Instantly, I knew it is not enough to build a great Web site. It can build business only if customers look at it! I watched Amazon.com start with small press blurbs, then saw its advertising grow until it became a billion-dollar company this year. But what if you don’t have a PR department or a $25 million ad budget? What can you do, as an independent business owner to build traffic to your Web site every day? This month we will look at good things you can do—and afford.
BEGIN WITH E-MAIL
Your first, most powerful promotion is unbelievably simple. It will pre-sell your customer so she’s easier to sell to and easier to sell more to. When a customer calls and you take her name, address and phone number, ask for her e-mail address. When she asks, “Why do you want it?” Answer the same way as a growing number of window covering professionals:
“I want to send you a confirmation of our appointment and a link to our Web site. You will see a picture of your decorator and recognize her when she arrives. You will learn about our company and get some neat decorating ideas to think about.”
Isn’t that reassuring? Wouldn’t you like your plumber or appliance service person to tell you the same? It raises you to a whole new level of professionalism. And, more good news, now you have her e-mail address to send newsletters and promotions!
LITTLE THINGS MEAN A LOT
After e-mail, begin with basics. Be sure your Web site (and e-mail) is on your business card. Don’t save $50 waiting for your current business cards to run out. Throw them out! Reprint new ones today. Waiting three months can cost you a lost sale.
Next, look at every business form you have—customer order forms, estimate sheets, even supplier purchase orders. Be sure every form has your Web site on it.
EVERY AD, EVERYWHERE, NEEDS YOUR WEB SITE
You can reduce advertising costs, yet increase results, by promoting your Web site! Don’t make your Web address an afterthought hidden at the bottom of your ad. Leave that to amateur competitors who don’t yet know the power of the Web. Instead, feature your Web site prominently in every ad you run, on every flyer, post card, mail piece and brochure.
If you pay to place it or print it, get full value from your investment—promote your Web site! With 80 percent of upper income customers surfing the Net before they buy, your customers want to find you on the Web.
In yellow pages and newspapers, instead of telling your whole story in a large display ad, take a smaller ad. In yellow pages directories use an in-column listing along these lines:
Bill’s Window Fashions
(photo or drawing)
You’ll LOVE working with us!
Best service, affordable, competitive.
Free In-Home Consultations
Take the same approach with your newspaper. Use small ads more frequently, but feature your Web site. Let your Web site tell your exciting story in full color with photos and graphics. Use advertising to drive viewers to see it!
DON’T FORGET THE WEB
Because potential customers are searching the Web to find you, be sure you can be found where they look! You may not be top ranked on Google and Yahoo . . . you might not afford banners and sponsored listings, but you can take advantage of free and low-cost listings for window coverings retailers.
Begin with a listing this magazine offers. Register at www.BuyWindowCoverings.com. The site is a great resource for customers seeking information about their windows. It is always a top listing on major search engines. When viewers search for products and information, they can use the dealer locator to find a retailer in their own area. Free listings are available, and if you don’t have a Web site now, you receive a professional Web site at no additional charge with top ranked Gold and Platinum listings. (Web sites provided by our company, custEmers.com).
ONLINE YELLOW PAGES
Today, Web savvy customers use online yellow pages instead of big, unwieldy books. Yahoo Yellow Pages are popular, and my personal favorite. Listing is free! If you have a yellow pages listing now in your local book, you may be listed in Yahoo already. If not, request a listing. It costs nothing, but it may take three months to work its way online.
Another choice is Super Yellow Pages. Like Yahoo, you can get free listings, or higher ranking paid listings. Go to either Web site, check “Help” or look on their links bar to get listed.
YOU INVESTED IN IT – PROMOTE IT!
You invested dear dollars to build your Web site, now spend pennies to promote it. Get the return on investment you deserve. Every week, thousands of first-time viewers try the Web, and thousands more polish their skills to quickly find what they want.
Broadband is exploding worldwide. That means faster, easier Web searching for your best potential customers. Be sure they can find you when they want you. Promote your Web site today!
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 Your Decorators.” E-mail: performance@custEmers.com.
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