Why do service professionals put up a website? When I ask this question of my students and clients, I always get some version of the answer "Because everyone has one these days. You need it to increase your credibility."
But then I ask: "How does a website increase your credibility?" To that question I usually get a few moments of silence. Apparently the need to build a website is so obvious that no one thinks about WHY they should spend thousands of hours and dollars on it.
There are many reasons to build a website, but the best sites are developed with a clear purpose. Amazon's purpose was to be the largest online retailer in the world. eBay's goal was to become the most popular online auction in the world. As a service professional, you may have a different set of goals, but the key is to provide value.
What is the goal for your website?
GOAL #1 - Attract New Clients
Yikes! The most common answer, and the least tangible. What does this mean? First define what a "client" is. Someone who signs up for your services one time or over the long term? Or someone who buys a product you're selling? Or someone who buys something from one of your joint venture partners?
Each type of client needs to be addressed very differently on your site. You don't sell your services exactly the same way you'll sell an MP3 of your teleclass. So if your goal is to attract new clients, define what "client" means to you.
GOAL # 2 - Establish Credibility and Increase Visibility
In my own coaching and teaching, I emphasize the ability of a website to both enhance your credibility, and to get your business seen by more people. These are important goals, but I don't think they should be your primary focus. The best way of generating trust for your services is to provide relevant, useful, and interesting content to your visitors. I believe the best way to increase your visibility is by distributing this information as broadly as possible, through multiples channels.
Search engine optimization is a dying science, as the engines become more savvy. What does work toward establishing your expertise is demonstrating your ability to solve your client's problem.
GOAL # 3 - Building Your List
Your list is golden, and can eventually provide you with a consistent stream of income. Communicating with your "people" consistently, providing hi-value information, and occasionally offering incentives to remain on your list will help you build a large, and highly responsive group of prospects and customers.
In fact, I would suggest building a quality list is the most important reason to develop a website. After all, if people find your website, read your information, and then move on to the next site, you've probably lost them forever, along with a great opportunity to develop a relationship with your prospect.
What's the best way to build a list? I teach about 100+ tactics to build a large list, but the essential key is to give something of value up front, in exchange for the prospects email address. In other words, offer your gift and step back. If it is of clearly perceived value, make it very easy for your visitor to take the next step and sign up. If they're not interested, you've lost nothing, and may have helped your visitor in some small way.
COACHING QUESTION: What can you give away to start building your list?
Some suggestions: A free report, a subscription to an ezine, an audio file, a complimentary session-these are the common offerings, but you can get very creative here!
COACHING QUESTION: How will you present your gift?
Don't presume people will jump at anything free. You still have to sell it. Think about your headline and the benefits you want to emphasize. I asked a single friend what she was going to write for an ad she was placing on eHarmony.com. She had been thinking about it for hours and ran some ideas by me. Although not a marketing person, she had intuitively known to stress benefits and use a compe lling headline-even for a personal ad!