One of the mistakes small business-owners make is assuming people will buy their product or service simply because it exists. It’s a philosophy illustrated in the iconic movie “Field of Dreams,” where the whispered promise “If you build it, they will come,” comes true for Kevin Costner’s character. But in real life, you have to do more to get people to acknowledge your existence.
No matter how small your business, you have to reach out to potential customers. You can employ traditional marketing techniques to raise awareness of your products or services, but if you don’t have a website, you’re missing out on one of the best ways to connect with consumers.
Before you begin designing your website, you have to pick a domain name. Ideally, the domain name will match your business name, but it doesn’t have to. For example, Wi-Fi provider Gogo uses “gogoair.com.”
Domain names eventually expire, which can be disastrous for small businesses – you could find that someone else registered your domain name as soon as it expired. To protect your interests, choose a company that understands domain registration and will alert you when your domain name is approaching expiration.
Once you’ve got the name you want, it’s time to move on to the development stage.
Unless you have Web design experience, you should consider hiring someone to build your website.
Explain what you want your website to look like, and be receptive if a designer suggests changes. Your site should look professional, use images sparingly and be easy to navigate.
In the planning stages, a designer will develop a site map or outline that shows you how users will move from one area of your website to another. Imagine yourself as a potential customer – does the navigation on your website make sense? Again, this is an area that a Web designer will understand better than you will, but ask questions if you think the navigation seems not quite right – you want a user-friendly site that turns customers into conversions.
Learn from Others
In the early stages of planning your website, look for websites that excel at what you want to do – which is likely: increase awareness of your business and generate sales. Odds are you’ll find many successful business sites include a blog section, which is a handy tool for getting people to return to your website.
Combine Your Efforts
Use your website to promote in-store specials, and promote your website to customers who buy products at your physical location. You could set up a questionnaire on your website, print your URL on your in-store receipts and suggest to customers that they complete the questionnaire for a discount or special offer.
Use social media to cross-promote, too – and if customers pose questions via Twitter, be sure to answer them promptly and courteously.
When you build a good website that’s easy to navigate, customers will follow – but you still have to let people know it exists. Combine your marketing tactics to reach people in-person and online, and watch your website traffic grow.