Making Your Web Site Pay Off

By Beacon Staff

Finally, we’ve hit the end of this little 4 week journey through the websites for different markets in the valley.

  • In week 1, we looked at real estate websites and found most of them, well, lacking curb appeal. Those that had curb appeal often left me wanting once I stepped inside.
  • In week 2, we pulled up to the table at a number of local restaurant websites. We found a couple that filled the plate, but most were missing the main course.
  • In week 3, we looked at the websites of local attorneys. We found a couple of non-efforts and a few that really suited them.
  • In week 4, we checked out the websites of places in the valley where you can get a good night’s sleep around the valley. A few needed a wake-up call, and some had their owners sleeping well at night.

Before we go into any details, tell me…How do you look at your site? Let me rephrase that. What I really mean is: how do you look at your site from a strategic point of view?

Did you put up a site ‘cuz your brother in law told you to do it?
Did you put up a site because your geeky high school kid knows how?
Did you put up a site because you found out a competitor has one?

NONE of those are good reasons to have a web site.

I’ll go out on a limb and assume everyone reading this has a marketing plan and/or a strategic plan for their business. I’ll go a little bit more out there and suggest that very few of your websites are truly an integral part of that plan.

It’s not a brochure. It’s not a business card. It’s more complicated than that.

It’s a salesperson that is waiting for your prospects, 24 hours a day.

When your prospect is surfing over lunch, or when they should be working, or late at night when they should be in bed, when they come to your site and you have them all to yourself for a private conversation about their wants and needs– are you just going to hand them the equivalent of a business card and then walk away?

If they walk into your trade show booth and show interest in your product or service, are you going to hand them a card and then tell them to move along?

That’s exactly what most of your websites do. Hand em a card and walk away.

A few critical strategic issues about most of the sites we looked at:

  • They didn’t tell prospects what to do next.
  • They didn’t offer the prospect something to take with them that would begin to prove to the prospect that you know what you’re doing and that they can trust you.
  • They didn’t give the site visitor a reason to come back.
  • They didn’t even begin to establish a personal relationship with the prospective client.

A real estate firm’s website needs to act as much as possible like an agent. It needs to answer their questions, establish reputation, authority and trust. You might think “I don’t want to answer detailed questions on the site and then have them call some other Realtor, I’ll answer them personally by phone or in my office.”

What if your site doesn’t get that person to call you? When do you expect to have the chance to answer those questions? If your answers start to establish trust, who do you think they’ll call?

It’s no different for each of the other types of sites we looked at. In each case, no matter what business you’re in, establishing credibility, trust and relationships are important. When your business is transactional, like hotels and restaurants, make sure you provide enough info to make a decision and if possible – complete the purchase.

Finally, that person looking at your site is a prospect, possibly a customer, not just “some surfer”. When they come to visit your place of business (your site), it should start a conversation, not just hand them a card.

Want to learn more about Mark or ask him to write about a business, operations or marketing problem? See Mark’s site or contact him at mriffey@flatheadbeacon.com.

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