This article is one of the CEO Training Guide Series which was written for business owners and managers who need to know more about marketing and need to be educated simply and quickly on the important basics.
Thanks for reading this guide, I anticipate you will find it useful. It is one of a series of basic marketing training articles I have written.
When you are done please leave me some feedback as I am most interested in your success and need and want to know if the article helped you. Also, please post any questions you have or more information you need and I will address your request as soon as possible.
CEO, Target Public Marketing
1. What Is Marketing?
First, let me define what marketing actually is, as in my experience, there are a lot of misconceptions out there and false information.
According to Webster’s, “marketing” was first used as a word in 1561 and is defined as:
“the act or process of selling or purchasing in a market” or “the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service” and as “an aggregate of functions involved in moving goods from producer to consumer.”
A geographic area and….
The word “market” refers to “a place where products are bought and sold” or a geographic area. So if you are based in Dallas and offer local services, then Dallas is your market. You can also have a regional, national or international market.
All the actions one takes to get a product out and sold
“Marketing” describes all the actions and steps that are necessary to get a product or service all the way from inception to getting it to market and sold in volume.
By definition, marketing then includes:
- Research, including product and competition
- Branding and positioning
- Concept and design
- Point of sales assets (like countertop displays)
- Flyers, advertisements, postcards and other similar assets
- Websites and email promotion
- List building
- And a whole lot more.
2. What Is A Website?
According to Webster’s dictionary a website is “a connected group of pages on the World Wide Web regarded as a single entity, usually maintained by one person or organization and devoted to a single topic or several closely related topics.”
In other words, a website is similar to a building, which is a series of interconnected rooms, each devoted to a specific purpose and with specific contents. The difference is that your website is basically an electronic version of your business that exists on the Internet.
It’s what you make it to be
Additionally, your website can be as simple as a one or two page “brochure” or as complete and complex as a full blown store through which you can sell products and services (with a product catalogue, etc.). A website is then the online version of a “brick and mortar” store, office or other location and can refer people to your actual store as well.
Major purpose to generate sales leads and/or sell
But for most companies, the primary purpose and value of a website is to generate sales leads or sell their product or service.
In this article, I cover the basics you need to know to have an EFFECTIVE website.
3. An Introduction to Website Design
When it comes to business websites, simple is almost always better. You want a smart professional design with an attractive color scheme and plenty of “white space” to make your site visually appealing.
Must be easy to find and read information
Make sure that you use dark lettering on a light background so your copy can be easily scanned and read. Despite billions of websites on the internet and countless different designs and color variations, there is nothing better for clarity and legibility than using black text on a white background.
You also want to focus on the organization of your information. A visitor to your website should be able to find what they are looking for within seconds of landing on your homepage.
Make visitors happy, not disgruntled
Don’t add elements just for show.
National Public Radio (NPR) recently interviewed people on what they found most irritating about restaurant websites. One complaint was that so many of them make you watch a long flash animation on their homepage before you can get inside the website to find basic information like hours and a menu.
While you may be tempted to add bells and whistles to your site, this only detracts from your real purpose of getting information to prospective customers. And these showy elements may actually end up alienating a sizable portion of your website visitors instead.
You can’t successfully market to people who don’t want to spend time on your website.
The basic requirements
What your website should have:
- A common sense, easy to follow menu and structure
- Important company information, including a page about the business, important product data, etc.
- Clearly visible contact information on every page
- Excellent hosting and security (nothing is as embarrassing as your site getting hacked and taken over by someone else!)
- It should be responsive, meaning it can easily be viewed on anything from a desktop computer to a smartphone
- And it should be connected with your social media.
4. Who to Hire As Your Website Designer
When it comes to website designers, they basically fall into two camps:
- They’re good at making things look good
- They’re good at internet marketing and programming
Finding someone who is a true expert in both can really be a challenge. This is because each goal requires a completely different skill set. Moreover, one goal sometimes competes with the other.
Design vs. searchability
We have built many different kinds of websites and have clients who are very particular about the design, look and feel of their site because they are in design-related fields. Even though we have an entire team of experts developing a site, it can still be quite a challenge finding a good balance between the requirements of marketing, the purpose of which is to drive new sales leads, and the client’s desire for a particular design.
One factor is that most website designers use pre-made templates (like those available for WordPress) to get started and they modify the design from there. While some of these templates, called themes, are great, many that look nice on the outside have underlying programming code issues that make them ill-suited for online marketing purposes.
For example, the underlying code may make it difficult for search engines to crawl (read) the site. Consequently, they may not record all your text and pages appropriately, which can cause you problems in getting your content showing up on Google or Bing.
Cover all the bases
Given the above, it is better to hire a website design firm that has both of these types of specialists working together on the same team. Alternatively, you can assemble your own team by hiring both types of individuals and asking them to work together. They can serve as checks and balances for one another. Otherwise, you may not be able to use your website to its full marketing effectiveness.
5. Engagement and Lead Capture
One of the biggest advantages of a website over a simple brochure is the opportunity to really connect with your potential customers.
Need for lead capture
Optimally, you want to be invited to communicate with them regularly on things they truly care about. In doing so, you want to earn their trust, respect and loyalty. To do this, you will need to develop at least one lead capture system for your website.
Some businesses simply have a pop-up window asking a new website visitor if they would like to subscribe to a newsletter. They are asked to type in their name and email address before they continue browsing the site. While this is better than no lead capture system, it is not the most effective way to go about it.
Offer something high value in exchange
It is better to offer a website visitor something they perceive as high value in exchange for their name and email. For example:
- If you run a fishing guide service, you could offer them a weekly fishing report for the region(s) you service.
- If you run a financial site, you could offer them a report on how to legally pay less taxes on their investments.
- If you run a retail furniture store, you could offer them free reports on how to clean upholstery, remove water rings from furniture, make your own homemade furniture polish, etc.
- If you sell kitchen supplies online, you could offer tutorials such as 101 ways to use mixing wands, how to sharpen kitchen knives without damaging them, how to get bread machine bread to turn out perfect every time, etc.
Note: If you need bright ideas for your business just drop me a line, I will be happy to help!
Use a newsletter
In each case, you would also ask their permission to add them to your monthly or bi-monthly newsletter. Don’t try to send these out more frequently. Your subscribers will start to ignore them if you do and you won’t have enough time to prepare something really special. We will go into this topic in another article.
Another way to engage and get leads is offering e-courses and having a form to sign up on your website.
To do this, you would need to load your courses to an auto responder such as AWeber that would automatically deliver each chapter every few days to the subscriber.
It is best to offer a “teaser” at the end of each of the chapters so they will be anticipating the next installment. Instead of deleting your email, they will be actively looking for it.
6. Keep Your Visitors Coming Back For More
Your goal should be to include elements in your website that motivate your visitors to bookmark your page(s) and plan to re-visit your website.
Use your imagination
This can be as simple as adding a weekly web-only coupon page that gives special discounts that are not found anywhere else.
You could also be inventive and create a “treasure hunt” on your website so that visitors have to find a special word buried on a page which they then can enter into a form to generate a discount code for purchasing a product. Fun stuff!
If you have expert knowledge on a particular subject which people are passionate about, you may consider setting up a discussion board on your site. However, this does take a substantial commitment of time and you may be competing against other boards that are already established online.
Something which is simpler and easier to do is to have a blog. A “blog” is a word that refers to a “web log” or a journal that is online. This can be part of your website or a stand-alone blog (like WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr or TypePad). Essentially all these are just websites that are simple to operate and easy to update by the user, you. There are many types of blog posts you can do. The key is to blog as regularly as possible. This constant release of valuable information helps you gain visitors to your website and prospects for your business.
My firm provides blog services for clients. There are many things you can blog about including giving your clients tips on how to use your services. To get more reality, check out our own blog here.
The information above should be enough to get you started on using your website as a powerful marketing tool.
I and my entire team are always ready to help. Should you have questions or wish to share insights, add a comment below or call us at 888-788-5124. Good luck!