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What's Your Website Done For You Today?

by Steve Crisp

I've been three years in the web hosting business now and I feel like a grandfather. Unfortunately, the little ones are still not grown up yet; they keep making the same mistakes over and over. Of course, those little ones are firms who are just now venturing into the arena of the World Wide Web. And there are many of them who come on board each and every day (with yet millions of businesses remaining to join the party.)

Three years ago, the biggest mistake of a web newbie was not realizing that their web site was more than just advertising for their storefront business. Today, the biggest mistake of the web newbie is not realizing that their web site is more than just advertising for their storefront business. Same fatal error; only the verb tense has changed.

In part, the blame must be laid at the feet of the web site owner because they are ultimately responsible for all decisions, but the marketing community needs to bear some of the responsibility as well.

Each week, I get at least two or three phone calls from marketing firms requesting information on how to construct a web site for their client's business. After extensive discussion, it becomes obvious that the marketer's concept of a web site is as an adjunct to existing advertising and promotion for the client's products or services. There is an expectation that simply placing a web site on the net and promoting that site will lead people to the storefront.

They have missed the point.

A web site is a stand-alone entity offering goods and services apart from any office, shop, warehouse, or manufacturing facility that has a physical presence in the material world. A web site is not merely a forum for the discussion of a product or service that will lead a qualified buyer to call, write, or email for more information; a web site is perhaps your only contact with the prospective purchaser or client.

A web site is not a lead-in to a pitch. It is the pitch AND the close. When a client physically enters your "real" world, you are on the phone or face-to-face. You have ample opportunity to judge the situation, tailor a presentation to the specific client, and overcome anticipated objections as they arise. A web site does not afford you those same conditional opportunities. Once you grab 'em, you'd better hook them right then and there or else they are gone and you won't even know they showed up.

Yet, too many web sites are used as teasers like one would find in print ads, radio/television, or direct mail. They dangle the bait and play on the expectation that some spark of want will arise within the prospective client, creating the desire to make the initial contact or request more information. If you are waiting for that future client to call in order to clarify whatever issue may arise, you have just lost the sale.

Tell the client what they want to know -- and use overkill in the process. You know the objections; list them and deflate them in detail on the web site. You know why your product or service is better than everyone else's; tell them in great length. Give the boring technical specifications and don't make your almost-client ask you for more information. Give them images galore. Remember, you don't pay for space or printing costs on the web so you may as well lay it all out in public; a world-class web site can be produced for what it costs you to place a single, one-time ad in a trade magazine. And that web site is always there, yet instantly amendable.

Tell them about yourself, your company, and your children if you like. The more information, the better. Not that everyone will read all you have to state, or even care, but make it available to the web site visitor. Give them the exploded diagrams. Give them the detailed benefits. Give them the graphs and charts and cost analyses. Give them a map to where you are located even if they will never show up at your real door.

Give them all they need to make an informed decision so that the product or service is already sold when they first contact you via traditional means.

The ideal web site would eliminate the sales department of any company or reduce the entire existing sales force to mere order takers. Yet we don't live in an ideal world, so don't go firing your sales team prematurely. But just because the goal is lofty, doesn't mean that it isn't worth trying to reach. :)

�1999 by Steve Crisp. All rights reserved.

This article has been contributed by Steve Crisp of

PagePlop is a company dedicated to the business of web design and hosting. Their goal is simple - to provide their customers with excellent service and effective products at a very fair price. To this end, they maintain a quality Macintosh-based system with the highest possible level of reliability and security.

You can contact Steve at [email protected] or (919) 233-6602. or visit any of the following sites to learn more about the services they offer:

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