Today I am writing to you from Phoenix. The temperature is 100 degrees and there isn’t a cloud in sight.


I am participating in a conference for successful entrepreneurs. My job is to deliver a presentation and then to work one on one with one of the 20 business owners to help them develop a strategy to grow their businesses and become more successful.


As part of my preparation, I spent time reviewing each company’s web site.


The businesses each have their own growth issues that need to be addressed, but almost none mentioned needing help with their web sites.


I don’t know if their other problems outweighed the issues with the web sites or if they believe their sites are OK. I suspect it is the latter.


Almost every one of the web sites fell into one or more common mistakes. Despite good intentions, few of them were fulfilling their business objectives and most had cost more money than they had generated.


Here is what I believe are the important issues when creating a web site:


  1. What’s the one thing?What’s the one thing your web site stands for? Most people use their web site as a sort of marketing communications dumping ground. There are too many ideas, no clear marketing message,no unique selling proposition and no clear action expected.To be effective as a marketing tool a web site should  be designed around a single objective and all the components should support that. i.e. What do you want a prospect or customer to do asa result of visiting your web site?


  2. You marketing versus me marketing. Customers are only interested in one thing. “What’s in it for me?” If you don’t address this need they are gone.Many of the sites I reviewed had a landing page that was all about them. Here’s an example:


    Welcome to the wide and wonderful world of Fred’s Furniture(not the real name).


    We hope you will have as much fun surfing our web site as we had creating it. You’ll hopefully also find our site informative,entertaining and for all intents and purposes, look at it as your own personal brochure/catalog about Fred’s Furniture.


    They didn’t address customer concerns or even show any understanding of the customers issues. If you want your customers to read and return you have to talk to them about them and what’s important to them, in their language.


    The landing page is not some place to put your company history,it is a place to discuss the problem you solve for your customers.


  3. Internet is an information medium. Many of the sites had fancy flash introductions. The only problem with flash introductions is that they get in the way of what you are trying to communicate. They slow down entry to your site, sometimes even blocking entry to the site.People are going to your site for information. You have to give it to them in a way that is meaningful to them and you have to make it easy.


    When your landing page is obscured by flash presentation, your copy is all about you, your navigation is difficult or you have no valuable information, you lose the customer. That’s because the internet is an information medium not an entertainment medium.


    Your goal must be to get the customer to take some kind of action that advances you toward a sale.


  4. Driving traffic to the site.If you simply put a site up on the web, its not going to get much traffic. Visitors find you in three ways: you send them there, they find you through organic searches or they find you through pay per click advertising.It is unlikely that anyone will stumble on your site simply because its there. There are literally billions of indexed pages and the quest for traffic by those in the know, means that those who do nothing to drive traffic to the site, will see no traffic.


    Sending customers to your web site is the easiest of the three,but yields modest traffic unless you are a big organization with thousands of customers and prospects.


    To drive traffic to your site, you have to optimize your site for key words that customers use when searching for your kind of business.


    An alternative is to buy pay per click advertising for the key words your prospects use when searching for businesses like your.


  5. Capturing names of visitors.If a customer comes to your site and leaves they may never come back. They may be lost forever. You don’t know who they are and you can’t communicate with them.It may take several visits before the customer buys so how do you ensure this happens?


    So how do you capture names. One of the best is to offer them valuable free information in return for their name. It is seldom enough to simply offer people the opportunity to sign up fora report or a newsletter. You have to sell the benefits. You have to make it low risk and you have to make it attractive.