1. Promote yourself; promote your business
Once you have chosen an appropriate and visually pleasing look for your website you must fill it with informative content. Your site must inform your targeted audience why your site is better than similar sites. You need to promote yourself, your organization, your ideas, your products and services and any events you have happening.
Promoting yourself is not just a shameless conceit. Having a website conveys that you are a serious professional business person. The inclusion of a short bio gives you the opportunity to tell the world who you are by listing your credentials and expertise. Your website should have an email associated with your business domain. An email or a letter from someone at we-wrote-the-book.com will get more attention than an email from a yahoo account.
If you want to promote your ideas through a blog, having a website adds credibility to your words. A professional looking website can help build a following. However, I would suggest that if you are selling a product, but wanting to promote your thoughts on politics, you should direct people to a separate link that pertains to your ideals.
Your website should contain information on your products, services, and organization. Offering a FAQ to answers common questions, as well as testimonials and comparisons of your product by satisfied customers is often all that is needed. People look to other people for advice and support organizations and causes they trust and know will deliver the goods. Offering these services 24/7 on a yearly basis is important. Without it you may be passed over by another competitor who is more thorough in supplying the needs of customers.
If you are having a sale, or know of a seminar, fundraiser, trade show or workshop – promote it. Your website will create and generate attendance. Be sure to include dates, times and directions. Including information about the programs and prices is also helpful and appreciated by potential attendees of such events.
2. Selling: Advertising isn’t a Bad Word
Your website gives you the opportunity to sell your products, services, organization or events. With a website you can automate and regulate certain tasks (registration, billing, collecting, etc.) and save time and money. With these out of the way you can spend more time on the importance of advertising your business and the actual process of selling your products.
Advertisement is crucial to selling. If you don’t advertise, you shoot yourself in the foot. People want to buy and they want to be sold. They just don’t like pushy sales people. A website gives them the opportunity to feel more in control of the relationship between buyers and sellers. There are other perks to online advertisement. Providing customers with download documents, coupons, etc., gives you the opportunity to create a great promotional tool without the cost of printers and postage, but it doesn’t clutter up customers snail mailbox. It is also environmentally friendly.
3. Community Building
Your website can turn you into a leader. If your site contains forums and bulletin boards where people can hold a conversation for sharing ideas and ideologies with like-minded people. It can become a community for individual and collective expression. It also can assist in empowering and building a bridge between communities of people offline. For sample of real estate investment community, visit investorsloungeonline.com.
If you add pictures, sounds and other multi-media files, you add a human element to your site. People love to look at other people. Many websites contain gatherings, births, weddings, and even deaths. They also love to listen to music on a website. If there is any doubt, think of how popular social networking sites like My Space and Facebook have become in the past few years. If you need help in doing this there are media kits that contain avatars, sound bites and presentations to assist you.
4. Branding and Markets
In order to set yourself off from the pack and create customer loyalty and patronage, you have to make a consumer feel good about you and your services. Tools such as branding and newsletters can assist you and differentiate you from similar competitors.
My investor colleague sends his preferred customers an offline 4 page newsletter out quarterly, offering not only discounts and preferential access to certain monthly specials, but also helpful hints on investment seminars, tips, and products. The newsletter also contains human touches, like successes and setbacks, business tips and inspirational quotes. The reaction to his newsletter is overwhelmingly positive; the downside, he spends a small fortune for this amenity.
A website can contain all of the above as well as save time and money, so you can concentrate on the most essential aspect of a business, reaching the right (read profitable) market. There are 6 markets you can target: local, regional, national, international, global, and specialized.
The local market can be obtained fairly simply by mentioning your website in a local advertisement. Oftimes there are little mentioned or "best kept secrets" in the local market. The person who owns the business, would love to have more business but isn’t been able to compete with large companies advertisement budget. A small locally owned bookstore comes to mind. In order to compete, she created a website and has taken to doing most of her business on her website to survive.
A website opens up the regional market easily. The right keywords expand your reach exponentially. If you sell real estate located in Canton, MI, but want to reach out the whole of Wayne County of MI, a website affords you the opportunity to expand your clientele.
If you’re offering a seminar available to a national audience, for instance, say "How to Do A Shortsale for Agents and Investors", you can express your seminar availability through your website, with the inclusion of price, location, map, refunds, etc, you make life easier for your customers.
If you object is to reach out to International markets, target your US customers with ".com," or if your after the Canadian or British customers, target the with either ".ca" or ".uk." This will allow you to inform them of different currencies, taxes, fees, prices available to them through your website. You can also offer language translations to your site or links to complementing websites in different languages.
If your goal is to reach out and touch the global market with your website, that’s easy. By simply having one you’ve done it. It’s not called the World Wide Web for nothing.
If your market is specialized is almost a no brainier. If you make fairy houses made from and mud and twigs from the tree in your backyard, a website opens up buyer potential across the planet wherever said buyers may be.
5. New Products, Services, Online Exclusivity
A website allows you to test new products or expand on an old one. You could do this by Online Only offers. This can even be done on the QT or anonymously in a blind test or by geographical location. Like an old vaudeville routine, if it plays in Peoria as well as New York you’ve probably got a winner, if not you can shelve it or take it off the market. Either way you come out ahead.
6. Communications and Feedback
Allowing a space or link on your site for interactive communication and feedback are some of the most important tools a website can afford you, and not just for business purposes. While brochures, flyers, audio and videos can allow you to inform readers what you have to offer, soliciting feedback informs you what the readers (potential customers) want.
You could invite readers to take a poll and sweeten the reason to do so, by a reward. Depending on the reward you’re offering you will generate a buzz (word of mouth) chain reaction and your business may boom from one on one to one on many. The possibilities are endless.
If your goal is to educate or to give your take on what is going on with the economy, a website is the way to get your concerns out to like-minded people. You can organize workshops, seminars and classes in your area, offering them online is ideal learning tool for busy people. If you are not that ambitious to take on city hall or start a school, a website topical blog will generate interest between people, especially if you add audio and video or even animation to your site.
You’ll want to keep your content updated on your website. Television broadcast news is still watched by many people; Fox News Network’s rules the roost with 40 stations worldwide. Newspapers, while still a popular source of news, have readership that has declined with the rise of the news websites on the Internet. Even with 24/7 cable news channels, television and newspapers cannot update their information quick enough. An independently owned website can as quickly as the site owner posts.
8. Access not denied
If a new press release happens, even people who are away from their offices can find valuable information. Many business owners are creating websites available to only their employees so news can be obtained from anywhere. With forums and bulletin boards employees can remain in contact with one another from their homes or hotel rooms, and even in transit.
You may want to include customer ordering forms on your website, with password protected personalized accounts. Credit card payments are noted immediately with most banking institutes for convenience. There are a few risks and downsides to this customer service courtesy. Many VIP clients and suppliers may insist, even if it is not your preference. The other is you could get burned by insufficient funds from debit cards if you don’t wait for the bank’s approval. On the bright side if you’re a merchant most banks honor credit debts and go after the card owner.
9. Customer loyalty via customer control
On the whole most people want information about to basic questions. If you operate a brick and mortar shop, your website can offer a FAQ that includes business hours, payment options, contact information, such as telephone numbers and email addresses. A directional map or a link to Mapquest is vital in order to be found. Your website can also be found by registering with a directory or SE (search engine) like yahoo.
By giving customers more control you create a loyal following. Modern shoppers want to be able to know what they are getting and they want it at their fingertips. The rise in websites dedicated to Internet commerce are proof of that. If you give them what they want, they’ll be back and often with a cluster of friends in tow.
10. Family friendly is profitable and fun
Sales are about emotions. Websites can be a profitable and enjoyable experience. Flash animation adds personality to your website and can be informational, entertaining, and family friendly. With people moving from one geographic location to another, having a family oriented website let’s members keep in touch, with pictures, movies, stories and email. If your email address is our family @ all-of-us.com you may never have to change email addresses again.
The main idea behind having a website is to make life easier in a complicated world. Websites simplify everything from banking to video sales, to hiring employees to resume writing; they also level the business playground. No one player is more or less accessible than the other. One of the best perks is you can do it all anonymously and without pressure. Website forums and bulletin boards can be used for enlightenment and entertainment.
A website is a viable commodity in itself. When you exchange ideas and knowledge you enhance your marketing effectiveness. In today’s world successful people tap into the web to grow their business. The mention of a website channels between you as visionary and the awaiting public. Having a website suggests that you are a professional or an expert in your chosen field. True vision is powerful thing and brings peace of mind.
In the 21st century, most people expect it and demand a website as a verification of your credentials. Having a website is crucial to business these days; it advertises you, your ideas and your products. If you don’t have one, you may find yourself staring down at confetti at your feet, wondering why the parade has passed you by.
Contributed by Hanh Brown of Investers Lounge Online