BUSINESS MANAGEMENT - WEBSITES and INTERNET MARKETING

This is the 36th of a series of newsletters published on Business Management and Management Skills. The next newsletter will be the Introduction to Financial Management. Not all topics will apply to your business, but each section will be beneficial to establish company goals and objectives. By reading and studying these newsletter articles, you’re taking the first step in achieving your goals.

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The Internet provides a means of marketing your business or services, and its marvels are available to just about anyone who has any type of computer.

With almost one billion Web pages available for some of us, the Internet may look more like a bowl of spaghetti than an information super-highway. A Web page can be likened to a small store in a strip mall off of the freeway in that it provides a location for marketing your business and its services, but it must be readily accessible to be of any value to your customers. To facilitate locating your Web store, it must be listed with what are called search engines.

Once your Web pages have been located and accessed, they must provide content that visitors (hopefully your potential customers) will find appealing and be of value. This content and the way you arrange it are influenced by what you hope your pages will accomplish. Your Website can take this information content and make it “interactive” where customers can click, learn, and understand why you are an expert, and perhaps their best contracting choice.

The classic make or buy decision also applies to the development and maintenance of Web pages. If you’re not confident about your design skills, it’s best to keep it very simple or hire professionals to do this work. Develop content that will appeal to your customers, which will help you in achieving your marketing and sales goals. Scout the Internet looking for tips, graphic ideas and layouts that may be appealing to you. Use this freedom to experiment with ideas and learn from the feedback of visitors. One of the advantages of building a Website is that nothing is physical or permanent. If you don’t like the looks of something you’ve done, it can be revised quickly. Just remember that everything you do has a cost to acquire and a cost to maintain.

As the name information super-highway implies, Web pages are about information - the giving and receiving of information. Be sure to get what information you can from your visitors. What were they looking for? What did they like? Include easy ways for those who browse your digital store to give you feedback. Feedback is the corrective signaling element in an information management system. Without it, you’re bowling blind.

Your Website offers a compelling message to an eager audience and it has advantages others can’t touch. Use it to find new prospects and customers. In the world of computers, names and addresses are important - even magical. Start simple and let the site grow at a pace that suits you. Give people a reason to read and return to your Website. New or improved business services could be one of the main reasons. It’s important that whatever you decide upon, you must make a clear plan of action with set deadlines and realistic aims.

Websites have a tendency to be highly impersonal. Write like you speak. Tell prospects why you care about them and earning their business. Insert an electronic signature and/or a photo of the letter writer. Develop a way to thank customers for their visit and interest in your business or services. Providing some form of free service has been a traditional means of thanking visitors to your site. Do whatever it takes to grab the reader’s attention & get contact information. If you don’t do this, it’s like NOT putting your phone number in an ad. Get names or you’re lost!

Include your Web address (your URL) in all of your other media, and your phone, fax and physical address in your Web pages. Just as your shoes, pants and shirt should all match, so too should all of your advertising. Compare the flavor, tone and theme of your Web pages to your other advertisements. They should all flow together like a stream of intelligent media.

It is futile (and perhaps foolish) to invest in a Website without these goals. Your goal is to get prospects, inform them, and then move them to customers as fast as possible. Start today and expand your Internet marketing power with a Website and, with perseverance, experimentation, grim determination and a sprinkling of luck, you’ll find that it’s well worth the effort.

Start small and build on your success.

NOTE: For additional information, please refer to the section on Computers (#10) and Advertising/Business Marketing (#4) in this series of articles on Business Management.

Mike Holt’s Comment: I would like to extend a special thank you to L.W. Brittian, a Mechanical & Electrical Instructor in Lott, Texas, for reviewing and editing the various articles in these newsletters. His comments and suggestions have been invaluable in the preparation of my Business Management and Management Skills’ Workbook. This newsletter article was extracted from that workbook. Watch for our next newsletter, and as always, we invite your comments and feedback. Send us your real-life experiences. We value your opinions and participation. Please respond to Barbara@MikeHolt.com. And… be sure to visit Mike Holt’s Website at http://www.mikeholt.com

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