Recently a sales rep from a printing company visited to promote her company's printing services. I got the whole sales pitch including examples of past printing jobs showing a variety of special effects etc. The sales presentation was very good and I felt she was doing a good job of promoting the Company. When she left she gave me her business card and some neat branded notepads, so I said that I would keep her in mind for any future print jobs.
Still interested in what I'd been shown, I sat down at my computer, typed in their website address from her card and this is where things nose-dived.
Good impressions down the drain ...
Being a website designer with a strong background in sales and marketing, my critical eye for website design and usability is probably more sensitive than most. But even taking this into account, this company's website was VERY bad. The design of the site looked, for want of a better word, remedial, totally outdated and disorganised. The logo on the website was completely different from the logo on their business card and the notepads I was given. There were very few images of printing samples and on taking a look at their services page there was no mention of some of the services that the sales person had mentioned.
That was it for me - the business card was binned, but I kept the notepads.
Here we have a good example of the fundamental role that a website plays in the overall sales and marketing strategies of your business. It is crucial that your website conveys a consistent brand image, perceived value and sales message in line with direct-selling opportunities that happen when you are not present.
Test your website ...
1. Can a website visitor get a thorough understanding of your primary products/services and reach your contact info page in two clicks or less?
2. Is your website design and content consistent with the quality of your company and its products/services?
3. If you looked at your website and sales materials/brochures side by side, are they conveying a consistent brand image?
4. If you or your sales staff were to read out loud your website's content word-for-word during a sales call, would they close the sale?
The list goes on, but I'm sure you get the point. If you answered "NO" to any of the questions above, your website probably needs some work.
A Marketing Planning Lesson
Back to the printing company with the appalling website. Let's imagine they come to their senses and hire me to revamp their website ... in our first meeting I would find out about the different strategies and campaigns they use to develop new business ... next I would discover that they use a mix of advertising, sales and local tradeshows, and since they are printers, have very smart brochures ... I even discover that they offer tutorials in the latest printing techniques through their local business enterprise organisation.
When questioned about their website, they say, "It's a low priority and we've always been concerned about the cost."
It still amazes me that with so many opportunities to use online tools to market businesses and sell goods and services, that so many companies view the Internet as their last priority. By doing this they don't seem to realise the amount of clients/dollars that are going to their competitors who have made an appropriate investment.
Ways to Get Your Website on the Same Page as your Marketing Strategies
1. Perceived Value: First impressions are paramount. In the first few seconds of a website visit, your website's design quality and content layout is subconsciously communicating your company's value to the visitor. If your site's design quality is poor or disorganised, your company will be perceived as poor quality and disorganised and you will probably lose that potential customer just like that.
How to Get On the Same Page - Work with a professional website designer (WWW Design comes to mind), who can help you design your site's look and feel to match (or even exceed) the quality of your company, products and services.
2. Brand Consistency: Your company's brand is what people think of you ... whether people notice a magazine advertisement, see your booth at a tradeshow or find your website, it is vital that you present a clear and consistent sense of what your business "stands for" at every stage of contact.
How to Get On the Same Page - Everything you put in front of a customer needs to look and sound consistent ... this means every advertisement, every brochure, your website, corporate identity elements, etc. An integrated campaign works wonders.
3. Message/Content Quality: You've heard the saying "Content Is King". Keeping your website updated with fresh, high-quality, informative content positions your business as an expert in your field, and people want to do business with experts.
How to Get On the Same Page - Ensure that your message is delivered in a high-quality manner and with a consistent message. Spend time and professional assistance if necessary to ensure that your business is conveying the most effective message to help transform visitors into buyers.
4. Self Promotion: Blow Your Own Trumpet: If you're not promoting your latest happenings (new product/service offerings, company news, upcoming educational sessions, tradeshows, etc.), no one else is going to. Remember that minor updates should not be costly. Nothing screams "dinosaur" like seeing a news page where the last news item was dated two years ago.
How to Get On The Same Page - If your advertising or salespeople are out there telling customers about a new product or an upcoming educational session, your website should be doing the same. Frequent site updates tell customers that you are an active company that is on the move, as well as providing new content that serves as great fodder for search engine spiders.
5. Track Your ROI: It continues to baffle me that companies will spend thousands of dollars each year on marketing tactics that make tracking your return very difficult (for example newspaper advertising, direct mail, brochures, etc.), but they won't spend the money to build a decent website or pay a tiny amount each month to receive comprehensive site visitor statistics.
How to Get On the Same Page - WWW Design charges just $5.00 + GST a month for comprehensive website statistics. Those of your who do get them, well done, but please take time to read and analyse them as well.
How many clients has that printing company lost over the years because of their poor, neglected website? Who knows? The bottom line is: they lost my business, and I won't be recommending them to any of my clients ... this loss of business could realistically pay for a website over a period of time.