Finally, small business owners everywhere realize they need an online presence if they are going to compete in today’s world. Small business owners who just a year ago adamantly argued that their customers aren’t using the web are now jumping on board and admitting—yes, indeed they are.

But slapping up a website just for the sake of having a website can defeat the purpose—and can even harm your image if it isn’t done right.

If you’re thinking about creating a website—or even if you already have one—follow these 6 rules to make it the effective and powerful marketing tool it should be:

  1. The website is not about you. A prospect is not looking for information about you; they are searching for a solution to their unique problem or need. THAT should be the focus of your home page. Use words and phrases they would use to describe their pain and then outline the solution you have to solve it.
  2. Have an offer. Get the most out of your website by using it as a lead generation tool. If someone spends time on your site, don’t just let them click away without engaging them further. Offer a newsletter, a free report, or even a free consultation. Do something to get them to act so you can find out who they are and market to them further.
  3. Be Unique. Beware of canned website services; you know – the ones that offer websites for CPAs or Chiropractors or Attorneys. They all the look the same, they all have the same content, and they make it really hard to differentiate you from your competition. Invest a little bit more in a site that allows you to stand apart from the crowd.
  4. Your website is your online storefront. Your website is very often going to be the first impression people get of your small business. Make it visually appealing. Make it interesting, informative and engaging. Make it different—add some fun elements, or news stories or free tips that your target market would be interested in. Make sure it’s professional- and PLEASE check your grammar and spelling!
  5. Use testimonials and case studies. Yes, your home page should be about the prospect and their problem—but once you’ve engaged them and gotten their attention, they will want proof that you can deliver as promised. Having a page of testimonials and case studies is a great way to demonstrate that you can deliver as promised.
  6. Make it easy for a prospect to contact you. Have a contact page that is easy to find, with your email address, and/or phone number. Put your phone number on the home page (some experts recommend having it on every page of your website). Finding a way to contact you should not be a game of “Where’s Elmo?” If it takes more than a second or two—you risk losing them—and they could mean a lost sale.
AvatarCarolyn Higgins

Carolyn Higgins is the President and founder of Fortune Marketing Company. Her personal mission is to help small businesses stop wasting money on advertising and promotions that don’t deliver and help business owners implement an effective marketing system that will bring in more customers—consistently. For more information about Fortune Marketing Company visit the Fortune Marketing Company website or blog.