Your website is a part of your overall business strategy. It probably involved an investment of time and effort to commission and set up, but what does it do? How does it serve your business?
When a client comes to us and says they need a website, we say “Great!”
Then we say “Why?”
Not “When?”or “What’s your budget?”, but why? What are you hoping to achieve with your presence on the web?
The role that a website will play in your overall business strategy says a lot about how you position yourself within your sector and against competitors. It equally says much about how you want to be perceived.
Brochure sites, portfolio sites and pre-sales informational sites, for example, all contain similar elements, but the end product will be a blend of features. Your business – depending on your sector, stage of growth and goals – will require something unique which involves close attention to the layout and content, so that the right message is conveyed.
Every site is a lead generator, but how that process happens depends on a range of considerations. Factor into this your brand positioning, and for most businesses it quickly becomes clear that a basic “template” approach might tick some boxes, but that customization is needed to make everything fit together for you.
Businesses which are service-based (professional, industrial or commercial) face a particular challenge – getting the balance of information just right.
For example, a website which lists everything you do and all of your team members might seem to tick the right kind of boxes, but can actually be a limited way to market yourself. The “kitchen sink” approach might turn-off potential high-value clients who were expecting to see more discerning and selective portfolio-style content.
So instead of asking yourself “What do I do?” go further and ask “What do I do well?” and “What do I want to project to clients?”
If you have completed a number of high-profile and high-value jobs, where’s the proof of this? Can we see high-resolution photographs or even HD video evidence?
Perhaps you’re a new entrant to market and have the capabilities but not the portfolio. There are ways of marketing your expertise which can instil trust in your company and brand.
Good websites look nice. Great websites grow businesses.
Many of our clients either bid for high-value contracts or have the capacity to do this but keep missing out on closing the deal. A frequent misconception is that established companies in the professional, industrial and commercial sectors don’t need a website to maintain client relationships and cashflow. That somehow word-of-mouth and recommendations will be enough. But prospective clients will be checking you out online.
We see law firms asking for prospective clients to send personal data across an unsecured connection – something they would never do on a face-to-face basis.
Professional services firms – leaders in their fields who deal in six or seven-figure contracts – showcase their work on ageing sites with low-res images and poor copywriting.
Most will say that their websites are small cog in the machine – a “nice-to-have” which doesn’t really impact upon the bottom line.
But clients come and go. Long-established business partners or suppliers can – and frequently do – go out of business. And the marketplace consists of a newer generation for whom an impeccable, highly polished and smoothly-functioning online presence is simply a given. Is there a contingency plan for this? Where do new contracts come from?
Good websites look nice. Great websites grow businesses. High quality content (high resolution images, carefully selected fonts, colours and layouts) show that you care not only about what you do, but also about how others perceive you. There is a growing understanding of the behavioural psychology of trust and influence, and your website can – and should – be designed to take advantage of this.
Many smaller and medium-sized businesses have the capacity and are ready to take the next step up, but large prospective clients need to feel comfortable doing business with them, and that means doing business with equals – companies with a ‘top table’ mindset and what it takes to back this up.
Next time you speak to your web designer with a view to updating your site, make sure that “why” comes before “how.”