The Secret To Creating A Successful Website
Dear Success Seeker,
I have just returned from a road trip presenting our Success Blueprint Workshops throughout Alberta. In talking with self-employed entrepreneurs about their business priorities for the coming year, many of them said their next step was to build or rebuild website. Although I am no expert in website design, I spend a lot of time helping my clients with business strategy. I have noticed that many people believe they should have a website but get confused about what components to include and how to maximize their investment. As a result they spend a lot of time and money and still don’t get the functionality they need. Now that is a waste of money!
From my simplistic and non-technical point of view, there are only four reasons to have a website and you need to know what they are before you build one. Most web designers think more about the technology than the business strategy, so don’t count on your designer to know what I’m about to tell you. It’s up to you to direct them so you get what you want.
Here are the four reasons you might want to have a website:
1) Build Credibility
The first, and in some cases only reason to have a website is for credibility. Suppose one of your satisfied clients tells a friend about your company. Or maybe you meet someone new and they want to check you out. How do they find out more? You know the answer in today’s world. They enter your name or your company’s name directly into Google. You are not competing for their attention with everyone else in the same business. They are searching specifically for you.
When they arrive at your website it should give them a feel for your business and also build your credibility. Include your testimonials, success stories, credentials, client list and experience. In many cases a credibility site is all you need for your small business. The ProCoach website is an example. We get hundreds of new visitors to our website every month, but virtually all of them have heard about us through word-of-mouth and are searching specifically for ProCoach. For this reason it is far more important for us to focus on the content of our website than it is to work on our Google rankings.
2) Lead Generation
The second reason to have website is for lead generation. Suppose someone is looking for the product or service you provide. How do you ensure that they find your company when they are searching online? You need two things. First, your name must come to the top of the list when people enter key words associated with your business. This is called Search Engine Optimization or SEO. Second, you need compelling content on your website that quickly engages the visitor and clearly informs them what you do and why they should do business with you. Your content should include both credibility material and a call to action since converting visitors to customers is just as important as having people find your site.
Getting and keeping a high ranking is challenging but through the strategic use of keywords, ad words and joint ventures it is possible to get on the first page of the top search engine lists. In order to do this you will likely need to hire an Internet marketing specialist.
With SEO there are two realms to play in; worldwide and local. When the World Wide Web was first created, many businesses were excited because it gave them a way to sell their services globally; all they needed to do was get to the top of the search engine lists. However this is only useful if your service can be delivered to distant locations at a competitive price.
What if you sell your product locally? Global exposure does not bebefit a restaurant in Vancouver or a computer repair person working in the Calgary market. These days fewer people are using the Yellow Pages and most people are searching for businesses online. This means you need Local Search Optimization so that when people enter your geographical location plus keywords related to your business, you come to the top of list.
Both global and local listings can generate leads; however it can be a lot of work as you need to stay on top of your rankings. If you go this route, you should ideally have a way to attract and capture contact information of visitors so you can build a database. You also need an effective way to convert leads into sales.
3) Online Sales
A third reason to have a website is to sell your products and services online. In this case, you need shopping cart technology. Many small-business owners I meet are very excited about this functionality; indeed it has the potential to add a whole new stream of revenue to your business. However, closing sales online is less than easy unless you have a unique or trusted product that people want to buy on the spot. I have met many entrepreneurs who invested a lot of money setting up online sales only to experienced disappointing results.
4) Provide Online Functionality and Resources
The fourth and final reason to have a website is to provide resources online. For example, a business coach could post a client intake form on his or her website which new clients could print off or complete online. You can choose whether to make downloads and tools you post available to all site visitors or have a password-protected area for specified users. The ProCoach website uses this capability extensively. In our Members Only area our clients can book their private coaching sessions online, access our Members’ Directory and download a large number of audio recordings, forms and workbooks.
Here’s my point. Having a website could be exactly what you need to better serve your clients. However before you hire a website designer, think it through. Decide exactly what you want your website to do for you. Think about each of the four purposes mentioned above. Which of these functions are most crucial for you? What functionality do you want in each of these areas?
If you are launching your first website, keep in mind that it is better to get something posted than have nothing at all. You can start with a simple credibility site that can be created inexpensively. Over time you can make the credibility section more robust by adding video or audio testimonials and you can add lead generation, online sales and functionality when you are ready.
Best of luck using the Internet as a tool for business success!
Andrew Barber-Starkey, Master Certified Coach
PROCOACH QUARTERLY SEMINARS (Members Only)
Vancouver, BC - Tuesday, January 12
Red Deer, Alberta - Thursday, January 14
Registration at 9:00 a.m.
Seminar from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
ARRANGE FOR ANDREW TO SPEAK TO YOUR GROUP
Do you know of a group of 12 or more self-employed people or entrepreneurs in BC or Alberta who would be interested in having Andrew speak at a their team meeting, conference or networking event? If so, please contact our office by email or phone.
To view back issues of The ProCoach Connection, click here
Andrew Barber-Starkey is a Master Certified Coach residing in Vancouver, Canada. His coaching program, the ProCoach Success System, is designed for entrepreneurs, small-business owners, self-employed and commissioned sales people who want to double their income while simultaneously doubling their time off within 3 years.
Please forward this e-newsletter to your friends and colleagues. Your referrals enable us to grow and serve more people.