During the 1980’s, I was always asked if I had a business card so that prospective clients could call me. In the 1990’s, the question became, “What’s your email address so I can write to you?” By 2000, both of these queries were replaced with, “Do you have a website?”
There’s no question that websites have evolved into a highly popular tool for showcasing products and services, providing customers with 24/7 access and attracting media pros seeking interesting stories to put in front of their readers and viewers. That websites are so commonly in vogue today prompted an associate of mine to recently remark that whenever she hears a business doesn’t have an online presence, she can’t help but wonder if (1) if it’s really a legitimate entity or (2) it’s just too lazy to embrace the technology.
Obviously neither assessment is a fair one to make if you don’t know anything about the company or its reputation. In the first place, the existence of a website isn’t an ironclad guarantee of authenticity, nor is there a correlation of authenticity based on how slick/polished/glam the screen looks or how many moving parts there are to seduce your senses. Many an aspiring model or screenwriter, for instance, has been taken in by bogus agencies and production companies that use eye-popping graphics, persuasive language and effusive testimonials that sometimes have no basis in truth. Secondly, the absence of a website could be either a planned decision on the part of management to focus on traditional advertising or a reflection of temporary confusion on how to build a website from scratch.
If you want to avoid the expense of hiring someone to build it for you (and if you don’t count yourself among the computer-savvy), the good news is that there are plenty of software programs, books and online resources to painlessly walk you through the process. The bad news, though, is that an amateur-looking website won’t do you or your company any favors; in fact, it could be worse than not having a website at all.
Once you have it up and running, the challenge is then to keep it interesting enough that visitors will keep returning to see what’s new. To accomplish that, you need to think of your website in terms of a car dealership. Let’s say, for example, that you drive past the same lot twice a day on your commute to work. If you always see exactly the same line-up of cars out front, there will quickly come a point that you no longer bother to even glance in their direction. Since the owner of the dealership can’t afford passersby to be indifferent to the inventory, s/he routinely rotates the vehicles. “Wow!” you exclaim one day. “Was that orange truck always there? I wonder why it never caught my eye before…”
The reality is that the orange truck was always there but just parked in a different place. Once you notice the orange truck, you’re going to start paying attention again and wondering what other kinds of vehicles are available for sale.
The same principle applies to websites. Even if you’re simply reshuffling the contents and changing the color scheme, you’re laying the groundwork to drive repeat visitors to your door.
Excerpted from MEDIA MAGNETISM: HOW TO ATTRACT THE FAVORABLE PUBLICITY YOU WANT AND DESERVE (Available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle)