Last week a sales rep from a local printing company walked in to my office to pimp his company's "superior" printing services. I gave him a few minutes and he proceeded to give me his pitch, walk me through his large list of printing capabilities, and show me a smattering of past print jobs that included an impressive mix of brochures, folders and binders with fancy die cuts, foil stamping and intricate embossing.
His sales presentation was actually very good and I imagine that he does a great job of new business development for his company. As I walked him out the door, he handed me his card and some cool branded notepads and I told him that I'd keep him in mind on future print jobs.
Upon sitting back down at my computer, I grabbed his card and typed in their website address. This is where things went down hill.
The Not-So-Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Now let me preface this by saying that I'm a marketing consultant/website developer by trade. So my critical eye for proper website design and usability is a bit more sensitive than the next guy. But wow, this company's website was REALLY bad. Their design looked remedial, severely dated and unorganized. Their logo looked completely different than the logo on their business card and notepads. The content was poorly written. There were very few images of printing samples. And upon scanning their printing capabilities page, several of the services that the sales person had mentioned were nowhere to be found.
I threw his card in the circular file (the trash). I kept the notepads.
This situation serves as a good example of the vital role that a website plays in your company's overall sales and marketing strategies. It is critical that your website convey a consistent brand image, perceived value and sales message for those soft-selling opportunities that happen when you're not present.
A Quick Test for Your Website
1. Can a website visitor get a thorough understanding of your bread-and-butter product/service and reach your contact info page in two clicks or less?
2. Is your website design and content consistent with the quality of your company and its products/services?
3. If you looked at your website and sales materials/brochures side by side, are they conveying a consistent brand image?
4. If your salesperson were to read aloud your website's content word-for-word during a sales call, would they close the sale?
I could go on, but hopefully you get the point. If you answered "NO" to any of the questions above, your website probably needs some work.
A Marketing Strategy Lesson
Back to the printing company with the horrid website. Let's say they've come to their senses and hired me to revamp their website. In our initial meeting, I would do a quick audit to learn about the different strategies and tactics they use to develop new business. Next, I would find that they execute a nice mix of advertising, sales and local tradeshows, and since they are a printer, they have very nice brochures. They even do educational sessions on the latest printing techniques through their local Chamber of Commerce.
When I ask about their website, they say, "It's a low priority and we've always worried about the cost."
With so many opportunities to utilize the online tools to market your business and sell your wares, it's a shame that so many companies view the web as their last priority. And some don't even realize the amount of clients and dollars that are going to their competitors who have made an appropriate investment.
5 Ways to Get Your Website on the Same Page
1. Perceived Value - First impressions are everything. In the first few seconds of a site visit, your website's design quality and content layout is subliminally communicating your company's value to the visitor. If your site's design quality is poor or unorganized, your company will be perceived as poor quality and unorganized, and thus, the visitor bounces.
How to Get On the Same Page: Work with a professional website designer who can help you design your site's look and feel to match (or exceed) the quality of your company, products and services.
2. Brand Consistency - Your company's brand is what people think of you. And whether people notice a magazine ad, see your booth at a tradeshow or find your website, it's vital that you present a clear and consistent sense of who you are at every customer touch point.
How to Get On the Same Page: Everything you put in front of a customer needs to look and sound consistent. This means every ad, every brochure, your website, corporate identity elements, etc. An integrated campaign works wonders when designed professionally by a single designer or agency.
3. Message/Content Quality - I've said it before and I'll say it again content is king. Keeping your website updated with fresh, high-quality, informative content positions you as an expert in your field. And people want to do business with experts.
How to Get On the Same Page: Hiring a professional content developer/copywriter is a great way to ensure that your message is delivered in a high-quality fashion, and with a consistent voice. Have the copywriter sit down with your salespeople to discuss the most effective messaging to help convert your visitors into buyers.
4. Self Promotion: Be Your Own Cheerleader - If you're not promoting your latest happenings (new product/service offerings, company news, upcoming educational sessions, tradeshows, etc.), no one else is going to. But don't get caught with a site that is difficult or costly to update. Nothing screams "dinosaur" like seeing a news page where the last news item was from two years ago.
How to Get On The Same Page: If your salespeople are out there telling customers about a new product or an upcoming educational session, your website should be doing the same. Frequent site updates tell customers that you are an active company that is on the move, as well as providing new content that serves as food for search engine spiders.
5. Track Your ROI - It baffles me that companies will spend thousands of dollars each year on marketing tactics that make tracking your return very difficult (a.k.a. advertising, direct mail, brochures, etc.), but they won't spend a few thousand dollars to build a decent website with an analytics program that practically gives you a two-way mirror to watch your prospect's browsing behavior.
How to Get On the Same Page: Website analytics, and even e-mail marketing, now offers great, inexpensive tools for customer research and ROI tracking that not only help you calculate ROI, but also help you hone your marketing strategies towards the content/messaging, products and services that bring home the bacon.
The Bottom Line
How many clients has that printing company lost over the years because of their poor, neglected website? Who knows? The bottom line is: they lost my business, and as a marketing consultant, the amount of stuff that my clients print alone could probably pay for a website in a matter of years.