What do Your Customers Really Need?

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.

Jump over to Inc.com and read James’ full list: 6 Secret Customer Needs

Website Taglines: “Solution” is the Problem

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.

An article on the overuse of “solution”

Jakob Nielsen’s advice for writing good website taglines

How to Build a Website for Only $108

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.

Otherwise, I recommend you read Copyblogger’s 10-Step Copywriting Tutorial, get a copy of Make Your Content PREsell! (free e-book) and diligently apply everything you learn.

Step 2: Register your domain name

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.

“Stealing” Content & Inspiration From Dr Seuss: The Web Content Roundup

WebContentRoundup21 (1)Here are this week’s top seven stories on web content and online marketing as voted by my Twitter followers:

1). How to Quit Your Job, Move to Paradise and Get Paid to Change the World http://buff.ly/iOfqZz Advice from Jon Morrow

2). How to give your copywriter feedback http://buff.ly/WCiRNB Great advice for getting the most out of your copywriter

3). Bare Minimum Content Marketing: 3 Things You Have to Do http://buff.ly/WZXmtd Some great examples here

4). 5 Reasons SMBs Should Focus on Search, Not Social for Customer Acquisition http://sewat.ch/YU4w19

5). Why You Should Steal Content http://buff.ly/XH7TaL

6). Inspiration for Small Businesses from the Beautiful Mind of Dr. Seuss http://buff.ly/Yr3s2I

7). 5 Tips for Writing Survey Questions that Don’t Yield Statistical Garbage http://buff.ly/12FGnM6 Useful market research tips

For more of the freshest tips and tactics on web copywriting, SEO, social media and online marketing be sure to follow me on Twitter.