Is Your Website Undermining Your Business?

Frank thought things were going so well. His in-person conversation with the prospective client went terrific. Things just “clicked” and he was looking forward to working with this client. Then he got the phone call. The prospective client had decided to use Frank’s competitor. Price wasn’t the issue. As they talked, Frank learned that his website had just cost him a $250,000 sale! The lesson is very instructive and relates to a costly problem that many businesses have, but are unaware of.

First Impressions Matter

You only have one chance to make a first impression. As nice as the old adage sounds – “don’t judge a book by its cover”, the fact is that we all make judgments based on first impressions. First impressions matter, a lot, especially in business. Prospective customers make snap judgments about your business based on their impressions during their initial contact with you. Those initial impressions will form the basis for whether or not they go elsewhere right away or stick around long enough for you to earn their business. Their first impression sets the tone for their relationship with you.

Your 24/7 On-line Representative

A prospective customer’ first impression may be entirely formed on your website, if that is where they first encounter your business. Or, if they first encounter your business in person, or through other advertising, your website may shape their impression of what kind of business you run.

Think of your website as a 24 hour a day representative of your business. Just as your perception of a business is colored, whether good or bad, based on your interaction with their sales personnel, so also is your prospects’ perception of your business colored by your website.

Choose What You Convey

My dad used to tell my brother and me as kids that “actions speak louder than words.” There is a lot of truth in those words. People will much more readily trust what they see rather than what they just hear. You get to choose what kind of impression people form about your business based on their first visit to your website.

The style of your website, the colors that are used, the layout, the imagery, the navigation, all go together to create an overall feel and impression of your company. What people see should be consistent with your company and your company values.

What Does Your Website Convey?

Put yourself in your prospects’ shoes. Now visit your website as if it is for the very first time. What is your impression of your business based on the website alone? Your marketing is most effective when each element is able to carry its own weight and doesn’t have to be rescued by something else. In other words, your website should be able to convey the right impression of your business all by itself. If it doesn’t, your website is costing you money in the form of lost business.

Take a good look at your site, as if you were seeing it for the first time. Based just on what you see, how would you describe the business to a close friend? Does what you see make you want to do business with this company? Do you trust them, based just on what you see on the website?

Top Weaknesses Identified

There are always weaknesses; however, some are a whole lot more problematic than others. What are the two top weaknesses of your website that cause people’s impression of your business to be a little lower than you want? Does your website make your business look polished and professional, or does it make it look like an amateur operation held together by duct tape and baling wire?

Remember that the perfect is the enemy of the good. Don’t worry about trying to meticulously catalogue each area where improvement can be made – that is a sure recipe for overwhelm and getting nowhere quickly. Instead, focus on just one or two of the top weaknesses that jump out at you. Focus on quickly improving those, and your website will become much more effective.

Website Imagery

Your website and the rest of your marketing should play to your strengths. One of the ways that this is done is through the strategic use of imagery. Where possible, skip the use of stock photos in favor of photos you take yourself or even hire someone else to do it if you’ve got the budget for it. The issue with stock photos is that they are in use all over the Internet. People are fascinated by pictures of people. When the photos in use on your site are unique to your site, you instantly separate yourself from all the other companies out there using the same generic pictures and imagery.

Don’t worry if the pictures on your site aren’t quite professional grade – good enough is good enough. You need the pictures to be good, but when faced with a choice between using a “perfect” stock photo or a “good” picture you’ve taken yourself, the one you’ve taken yourself should be used because it conveys a personal touch.

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