Friday, January 11, 2008

web sites are for customers, not just companies

"I don't need a website. Word of mouth is what brings in most of my business."

This is not a customer-oriented attitude. It's the old fashioned "we" mentality of Web 1.0 and Business As Usual, which often results in Business As Over.

Websites are for customers, not just companies. What your company wants to achieve with a website is only half of the strategy. You must also focus on what users, customers, fans need and want.

"All we want to do is provide some online information about our company."

This is a waste of time. Nobody cares about your company. People care about their problems and desires. If your company and website don't make the solutions and fulfillments front and center, you'll lose tons of business. Caring competitors are just a few clicks away on the web.

Your website shouldn't be about you.

Nor should it be about your company, your miracle products, your great customer service, competitive prices, and superior quality. Nobody is persuaded by corporate fluff and vague bragging anymore.

Your website should be about specific customer needs, interests, and behaviors. When you look at your website do you see yourself? Then it's an online vanity mirror. But if you look at your website and see solutions to problems, fulfillments of needs, or enhancements of a lifestyle, then you're on the right track.

Let's take a specific type of business as an example: music.

Music websites are among the worst.

Most of them still don't get it. Nobody goes to a music band site to read a pile of hype about how great the musicians are and how terrific their music is.

Music lovers go to musician websites to (1) hear and download music (2) to see photos of the band (3) to watch music videos (4) to discover where they're playing in upcoming months (4) to learn about and buy products.

Lengthy descriptions work for books, but not bands.

Yet many musician sites are (1) ugly (2) unreadable due to poor design (3) dysfunctional (e.g., mp3s that have expired and no longer work) and (4) don't let fans hear or download their music.

How about your site?

Do you really know what customers and fans want to do at your website or blog? Do you provide the information, photos, video, audio, and other features that make visiting your site a satisfying experience?

Or do you just use your website for your own limited purposes?

Is it a good idea to ignore customer needs? To not care what competitors are doing for customers on their sites? To think the website can be just a "presence" on the web, rather than a service to users?

When was the last time a "web presence" ever sold you anything? Probably never. A website must be more than just a thing that sits there with your logo, product list, phone number, and address on it.

What is your website doing for your audience?

Websites can be warm, inviting, personally-fulfilling experiences. In what ways could your website be more useful, delightful, and memorable?

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