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“What’s the purpose of your website?”

It’s the first I ask a potential client that wants me to build their site. I love asking that question, because its a chance to educate the business owner.

Usually, a business owner doesn’t know why they need a website but doesn’t think to ask. They just think a business is supposed to have a website. They see no potential return on investment, so they want to keep the cost as low as possible.

There are many things your website should be doing for your business, off the top of my head, the top 5 reasons:

1. Your website helps your customers and prospects find you, both online and in person. Your website should point to your business’s Facebook page, Twitter profile, Instagram, etc. Also your phone number, your email, and physical address if you have one. You should be wherever your customers are, and they should be able to find you easily there.

2. Your website is a tireless salesperson. Your website should be selling for your business 24-7, 365. Regardless of your business, you need to do sales. And your website should be driving a large percentage of your business.

I can already hear some of you: I sell cars/insurance/construction equipment. These are expensive items, sold face-to-face. If your business requires more “high-touch” sales, then your website is still your most important salesperson because…

3. Your website can be generating leads. Your website should be creating interest in what you sell, and getting your customers to contact you, or give you their contact information. For the majority of customers making large purchases, the buying process begins online with extensive research. Getting in touch with your prospects early in the process means you have a better chance of closing that sale.

4. Your website should be establishing your expertise. Are you a lawyer, dermatologist, financial planner, etc? Do your clients hire you because you have a certain level of expertise. Hiring a professional in your line of business is very hard. People hire you because they can’t perform the work you do, yet they have to assess who is most qualified. Establishing trust is how a professional practice thrives.

Lets say I recently came into a large sum of money (woohoo!). After doing some research online, I found two financial planners that can help me in my area. One has been blogging about how to use index funds to manage your own IRA, and my cousin has actually been following that for a while, and has been slowly and steadily growing his nest egg. The other financial planner just has a regular website, with contact information, and nothing special. Which one do you think I’m going to hire?

5. Your website defines your “brand”. I know, I know. Its such an over-used buzzword…”brand”. What I mean is that it sets the tone for your company, and who you are. Are you a laid back accountant, that talks baseball with your clients, and takes them fishing sometimes? Or are you straight-laced, efficient and strictly business? Whatever your personality, your company is going to be a reflection of that. And your website should be communicating that as well.

People like doing business with “people” rather than with “companies”. Your website is one way to humanize your business and give it a personality. That personal connection between your customer and your business, that’s a “brand”. That connection with your brand and your company’s personality will generate leads that are a better fit for your business. You will enjoy working with them, and they with you.

This is the first in a series of posts, that walks you through the questions and process I go through when creating a new website for a client. Up Next….What Is a Primary Call to Action?