If You Build It, They Will Come?

Many of you will remember the line from the movie Field of Dreams, "If you build it, they will come." Many businesses apply this methodology to their business model. I can't tell you how many times I've come across this misnomer in dealing with hosting and web design customers. They figure, "I've got a website now. The customers will start to buy my stuff. I can wait for the orders to start coming in." A few months later they call to complain that it isn't working and it must be something wrong. When I ask them what they have done to get customers, a lot of times they don't know what to say because they never thought of that approach. If we pause to think about the build and wait approach for a moment, we will soon see the error in this idea. Unlike a physical location, where you have customers driving or walking by all the time, online businesses need some way to attract traffic and customers to their website. In this article we will discuss a few methods that can be employed to bring customers to your website.

Search Engines

Getting listed in the search engines is usually a good place to start. There are two ways to get listed in the search engines; Pay-Per-Click placement, and organic search engine results. Depending on the industry and online competition, PPC placement can be a very inexpensive or very expensive way to attract customers to your website. If the cost per click starts to get high, be very careful, you could spend a lot of money and not be able to recoup those costs in sales.

Getting into the search engines themselves is quite another task, left for another article. There are many websites and articles that detail the process needed.

Advertising

Doing some type of advertising is absolutely necessary to gaining customers. Many times I hear "I can't afford to pay for advertising." My response is "How can you afford not to?" Owning a small business myself I know how intimidating advertising can be. However, there are a few methods of advertising that require little investment which I will discuss

-Direct Mail
There are many companies that offer postcard printing and mailing services at VERY affordable rates. Now the goal is to only send mailings to your target audience and avoid sending to those who wouldn't be in interested. This will maximize the success and minimize the cost of your mailing.

-Press Coverage
Getting your local media outlet to do an article on you can be a great way to get some local customers. Many newspapers like covering these local stories. Prepare a press release and follow up with a personal phone call to the reporter that usually handles these types of stories.

-Build a Sales Team
Now, the sales team I'm referring to isn't the one that sits in an office and cold calls people all day. Get rid of that overhead and get your friends, acquaintances, and family to "Sell" your product for you. Offer a good commission if they make a sale, and you'll have others doing the work for you. A good side effect of this is you've got lots of people spreading the hype about your business.

-Message Boards
Get out on the message boards and be active. Put you web site link in you signature and make good posts. It is much better if you are genuine in your postings, than if you just post the get your signature listed.

Good Service

If you provide an excellent product with excellent service the customers you've already gotten will help spread the word. Remember, it can't be just good service it needs to be next-level service. Service they don't usually receive. An impressed customer is priceless.

To sum it all up

Now the items discussed in this article are by no means the only things will work, and won't be a guaranteed method. A concerted effort of these tactics will bring customers to your site. If you work hard, keep focus and stay on the cutting edge you can have an advantage over your competition and be successful.

Scott is the owner and head designer for Smith-Concepts a successful web development firm. Related Links: http://www.smith-concepts.com

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