Top 10 Ways To Make Your Website Sell 24/7
I've spent more hours that I care to count attending networking functions, and I continue to be amazed at all the people I meet who don't have a website. Many entrepreneurs love what they do but hate marketing and selling themselves. A well-written website is one of the most effective tools at your disposal that will sell for you 24/7, provided you have written compelling copy for the site.
Here are ten ways to make your website your unpaid sales force:
1. Networking. A website permits you to pass out your business card to thousands of potential clients and lets them know how to reach you and what you sell. If, in your sales copy, you tell your story of why you're in your business, write a bio that accurately reflects your voice and style for your site, and upload your photo, your potential customers will begin to get to know you, without having to meet them one-on-one. Nothing is more amazing to me that to walk into a networking event and have total strangers come up and begin a conversation with me as though we were long-lost friends. They think we are. Why? Because they've visited my website or read my email newsletter or blog to the extent they have begun to get to know me, like me, and respect me.
2. Make Business Information Available. Help your customers find out more about you. What are your hours? What methods of payment do you accept? Where are you located? Being the "Internet snob" that I am, I go online first to check out a business before deciding to do business with them. Sometimes it's to check the menu, if it's a restaurant. Sometimes it's to see if they offer a discount coupon. Other times I just need to find their hours of operation or driving directions. If I can't find their website, I'm apt to find their competitor's site that contains precisely the info that I'm seeking.
3. Better Serve Your Customers. Make doing business with you as easy and effortless as possible. With an online presence, you could make forms available to pre-qualify clients for loans if you're a mortgage broker, enable your clients to upload their files for typesetting and printing if you're a professional printer, or allow your customer to see if the coat he wants is in stock if you're a clothing store. My sister is a "shoes horse" and desperately wanted a particular pair of shoes from a nationally-known department store in Houston. She checked their website to see if the shoes were in stock in her size at the store closest to her. She discovered they weren't, but was able to find another branch that did have them in stock and was able to swing by and pick them up. When your clients are over-committed and trying to squeeze another hour out of the day, how much more will they appreciate your online presence if you can help them save one of their most valuable assets — their time?
4. Release Time-Sensitive Materials. You may have a service business that relies on appointments to make your money, like a hair salon or a chiropractor's office. You walk in on Monday morning and discover that only about half of your appointments are taken for the week. Do you decide to take part of the week off? You could, if you needed a vacation. Or, you could email the customer list you've built through your website and let them know that you're taking appointments at a special discounted rate this week only, or on certain days of this week, or that they'll get a free widget if they book an appointment by a certain date or time. How quickly do you think your customers would take advantage of this time-sensitive offer?
5. Be Open All Night, 365 Days of the Year. Internet surfers don't go online to buy–they go online to find free information. However, we live in an immediate gratification society. If you have a product for sale that fulfills a need to a particular problem, you can add a shopping cart with credit card purchasing ability to your online product catalog and enable someone to buy something from you at 2 AM, for example, when most of us are in bed. If your shopping cart permits immediate delivery of an electronic item, like an ebook or audio file, all the better, as your customer can have the information he has ordered within minutes after purchase. How many sales are you losing because your prospective customer has to fax or phone in an order or wait for your office to open to talk to you? Your e-commerce-enabled website can be your 24-hour automated salesperson.
6. Make Pictures and Sound Files Available. What if your widget is great, but people want to see it in action? Your website permits you to add sound, static images, and video to better explain who you are and what you sell, or to demonstrate use of your product or service. No brochure will do that. Additionally, audio and video testimonials from enthusiastic customers are now becoming more commonplace on websites. If you hate to sell, have a happy customer tell your website visitors how wonderful you are and how well you solved his problem. People believe enthusiastic testimonials from others who've successfully used your product or service.
7. Answer FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions). Every business has questions that customers ask again and again. Do you have the staff, or want to dedicate staff time, to answering these questions? Instead, post the questions and answers to your website and remove another barrier to doing business with you. Or, if you have the staff to do so, install a "live help" program on your website so that your site visitors can click and log-in to ask their questions right away while the question is fresh on their mind.
8. Offer Special Membership Access for Current Customers. If you're selling a service on your site, you may want your current paying clients to have access to certain information that is generally not available to the public. With your website, you can create a password-protected, clients-only section, or special membership section, for certain groups of clients. And, as website visitors are always curious and will try to get into private areas for additional information, you can use the "authorization required" page as another opportunity to tell them about the benefits of your product and service and how their lives will be better and richer for purchasing it. And, upon purchase, they will then become a member of this "special clients" club and have all the information and privileges associated with that membership. American Express is right — membership has its privileges!
9. Open to National or International Markets. For most of my adult life, I've lived in parts of the country that have never recovered from the mid-1980's recession. Because I've had a virtual business with a website, I've never had to rely on the local economy to make a living. If you have a product or service that won't sell locally, or you have a brick and mortar operation and are trying to break into new markets, a website can help you open up a dialogue with nationwide or even international markets as easily as with the company across the street. Can you stand to make more money in your business?
10. Test-Market New Services and Products. Got an idea for another line of products for your business, or an additional service you'd like to add? Create a special page on your website and see how your current customers like the new offering. Ask them about price, appearance, and usability. They will let you know what they think faster and easier than any other market you may reach. Take their feedback, make necessary changes, and then roll it out to a larger market.
If you don't currently have a website for your business, get one! If your website only serves as a pretty brochure instead of bringing you qualified customers or sales, perhaps it's time to hire an expert to bring it to the next level. What difference would it make for you to get 95% of your clients online? I bet that would make your marketing efforts much more streamlined, and who doesn't want to make more profit in less time?
Copyright 2005 Donna Gunter
About The Author
Online Business Coach Donna Gunter helps self-employed professionals make more profit in less time online. To sign up for more FREE tips like these and claim your FREE ebook, TurboCharge Your Productivity: 50 Tools To Help You Automate Your Business and Make More Profit in Less Time Online!, visit her site at http://www.OnlineBizCoachingCompany.com .