With some eight years gone by now since Netscape’s browser made colorful Web viewing a worldwide reality, the question remains: Do Web sites work, or don’t they? What is the purpose of a Web site? How do we measure its effectiveness?
OUR EXPERIENCE AND WHAT IT MEANS TO YOU
With more than 30 years in window coverings marketing and upwards
of 200 Web site clients, here’s what we’ve learned about
Web sites at custEmers.com: eCommerce is not for beginners.
Forget “eCommerce”—that is, selling products on your
Web site. Selling products was once an option for a resourceful
technician. Today, it is a huge investment business for experienced
professionals. Possibly eBay will work for you, but unless you are
already doing it, don’t expect to create your own Web site
to sell products. That window has closed.
SEARCHING AND REFERRALS
Customers may find you by searching the Internet, but they are more
likely to be referred by friends, realtors, builders or someone
who knows you. To be seen by more Internet searchers, consider www.BuyWindowCover
ings.com, operated by Draperies & Window Coverings magazine.
It is a top destination for customers seeking information and a
retailer near to them. Free listings are available.
THE REAL PURPOSE
The real purpose for a Web site is for credibility and information.
In the window coverings business you want to persuade customers
to call you. It is a halfway house for strangers to look you over
to decide if they want to invite you to their homes.
A Web site is like a brochure or television commercial. Like a brochure,
your Web site tells your story about quality, service and professionalism.
Like a TV commercial, it is in full color and online electronically.
The mere presence sets you apart from hundreds of competitors who
don’t have a professional Web site.
The “medium is the message.” Top window covering retailers
tell their quality story on TV and Web sites, and then tell their
price/value story in newspaper and print advertising.
WHAT SHOULD YOUR WEB SITE TELL?
To create an effective Web site, here are key points customers want
• Who you are, what you stand for, what makes you special.
• What products you sell—not only the brands, but do you
sell draperies and all products, or do you focus on window fashion
products (code for non-drapery products).
• You do good work.
• You are friendly and easy to work with—the kind of person
they want to consider when they are ready to buy.
• You have done quality work for others.
• You are affordable—not out-of-sight with pricing.
Web site visitors who arrive knowing a little about you should be
persuaded to call you after viewing your Web site.
If you want high-quality leads and more referrals, your most affordable,
effective medium is a Web site. Build one you are proud to invite
customers to see. It will fan the flames of customer desire. Their
want to will drive them to pick up the telephone to call you.
Better than a brochure, more powerful than TV, your Internet Web
site can communicate information, create interest and generate referrals
no medium can match.
DO WEB SITES WORK?
If you expect a lot of new customers who have never heard of you,
you may be disappointed. On the other hand, if you want a place
for friends, realtors and customers to refer their friends to find
out more about you, you will probably be pleased.
Web sites also can help you close more customers and sell them more
when you do it. How? Invite customers to visit your Web site after
they call in, but before you get to their homes. They will be pre-sold
and more willing to buy from you.
WEB SITES WORK, BUT NOT ALONE
The bottom line: Web sites work—but not alone! You have to
drive eyeballs to see your Web site. You have to use it, or it won’t
work at all. We’ve all heard. “Build a better mousetrap,
and the world will beat a path to your door.” But, professionals
know, a better mousetrap is not enough. People with mice to rid
must know you have a solution. The most wonderful Web site in the
world won’t help your business if no one sees it.
You can have a great Web site, and it can work for you. Now that
you know why, and what it will do for you, tune in next month for
tips on how to build traffic to your Web site!
Steven C. Bursten is the retired founder of Decorating Den
Interiors and author of a how to book on new business start up,
“Bootstrap Entrepreneur.” He is president of custEmers.com,
specializing in affordable Internet marketing tools along with tried
and true techniques. He welcomes your questions about marketing,
sales and customer relationships. Request his most popular free
report: “How to Improve Sales Performance for Yourself and
Whether you are the sole manager who aspires to higher sales, or
you manage 50 window fashion decorators in a multi-million dollar
business, this series will help you manage sales better and increase
your profitability. The series is based on Bursten’s actual
experience studying sales and financial information with hundreds
of window fashions businesses. Past articles can be found on D&WC’s
online archive categorized by author and subject: www.dwconline.com/DWC/ArticleIndex.html