“Hey! Why didn’t you send her to me as a referral?”
My husband Joe designs websites. One of his clients was having a really hard time coming up with the “words” for her website. She wasn’t clear about who her ideal clients were, had trouble explaining her services and didn’t have any marketing strategy in place – the exact things I help people with!
He responded: “I did! She seemed excited about the idea and then she looked at your site and decided that it wouldn’t be a good fit.”
I was judged by my website. You are judged by yours as well.
The truth was hard to hear. I’d just lost out on a potential new coaching client. I didn’t have TIME to re-develop my site. And I was working under the impression that a lot of small business people have: any website is better than no website at all. Even though, as a marketing coach and educator, I KNOW differently.
My site at the time wasn’t “bad” as much as it was out of date. I was in transition between working with one target audience and another. The blog posts weren’t relevant to the people I was trying to attract now. My About page was personal, not professional. The services page was out of date.
You’re better off with no website than one that works against you.
Less than 5 minutes after hearing that devastating feedback, I took down my site and posted an “under construction” notice in its place. I was better off with NO site, than one that was actively working against me. Then I placed “update website content” at the top of my to do list.
It could have been worse. I could have blithely plugged along, not recognizing that I had a website that was actively undermining my own business.
Your website is a huge chunk of your MARKETING.
For many small business owners, especially solo-entrepreneurs, it may be the largest investment you make in marketing. And yet, over and over and over again, I hear:
- I have a website, but it doesn’t do anything for me.
- No one has ever called from my website.
- I get compliments on my site, but no business.
When this happens, it becomes easy to agree when people say things like “websites don’t work!” or to ask: do I really need a website?
Websites DO work…just not the way you might think
I get business from my website. It doesn’t (usually) rain down out of the sky from nowhere. There is no magical flood of traffic from the internet.
In fact, my site gets very few visitors. But what it does – and very effectively so – is assist with my other marketing. It plays a PART in my overall marketing strategy.
People visit my website:
- After they meet me at a networking event or hear me speak
- When they’ve been given my name as a referral by one of my clients
- When they click on the link in my email signature or one of my social media profiles
- When they encounter a blog post such as this one (hello!)
- After reading one of my newsletters or attending one of my webinars
Guess what? Your site is being looked at in the same circumstances.
People are “checking out your site” before they contact you
When people contact me for the first time, they usually say something like this: “So and so referred you…and I was just on your website.”
When I meet new clients in person, I’m no longer surprised to see my website content printed out on sheets of paper!
It’s not unusual at all for new clients to disclose that they “read every word on my site” before they called.
The purpose of my site isn’t to bring in loads of strangers from the internet. It’s to assist with my person-to-person marketing strategy. It provides a risk free way for people who are thinking about possibly working with me to get more information. In this role, it works very well indeed.
This is the “web marketing secret” that most small businesses are completely missing out on.
If your website isn’t working for you, you’re probably focused on the wrong things.
When people focus on their site at all – they tend to focus on traffic. How can I get more strangers to visit my site? They’re interested in using SEO (search engine optimization) or social media marketing to put them at the “top of Google.” They want their site to be a “lead generation tool.” Then they’re disappointed when they discover that this doesn’t work quite as magically as they had been led to believe.
And all the while, they’re missing the opportunity to use their site to supplement their other marketing.
It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to make your website more effective
Changing a site to work better for bringing in business is usually a matter of words and strategy. Sometimes a re-design is in order, however, in a lot of cases it’s not required. (You’d be surprised to know how well some “ugly” sites can perform in terms of getting business – and how some beautifully designed sites just sit there looking pretty and doing nothing in exchange for the big investment it took to create.)
And yes, you can create an effective website on a shoestring. (While I don’t generally recommend “do it yourself” website platforms, if you have an extremely limited budget, this is a viable option for getting started.)
5 tips for a site that brings in business instead of just “sitting there looking pretty”
Here are some things you can do to improve your website without spending a bunch of money:
- Focus on the content. Websites are excellent at providing information (and people expect information when they visit) – give them the goods! Share articles, resources and information to highlight your expertise.
- Explain your offers – in detail! Ignore “old school sales advice” that says to withhold information about your services and make people call you in order to learn more. You will lose the (large!) section of the market that is resistant to calling a salesperson. (You can be the softest, most caring, most heartfelt business person in the world, but until they know you better, you are a salesperson to them.)
- Make it about THEM, not about you. WII-FM stands for “what’s in it for me?” Write your content for your prospective customers and broadcast it on their station.
- Include calls to action. Invite people to contact you – and make your contact information easy to find.
- Develop a marketing strategy that includes your website (but does not rely on it entirely.) Think through each step of the way – from stranger who needs your services to paid client.
Done well, your website can work as a steady, reliable 24/7 salesperson for your business.
It can be there to help you build Know, Like and Trust with your potential clients. It can reduce risk and give people the information and comfort they need in order to take action and contact you. It can amplify your marketing efforts – and yes, bring you new business.
Or it can quietly sabotage you behind your back, turning potential clients away, rather than inviting them in.