In an earlier post, we went out on a limb and made the claim that a really good website is the most important marketing investment a small business can make.
In fact, just the other day I was giving a local business a free phone consultation (yes! We do that!), and the business owner said her biggest concern was how their marketing could help them stand out from their competition. Of course, I suggested she update their website. Why? Because in this day and age, your website is huge. It is your opportunity to share what is important about your business—and how you stand out from the competition—to an audience that has already taken the trouble to look you up.
Of course, the key term of that first paragraph is “really good website”. While even a crappy website is arguably better than no website, you really do need a decent one to reap your just rewards.
But never fear! We have a website development checklist for you. We’re here for you, folks.
- You tell what your company does in a short sentence (or two) in clear, direct language, in a place where it’s the first thing people see. Bonus points for saying it in a clever or eye-catching way.
- If you sell physical products, one or more is featured prominently, using good, high-resolution photography.
- It’s super clear what you want people to do now that they are on your website. This means:
- If you sell products online, make it compelling for people to start shopping.
- If you have a brick and mortar location, make it super easy for people to find you (if you have a restaurant, maybe put a “make a reservation” button front and center?).
- If you sell a service, make your contact/lead form super prominent (you must have a lead form). You get my drift.
- You tell potential customers why they need you or what you sell. Give a few scenarios (or show with pictures). (Example: you’re a painter. Show (labeled) pictures of interior paint jobs, exterior paint jobs, and repair work you’ve done. This will remind people that they need you in all those cases).
- Your messaging (the words you use) and look and feel are thoughtfully calculated to resonate with your target customers. More bonus points: they make them feel a positive emotional reaction to you and your product.
- You demonstrate your value proposition(s). This should include how you’re different from/superior than other people in your line of business. Note: you don’t always have to explicitly state your value propositions; just make sure they are implied clearly.
- The site is easy to navigate. Test this on someone who has never used your site. Super cool websites that you can’t figure out how to find the information you need? Negative bonus points. (Sorry hip designers).
- You’ve kept the amount of copy (words) to a minimum. Remember, nobody reads.
I am the first to admit that there is an art and science to an amazing website, stuff that goes far beyond anything I’ve listed here. There are user interface designers that specialize in making websites optimized to squeeze every last drop out of every visitor.
But, dear small business owner, for the vast majority of you, these eight things are enough to make sure you have a good, well-functioning marketing site. And that’s a heck of a lot more important than winning web design awards.
One last note before I sign off. Even if you don’t look at this list at all, or even if you think it is all hooey, please don’t underestimate how important a good website is. Do not slap up a placeholder that you’ll get to someday. Do not think “that’s good enough” to yourself and move on to other things. I know you’re busy, but a good website really is beyond important.
Happy small business marketing,
Katie & Theron
At Urban Sherpa Marketing Co. we offer marketing advisory, strategic planning, and services for small business and startups. Our goal is to make high-quality marketing possible for every business, no matter the size. Think of us as your outsourced marketing department, strategic marketing adviser, or even your phone-a-friend marketing lifeline. We help you grow your business without blowing the bank.