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FLASHBACK ARTICLE FROM JANUARY 2010
Last month I shared my thoughts on Networking dos and don’ts, and the month before I shared about blogging and how that can positively impact your business. This month, I’m going to talk about the biggest tool at your disposal that has a dramatic effect on your bottom line if leveraged correctly… The Internet!
While I could go on for many articles about many different aspects of how the internet can help your business, I just want to talk about your website. Hopefully, if you are reading this article and you take your business seriously you already have a website, but is it effective? Does your website help drive prospects to contact you? Does your website turn off your desired clientèle? Do you have any idea if it’s doing anything at all for you?
My suggestion is to take a brutally honest look at your site. The truth is that most DJ sites aren’t awe-inspiring and while I’ve seen some people defend their sites as if you were attacking their child, you need to let your ego go if you designed your own site. Ask for input from your past clients, some vendors you trust, and family members, and if you frequent chat sites you can ask there as well. Be prepared as you may not like everything you hear and not all critique is going to be helpful, but you should be able to get a good idea from the sampling if your site is good or if it needs work.
What should a good website do? That is a question that many debates, but my opinion is that a good website will intrigue prospects to inquire either by email or telephone for more information. Some believe that your website should sell itself and I know some DJs that have a system online that clients can book their services without ever having to talk with them. That can be incredibly dangerous as not every prospect should be your client and you will have no idea if the person that booked your services is right for you without ever having a conversation. A good website should give your prospect enough information to know that you might be a good choice for them that they want to contact you, but not give away everything so that they have no need to contact you unless they are ready to book. I don’t want prospects making their decision about my service without ever giving me the chance to communicate with them.
What should a good website contain? There are certain things that a good website needs: good content, clean and easy navigation, and contact info on every page.
“Good content” is open to interpretation, but ultimately it’s anything that helps the client decide if you are someone they would like to do business with. This can include but is not limited to, text, photos, videos, and audio. The next common debate is whether one should post prices on his or her site. Rather than either/or, consider informing prospects of price ranges. Many of your clients are younger and they get impatient with sites that don’t give them what they want, and in many cases that is your price. I used to avoid listing any prices on my site since I was taught to believe that if I gave them pricing info they would immediately base their decision on us based on price. After research with my focus group, I learned that I lost out on potential businesses just because they couldn’t find what they wanted on my site. It was an eye-opener!
Clean and easy navigation should be obvious. If your site confuses your prospect or turns them off, it won’t matter if you are a great DJ, you won’t get the opportunity to demonstrate so to that prospect. If possible, stay away from heavy reliance on Adobe™ Flash®. While it might be pretty, it takes higher bandwidth, and more processing power to load. A slower loading speed will get people to click away before seeing how awesome your site looks.
Avoid scrolling where possible! There are exceptions to this rule, but most people are lazy and won’t bother scrolling past what is on their screen. When doing your design, remember who you want your client to be and make it appealing to them. Avoid anything tacky or elements that will make your site look old (such as dancing banana GIFs). Try to avoid audio on your site unless your visitors can disable it quickly since many people do their vendor searches while at work, and if you get them busted by their boss you won’t get their business!
Make sure there is contact info on every page! You never know when they will decide to contact you, and if they have to look for that information for more than a few seconds, they will “bounce” to the next site. Availability checkers are a great tool as well. Some will tell you that a great website will have a call to action, such as “call now and receive a free light show if you mention this promotion.” Personally, I haven’t seen it work with anything that we have tried, website or print, thus I suggest not doing it as it makes your website look like a big sales pitch, and everyone hates to be sold.
Finally, have your focus group do a search engine search using whatever keywords they would use to find a DJ in your area. Notice how easily they can find your site. If they can’t find it, that means regardless of how pretty your website is and how effective a sales tool it could be, it’s not doing a good enough job for you. If you don’t wish to learn the ins and outs of Search Engine Optimization, then I highly suggest investing in a good SEO company. If you are in a small market without lots of competition, do it yourself, it will save you thousands; But if you are in a large, competitive market then search engine optimization will be a great investment.
Ok, now you know … get to work!
Kelly Suit can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.