A Good Business Plan Makes a Great Website
Model your Website after your Business Plan
The moment we land on a striking website we long to stop and peruse. If we are truly fortunate, each and every page conveys valuable information about this compelling product or business. We not only become better-educated customers, but just as importantly, we have a benchmark product to compare others against.
Conversely, we might be totally intrigued by a product’s description in a trade journal, but upon reaching the website become stymied while attempting to garner additional information. The navigation tools lead nowhere and each page is nothing more than a “call to action.” We leave, disappointed.
So, what do the pros know about building an effective website that the rest of us can learn from? Their website reflects a clearly defined business plan.
Business plans help us validateour businesses’ strengths,clarify our target audience, and define our competition. In addition, a good business plan helps us focus upon the 4P’s, (or C’s) of marketing:
By their very nature, business plans help crystallize the potential of our idea. Crystal clear thinking leads to clearly-defined descriptions:
- Our strengths become more clearly defined
- Our target audience sets the language and tone
- Healthy competition ensures we communicate our own benchmarks and standards
- Our pages become adaptable platforms from which to educate and address the unforeseeable
Our strengths become more clearly defined.
Our Product versus the competition:
Do we build motors?
- Yes. The motors we build are carefully engineered to meet the standards of the finest set of engineers we know.
Does our competition build motors?
- Yes. Their motors are built to meet current government standards.
Our strength is that we exceed government standards, in order to build a motor our picky engineers approve of.
Our Product’s Appeal to the Consumer:
Why do our engineers set such high expectations?
- “Our motors are built to run continuously…
- “Our motors are built to provide individualized control when operated in tandem…
By defining what makes us different from the competition, we have set ourselves apart. By telling our customer what this means to them, we have invited them to look deeper.
Our target audience sets the language and tone
We must communicate as clearly, concisely, and vividly as if we were writing a business plan for a bank to approve. In order for a product to stick in a customer’s mind, visual and factual information should be used.
Content is king. Google’s Panda and Penguin initiatives forced websites to focus on content. Google implemented these changes at a time when the internet had become so soured with misleading keyword articles that it was nearly impossible to retrieve genuine material on any given topic. Genuine business concerns welcomed the change. Their website material had always focused on the benefits of their products – on product changes and updates – on industry wide trends – on the application of their technology or product in the commercial and residential marketplace. When up-and-coming businesses realized the value of espousing their product’s role in their customer’s lives, internet content improved exponentially.
- What about SEO?
The simplest answer is to stick with your business terminology. When you describe your product or business using industry-wide terms, when you reiterate the phrasing you use on sales brochures and in printed materials, customers will find you.
- Drill-Down Content for Link building
If you are a masonry company, your home page is likely to list “brick repair” as one of your services. The first article you write about brick repair should include a general description of brick repair including point-and-tuck, mortar repair, soft brick, hard brick, etc. Subsequent articles should provide in-depth descriptions about each of those subjects, and the original article should be updated with a link to each article in the original reference to “tuck-and-point” for example.
These tactics help make your company an “expert” in your field. You are, after all, a masonry specialist. Each article you write that displays your expertise; that builds upon the foundation of another, builds ranking and credibility.
- Use industry terminology in your keyword lists.
This is a huge mistake many websites miss. When they write a specialty article that relates to their field, (like outdoor living for a masonry company), they forget to include their masonry terminology and make all the keywords about outdoor living. If you’re writing for masonry, your outdoor living article still needs to have masonry keywords – even if many of those terms are not in the article!
Be Memorable: Most shoppers report that they peruse the internet for weeks or even months before making a big purchase. Sadly, many also report that when they return to the internet and attempt to find their favorite product, they cannot recall the search term they used. If they did not bookmark the page, they may be at a loss.
One redeeming factor seems to be the fact that shoppers often recall key phrases used in product description headlines, or benefits statements. They will know you once they reach your page, because the images will remain etched in their mind.
Speaking of pictures – your business plan should include strikingly beautiful pictures of your product or business. People remember images. In fact, when people can’t find a website they have been looking for they will often peruse Google Images for a picture they remember. Carefully label your pictures to reflect your product, or the generalized term for what you sell so your customers can find you!
Clearly define your product’s name
When you find a catchy phrase that describes your product – stick with it. Place it next to all sorts of pictures and within product descriptions.
A couple of years back, just in time for Christmas, one of the online stores announced it had Hoodies with Headphones. It had a catchy phrase – Headphone Hoodies? – but today, almost no one remembers who that company was. After Christmas when the ads were over, people began searching for them again and couldn’t find them. Today, lots of hoodie companies offer “hoodies with headphones” but that first catchphrase is gone forever.
Make your pictures prominent
Even free software companies can make their product stand out
by incorporating an image or logo that makes them memorable to some-
one perusing for audio mixers, etc. But for those of you with actual products or
services, choose your best three images and make them prominent. Have tons of
pictures everywhere…but always place at least one of your best three on each web page. It will make your product or service memborable. (And please don’t forget to
label your picture with generic and specific keywords for Google’s Image searches)
Our competition helps ensure we communicate our own benchmarks and standards
Most of us believe our product or service is better, in some way, than that of our competition. Either that, or we believe we are geographically suited to provide what others cannot.
- Note your advantages – whether it be locale or superior product
- Write articles about your specialty niche – be it locale, superior materials, or…
- Use illustrations and technical drawings to reinforce your strength of resolve to provide quality
- Use customer reviews and remarks to establish a pattern of reliability
Our pages become adaptable platforms from which to educate and address the unforeseeable
I once worked for a mailbox company who called me late one evening, asking if I could write an article about all the snowplows that had been running into curbside mailboxes during a winter storm that blanketed the East Coast. I came up with the catchphrase, “A Mario Andretti snowplow driver wiped out my mailbox. How about yours?” By morning it was number one on Google.
This kind of current event is just one of the many ways to capitalize on industry-related news. By generating an immediate article that will eventually gets displaced to the bottom of more relevant content, you will get a few visitors who didn’t know you existed. It’s not a tactic you would want to use every day, but it is certainly valuable for the moment.
Make sure your content educates your clients. If you offer windows that are hard to cover, there is nothing wrong with letting your customers know about a brand of draperies, shades, and blinds that look great with your windows. They will appreciate the help, and you might even get an affiliate link out of the deal. If you fix masonry, but can also install stamped concrete driveways, be sure to show a picture of both, and make a note of the fact that your skilled craftsmen are ready to tackle any of your customer’s masonry needs.
Your website is your showroom salesman – don’t leave out half of your capabilities, or products. Make sure your customers can find all of your products and services.
The Unforeseen in Technology
Since the advent of the ipad and android phones, more and more people are using them to shop, research, and share products. Many of these devices cannot handle the traditional webpage layout. Very soon, it will become absolutely imperative to the life of any online presence that they become optimized for mobile platforms.
Additionally, Social Networks are becoming increasingly crucial to marketing. Simply put, if a young person is excited about your product, she wants to be able to “Like” you on FB, so her friends can get to know you. Social pages don’t have to be a lot of work. A simple link to an article you posted that week will keep the juices rolling; and at least once a week, add another photo of your product, and invite them to your website or storefront. But most important of all? Respond to their comments. Lots of traditional shoppers like the idea of being able to communicate with you in this format – and many will remain loyal and pro-active supporters if they get a response.