Monday, December 8, 2008

Create a Website to Promote your Business (Part 1)

Photo Credit: rickvidallon (Flickr.com)

One of the most inexpensive and effective ways of promoting your business in difficult times, is by creating a Website. This task may seem very daunting at first, but understanding the following, should settle the nerves.

Where do I start?

The first step is deciding on what your Website Objectives are. These could include, one or more of the following:
  • Online Brochure of Products and Services
  • Tool to publish Company News
  • Lead Generation
  • Quote Generation
What are the Standard Elements that I should include in my website?

Once you have decided on the objectives for your new website, you need to tailor the content around these goals. Although it is ultimately desirable to distinguish yourself by having a unique website, there are certain page elements that are considered mandatory. These include the following:
  • Home Page - For a small site, this is the page that most people will open first when visiting your Website. The page should load fast, clearly identify who you are, state your Unique Selling Proposition and direct the visitor to where you want them to go - e.g.View Company Portfolio, Browse Client Testimonials, Look at Pictures of Previous Projects Completed or Complete the 'Contact Us' form.
  • About Us Page - Prospects want to know who they are dealing with. Use this page to give a detailed breakdown of all the people involved in your business - including individual and team photographs goes a long way towards breaking the digital barrier and contributes to your site and business credibility.
  • Company Portfolio - Use this page to set out what you do, where you do it and how you do it. Rather than simply listing product/service features here, try and identify unique selling points (USP's) and translate them into reasons why prospects would benefit by selecting your Company. Your USP could be price, service, experience or a unique construction method/product.
  • Client Testimonials - Converting online prospects to customers, involves building credibility. There are many ways of doing this and the end product is usually the cumulative result of all of these. However, one method stands head and shoulders above the others - Client Testimonials. This is the online version of 'Word of Mouth' advertising, and is still considered one of the best ways of advertising your product/service.
  • Contact Us - Once prospects have browsed your site, you want to enable them to contact you quickly and easily. You should include the following communication channels on the website; Telephone, Fax, Cell and Email. To prevent yourself being subjected to endless spam emails, the latter (Email) should ideally be in the form of a contact form, rather than simply listing the email address on the page. You should also include your physical address on this page as this also reassures clients.
Lookout for the rest of this series of posts, where we will be answering the following questions:
  • Can I design the website myself or should I get a professional to develop the site for me?
  • How do I choose a Web Designer?
  • How much will I pay for my Website?
  • What is a Content Management System (CMS)?
  • My Website is up - Now What?
  • How do I market my Website Online?
Gary Amstutz
Online and Commercial Manager

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