Driving Customers to Your Site

Ultimately as a graphic/web designer, it’s my job to create designs that, hopefully, will attract the attention of people that view the sites we design for our clients.Through a combination of strong design and stronger content, the website should be a great resource that people not only want to come back to, but want to tell other people about.Yet, no matter how good the design, alone, of any website is, it’s getting people to visit the site that is the most important thing.

While search engines are a common way to find what you need on the web there are thousands of businesses competing for top ranking in each industry.There is no sure fire equation to guarantee that you will always get, and have, top billing in the search engines.There are tricks and techniques that you can do to cheat some of the search engines, but you run the high risk of getting your site banned.

Whether you’re creating a new site or revising what you have, there are things you can do to help the search engines that won’t get you flagged.Creating keywords (any word or phrase that has particular significance to the content of your website) used consistently in your meta-tags, the content of your site and when needed in the alt tags (alternative text embedded in the HTML code for graphic files) helps the search engines track your site down. The best way to create key phrases is to define what it is your business does and find the key verbs, nouns and adjectives that repeatedly pop up when you describe your business.Another way to help search engines out is to vary your meta-tags, keywords and page titles for each page so they relate to the content on that page. You know, it seems like keywords would make a whole entry.

So, outside of search engines, how do you get people to visit your site?

How do you make people aware that you have a site?

What can you do that is cost effective?

Funny you should ask.

Placing your web address on all your marketing material from your business card and flyers to your radio and television commercials is an excellent way.It sounds like a common sense suggestion, but you’d be surprised just how many people leave off a website, phone number or mailing address. Most occasions, people won’t just stop to look at the directions or just look at the contact section.They will take time to learn about your company through the content that’s on your site and any marketing materials you have.They will get an immediate impression of the person, or company, that they are looking to do business with.They will remember to check back at later times to catch up on what your company is doing or is offering.And, lately, a website address seems easier to remember than a phone number.

With telemarketers calling at all times during the day and spam emails overloading their websites, today’s consumer doesn’t want to feel hassled or feel like they are obligated to buy something if they want to learn more about your company.By having your domain name on all of your marketing material, and even your letter head, it allows people who receive that material to visit your site freely.It costs nothing more to add the website address than to leave it off, but it brings another way for people to learn more about your business.

The best way is to get out there and hype up your website.Think of a movie you saw based on a friends recommendation.A recording artist you may never have heard of without someone suggesting it.Even a restaurant that you tried because a family member, or coworker, gave it raving reviews.Websites act in the same way.Word of mouth drives people to websites, because they know that the information is there, people have used the site and it’s been brought to their attention that a site exists. The new term for Word of Mouth these days is Viral Marketing. One person passing an idea to another and so on and so on.

So, it isn’t just having a website that will get people to visit it and potentially buy into your company.It’s the effort you put behind creating strong content that will have people wanting to visit your site, the effort in advertising your website that will increase people’s awareness of your company and potentially increase your sales.So get out there, talk up your website to anyone, and everyone, and make sure it’s on all your marketing material. Take that advice and sit back and watch the hit counter grow.

What was the last website you were directed to that kept your attention?How do you learn about most websites or businesses you visit?

What a designer is and isn’t”¦seriously you need to know”¦

Before I begin, I want to thank Mari Adkins and Janice Thomason for taking the time to comment on the last entry.  I lacked on replying to your comments, but know that I agree with both of you and will be better responding in the future. Now on with the latest entry.

I’ve been doing this for a long time. Long enough where early on, to make a client happy, I neglected to mention that a graphic/web designer is not hired to be a professional writer/editor. Granted we work with your company’s content, but what we work with, mainly, is the space that the content needs to fit into.

Often enough, people seeking out a designer, regardless of the field, are looking for someone they can pass the buck of their project to.  What they fail to realize is someone taking on the full project management, content created, design and implementation will be”¦ wait for it”¦a firm or agency. What you really need, and I can hear the cries of your budget now, is team of people working on the whole of the project. You do not want the kid you just hired who learned HTML and some flash. You do not want the guy who has a start up doing design, print or web. These people are not, and I will repeat this often, not the people who should be carrying the full weight of the fact that you either can’t spell OR can’t clearly define in text what it is you want them to define visually.

A designer is just that”¦a designer. You wouldn’t ask your plumber to check your electrical wiring. You wouldn’t ask your electrician to align your spine. The cashier at your local fast food joint doesn’t make your burger.

The responsibility of making sure that the content of your web/print piece is yours.  That way, even though it may delay your deadline, helps you know that if the piece launches incorrectly”¦it’s their responsibility to fix it. If you’re whatever is launched with wrong content that is the result of a sign off that bares your signature”¦the responsibility for it being wrong ends up falling squarely in your lap. Sure you’re going to be pissed at the designer, but they will pull out your sign off, point out where you failed to review it fully and remind you that you signed off on it. You may never work with them again, but they aren’t out the money of paying for a mistake you allowed them to make. You will be out the money to get it redone by them or someone else, the new printing costs and the time for all of this, because you gave the responsibility of making sure your information is correct”¦to someone else.

So let’s review, a copy writer writes content, a project manager makes sure the project meets its projected milestones, a print graphic designer creates work on paper, a web designer creates work in digital and a business owner is responsible for hiring the people for the job. Can each of these people be capable of doing the other persons job? Yes, but will it be done effectively across the board? No one can know for sure.

There’s an old saying, “œit takes a village to raise a child”.  In that regard, it takes a team to fully realize a project you don’t have the time to work on yourself. Whether it’s an agency, a firm, a studio or a team of people your designer suggests; no project should every fully fall on the shoulders of just one industry worker.

Since I’ve gone, briefly, into what a designer doesn’t do; I’d love to hear what your expectations of a designer, print or web, has been in the past.  Do you view them as the guru of all things because their end result is something that, hopefully, brings you a ROI? Have you expected them to know the difference between a conjunction and participle? Or did you supply them the things they needed and get out of the way and let them design something?

The difference between success and closing next year…

petcem

The silver bullet for marketing a successful business”¦doesn’t exist. Sorry to disappoint you. There’s a world of difference between closing in six months and seeing year two come and go. A lot of it is hard work, timing, patience and the ability to adapt. I’m going to say this over and over again over the course of these posts so let me get it out of the way. Your marketing/brand materials are only one aspect of your business. Depending on your industry they could be a very big thing or the thing that keeps you fresh in your prospects minds.

When it comes to the marketing and design aspect of a successful business it comes down to three simple things:

  • A clear message
  • A consistent brand identity/message
  • The ability to see beyond what you like and into what your prospective customers

You have to simultaneously predict the future, correct the problems of the past and be able to change on a dime if the marketing shifts.

You don’t have to throw all of your money into your marketing materials, and I highly suggest you spend what you can afford, but make sure that you put your best possible marketing foot forward with each piece you put your companies brand on. The major corporations that you see on a daily basis put the same kind of care and effort into each marketing piece. You need a plan of action, a budget, a visions for your message, a target audience and reasonable sense of what you expect to receive; you’re return on investment (ROI). These things are established in your marketing plan. Rather than go over what’s all ready been done on Technosailor, take some time and read Steven Fisher’s Marketing Plan Series.

Let me put something into perspective for you. Coca-Cola historically has put close to forty percent of their profits back into the marketing of their business. They have 400 brands in over 200 countries and they have advertisements in every possible avenue of marketing. You can practically go anywhere in the world and people will know the Coca-Cola name. They are in almost every store, office vending machine and are a house hold name to people who don’t even drink the stuff. But if they are that well known why spend the money?

Because they want to be the only cola you think of”¦even when you’re not thinking about it. Because they know their competitors are working just as hard to get your attention. Because without you, and everyone else who drinks their product or who will ever try it, their company and product simply wouldn’t exist.

Do you think of marketing your company in the same way? Do you keep your competitors in mind when you’re working on your website, advertisement, elevator speech or whatever aspect of marketing you’re working on? Do you put a dedicated effort into making sure every piece of marketing you pay for supports each other while simultaneously keeping awareness of your product? Is it more than just a business card, a brochure, or a website to you? They are to Coca-Cola. They are to your competitors. They are to your customers and prospects. Your marketing materials are just one of the several crucial pieces of the puzzle that makes the difference between success and closing next year.