This article was written from the perspective of being a Business Coach, but the foundation ideas equally apply to any business.
Why It’s Important to have a Website
Your website is a global electronic window onto your business. It’s your online calling card, your gun sales rep that never sleeps or takes holidays, and your warm ever-smiling receptionist, all rolled up into one. For many prospective clients your website will form their powerful first impression of you and your level of professionalism: they’re asking themselves – can these people improve my career prospects, my business, my livelihood? Can I trust them? Do they seem likable?
It’s all about credibility; day in, day out people are using your website as part of their decision-making process: before committing themselves in any shape or form – sending an email enquiry, making a call, setting up a first meeting – people will check you out online. What will they find? Hopefully it’s something you’re proud of, a window that frames you in a strong and positive light.
DIY or Professionally Designed?
Don’t falsely economise when it comes to your online presence. You wouldn’t turn up to a first meeting wearing old shoes and a cheap suit, so don’t do the online equivalent. Get a professional to do a professional job. Or I guess you can always get an amateur to do an amateurish job.
How much to invest a website? Like cars, the sky’s the limit; but I would be budgeting $5,000 – $10,000. Amortised over the next 3 years, that’s not a big ask for a round-the-clock global presence. And I haven’t even started in on the lead generation potential yet.
The ‘Must Have’ Features of any Website
The first must-have of any website is an ability to send out strong clear marketplace signals via the online search process: the services you offer, the needs you meet, and the areas you operate (geography). This is known as search engine optimisation (SEO). And it’s easier than it sounds. If you want to appear in Google’s search results for ‘executive business coach Freemantle’ then at a minimum you need a page on your website with those very keywords in place. No keyword match, no search result listing, no business lead.
Secondly, your website content needs to be fully within your control to add to and adjust. Most modern websites are developed with web-based, integrated content management systems (CMS) to manage this process. Think of your website as a means to publish your marketing communications and thought leadership ideas directly to the web. And the more content your able to publish online, the easier it becomes for the search engines to connect people online to your ideas, your services, your website and your business.
Thirdly, think about your homepage. It should contain the key information signposts for each of the most important groups of anticipated visitors to your site; in the words of web design guru, Steve Krug: “Don’t make me think”. The homepage should also reflect some of your personality – lighten things up a bit, be human, drop the corporate speak and the clichés. People want to deal with other people, not a faceless entity. If you’re not proud enough of your personality to feel comfortable expressing it, then maybe you’re in the wrong business – try boat building instead. Oh, and don’t forget to include your telephone number, the most overlooked and obvious call to action on any website.
Lastly, analytics. Sounds boring I know, but think about it: who in their right mind would invest money into a business level initiative and not want some success metric reporting around it? Modern website analytics applications are very powerful and easy to use. One of the best out there is Google Analytics – and they give it away for free. So, you have no excuse not to (unless you like flying by the seat of your pants).
The Do’s and Don’ts of a Successful Website
Keep the quality content flowing – old content develops a weird online fishy sort of smell. Make use of (free) streaming video, use quality photostock. Consider integrating a blog.
Don’t neglect your website, and look to give it a good revamp every three years or so. Don’t underestimate a website’s power to attract online leads, and to aid in the conversion of off-line leads. It’s your online street-cred bro.
Photo by Radio Rover