Whether you’re a self employed tradie bleeding out an income from the rocks or a wind swept entrepreneur with tens of staff (all of whom hang off your every word because they ‘love you’), we all want to succeed in business. While some people do it for the money, it’s about the passion and that’s what you need to get more customers.
Well, you could go out and hire sales staff – putting up with their effervescent saleman-ish scruples – but that’s a whole lot of wages, benefits and a perilous game of risk vs. reward. You could try advertising in the local paper, or a magazine, but chances are when just starting out, the only viable outlay would be for a small corner on a forgotten page (next to the ‘free pudding’ coupon). You could aimlessly wander the streets, sandwich board uncomfortably hanging off your shoulders and hoping someone doesn’t find you so ridiculous that they may actually consider your product or service (and don’t get me started on hiring a costume). Maybe a business networking group is for you, but that could take out of your valuable time at work, and that’s if other members give you work at all.
Hey, they’re all great ideas (if a bit exhaustive), but there’s something better; something that’s a viable investment, operates 24/7 and can be infinitely tweaked for better and better results. It’s (without trying to sound like an infomercial) your website!
Sales pitch aside, here’s some cold hard facts: our business gets about a third of our customers straight to our door from our website, and that percentage is growing weekly. That’s not because we’re getting less work from other sources; the web is merely overwhelming the need for network referrals or hard sales.
Granted, we are web designers, and that is our area of expertise, but it’s also people like us who try our darndest to make that happen for our customers too. The web is full of untapped potential, especially for local businesses or start ups who are looking to get that edge. Your website is a salesman that doesn’t sleep, doesn’t force the client to listen, and can present more information in a few minutes than any person can describe in hours.
Get a website.
This one speaks for itself really, but its surprising how often a business has no online presence. In Melbourne alone, 2/3 of small businesses don’t have a website.
Get a good design.
Websites need to look good, that’s the long and short of it. Good use of colour, type and photography not only attract the eye but keep people on the site longer. If someone wanted, say, a carpenter, and came across a website swamped in every piece of information with no aesthetic appeal to speak of, chances are they would leave almost immediately. To Google, and your bottom line, that’s not good.
Take it easy, but not too easy.
This sounds silly, and a bit vague, but your attitude about your website counts for as much as the website itself. There are usually two extremes we find people go: over saturating the front page and adding way too much content with no discernible structure. On the other end of the spectrum, someone will get a website and two years down the track, it will still have dummy text from the original design. Find a happy medium in managing your website; add a blog or two a week, tweak the text and images a bit, refine your approach, use social media. Consistency is key.
Embrace the learning curve.
Websites are on a new medium; the internet. Newspapers, television, posters have all been around for yonks, but the internet is a different monster altogether, and a new one at that. It will take some learning, especially the older you get, but it’s best to begin understanding it. Surround yourself with people who know what they are about, hire someone to look after the website, get a web developer to make changes, or manage it yourself, the point is that it requires some knowledge and learning. Embrace that knowledge.
If someone comes across your website and fills out the contact for just to tell you that your website looks like a dog ate a typewriter and threw up the letters, take it for what it’s worth. Often, it won’t come to that, but the times move very quickly online, and trends change. A website is a work that never ends, and if someone says it sucks, find out why and fix it.
Look to the long term.
On average – and this depends on your industry – it can take successful 2-5 sales leads to cover the cost of your website. That is when the website is built, set, and forgotten. Over its life, these kinds of sites may generate 10-15 enquiries over a 3 year lifetime, and this tapers off toward the end.
If you factor in the cost for SEO, content managing and structural tweaks to the websites, it may take up to 10-15 sales enquiries to cover that cost alone. Big difference huh? The benefits, however, are exponential. Websites with their SEO and tweaks may attract 15-20 genuine enquiries a month (or even a week). While it does vary, we’ve seen that money and effort you put in to your website usually comes out ten fold.
This is hard, it’s also what big companies hire marketing teams to achieve. This one word can make or break a business, and there are entire books written about it. Learn how to sell, find your target market, stay relevant, and try and try until you succeed (because hiccups along the way are a guarantee). Most of all, stay passionate about what you do, passionate enough to dive into an unfamiliar territory like a website and keep at it until you come out on top.
No matter your industry, someone, somewhere in the world is looking for whatever you do, and the first place they would go these days is the internet. There’s millions of dollars in Melbourne alone of untapped business online, and we aim to help your business utilise it. The trouble is that websites are so often undervalued. Our philosophy is, and has always been, that a website is just like a salesman, only with less complaining, and no salesman we know can break a deal at midnight on a sunday.