Just got back from my presentation to the Sharpsburg Business Association here in Pittsburgh. The topic was:
What does my Website say about my Business: Web Communications & Silent Marketing
There was a nice response from the audience. The main point of the presentation was that your small business website is doing marketing for you – it carries a “voice”. The issue is that many website owners do not actively participate in what that voice is telling potential customers who visit the website. Instead, they rely on the, “If you build it, they will come” model, having built a website and letting it stagnate, hoping that its very existence will draw in hordes of customers. If only it were that simple.
Having a website is merely the first of many steps. After the site is posted, owners must constantly update the site to match their target demographic. If they do not know who their target demographic is, they need to consider who they are trying to sell their business to. Then there should be some research into that market to learn more about that demographic. Who are they? What appeals to them? What would entice them to visit the website? What would encourage them to make a purchase? How can they provide referrals to friends?
After they figure out who the market is, a next step is to create web personas and do a little bit of role playing with them. How would they interact with the website? What sort of language would most effectively speak to them? How would they like to interact with the website and would they like the website to respond back to them?
This is an iterative process – building, testing, modifying; building, testing, modifying; etc. Your website should respond to the current needs of your target audience. By this virtue, it should be an ongoing project, never completed.
My favorite tidbit dug up from my research was from a presentation on the Pew Internet & American Life Project:
This speaks to the need of having a few fingers dipped into social media. I advised that not all businesses need profiles for all social media – but business owners should examine each on their own merits and make a decision about whether or not using it would be beneficial.
There was more. Attached is the handout. I was happy to be able to present to such a laid back audience who were both patient and curious. That is what I like about my job: business owners are the first line of personal investment. They have put it all on the line to make their dream come true. It is their life savings and time and sweat equity on the line. Having the opportunity to work with such authenticity and immediacy is a fantastic reward.