Having been in business for over a dozen years, I’ve witnessed a lot of different situations when it comes to website presences. With a little over 900 professional consultations under my belt, I’m over 90% of my way to having helped 1,000 companies to increase their profits, reduce their costs and grow their businesses beyond their wildest dreams! Sports stars would get an award for that, they get prominently featured in the Hall of Fame, all I’ll ask for is a hug from each one of my clients when I reach that goal, afterall, it’s knowing that I’m helping their businesses grow that makes it so rewarding.
Most times when I start a consultation, my client will ask me for the “quick fix”. Despite being taught over and over again, learning the lesson the difficult way that there are is such thing as quick fix, it’s amazing that people are still looking for that elusive gem, the one that’s going to change their business overnight… but it never happens!
Today I’d like to show you why fixing a website is never just as simple as a “quick fix”. In order to show you why this is the case, I’m going to walk you through a scenario. Now it’s important for you to visualize this so that you can truly understand what I’m talking about:
Regardless of who you are and what business you’re in, imagine you’ve moved to another city. Assume that you’ve sold your business and retired. Remember this: the service that you’ve offered for years no longer exists. Now that I’ve brainwashed you into believing this (if you don’t yet, re-read this paragraph until you do), ask yourself these questions:
For this scenario to be easy to understand, I’ll use an example so that you can follow through the exercise:
Q: What products/services are you seeking and in what city?
A: Accounting in Ottawa, Canada
Q: More specifically, what specific products/services will you be seeking in the next year?
A: Tax preparation, financial planning and cash flow projections
Now with the information outlined above, let’s walk through a typical user’s online decision making process.
- What would I search for if I were to look for these services?
Ottawa tax preparation
Ottawa financial planning
- Once I have search results, what would I do?
Typically I would open the first 5-6 links and within viewing each of these sites for 30 seconds or less, narrow down my consideration to 2-3 companies.
- Why did I close down half the sites within 30 seconds?
There are 3 common reasons for this.First impression – Possibly a poor first impression, even though we’re taught not to make first impressions, we all do and it’s subconscious. With so much information at our fingertips at all times, it’s easy to move onto the next option if we’re unsure.
Unable to find information I was seeking – Possibly insufficient information about this firm’s financial planning services, or an alternate site contained better information about another firm’s capabilities in this area. Alternately, the site was difficult to navigate and I couldn’t find the information, got frustrated and moved onto a better designed website.I was bored – Simply put, the website was plain, not visually appealing and left me with a bad impression. If this company cares so little about their own image, then how much are they going to care about me and my company’s tax requirements?
- How could I possibly evaluate the performance of dozens or even hundreds of employees within 30 seconds?Although most people would never ask themselves this question, I’ve included this question merely to force everyone to think about this. The truth of the matter is that nobody has the time to assess each and every potential supplier and must use some discretionary measures when determining who they will do business with. While I may have eliminated the single best accounting firm in the entire city, I will simply never even know it. My selection in the end may not be what’s best for my company but I simply don’t have time to interview 5-6 candidates.
- At this point, with my shortlist of 2-3 remaining companies, I’ll typically finalize my decisionOver the next few days as a result of a number of email and phone exchanges, interviews and assessments, I’ll finalize my decision. If your company receives an email, it’s critical that a response is received within the next 2 business days or less (preferably same day response). Remember, you won’t be the only company receiving my inquiry. If a conversation occurs, meeting is scheduled or a relationship is established then most times you’ll already be too late as I’ve already established some trust and invested time into forging a relationship with one of your competitors.Your goal should be to successfully make it through the first 4 steps above and still be included on my short list. If this were to occur the majority of the time, you’d have more leads than you could possibly handle and your business would reap the massive rewards of this. Unfortunately, however, in most cases, you’ll be shortlisted before you even have the chance to communicate with me.
Time to assess your own business…
Now that I’ve walked you through the above exercise by using an accountant as an example, I encourage you to take the time to do the same for your particular products or services. Let’s call this the “stop ignoring my weaknesses work”, if you don’t bother doing the exercise then you might as well stop reading this article now, because you won’t reap the true benefits from it.
Once you’ve completed this exercise, you will have a list of items to consider when looking at your own and of course your competitors websites. It will become easier to prepare and execute a clear plan that will truly take your business to the next level . Don’t ignore your competitors, study them and learn from them, remember keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
You will realize the importance of transforming your online presence into one that is not just another site, but rather one that is an extension of your sales team, one that generates you leads, increases your loyalty with your clients and reaps rewards that you never thought possible. You will realize that there are many areas that are critical in ensuring that your website successfully generates leads, but most importantly, if any particular areas are weak, you’ll find that if you could put your biases aside, you very likely may have removed your company from your leads’ shortly for of the following reasons:
- If your website did not come up in the top of the search results for the keywords you would have anticipated. Your website is lacking critical search engine optimization; your target leads are unable to find you.
- If your website is not visually appealing (or as visually appealing as competitors), you may not make the short list
- If your website is not organized intuitively, it may be difficult to find the information you were seeking
- If your website does not have clearly identified calls to action, and your competitors’ sites do, they may simply get the call first and have the first opportunity to close the deal.
The reality is that if you don’t take the steps needed to improve your online presence, you’ll be doing your competitors a favor because they’ll be getting calls from clients that could have been yours. Start today, do this exercise, document your weaknesses and commit to eliminating them one by one. Don’t be afraid to hire a web professional along the way, once your planning is done and it’s time for execution, it’ll be a much more effective use of your time if you focus your skills and energy where you can make the best impact on your company’s success while the technical challenges are handled by someone who has years of experience dealing with them.
I hope that this helps many more businesses to get in the right state of mind when considering the importance and value of their website presences. Once you’ve performed this exercise and reaped the rewards of improving your online presence, please send me an email and get to the back of the line, I want my thank you hug.