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Marketing Your Web Site Offline
By Nina L. Dillmann.

A couple days ago, I met an interior decorator at a networking event. Since I am in the web design business, I asked her if she had a web site for her business. She replied that she had a web site a couple years ago, but never got any business from it so she shut it off. My next question was “Well, how did you market it?” She stared at me blankly and asked “Market it?”

I hear that response or variation of it almost daily. Many people believe the old adage, “If you build it, they will come.” But web sites don’t work that way. A web site can be a great marketing tool, if used correctly. Simply, sticking a web site out there and waiting for the customers to start pouring in is not the correct way to use a web site.

After explaining that a web site isn’t an automatic customer magnet, I went on to ask her what her procedures were in her business. For example, I said if I were a client and wanted to see your work before contracting with you to redecorate my house, how would you handle that? Her reply was exactly what I expected. She and I would make an appointment to look over her portfolio. This would involve driving to the location where we were to meet, paying for meals if appropriate, discussing the portfolio for a length of time and then driving back to her office. How much simpler if she could have said “My entire portfolio is on my web site. Can I give you the URL?” Not only has she saved time, but she has also saved money! This is only one way that your web site can save you money in advertising.

Some other ways that your web site can save you money are:

1. Placing shorter advertisements in printed materials for less cost. Direct the client to your web site where they can obtain all the necessary information about your products or services.

2. Not needing to hire additional staff to answer telephone calls with common questions. If you have questions that more than one client is asking, put it on your web site. Most people will check a web site for answers to their questions before calling. It also gives you more specialized content and remember, for the search engines, content is king!

3. Providing common forms and/or applications on your web site that you request your client fill out. This works especially well for contractors and those in the health professions. Save your client time and money by allowing them to fill out your questionnaires before meeting with them and email it to you. Or, even better, let them submit it online and store the information in a database. Not only have you increased your customer service, but once again, you have saved yourself time and money.

Okay, so you’ve decided to get a web site now. How do you tell people about it? How do you get people to look at it? If you have 1000 brochures printed, but leave them on the shelf in your office, they are not helping you to bring in new clients. Just so with a web site, tell people about it. Put it on your business card, on your brochures, on your car, or wherever you can. Get it out there where people can see it.

Here is a quick checklist of things that you can do to drive traffic to your web site on and off line.

1. Put your URL on all printed materials.

2. Use your email address @yourdomain.com not your AOL email address.

3. Create a signature for your email and then make sure that your signature is in every single email that you send (even to your mother!) Just a quick note here, I sent an email to my sister explaining how to fix a certain computer glitch. Well, she printed it out (with my signature line) and gave it to a friend of hers who had the same problem. Her friend ended up needing a web site and guess who she called? Your signature needs to include: Your Full Name, Your URL, Your Email Address, Your Phone Number, Your Tag Line or Slogan and Your Company Name.

4. Try to find publications your industry and suggest or submit an article. Your URL should be listed with any article you write and if it appears on a web site, then it should be a hyperlink.

5. Network. Just because you have a web site, don’t sit at home and expect the customers to call you. Go find them. Attend networking events in your home town and hand out your business cards with your URL on them!

Now that you what needs to be done, get out there and do it!

Related Articles:

If you build it they will come........NOT
A website is a living, breathing creature and in order for it to succeed it needs a huge amount of attention (visitors), plenty of watering (content updates) and tons of sunlight (marketing).

Marketing Your Website
Many people have the mistaken notion that all it takes is to put up a great looking website on the world wide web and the riches follow. After months of watching no visitors or no sales, many of them will get discouraged and shut off the website. So, what is the magic, if there is any?

Low Cost Web Site Promotion For Small Businesses
Promoting your small business website in the search engines can be a daunting task. Use of free submissions and link popularity is a good starting point for your website promotion campaign. 

© Copyright 2003 Nina L. Dillmann. All Rights Reserved.

Nina L. Dillmann is the owner of Appearance Strategy, a web site design firm in Fort Worth, Texas. Her clients continue to praise not only her designs but the advice and suggestions she offers in marketing their businesses both online and off. http://www.AppearanceStrategy.com

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