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OTHER ITA SITES:
10 Deadly Website Mistakes Made by Service Business Owners, Part 2
Websites of service companies seem to make some common website mistakes over and over again. Part of the function of your website is to establish a relationship with potential clients and get them into your marketing funnel. Previously, I listed the first 5 deadly website mistakes most often made by service business owners. Here are the last 5:
6. Hidden prominent benefit or feature that makes your company unique. When I'm doing online research for a particular product or service, I want to know right away what makes any company unique or different from their competition. Several months ago I was speaking with the owner of a fencing company and was confused about why people would buy fencing online and have it shipped, as the shipping cost would negate any savings they might realize on the product over buying it locally. I learned this company offered free shipping on purchases of $2500. I replied, "That's great, but how would I know that?" The offer was buried in an internal page of the site. I encouraged the company to put the offer in a prominent place on the home page so that prospective clients would immediately know the unique feature of doing business with this company.
7. Creation of a website that looks like every other business website in your industry. Sometimes I cringe when I go to the website of a web design company that serves a niche market, like dentists, for example. When I look at the company's website portfolio, every single website looks virtually the same, except for color variation or changing the graphic on the home page. Granted, if I'm seeking a dentist in Houston, there's little chance I would stumble across a dentist in Dallas with a similar website.
However, what I frequently see business owners do is to scope out the websites of their competition and format their own site in a similar fashion, but with their own information. My online searches for a product or service often make me yawn because I see website after website that essentially says the same thing -- nothing stands out enough to rouse me out of my stupor. Don't fall victim to a cookie-cutter website -- make sure that your personality is prominently featured throughout your site. Give visitors a great experience of "you" when they visit. And, flagrantly flaunt your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) so that your visitor instantly realizes why they should do business with you instead of your competitor.
8. Lack of additional resources. One of the ways I gauge the usefulness of a website is if they have incredibly useful resources to help me research and/or resolve my problem. I've bookmarked websites and subscribed to email newsletters solely on the strength of a website's resource page. One of the things that my clients love about working me with is that I have a mental Rolodex of resources -- they ask a question about doing business online, and 95% of the time I have a ready resource to give them that helps them solve their problem. A number of these resources are listed on my website or featured in my email newsletter. Many times, I receive no compensation for the resource I recommend -- I just know that it's the best source of which I'm aware to do a particular task. Your clients want the same capability from you -- the more you know about your industry and its problems and how to find solutions, whether you offer the solution or not, the greater the perception of your expertise, and consequently the greater value you offer your client.
9. No testimonials or case studies to demonstrate how you've helped others solve problems. One of the easiest ways you can create customer confidence in you is to list testimonials on your website. Testimonials that simply say you're great and wonderful do little to establish your credibility. You need testimonials that clearly state how someone's life, business, career, etc. is different and improved after working with you. Those are the ones that make a difference to your visitor. Case studies outlining a problem and how your service helped solve it are also very powerful in convincing a potential client that you can do what you claim.
10. Website that is "you" focused. There's a very funny country song sung by Toby Keith called, "I Wanna Talk About Me" in which the refrain, in part, says, "I wanna talk about me, Wanna talk about I, Wanna talk about number one , Oh my me my, What I think, what I like, what I know, what I want, what I see..." Do you spend all of your website real estate talking about yourself and how wonderful you are? Your visitors need to know a bit about you, but what holds their interest is the knowledge that you understand their problems and issues and have ready-made solutions that resolve these problems. Make your website about your visitor, not about you.
Your website can function as an attractive online brochure, or it can be a client-generating tool to help you grow your business. Businesses in almost every industry can benefit from a website, and the majority of those can critically evaluate their website again this checklist of mistakes so that they can increase their client prospects online.
Copyright 2006 Donna Gunter
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