What does it mean to have a website? - 10th Sep 2008

by Bob Brown, web developer @ Turboweb

If you have had anything to do with running a business then you'll be aware of marketing - advertising in the paper, on the radio, word of mouth, spreading business cards etc.  At Turboweb, we often see massive overlooked opportunity in the form of a website which is a marketing tool, just as an advertisment in the paper is.

I can hear you now - "My website has everything my customers need on it" - well, yes, it probably does - but your customers are a very small part of the potential income stream for your business.  What you could be doing is using your website to attract new customers.  With just half an hour a week you can turn your website into a powerful marketing tool - that's what it's for.

Here's some tips for doing that:
  1. Stay in touch with your existing customers - there are many ways to do this, but the easiest is to send a monthly email to them all with an update about your business, or the industry you work in.  When you get a business card or get an email from someone, ask them if you can add them to your mailing list (note that it is a legal requirement to get consent in NZ since 5th March 2007)

    Think of your customers and what kind of information your business could provide them, and establish yourself as an authority on the subject.  Do your homework and reference external sources of information.  Don't exclusively push your product and/or services, instead offer advice which your product or service could be used to achieve (as per this news item).
  2. Contact your prospective customers - this is a little trickier, but the easiest way to do this is to post your email to your own customers on your website as news items.  That way others searching for information will find you before they find your competition.  Make them available as a web feed to gain maximum uptake from automated internet services (our Simple Content Manager users get this automatically).

    You should also take some time to look at your search engine tags on your website and make sure that they contain relevant content.  Users of our SCM product can check those out when editing a page (under the 'Search Engine Details' section) and others can look at how to make that change themselves.
  3. Promote your website at every turn - is your website address on your business card?  Is it on your bumper sticker?  Do you tell people about it?

    A good way to break the ice and strike up a conversation is to tell people that you didn't realise how much marketing potential your website had until you realised how it could be used.  That's a conversation that could rapidly get you out of your depth if you're a tradesman for example, but that's where you can simply refer them to your favourite web developers.
If you don't have the ability to change the content on your own website then something is quite wrong.  Long gone are the days of "static holding pages" where someone puts together something for you and you're then stuck with it.  Some of our customers came from that kind of background and the liberation they've experienced when they have been able to edit their own website is very humbling to us.

All the best in business,

Bob @ Turboweb

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