I recently finished a project (one of my Bright Start business starter websites), and I wanted to talk about why I think something like this is important for a new business. Also, I want to brag on my client because she is pretty darn awesome.
First, the project: My client is a psychologist who has been in practice for 30 years. She founded the MEDIAN Center for Resilience and Brain Training to expand her practice to include NeurOptimal brain training (I won't go into what that is; the website explains it). She is providing a valuable service, but really needed help figuring out how to talk about it. She also knew—and this is critical—that in this first year, her model may change a bit.
The understanding that how she thinks the clinic will operate today will likely change within the next year is so important, and I love that she recognizes it. I see so many coaches, therapists, and consultants launch their small business without understanding this. So what happens is they either don't have a website at all for a year or they invest a TON of money developing a gorgeous website that is obsolete in six months because they changed direction. Neither of those are great options.
My advice is to do a Phase 1 website. This is a brochure style website that has a very specific purpose: to legitimize your business. It provides the information people need to understand what you can do for them. And that is all. It is not perfect. It will not be the website you have for five years. What it will do is give you that tool that you must have as you are starting out.
Digital marketing/SEO folks won't agree with this advice because a site like this is not what you would use to drive traffic to a website or build your list (or even really optimize for search). They are right. My argument is that at this stage of a your new business, you aren't ready for that. Today, right now, you need an online brochure. In a year, once everything has shaken out and you've gotten to know your business a little better, THEN you call in the digital marketers and the web developers. Then the investment in a Phase 2 site makes sense, and they will give you an amazing site—more so because you all have clarity about what the business is.
When I talk to people about content marketing and the need for quality content creation, they usually ask me why it matters. Here is why: Over the last few years, they way your prospects journey through the sales funnel has changed. It is no longer good enough to have a website that answers there product or service related questions (but you still need that). It is no longer good enough to post about the benefits of your products and services on your blog (although that is still a good idea).
Today you need to demonstrate you expertise, and — more importantly — why your prospects need to be doing things differently than they currently are. That happens through content marketing, where every piece of information educates, informs, and persuades your prospects.
Marketers at the largest companies realize this, and have started incorporating content marketing into their traditional marketing mix. For fun, here is an infographic of the content marketing trends the experts at Curata, a content marketing platform provider, see for 2016. From increases in investment (both in dollars and staff) to exploring new distribution channels, this is the year that content marketing will become mainstream.
I'm so excited to see my most recent website project go live: Mailing Lists Direct. Congrats to the whole team! The website redesign was a long process, but I think worthwhile—the new site is easy to navigate and full of useful information for anyone needing to buy a mailing list. By the end of the project, I kind of wished I had a reason to buy a mailing list. I really wanted to go through the process and work with the list brokers.
Working on this website was a wonderful experience. Why? Because it gave me the opportunity to be creative about a subject that is, well, not very exciting. Mailing lists. What is there to say? (Quite a bit, actually, but you'll need to look at the site to see what I mean). SEO also played a huge roll in this project. So, I not only had to make buying a mailing list sound like fun, I had to do it by incorporating key phrases like "buy mailing list" into the copy.
I think this website is a good example for anyone about to embark on a website redesign. Mailing Lists Direct has a ton of information they need to provide to an audience that is most likely just going to skim through the copy. I think that's a situation many businesses find themselves in. This site provides all that information in a way that is easy to navigate. It's the perfect combination—it gives the people coming to the site exactly what they need in order to make the next step in the buying process. Does your site do that?
My days are filled with meeting people and learning about what kind of marketing materials they need. The meetings are interesting and I learn a lot about different companies and what they offer. Then I start talking about the brand promise and communications goals and I notice a look of pure terror cross my potential client’s face.
At first this baffled me because, frankly, I don’t think I’m a particularly frightening person. Then I realized it’s not me, but rather the notion of hiring a writer that has them quaking in their shoes. I don’t blame them. Paying for something when you aren’t really sure what you’re buying is scary.
Unless they’ve worked in a corporate communications department, most business owners don’t know what they should do to ensure they hire the right person.
Hiring a writer who is the right fit for your business really isn’t complicated or scary. The following five tips will help you choose the writer that is right for you.
Know what you want to accomplish with this project and share that with the writer. Do you want to increase your sales, describe your services in a way that’s easy to understand, or simply (finally) launch your web site?
Before you meet with the writer, make a list of everyone the writer will need to interview for the project, how much research they’ll need to do, and what your deadline is. That will help frame the scoping conversation, and help the writer determine if he/she is the right fit for the project. It will also help the writer give you a more accurate estimate.
Look at the writer’s portfolio. Even if they’ve never done exactly the type of project you need, you’ll get a sense of their style and approach by looking at samples. These days, most writers have samples on their web site, so you can see if you like their writing before you ever even pick up the phone.
Get a detailed proposal that clearly states what the costs include. This is important for you and the writer. The detailed proposal will not only set expectations for the project, you’ll know right way if you’re on the same page about the project scope. And, with a proposal in hand, there shouldn’t be any unexpected surprises at the end of the project.
Map out a detailed schedule with concrete deliverables at the beginning of the project. This will help the writer—and everyone in your company—stay on track.