I wrote a small website recently for the owner of a travel-related business. He had an interesting take on what he wanted: he wan't planning on putting up a lot of specific information, or a blog, because "I won't be using this site to generate business or boost income." Uh, okay. When I asked him why we wished to bother with a website at all, he answered that his competitors all had websites. All he really needed, he figured, was to be up there in lights alongside them so prospective customers wouldn't dismiss him out of hand completely.
Well, fair enough, I suppose. Obviously you have to have some kind of professional-looking web presence to keep up appearances if nothing else. You may have built your first company website for the exact same reason; you certainly didn't want to be the only kid on the block without one, and optimizing the thing to capture targeted traffic or facilitate conversions could always come later. But did it come later -- or are you still relying on your first thoughts on the subject?
This client sent me some links to competitors' websites so I get could an idea of what these folks were doing. The first thing I noticed was that the competing sites weren't just occupying cyberspace as digital brochures. For instance, two of them maintained blogs -- a critical feature for refreshing the site content in the eyes of Google and prospective customers alike. But even the one without the blog emphasized its calls to action (log in to our partner program, register for your big discount, contact us today, et cetera). These weren't passive placeholder sites; they were active sales machines.
In the end, I still wrote a pretty basic website for my client. But I made sure the content cranked the excitement factor up to 11, addressed his ideal audience, and pushed readers to make contact and learn more. With the right optimization and marketing strategies, it should help him win new business. But if he really wants to swim with the sharks in his industry, he'll want to keep building on this promising start by adding a blog and promoting his site through ongoing marketing efforts, both online and off-line.
If you're going to spend the time and money to get a company website up and running (and even a do-it-yourself job using a free template is going to sap valuable billable time), then you might as well take the extra steps to make the site work for your business as effectively as possible. Brochures are fine for what they are -- but your web presence can be so much more!