The Business Web Site Is a Marketing Power Tool

Believe it or not, there are many American businesses that don’t have a functional web site. Oh, there are many businesses that might have a web address, but once connected there is nothing much there. There may be a message that states something like Under Construction which is about like having a mailbox in front of a vacant lot only worse because at least the vacant lot will get some junk mail delivered!

The majority of American web sites are Recreational or Personal. The reason simply is that anyone can have a Facebook or similar Social Network site in just minutes. Additionally, Personal standard applications are standard on virtually every Smart Phone. So the numbers for personal sites are overwhelmingly greater in comparison to business or commercial sites.

Personal web sites are great fun. They are an easy way to keep in touch with family and friends. How many grandparents can connect with family to see the latest photos of the grandkids? Millions!

However, the marketing goals and objectives for business are not identical to the goals and objectives of personal sites. The business web site is usually the most powerful marketing tool in the business’s advertising and promotions arsenal. It is the sales rep that never sleeps.

Business web sites that are designed solely as awareness mechanisms to inform the public and marketplace or to reinforce the company and its brands are a form or part of the company’s Institutional Advertising. Very large or universally recognized businesses may elect this type.

Most small and many medium-sized businesses require more assertive promotional methods and functions from their business web site. In fact, many of these companies rely on their business site as the primary lead generating marketing tool for their business. When one of the purposes and marketing objectives is to Generate Sales Leads and thereby Increase Sales, the marketing tool becomes a form of Promotional Advertising.

Additionally, business web sites may be designed to fulfill Customer Service Needs or to provide Customer Assistance. They may provide order status, order entry, or shipment tracking among other features.
Naturally, some business web sites may fulfill more than one of the marketing objectives described previously. On the other hand the site may be designed for a very specific function or purpose such as the introduction of a New Product or Service.

Whatever the purpose or function, there are three elements or components that distinguish the commercial or business types from the personal or recreational varieties. Each element must be considered and analyzed independently for effectiveness, functionality, and utility, in addition to its contribution as a component of the finished product. All three of the elements must be performing optimally to assure effectiveness.

The Graphics and Design must be visually appealing and attractive. Eye appeal is one of the most powerful forms of non-verbal communication. An effective business site will present a balance of graphics, designs, as well as traditional visual formats and communications that are appropriate to and consistent with the company image, products and services, and the target markets served.

The business web site must be Technically Sound. The links, connections, and other technical features must work as labeled. If there is a tab that reads “Click Here to See More Detail” then more detail must appear when the searcher clicks the tab.

Searchers tend to be impatient. Consequently, the site must be easy to use and to navigate. It must load quickly. In other words, it must be user-friendly.

Technical components include the design software. The software must be one that search engines recognize quickly and easily. Not all are. Search engines scan the Internet at extraordinary high speeds following prescribed courses or patterns. Consequently, the site must be constructed, assembled, and organized properly to permit a thorough search.

Simply put, looking good is very important; however, everything must not only work, but everything must also work well. Ease of use is essential.

Technical functionality and good looks are still not enough. The messages must be presented and packaged in a manner compatible and complementary to search engines and searchers. The searcher must find what he is seeking. The search engine must find what searchers want it to find. This is done by the words and terms (the copy as it is labeled) used both on the surface and in the sub-layer where the codes and key words (Meta Tags) are found.

As a marketing vehicles, it is much the same as display advertising and printed marketing collateral, but the techniques and the requirements of writing the copy are much different. Word choice and word form matching are critical aspects.

Meta Tags help the search engines to find what the searcher seeks, so it follows that those key words and terms must be in the copy for the search engines to find. Most, or nearly all, the significant key words or terms should be found on the Home Page. There are two reasons.

The first is that search engines search the Home Page more thoroughly than others. The second is that most searchers (over 60%) stop at the Home Page after getting an address, phone number, or other piece of information. Sometimes searchers move on because there is not enough information on the first page.

What all this leads to is that virtually all the copy must conform to electronic media principles and methods. The copy should be key word style rather than print collateral (brochure) style.

Less is usually best. Generally, the information provided must be sufficient to pique interest, but not so much as to give the potential customer a reason not to respond. After all, the singular objective of promotional advertising is to get a response whether by phone, fax, email, mail, or walk in.

Wisely, most small and mid-sized businesses outsource the development, maintenance, and marketing needs. Most web site development companies are primarily designers. Only a very few of these companies, including many who claim otherwise, offer professional copy writing. As stated previously, writing the copy is a critical element.

Consequently, to ensure that all the essential elements are functioning optimally, one should seek the advice of professionals who can assist with all the necessary elements.

Finally, a business web site must be dynamic. It is not a portrait or a painting that hangs on the wall without changing. Frequent changes keep the site current and fresh. This is a frequent shortcoming of many small businesses. The company invests the energy and resources to develop a great business tool and then never or rarely changes it.

It doesn’t require much effort or considerable resources to make changes and updates. Besides, there is a huge benefit when even the smallest or slightest change is executed. Search Engines are attracted to changes, so the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) numbers will spike. Try it and see for yourself. Change a word or two or make some small change or revision and then watch what happens in the next day or two to the SEO numbers. I guarantee they will increase noticeably.

Furthermore, making regular changes are opportunities to contact customers by Email message asking them to see what’s new or to discover what is different and to ask them for some feedback. In other words, changes create opportunities for contact.

Do you think something good could happen from this small effort?

You bet!

5 Tips for Hiring a Small Business Attorney

Small business owners are often intimidated when faced with the task of finding an attorney to represent their business needs. It is vital for a company owner to have an attorney ready to represent their interests when the need arises. As you interview potential law firms, here are five tips to help you find the right attorney for your small business.

TIP #1 – SPECIALIZATION.

Attorneys, like ice cream, come in all flavors. Attorneys are highly skilled in their area of expertise. They are experts in the law, not necessarily in business. You want to find an attorney that focuses their practice on small businesses because they understand business practices and work with a client base of small business owners. As my Mother used to say, “You don’t order steak at a fish house”. Do not let the criminal defense attorney who fixes your speeding tickets represent your business interests.

TIP #2 – FEE STRUCTURE.

We live in a litigious society. business owners are served with lawsuits every day. Negotiate your fees before the lawsuit arrives. Once sued, you have 20 days in which to respond to the lawsuit. This is not the time to be negotiating fees with your attorney. Agree upon a set fee structure up front, and in writing. So much anxiety and uncertainty come with legal issues that you want to have something concrete and transparent. It will reduce your stress level in a time of crisis.

TIP #3 – ADVISORY TEAM.

Your attorney, along with your CPA, insurance agent, advertising agent, financial planner, and other management consultants, is part of your advisory team. When looking for a good small business attorney, consult your advisory team. Their purpose is to advise you. Does your CPA work with or recommend an attorney? Can your other advisors recommend an attorney that understands small business issues?

TIP #4 – ACCESSIBILITY.

How easy is it to reach your attorney? Will they return your phone call the same day, or next day? Will it take a week? Can you text them a question? Do they answer email? Your attorney needs to be accessible. You have every right to question the attorney as to their level of accessibility. A business owner might be frustrated if they can only talk to a receptionist or a voice mailbox.

TIP #5 – REFERRALS.

Ask other small business owners which attorneys they use for their legal needs. Some of the best referrals can come from other business owners who have firsthand knowledge of working with a particular attorney. Business owners can also steer you away from an attorney that might not be the proper fit for your type of business or industry.