Small business owners often fail to recognize the incredible freedom they have moving from the world of print – business cards, brochures and newspaper ads – to using a website for marketing.
In the world of print, the formula is simple and restrictive. Prepare it, proof it, print it. Then pray it’s right, or that every copy gets used before an error emerges or an update is needed.
But with a website, the owner can update and change information and photos as often as wished. Yes, every minute, every hour, every day. But unfortunately, as a small business marketing consultant, I find that many small business owners have practically no control over their website. They paid someone to create it, and that person or company retains full control of the site. (You know this situation is yours if you have to pay for any changes or updates, or if you fear calling the “web guy” to make a change, or if making changes requires the time or effort of passing a law in Congress.)
This approach is all wrong. It subverts one of the true benefits of the Internet: flexibility.
The Internet seems to be perfectly suited for small business owners, who constantly must sail in a new direction by tweaking their message, their product, their service or their market. In other words, it’s perfect for every small business owner.
Here are often overlooked suggestions for making the most of this flexibility:
Include limited information on business cards. Name, company name or logo, title, phone number, email and website. Maybe a slogan or branding phrase. That’s it. My business card doesn’t bear a mailing address, and it’s a good thing, because that address appears likely to change for the third time in less than a year. Printing business cards three times would have been expensive.Consider using a QR (Quick Response) code.
Free to create, these ink blot test-like squares allow people with smartphones to instantly link to a business’ website. Beyond the obvious benefits, they also show, at least now, that the business is following the technology trends.
Engage people on the website. Provide access to forms, comment boxes, social media and other means of creating a dialogue. It’s free, it’s easy and the information obtained can be invaluable. No cheaper alternative to learning about your customers exists. None. Squandering those opportunities is wasting one of the true values of a web presence.
Make your website part of your brand. Include it on every piece of paper, prominently in your office, on giveaways, everywhere. You want them to know the site is there, to use it for everything from an employee’s name to the hours of operation. To hide it is to waste the value of the site.
The fact is that once they get used to it, clients won’t even notice the constant reminders. They will blend in like the wallpaper or woodwork.
Steer people to the website as often as possible for just about anything. The brochure that used to have to be four to eight pages to convey a company’s value proposition can be an 8 1/2-by-11 sheet of paper, maybe less. Why? Because the details can appear on the website, where people can navigate around as they wish.
Given the immediacy with which an owner can change his site, the sooner a business can acclimate its customers to use its website, the better off it is.
To learn more about how to best implement a coordinated website strategy for your business, contact Bigger Pie Strategies. Start with a free evaluation of your existing marketing efforts.