The hubs of most small businesses’ online marketing programs are their web sites. But too many service companies think of their sites as simply online sales brochures.
“Sure, you want to convey benefits, but if your web site comes across as too hard-sell it completely sabotages success,” says Maria Reyes-McDavis (aka “The Web Success Diva”).
Stop pitching, start catching on
Hard-pitch sales and infomercial approaches may still work for telemarketing or direct mail. But a hard-pitch web site can undermine your credibility, especially if you’re selling a service that’s rooted in its reputation and credibility.
Instead of shouting sales messages, adjust your web site for the new expectations of engagement, interaction, value offerings and relationships. Reyes-McDavis recommends four small tweaks that can pay off:
1. Narrow your focus. Define your target audiences and the specific value proposition you offer to each. From your home page, offer different paths for different audiences and funnel them down to specific “action points” (call, purchase, complete a form, etc.).
2. Match your tone to your image. Internet users distrust hype. Trade a “salesy” tone for straightforward conversation about what you do and what it means to clients: examples, testimonials, statistics, etc. Let your personality and personal values shine, too.
3. Provide useful tools and content. Offer a free PDF of information targeted specifically to them. Do not sell. Do present 90% of each solution and invite the reader to contact you with any questions. Example: A lawn service offers a free PDF of “10 steps to a green, healthy lawn.”
4. Add an auto-responder. Your web site should be set to automatically send out preset messages. Example:You could set it up to thank a visitor for downloading a PDF or send out automatic reminders on particular dates. It saves you time and also improves client service and satisfaction.