Nov 2

We hear plenty of buzz about small businesses using their websites as an integral part of their operation.  Does that if you publish a basic website that customers will come rolling out of the woodwork?  Of course not.

Sorry…"build it and they will come" does not apply in this case.

But, having a well built, correctly organized, highly relevant, current website can go a long way to building your business.

The good news is that using a website is really no different than what most small business owners do every day.  We go out into the community and build visibility, offer value, and establish credibility.

Your website should do the same things, just on a larger scale in an electronic format…

1. Increase Visibility

As a small business owner myself, I always carry a stack of business cards with me.  Any time I meet someone new I usually give them a card and tell them a little (30 seconds worth) about my business. 

These meetings are a chance for me to increase my visibility in the community. I use my website for the same reason.  I want to have a forum, which is under my control, to showcase my services and abilities.

2. Offer Value

My website should not be little more than an idol to my ego.  I certainly need to discuss my abilities and show my potential clients how I can help them.  But, I also need to offer real value.

My visitors should be able to find some answers to their questions.  They should be able to leave my website with more knowledge than they had when they arrived.

Selling my services is clearly my goal.  But, I need to earn the right to ask someone for their business.  I need to demonstrate to them that I truly can offer them some value.  I want to position myself not as just a salesman, but as a trusted adviser and business partner.

Paid services flow naturally when they are offered in an environment of mutual trust and respect.

3. Establish Credibility and Expertise

Why would anyone buy from you if you don't know what you are doing?  Would you hire an auto mechanic to fix your brakes if they seemed like an idiot?  I don't know about you, but I like my car to stop when I hit the brakes, especially with a carload of kids.

So, why would someone hire you, to the exclusion of your competitors, unless they regarded you as credible, trustworthy, and expert?  I wouldn't hire you and neither would anyone else.

How do you establish this reputation?

You build these online relationships the same way you build them now.  You interact with your customers and prospects.  The only difference is that you interact via a computer.

Some activities you can use to build credibility and relationships…

Blogging – Make regular blog entries on relevant news in your industry.

Email – Build and use an email list.  Send relevant offers, news updates, warnings (virus outbreaks for an IT company, or tax deadlines for an accounting company for instance) and whatever else you can think of.

White Papers – Write papers on industry-specific topics that would be of value to your clients and prospects.

Once you become a credible, reliable, go-to expert in the eyes of a prospect hiring you when the need arises is a "no-brainer".