January 31, 2011
Is your website a hard-working marketing partner? Business owners often express surprise when I ask this question. Sometimes they say, “Who cares? I just need a brochure site. My clients come strictly from referrals.”
That statement may have made sense in the 1990s. Today your clients will respond differently. We’re finding that even professionals who work personally with their clients – massage therapists, therapists, dentists – are growing their businesses from the Internet.
The truth is…
Reason #1: Clients choose resources based on your online presence.
A word of mouth referral will be an excellent start. But even when you get a referral from a good friend, don’t you find yourself looking online?
Let’s say your CPA refers you to a real estate lawyer. Before you place a call, you might want to know, “What type of services does he offer? Does he practice in the area where I’m having a problem?”
You probably also want to know, “Will she ‘get’ what I’m about? Will she listen non-judgmentally and become my advocate?”
Any professional website needs to anticipate questions like these and have answers prepared.
Reason #2: You gain several hours a week to do what you enjoy.
As you get successful, you get busier. You still need to maintain a pipeline because your current clients won’t last forever. But you don’t want to invest in marketing actions that drain your energy or bring little return on investment.
When your website does more of the work, you get more time in your life. That’s why a brochure website often is not the answer.
Sales people know they have to qualify their clients. That means they greet each prospect with the question, “Will this person be likely to buy? Can they afford what I offer?” When you buy a car, your sales rep will ask these kinds of questions before investing time on a test drive. You’ll probably need to ask similar questions a lot more tactfully.
— You get to spend less time on the phone with those “free” get-acquainted calls. One of my clients said, “I used to drive around to meet all my prospects in person before they would hire me. After you worked with me to revise my website, I spend less time with get-acquainted calls. My clients feel they know me already.”
— You get to manage expectations. You can say clearly, “I work exclusively with solo-preneurs. I do not work with companies that have employees.” You can announce your requirements for scheduling and appointment cancellations. Clients who feel uncomfortable with these policies usually won’t bother to call.
Reason #3: You create relationships that last a business lifetime.
These days your website needs to reach out to prospects and build relationships over time. Some professionals send ezines – electronic newsletters – to stay in touch with prospects. Regular mailings will keep your name top of mind with your prospects. These days you can build relationships through social media. Most commonly you will need to work with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
However, your relationship ultimately grows from your website. The goal of your newsletters and social media is to bring prospects to certain places on your website where you demonstrate your expertise.
I’ve found that people sometimes hire me after they’ve been on my list for years. For example one client bought a low-end product, then took one of my workshops and ultimately hired me as a business coach. True, some people hire me right after they visit my site, but you can’t plan for those impulse buys. It’s the relationships that ultimately drive your growth.
Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D., is an online copywriter with a mission to simplify marketing for service professionals. Your next website makeover can be smooth and hassle-free…and it’s easier than you think. Start by downloading this FREE simple checklist: www.copywritingWithCathy.comm