If You Build It, They Will Come
May 8, 2009 12:00 PM, By Don Kreski
If you can include very specific information of interest to your target customers, that can start to set your site apart from competitors. Starin, for example, has set up 42 brand-specific portal pages for its target customers: AV integrators and dealers. “Our goal is to make life very easy for our clients,” Mullin says. “We’ve therefore assembled the most crucial information about each of our lines in one easy-to-access place.” These portals each offer pricing and warranty information, specifications, promotions, sales tools, FAQs, and contact information. A password-protected section contains material meant for dealers only, including dealer pricing.
Sound Vision takes a similar approach with an Engineer’s Corner that offers information of interest to IT and facilities managers, including articles explaining digital signal processing, HD videoconferencing, sizing displays, and the white-spaces controversy and how it affects wireless mics.
I personally walk potential clients through my own website, kreski.com, when I’m trying to explain what I can do for them. When I find myself having trouble illustrating a point, I start thinking about adding a page.
In the same way, Mullin suggests that one test of your website’s potential appeal is whether your own people find it helpful when they’re on the phone with clients. “No one knows it all, and that includes us,” he says. “And nobody wants information until they need it. We used to do data dumps at dealer sales meetings, but we’re finding it’s a lot more effective to offer information resources that are available when they are most receptive because they have specific needs.”
Building your site
One consideration in any website project is how much to do on your own and how much to outsource. Starin is large enough to have an inhouse marketing department, and the company does most, though not all, of the work on its website itself. Miles, on the other hand, says he feels an outside consultant is the way to go. “We considered a full-time marketing manager at one point, but it’s much more cost-effective to outsource,” he says. “It’s also a question of focus. We’re at our best designing and building AV systems, and that’s where we need to concentrate our efforts.”
This is not to say you can farm out everything. If you’re building a truly informative site, there are some things that only you know how to communicate.
No matter how you build your website, you should expect to put a good statistical package in place so you can see where your traffic is coming from and which pages are of most interest to visitors. Very often your web-service provider can provide reports from a server-based package such as Webtrends. Google Analytics can provide better reports and is available for individual sites at no charge, although you should expect to pay your developer to install and configure the package. With Analytics or a similar package installed, you can be confident that your new site is doing the job you expect it to do, or take steps to make sure that it does.
“There’s no doubt that our site has enhanced our credibility with potential clients,” Miles says. “And that’s especially important in a day where so many companies are out there hammering price versus quality and service.”
Don Kreski is a marketing consultant who works exclusively in the AV industry. You can reach him at www.kreski.com/contact.html.
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