You expect a business to have a telephone. Well, these days, a business is expected to have a web site as well—it’s a credibility issue.

And although it’s a complicated subject, once launched, what could be easier than using the internet to spread your marketing message, educate your prospects, and convert prospects to clients?

In the early days of the web, businesses thought they could just put up a site and expect the phone to ring. A successful web site today is a tool that integrates and connects all of your marketing efforts. It’s where your prospects begin the process of knowing, liking and trusting you and your business.

A properly constructed web site will:

Build awareness – it’s where many prospects start their search for what you’re offering.
Shorten the Selling Cycle – prospects get to know you, your business and your product before they even meet with you.
Provide Access to Information – prospects in the market for your product or service can find out what they need to know any time they choose.
Become a Referral Tool—people recommending your business can simply refer the prospect to your web site as an easy starting point.

Forget about a home page with some lame “welcome” message—get right to the facts of the matter with a compelling headline about how you solve your prospects’ biggest problem or frustration. Keep the copy short and to-the-point and include pages on:

Your Difference – why dealing with you is a better experience than with your competitors.
How You Work – some information up front will help your customer to know what to expect if a transaction takes place.
Your Story – this humanizes your business—customers like to know how the business got started and how it has evolved.
Your Ideal Client – sure, go ahead and describe the kind of customer who really benefits by doing business with you. That way, prospects will know where they fit with what you’re offering.
Your Products/Services – of course this is all-important. Give brief, but accurate descriptions and pricing—show pictures where applicable.
Case Studies – these help prospects visualize what the product or service might do for them and they are proof of your success with others.
Client List – if applicable, list your satisfied clients. This is also a good place to work in some client testimonials—further verification of the worth of your product.

Every page should have your contact information: name, telephone, fax, email and your address—why hide it until the end?

Now there is much more to a web site than we’ve covered here—design, navigation, linking strategy, blogs, and search engine optimization to name but a few things. We’ll get to those in other articles. But for now, start thinking about your new or revised web site, because if you’re not harnessing the internet, you’d better prepare to become obsolete.

Elizabeth Walker and Ken BurginElizabeth Walker and Ken Burgin

Ken Burgin and Elizabeth Walker are the Marketing Masters, a full-service marketing and advertising partnership that helps build busy businesses.