The answer to this question will determine what you in turn, will need to do for it. As there is no such thing as a free lunch; likewise there is no such a thing as a free business-generating website.
The amount of value you anticipate getting out of your website will help you decide how much time and/or money to put into it.
Your answer to my question depends on one key thing – your business.
I have a friend (& client) who is an electrician down in Sussex. He’s busy. Normally very busy. He’s been in business for a good few years, is good at his job and provides a professional service. As a result, he gets the vast majority of his business via word of mouth. To me, that’s far preferable that generating most of his business via his website – a ‘warm’ referral is a lot easier to turn into business than a cold website enquiry (plus it says a lot about the quality of his work).
But imagine my friend when he was just starting out in business, relatively unknown. Or imagine him in a few months’ time when maybe he’ll be taking another apprentice on and so need more work…
You can see how suddenly the role of the website changes, and the website needs to start generating sales rather than merely supporting the sales process.
Both are entirely valid states of ‘website being’. For some businesses, rather than generating business, the website exists purely to back up their reputation and offline marketing. Whilst it does not generate business of its own accord, it plays an important, supporting role in the business generation process. For others, the website needs to actively pull in sales enquiries.
The time blocker
Let me side track for a minute. The single biggest ‘blocker’ I come across – both from myself and from others – is lack of time. ‘Update website’ is one of those tasks that gets re-written on list after list, and never crossed off.
It becomes a big ugly monster, and over time, it gets bigger and uglier. Maybe it makes you feel cross, maybe slightly guilty.
By having a clear view of what the purpose of your website is, you’ll be amazed at how quickly this then progresses to a clearer understanding of not only what you need to do, but how much focus you need to give it, relative to other business tasks.
I love examples, so here are a few to get you started. Have a read through and then have a think about your own business, and note down what you need your website to do for you. Be true to your business – if you’ve already got more business that you can handle, do you really want your website to be madly generating more sales? Conversely, if you’re struggling to make ends meet, are you sure you haven’t got time for your website?
- To reinforce and consolidate my profile and reputation – for example, after a networking meeting, or when an existing client has referred me.
- To be the hub of all our marketing activities
- To generate sales
- To provide support and information relating to our range of products
- To become known as the ‘go-to’ expert in my line of business
Go and note down exactly what it is you want your website to do for you. Be honest, be realistic.