It’s always amazing to me the people I talk to who haven’t looked at their own web sites in months. Why have one? You can be sure it’s little more than a phone book entry at this point, which you could get for free from Switchboard.com, even if you spent lots of money on making it great. There are three things to keep in mind:
1. Having a web site, in itself, does absolutely nothing for your marketing. The myth, the lie, the fantasy people like to believe is that merely having a web site will some how bring clients to your business. It’s like believing you can lose 50lbs from a pill a day, or the banana diet. People believe. almost religiously, in automatic marketing, because they want to, despite the facts. If you’re not actually doing any marketing, actively engaged in consistent, planned, routine marketing actions, a web site is crap. And anyone can beat your marketing with no web site, using nothing but Facebook and Twitter. Having a web site with an internet marketing plan, that you consistently utilize, and make part of your business, is the core of most effective online marketing efforts.
2. Old web sites don’t work anymore anyway. An old web site is one that is never added to, isn’t growing consistently in the value added content it provides, and isn’t engaged with an actual community in a social venue. Old web sites are the same as if you Xerox-ed a flyer (or a brochure, if you have more than one page on your site) and pinned it to cork bulletin board on the web, the way you might in the entry way of a supermarket. It has no more value than that. It’s not zero, it’s just so insignificant that, in the larger market where your competitors are actually doing something, it doesn’t matter. In marketing, neglect is death. Planning, consistency, adding value, and originality are life, and every belief or fantasy to the contrary is a bald-faced lie, no matter how religiously one feels a conviction that it’s not so.
3. A web site is supposed to be a central hub in a marketing plan. Got no plan? Then a web site is useless. Doing no marketing, that actually integrates with your web site? Then a web site won’t do it for you. And advertising isn’t marketing – it’s just neglect plus money. Paid advertising is good, and it certainly can be effective, especially supplementing consistent marketing efforts, but let’s be honest – it’s a substitute for some of the effort. Paid ads alone will not have the same return as treating marketing as part of the routine activity you engage in as part of your business.
The most common objections are these (and I intend to be a little smart alecky and snarky about it just to drive the points home):
- “But I don’t want to do marketing!” Then don’t. That’s it, no one’s forcing you. Just be prepared to watch your business slowly diminish over time, because the business that isn’t marketing isn’t growing, and no growth = death.
- “But I have enough clients already.” If you’re happy, we’re all happy. So there you go, don’t do anything. If you can live with the turnover and losses that are inevitable over time, and still have enough, then why mess around with marketing at all? Be happy.
- “But there are people telling me that for a fee, I don’t have to do anything, they can set it up to automatically bring me business.” Then give them your money (it’s not doing you any good, after all – they might as well get some use out of it). People sell miracles that require nothing but a donation, every day. This is nothing new.
- “But their web site says they’re the best in the business, have a guarantee, and they have lots of testimonials.” Everyone says that stuff, what do you expect?
- “But they have a money back guarantee.” Did you read that guarantee – all of it – the fine print? If they’re really willing to give you your money back if you’re unhappy, then consider these things: 1. There shouldn’t be a contract, or annual agreement, or cancellation fee. Right? Why have a contract, or the equivalent, if there’s a guarantee? Does the contract protect them or you? 2. What exactly are you guaranteed to get? More people looking at your web site? I look at web sites every day that I don’t buy anything from. 3. Doesn’t that diet pill on TV have a money back guarantee, and that peeler and slicer, and that other gadget? Does that mean it works? And if you can believe the testimonials, why is a guarantee necessary?
- “But I don’t do any of this social stuff.” So learn. That’s what consulting and training are for. Get some. Let’s get this straight – you learned to do everything necessary to run your business, but Twitter scares the hell out of you? It’s unlearnable? Come on. You use e-mail, don’t you?
- “I don’t like it.” Tough. It’s reality. Like taxes and death. Doesn’t matter what you or I like. I’m a pacifist who doesn’t like violence, but I’m in a martial arts class. The world is what it is.
- “I don’t believe it works in my field.” Then it won’t – for you, that is, until you stop disbelieving. It will be effective for any competitors that do it correctly and consistently. But ask yourself, on the basis of what expertise do you disbelieve? Years of marketing experience? If you’ve got that, you already know what to do in order to grow your business. If not, why not keep an open mind?
- “I don’t see anyone else doing it in my industry.” Someone in every industry thinks that, which is why the competition is lower (and more vulnerable) using the new marketing venues, and why they’re so effective, compared to just throwing up a web site and letting it sit there untouched for months – which is something everyone is doing, which is why it doesn’t work very well. You’ve tried it the other way, right? How’s it working for you? Why would we intentionally seek out the *most competitive* business arenas, and then put out the *least effort* to market in them? That’s what just throwing up a web site on the internet is. But have you really looked at whether anyone in your industry is using the new social and value added marketing effectively? Exactly what kind of checking into this have you done? And if you find you really are the first, then say ‘hallelujah’, because you just found a wide open door and can go through it before everyone else figures it out and beats you to it.
- “I don’t have time.” Neither does anyone else. But the most successful up and coming competitors are still doing it. Plus, I don’t believe you. Here’s why: If you haven’t got 30min/week to spend on marketing your business, then you’re crawling in so many clients already, with so much consistent growth to replace the turnover, that you wouldn’t be looking at a need to do marketing anyway – so why are you here? What I do believe is that the easiest things to not have time for are the ones we least want to do, or feel require learning, change, personal growth, whatever to accomplish. Only you know if I’m right – it’s just a theory.
A web site can be incredibly effective, or it can be almost useless. The difference isn’t technical wizardry, tho a little of that can help, and it isn’t throwing more money at it, if it already has all the parts and tools to be effective. What determines if your web site will be effective is:
- a) the plan it is part of – your internet marketing plan,
- b) the consistency with which you engage in marketing efforts as part of your routine business day, week, and month,
- c) how well your marketing efforts are integrated with your web site as a central hub or point of contact (a web site, ideally, is like a big front door to the lobby of your business)
- d) whether what you’re doing for marketing is really adding value – what we call the ‘new marketing’
- e) whether you’re utilizing current technologies to do it, vs. the stuff that worked 40 years ago – like passing out flyers (FYI: flyers can be actually quite effective, when part of a consistent marketing effort, but otherwise the rate of return is likely to be relatively low)
- f) a modicum of technical wizardry that, by itself, no matter who tells you what, doesn’t do much but, in conjunction with the things above, can make a serious difference
Keep in mind that whether your web site is effective or not is NOT something you need, initially, to hire a professional to discover. You already know that answer. Is it just sitting there, or are you adding to it consistently and routinely? There’s your answer. Is it just a web site, or is it integrated with social media that you actually utilize for marketing? There’s your answer. Is it part of a plan that integrates all your marketing efforts together? You already know the answer to that. Sure, there are some technical and content and layout things that can be addressed in consulting, that get it *ready* to be effective, but it’s not effective if it’s being neglected and if it’s not part of a plan – pure and simple.
If you’d like some consulting, or a web site marketing appraisal, feel free to contact us. We’ll be less snarky, I promise, but we will identify key gaps in your marketing efforts and make recommendations for change. If it’s time, then it’s time – only you can know that.