I was a little shocked today to hear that PC Magazine will cease print publication after the January 2009 issue. The magazine is going online only. Last month, I received my last print issue of Scrapbook Retailer magazine – even a magazine devoted to paper artists is taking itself online only. I myself quit snail-mailing newsletters for all three of my businesses well over a year ago, relying only on e-zines.
Last night we punched the button on our built-in microwave oven and it black out and died. This morning, rather than running all over Knoxville looking for a Jenn-Air microwave that would fit into the now-empty hole, I went online, did an online chat with Peter A. of Jenn-Air, talked to a very helpful Sherry, and ordered the replacement microwave and the trim kit. I didn't even think about driving around in traffic hoping to find a local store with this particular model in inventory.
Seems to me that an online presence for nearly any business is an idea whose times has come. Even if it's just a simple e-brochure, a website gives you the ability to reach and influence far more potential customers than you will ever be able to do face-to-face, or could afford to do via snail-mail. Internet – it's here, it's real, it's now. if you don't have a site at all, it's time to embrace the web.
There are dozens of great web designers out there, here's a link to someone I trust (you can click this link just to buy a website domain name, too!). The point, though, is to educate yourself about how to effectively use a site to increase the breath and depth of your business. I've learned dozens of useful tips from the best designers, here are two that I commonly do not see used on business sites:
- Have a “contact us” or “sign up for our news” block on every single page, not just on the “contact us” page at the back.
- Spread your customer testimonials throughout your site, onto every page. If you have a separate page called “testimonials” few people will take the time to click and read through it. And, match your testimonials with a picture of the person if you can. It adds instant warmth and credibility.
If you want to know more about building a decent website stay tuned, I'll have more tips in upcoming blogs and will have a web designer talking to my Bet You Build Your Business Mastermind Group soon after the first of the year. Meanwhile, budget site development if you don't have a site, and budget updating the site if you already have one you don't visit very often. More about both, later. Web presence is definitely on the list of how to make your business thrive.