Sure, they need the products you sell or the services you offer. But what’s really important to them?
Geoffrey James points out that the deepest customer needs are rarely expressed outright. When you can understand and meet these needs, however, you’re building the foundation for a solid, lasting customer relationship.
One of the most overused words on the web is “solution”, as in “web marketing solution” or “SEO solution”. It’s a meaningless cliché that says nothing about the nature of your business.
Take IT&e for example. Their web tagline boldly proclaims “Cutting Edge FINANCIAL SOLUTION Provider”. But what does “financial solution” mean exactly?
Are they a bank, finance company, investment advisor or financial planner? Do they offer credit cards, home or personal loans, financial services staff for business or personal wealth planning? Actually, it’s none of the above.
In the bottom right corner the site states (in small text): “IT&e is a technology company with the reputation for delivering cutting edge solutions to the Financial Services Industry.” OK, I’m getting it now – they sell to the financial services industry.
And then, “IT&e offers a suite of products and service-based solutions to enable development of complex application solutions for the financial services industry.” That’s spectacular gobbledegook (using “solutions” twice in the same sentence) but I’m starting to piece it together.
I think IT&e develops software applications and provides IT services to the financial services industry. So why couldn’t they just say it? Why do I have to work so hard to find out what they do?
Every business website needs a good tagline – a simple statement of what the business does and who they do it for. For example, IT&e could use, “Software applications and IT services for the financial services industry”.
A new visitor needs to know immediately what your site is about. Don’t waste their time by making them decipher what your solutions are.
It doesn’t matter how good your website is, if no one sees it, it’s absolutely worthless. You need a strategy to ensure your prospects and customers see your website. The best options are SEO, PPC and drive to web initiatives.
Are you keen to leverage the web to promote your business, but only have a minuscule budget for website development? This four-step process shows you how to build an effective small business website on the cheap. Real cheap.
I’m a tightwad when it comes to marketing. I’m always trying to minimise costs and maximise results. Are you the same?
If so, you’ll appreciate my latest research project. I set out to discover how cheaply I could create a small business website. My only condition was that the site had to include all the ingredients of a website that sells i.e. persuasive content, professional design and targeted traffic. Here’s what I came up with:
Step 1: Create your content
This is the hardest and most important part of the process. Good content is the critical ingredient of a website that sells. And it’s where most people blow it.
The simple fact is most business owners don’t know how to write website content that’s customer-focussed, informative and persuasive. If you can’t afford to hire a copywriter to do it for you, you’ll have to learn how to do it yourself.
Fortunately there are some fantastic online resources to help you. If, like me, you sell professional services (e.g. designers, coaches, consultants, accountants, lawyers, financial planners, etc.) you’re in luck.
Robert Middleton’s Web Site Toolkit ($95) provides a complete blueprint for creating client-attracting website content. You also get heaps of useful real life examples for inspiration.
Fierce competition amongst domain name sellers has caused prices to tumble. Go Daddy offers “.com” domain names for $13. You also get a free personalised email account.
Optional extra: If you want a “.com.au” domain name you’ll pay a bit more, and the next step will be a little more complicated.
Step 3: Design and build your website
There are now several high-quality free website creation services available. Weebly is one of the best and is used by two million people. It’s been described by Time magazine as a “clever WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) website building tool for non-techies.” Hosting is thrown in free.
All you have to do is sign up, select one of the 65+ professionally designed templates, and add your content using the simple drag and drop website editor. You even have the option to set up an online store. Finally, follow the instructions to update the site settings to publish your website at your own domain name.
This video shows you how:
Optional extra: You might want to get a graphic designer to create a customised page header image with your logo and tag line.
Step 4: Get some traffic
The quickest and easiest way to drive qualified traffic to your new website is with Google AdWords. Google regularly promotes AdWords with free credit vouchers. Keep an eye out for them in business magazines and at business events.
Setting up an AdWords campaign isn’t difficult. But there are a few tricks to maximising your results. Fortunately AdWords guru Perry Marshall offers a free five-day e-course that will put you ahead of the learning curve.
Disclaimer: Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
When it comes to search engine optimisation (SEO) Weebly’s options are somewhat limited. Also, if Weebly’s owners can’t convert the free service into a profitable business model, the whole thing might disappear in the future. (So make sure you archive your site to a zip file when you’ve finished it.)
But hey, for a professional-quality website for between $13 and $108, these are minor quibbles.
A version of this article first appeared on Flying Solo.