Maximizing the Effectiveness of Your Web Site
Sometimes I learn more from a “non-expert” than an expert. If we’re talking about car care, for example, the expert will tell me more than I ever need to know and demand more work than I ever want to provide. (Just think of what your dental hygienist tells you about your teeth-you’d spend an entire 8-hour day working on them if you followed those fanatic instructions.) But a non-expert will tell you enough to keep your car clean reasonably, and so is more valuable.
In that vein, as a “non-expert” who has used the Internet reasonable effectively, I thought I might modestly provide some advice while admitting that there are technical experts out there who know vastly more than I do. Of course, as consultants, the client usually knows far more about the content of the business than we do, but we provide valuable help anyway, right?
Here is my experience in promoting your business effectively on the Internet:
- Don’t create or maintain your web site yourself.There is tremendous competition for web design and maintenance services. Ask someone whose web site you admire (which is exactly what I did) who they use for that purpose. Make sure they allow you to make continuing updates through their intervention. Many people will register the domain, take care of yearly administrative matters, provide design and all technical components, and periodically update for very reasonable fees. The key is for you to provide the copy and text, and rely on them for the presentation and effects. The time you spend doing this yourself is far more expensive than the designers’ fees, and your result still won’t be as good. (Technical consultants who design and maintain their own web sites seldom have impressive sites.)
- Provide compelling value.You do not want merely visitors, you want visitors who both return repeatedly and who recommend the site to others. Therefore, you must periodically update the value on your site. Add a monthly article, set of techniques, reading list, set of useful Internet links, etc. Many people use software which visits favorite sites automatically at predetermined times. You want to be on those lists.
- Describe how people benefit, not what you do.Probably the greatest sin committed on the majority of consultant sites is the endless recitation of the consultant’s vision, values, background, methodology, biography, etc., etc. No one in their right mind wants to wade through endless text about your value system. The key is, “What’s in it for the visitor?” Immediately upon visiting the site, the reader should get a sense of how he or she can benefit from your work-meaning the results of your work, not the delivery of it.
- Recognize that most visitors are not the economic buyer.With rare exceptions, web surfers are not buyers but rather feasibility people. Make the site attractive enough for them so that you will be recommended to their superior for consideration. By that I mean ensure that your position papers are easy to download; provide references and testimonials in order to provide assurances of your quality; provide ALL of you contact information. (Deliberately omitting your normal mail address, fax, and phone number from your web site is simply amateur hour. There is simply no excuse not to enable the prospect to contact you in whatever manner the prospect desires.)
- Provide products for sale.There are real buyers who will visit your site, and these are product buyers, armed with credit cards. Have a “secure store” where people can buy with confidence. Provide books, tapes, manuals, checklists, remote coaching, newsletters, videos, others’ products, etc. This provides for a) passive income; b) word-of-mouth; c) increased branding.
Finally, don’t worry so much about the name of your site as you do about the key words you enter and continually update into search engines. People find sites usually not by name, but by topic and areas of interest. Again, a good web designer can take care of this for you on a periodic basis. Final hint: If you go to namesecure.com or a similar source, you can probably register your name so that anyone who uses it on the Internet in trying to find you will be automatically routed to your web site. If someone enters AlanWeiss.com in a logical attempt to find me, they are instantly sent to my site, summitconsulting.com.