Is your website working hard enough for you?

If you want to reap the highest return on your website consider these important questions. Why do you want a website? What is the purpose? How do you expect this investment to make you or save you money?

Who will visit your site? This might include clients, prospects, suppliers, investors, competitors, media… They come for different reasons. Determine what each is looking for, what you want them to find, and how you want them to feel. Prioritize that list. Design and test your site following those priorities.

For example, on my site, www.Torok.com, notice that the highest priority is to showcase and enhance my visibility as an expert. How can you tell? The top of the menu lists "Library of Articles" first. On the content part of the home page in the top left corner, where we start to read, is a message for the media.

The site invites the media to interview me or talk about me. And they can see that I am media friendly. Click on that media link and you find a comprehensive media section packed with news releases, excerpts of "George Torok in the news", intriguing interview angles, photos, links to my detailed biography and even a mock interview.

What is the next priority? To attract new business, as evidenced by the listing of topic expertise on the left hand menu - "Personal Marketing, Presentation Skills and Creative Problem Solving." On the content portion notice the short paragraphs grabbing at specific targets - "business owners facing a challenge, law firm or service provider wanting to differentiate, corporate executives looking to dramatically improve the skills and results of staff."

Identify your target and specify clear benefits. Don't say "for everybody who needs blah blah blah". Why? Because we want to feel special. If you sell windows they are not for everybody. Not even all home owners. Maybe for proud homeowners or homeowners frustrated with energy costs. Describe the mindset of your target market.

Look closer at the www.Torok.com website. Notice that serving my existing clients appears to be less important than gaining new clients. The link "Working with George Torok" - has all the logistical information that a client might need. Why is it lower down the menu? Because existing clients already know me and they will be more patient than fresh prospects.

Way at the bottom of the menu is the link "Become a Professional Speaker". You guessed it - lowest priority. Why is it there? It saves me time. I often get quizzed about the speaking business by newbies. I point them to the website. Most of the usual questions are answered there. Plus it enhances my image as an industry expert - the number one priority of this site.

This site is far from perfect but you can learn from the design. What is the biggest error on this site? There are too many diverse things on one site. This was my first site. Which leads to a critical question, "How many websites should you have?" I suggest that you have one site for each major product and target market. I have ten sites.

For example, I coach executives to deliver more effective presentations. Hence the site www.SpeechCoachforExecutives.com. Notice that this site is designed to capture new business. The key benefits and target market are clearly identified at the top of the home page, "Speaking and presentation skills coaching and training for executives, business professionals, and sales leaders." Notice the words used to capture their attention, "results, leader, inspire." Scroll down a bit and the words "Chief Executive Officer" jump off the page and right below that you see "What do CEO's say about working with George Torok", which links to a list of CEO comments. A CEO wants to know what other CEOs say.

The target is identified and the benefits clearly stated. This is much better then the speech coaching section on www.Torok.com. I learn with each new site.

Look at the revised www.PowerMarketing.ca. What do you think the purpose of this site is? Who do you think the target market is? Notice the powerful use of testimonials. My best site yet.

How well does your website build trust? You build trust by appearing to be trustworthy.
What actions destroy trust? Hiding, lying, threatening, annoying, confusing, acting arrogant, acting suspicious, treating people as if you assume them to be stupid or dishonest. How would you feel when friends did any of those things to you? Are you certain that you are not doing that to your clients and prospects?

Lets look at your website.

Do you have an "About Us" section? If you do, that's good. If you have the names of the principals, key people, contact info, short bios on each, that's very good. If you have photos of those people that is impressive. Why do those things build trust? We want to know whom we are dealing with. Don't you? We don't tend to trust a faceless corporation.

Think about your clients' needs and post a FAQ, (Frequently Asked Questions) section. That builds trust. And if some of the questions show a sense of humour - bonus - especially if the humour is about you.

Contact information. Tell us your address - even if - especially if - you are an Internet based business. Don't hide. Be easy to contact - by email, phone or mail.

Make it easy for people to find what they want. Publish your guarantee. Use clear language - not jargon. Make the text easy to read. Don't spring bad surprises on us. Tell us your policies up front. Don't make false claims. If you are not "The nation's leading…"don't pretend to be. Don't make unsupported claims. If you are an award-winning service provider, clarify the award.

Assume that your prospects are intelligent - maybe not knowledgeable about your field, but able to make an intelligent decision. Assume that your prospects need and expect you to prove yourself. This is where experience, awards and especially client testimonials help you. When you display testimonials you create the highest trust; display the full name, title and company name of the happy client. Testimonials without names are not believable. And those with only first names or initials are suspect.

Is your website working hard enough for you?