer know search engine optimization (SEO)?
Most small business owners rely on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo to deliver visitors to their sites. If you are planning on getting visitors, you need a designer that understands how to design search friendly websites.
At a minimum, you need a designer who knows enough not to do anything that will adversely affect your website’s ability to achieve high rankings for the keywords that prospects use to search for your goods or services.
A few years ago, search engines had great difficulty in cataloging the pages of sites that were made using Adobe Flash. But Flash allowed designers to create beautiful sites. Many small businesses purchased these sites and only discovered later that they were invisible to Google and produced no visitors and no revenue.
Make sure your designer has a solid understanding of how you will market your website and can create a design that will complement those efforts.
For sure, you are not dealing with the right designer if he or she does not ask what your plan is to get visitors to the site.
An architect for your web marketing effort.
I don’t design sites or sell websites, but I frequently host calls that bring web designer/developer and business owner together to set clear expectations for the project and to make sure that the designer has the SEO capabilities necessary to create a design that will deliver visitors.
Just as it’s wise to hire an architect when you build a home, it’s wise to spend a little to make sure that your web designer can create a home on the Internet for your business that works the way it should to get inquiries and make sales.
If you have an existing site, I can give you a free report to show you how search-friendly your site is and recommend ways to improve site performance that you can share with the developer doing your website redesign.
The bottom line is, regardless of your business – make sure you are managing your online reputation. Next month, we’ll explain some simple tools to help you manage the online reputation of your business.
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Ron Sturgeon is past owner of AAA
Small Car World. In 1999, he sold his six Texas locations, with
140 employees, to Greenleaf. In 2001, he founded North Texas
Insurance Auction, which he sold to Copart in 2002. In 2002,
his book “Salvaging Millions” was published to help
small business owners achieve significant success, and was recently
reprinted. In June 2003, he joined the new ownership and management
team of GreenLeaf. He also manages his real estate holdings and
investments. You can learn more about him at WWW.autosalvageconsultant.com
He can be reached at 5940 Eden, Haltom City, TX 76117, firstname.lastname@example.org or
817-834-3625 ext 6#.