Many people tell me that their website costs more than it brings in. For many, this is just a fact of life and their site becomes a bill to pay like a cell phone. If your site is commercial in nature, however, this is no way to go about your technological life. I want to talk about how to fundamentally change how your business works and how the website assists that.
Your website should be doing two very important things:
- Provide an easy way for people to find more information out about you. This supports email marketing, in person networking, and any kind of word of mouth that you provoke. At the very least, your website should do a great job at doing this. It should be easy to find the right information, the site should showcase your strengths, and there needs to be a path forward for people wanting to take action. Just getting this right is hard enough without help.
- The other thing a successful site should be doing is concentrating on the actions that bring in revenue. Helping people find out about what you have to offer is great and, at this point, basically due diligence for all businesses. Identifying what it is that you want to do and where your revenue needs to come from is a critical step to having a site that pays for itself and more.
OK, here’s the straight dope, ready? I think the fundamental issue with many, many websites out there is that few people have identified what activities contribute the most to their bottom line. Who buys what you have to sell? Who emails you about your product? Who perks up when you talk about what you do? Who do you really want to work with?
Here are a few things to think about:
- Do you know who your buyers are? Do you have an idea in your head about who buys your product or hires you? This is critical. If you don’t know who it is you need to talk to then your message will be weak and your efforts unfocused.
- If you do have an idea, even a vague one, of who these people are and how they find what you have, are your events targeted towards them? Are you emailing them? Do they have blogs? Do you read them and comment on them? Can you find them on Twitter? Are you following them? Can you recognize one out of a crowd?
- You have a national audience because of your website… that’s great but that means your competition is also 100 times larger. If, however, your product or service has more of a local appeal, think about paring down the focus of your site, email marketing, and otherwise. The more focused your efforts can be, the more success you’ll have.
So, what can we do for your site? At this point, nothing. There is not much that can be done with a website until we really know WHO you’re talking to and WHAT you need to say to get their attention.
What can we do for your predicament? So, so many things!
Here’s a few steps to move this process forward. Each of these steps could take 10 – 20 hours apiece if you’re serious about really making a change to your business.
- Figure out, through your previous buyers and anyone who has expressed interest, who your audience is. Talk to everyone you can to get a profile of who buys your products or who needs your service. Do they buy other types of products? What software do they use? Where do they spend their free time? You’re looking for a profile of the type of person you need to seek out.
- Sit down with what you have (hopefully many pages of notes) and FIND THESE PEOPLE. Look for commonalities and find where they go. Send out an email poll through your email service and find what they’re reading, what websites they are on, what events they go to, what kind of food they like, where they drink coffee. Know these people in and out so you can speak directly to them. If you know what they do, where they go, and how they interact, you’re in a MUCH better position to find them and talk directly to them (literally and otherwise).
- Now, take a long hard look at this profile you’ve built and figure out what you’re doing right and where you’re going astray. Does your website appeal to your potential buyers? Ask them directly. Are you holding events they would be interested in? Have you found the site that they all frequent?
Sound a bit like stalking? Well, if you’re concentrating on one person then, yes, I imagine this feels a little creepy. But the goal here is to discover a profile of a person, the theoretical client. If you’re not right where your clients are, where are you? Where are your competitors?
I know this is more “brain storm” than “step-by-step” guide to success but I’m much more of a fan of finding your own path. I also find it hard to believe that one persons path to success will work for everyone else. Without a true desire to succeed and the ability to just get out there and try a few things, you’re not going to get anywhere.
Sit down with a laptop and a pad of paper and FIND YOUR AUDIENCE!
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Nov 12, 2009
In attempt to solve one problem, I figured out a way to easily publish and manage data on the web by using a simple Google Documents spreadsheet.
Oct 27, 2009
Though I haven’t eliminated repetition from my professional life entirely, I’m aware of something very different at work. Creating websites from scratch can be tedious but it has taught me something critical about iteration.