It is good to see that the economy has recovered. It’s even better to see more people than normal starting up their own business. What has got me bothered is the general attitude towards competitors. So often I have heard, “I want my website designed just like company X” or “as much like competitor Y’s site that we can legally get away with.”
Even after 14 years of trading, I know that the market is very competitive and some companies are more established than others, but you are going to have a website that’s an exact replica of XYZ company what is the point? If they had a shop, would you buy a shop nearby and kit it exactly in the same way? It offers no value whatsoever to the consumer and makes your business look flimsy and very short-lived.
But whether you are just starting out or already an already established business, you don’t have to be a clone. You can make your website unique. Here are a few steps:
Competitor websites are a wealth of information and a good place to get your initial inspiration. Visit the websites of a few of your closest competitors. What parts of the site draws your attention? What do they offer? What information do they provide on their website, that seems to be popular? What is the feel of their website?
And then piece together how you can combine all these positive features into your website. By adapting this method, you aren’t necessarily copying anyone’s company, you are merely striving to be better than all of your competitors.
On planning any business, one of the first things you should have done, is planned, amongst a few things is your unique selling point(s).
So is your customer support efficient? Do you explain terms in plain English? Do you go that extra mile to keep your clients happy? If so, then make this clear on your website.
If you are already established, then ask your clients: What do they like about your service? What makes you different from the store up the road who sells X widgets. Here might be the time for a survey offering some sort of incentive (eg 25% off next order).
Just please do me a favour and do not say because “we are cheaper”. That isn’t a unique selling point and seldom have I seen companies that undercut their competitors succeed in long-term business. Cue a well-known phrase surrounding peanuts and monkeys.
Even with a website with unique content and all these good points about your business, how further can we prove your company a long-term establishment and not another flimsy site that’s here one minute and gone the next?
Connecting with both existing clients and other like-minded businesses on the social networks gives you a chance to engage with your audience and done correctly, gives your company a unique voice.
Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus and Twitter are the most popular, but picture platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest are great for portfolios, artwork and photography. All are free to signup to, and Facebook and LinkedIn have a wealth of groups that you can join and meet like-minded people.
You can save time and set up all your profiles using a social media tool such as Hootsuite or Tweetdeck.
Just remember, the golden rule with Social Media: tell tell tell, not sell sell sell.
The thing that drives me most nuts with some websites, is they seem to get to a certain point and then stop trying. Social media dries up, effort stops and then what? Hopefully not sit back and relax and watch the orders come flooding in.
The key to a good website is to constantly monitor your progress on a regular basis. What has worked this month, which doesn’t seem to be working? Would it make any difference if I try X instead of Y? How can we improve?
Also check go back every few months, and check your competitors’ website: has anything changed? have they added and improved their website since you went live?
You will constantly have to go through this cycle, but if it means you having the edge over your competitors then its time and effort well spent.
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