The Internet, and the communications technology that has come with it, has handed small business owners an amazing marketing tool. No longer do middlemen wield a lot of control; instead, the small brands with remarkable products and services have the tools (namely search engines and social networks) to connect them with their ideal customer. But that means having a great website, because first impressions count. Here are a few BIG ideas for making your website a better marketing tool.
Make it a One Stop Shop.
You’re putting in a lot of work and effort to keep your brand top of mind with the customer. So why not take advantage of being the business of choice? Partner with others or launch your own additional products and services to bring in some ancillary income. Airlines have done this for years with travel insurance, hotels, and car rentals. Why can’t you? Web technology makes it easy – just think hard about what would be a good fit. You don’t want to make it too complicated.
Find What’s Missing.
In a lot of verticals, you’ll find customers often complaining about the information that’s missing. Maybe it is a lack of reviews, maybe it’s just a directory of suppliers, or maybe it’s something deeper. Can you find what’s missing? You might have to launch a site separate to yours, but wouldn’t it be nice to be the only advertiser and sponsor of a site your niche or industry has been desperate for? Make sure it isn’t adding noise or just another layer in the process.
Make It Simpler.
We’ve been talking about a lot of extra stuff. But you don’t want bells and whistles, you want value. So maybe, for you, less is more? If you are suffering from an information glut, the winning formula might be a better way to present and sort through all that information.
Build a Community.
Yes, yes – the social media pundits have been touting this one for awhile. But they’re right: if you want people to keep coming back to your website and your brand, you need it to be a place where they feel welcome. The easiest way to do that is to give them a seat at your table. Allowing comments on articles and accepting contributions of photos/articles/videos are two easy ways to start. But change your tone as well – why not call them “community members” instead of customers?
Ask Your Customers For Their Feedback.
Feedback is invaluable, so why not ask your “community members” (see previous!)– the ones who are the raving fans and active participants in the discussion – what they think? You want to hear about what they like, but more importantly, what’s wrong? As hard as you try, you will never be perfect, but if you are listening to what your most profitable and engaged clients are saying, you can come close.
Guest Contributor – Andy Hayes is a professional writer and published author. He is the managing director of Travel Online Partners (TOP), the go-to resource for small businesses in travel and tourism for help with online technology. If you need more BIG ideas for your small business website, he can help.