There are now four generations of humanity surfing the Internet and they all want to know the same things: What do you do, where the heck are you really located, and what is your phone number? What does your website really tell the world?
Marketing 201 For AV Geeks
This Is Your Website Intervention
Marketing experts can be rather militant in their opinions on what your website can or should do for your business and with good reason: There are now four generations of humanity surfing the Internet and they all want to know the same things: What do you do, where the heck are you really located, and what is your phone number? Like many folks I have not opened a physical phone book in probably ten years and I would not expect to find anything useful in one if I did. The Interwebs on the other hand has everything under the sun. What was once just a flashy billboard for commercial businesses (did we forget what the “com” in dot-com stands for?) has become commerce central. And even if you do not need to conduct transactions on your website, you do need to quickly legitimize your existence and you have about ten seconds or less to do it in. (If that ten seconds is wasted on loading a flash animation, then many potential prospects have already moved on!)
Imagine the biggest account you want to penetrate. They have a team of evaluators that have allowed you and nine of your competitors to submit a capabilities proposal. They are going to perform some due diligence on your company that may be as simple as checking out your website and Googling your company name for blog references, but it could go deeper than that. They might call all the “offices” you list and ask to speak to the General Manager. Or, if they are really clever they could do a string search of the text on your “about” page and see who else describes themselves in the same way. What will your website tell them about you before you ever get the opportunity to explain yourself? Will you be invited to an in-person pitch as a viable supplier or comic relief?
Now, imagine the perfect client searching for a supplier that has your unique expertise, geographical footprint, or commitment to customer service. Imagine that they have found your website after someone referred them to you. Will your site live up to that referral? Or, will that customer have to lower their expectations in order to contact you?
[As an aside, consider also that you may have the most wonderful, creative, and compelling website around. Does your company live up to that promise?]
I am not going to make a long entreaty about why you should hire a professional and get your website updated. Do it. What I will ask you to do is perform the same due diligence on potential developers that is conducted when companies evaluate you. Check out your web developer’s site, then all the ones they’ve created for others. Are they trying to look bigger than they are? Do they have more than one or two credits worth noting? Does the owner, principal, or chief executive hide or are they profiled? Can you communicate directly with them? Do they have a philosophy or just tout expertise?
Here’s a few things you should expect to hear from a savvy web-developer:
- A discussion on your goals and objectives for your website
- A desire to understand your business strategy, customers, and competitors
- An analysis of your social media strategy and potential tie-ins to your website
- A request that you identify at least five of your industry’s websites that you like and five that you don’t and why
- An assessment of how much and often your firm is capable or willing to maintain a website
- An explanation that they will submit 5-10 preliminary themes and develop the 2-3 that you like the most before you choose one
In addition, here are a few things that I think should be important to you:
- A website that you can easily edit, add, or change yourself
- Strict adherence to only using high resolution photos
- Don’t be afraid to ditch your tired old letterhead logo and get a web-friendly update
- Don’t fall for gimmick-y web mechanics; focus on delivering customer-centric content
- Commit to – at a minimum – monthly content updates
Websites are today’s most important first contact between you and your prospects. For many companies, effective online marketing can establish credibility more quickly than any human-powered contact and can pave the way to more effective first meetings. And once a relationship is established, websites have the power to keep customers engaged and informed. There is a tremendous amount of relationship building available to businesses like yours when they implement the right online strategy.