Are you planning to build or update a business website? The following three questions will save you time, money and frustration, and help you get the results you want.
1. What is your website’s objective?
2. Who is your target market?
3. What’s your position?
On several occasions, my colleagues and I have come across business owners who spent upwards of $20,000 on website design and development, with literally nothing to show for it.
The reason? They didn’t invest time and effort to establish their specific needs.
They rushed ahead. And as they went along, plans changed, different ideas evolved and costly experiments ensued. The targets shifted month after month, right up until funds were finally depleted.
So how do you avoid this pitfall when it’s time to launch your business website?
Figure out what you actually need before you start sending out any requests for quotes.
Here are three crucial questions you need to answer before you build a business website:
What is Your Website’s Objective?
The objective of your website is to support your business and its goals.
For example, do you want to sell products online, generate leads, build a brand and awareness, attract members, generate feedback or reduce call centre volume?
Here are the most basic business website categories and their purposes:
- e-commerce — sell merchandise, increase sales, decrease expenses
- Content sales — sell subscription services, generate revenue via ads or subscriptions
- Lead-generation — generate sales possibilities, usually for high-priced products or services
- Self-service — improve customer service and decrease costs, i.e. online help centre
When you’re considering your business website needs, recognize not only your requirements, but what your customer needs or expects.
Base your website around building relationships and loyalty, which will help you achieve consistent, persistent growth over the long term. A short-sighted mindset will limit that growth success. In fact, it could harm your very existence.
Thousands of business websites disappear daily, replaced by thousands more of the same ilk. Industry Canada reports 50% of businesses do not survive beyond the third year.
A carefully planned and executed website can help your business achieve sustained growth and stand out above the rest.
Who is Your Target Market?
Before building a business website, you need to define your target market and understand their needs and wants.
This is essential to appeal to and connect with those you choose to serve. Before your website can sell anything to your target market, you need to be able to answer their questions and put their fears to rest.
Where do you begin? Groundwork. Go where your target audience socializes. Go where they work. Go where they shop. Observe their behaviors, and conduct informal and formal surveys. As well, study how your direct competition caters to them.
What does your target market value? What makes them feel good? And, quite frankly, what makes them reach for their wallets?
Your observations and research data will gain you a sound understanding of your target market’s trigger points — what’s truly important to them. By focusing on these key areas, you’ll have an opportunity to make them noticeably better than the competition.
Moreover, if you take the time to understand your customer, you’ll be better versed to provide customized and personalized service. While conducting business in cyberspace, many traditional business practices still apply.
What’s Your Position?
You need to determine what market position you want to establish for your brand. How do you want potential clients to view you? What sets you apart from the competition?
Your business website can significantly influence how you are perceived, especially considering it’s a common first point of contact between you and your potential customer.
What’s your image of choice? Trendy or practical. High end or affordable. Swift or steady.
Your image will evolve — for better or worse — regardless whether you take a proactive, reactive or passive role.
So be proactive and shape how the market views you. Ensure your business website conveys clear messages that reflect who you are or strive to be.
You’ll make a good first and lasting impression.