Image from Brand Love
A brand is a living, breathing part of your business. The components of a brand involves the products and services you offer, the ambiance of your business location, the relationships you form with your customers, and the association people have with your business. These all work together to make your brand. Your website is a very important component that you can control that can help you market your business’ essence. There are endless possibilities, resources, and tools that will help you create your site in your unique business’ image.
There are so many free resources out there to help you get started. One of the first steps from SmallBusinessComputing.com is to choose a domain name that is easily identifiable and linked to your business brand. Let’s say your business is called “Joe’s Bar and Grill.” I’m a new customer, and I want to look at your menu because I purchased one of your killer deals on Groupon this month, and I type joesbarandgrill.com into my browser. No results. I search Google for you, and after digging through three pages of other similar businesses, I come to find that you’re under “joesmithsburgerjoint.com.” That’s not necessarily a bad name, but it’s not easily linked to the name of your restaurant, which doesn’t have “burger joint” or “smiths” in it. That’s a confusing brand experience for your customer, so you need to figure out what’s easy for your customers to find, to remember, and to tell other people. It simply has to represent your brand, and if possible, be as close to your business name as possible.
The same article discusses how having a Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo! account isn’t very professional. Instead it should be linked to your website: think firstname.lastname@example.org versus email@example.com. Anyone can have a Gmail account: but YOU can have one that sells your brand! These significant features stem from that next important step after choosing your name: establishing your domain and host name, which is done through a web hosting service. From there, you can find a wealth of website builders out there that will help you start building from that domain name into a website from the ground up. Although your domain name may have a cost, there are numerous free builders out there to help you with the actual website creation. For your convenience, here are two articles that will tell you about some free and easy website builders:
If you don’t have a website already, I’d like to point out the following mistakes you will need to keep in mind before you create one (from SmallBusinessSEM.com):
If you can avoid making these simple mistakes (that apparently a lot of businesses are making!), you will already be ahead of the game. These types of small details can make a big difference, and are overlooked all too often. Think about a time that you visited a corporate website for your credit card or an airline, and you found that you had to perform surgery on the website to find how to call the toll-free customer service line, or even to find a place to give some feedback. That’s not a good experience, and it makes it seem like you aren’t open to communication with your customers. So for starters, I would even recommend putting all of your contact info on your home page at the bottom, including your phone, email address, and a feedback box that sends directly to your email.
One more helpful (and surprising) statistic from SmallBusinessSEM.com is that “less than 20% of small business websites have a link to the business’ social media presence.” I want to emphasize this to you again and again and again: every activity you perform on your social media sites, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, whatever the case may be, YOU MUST keep it all synced together with your main website. Ultimately, a social media site should guide your customers back to that website, which is why you must build one that represents your brand. You can post updates all day long on Facebook, share interesting content, and manage your business’ announcements and deals: but I would fairly say that 95% of the time, your content needs link back your website. This is what we call an integrated social media strategy, and your “home base” is your website.
You want your customers to easily find you: you want them to visit once in a while. Start building that website so that they can. Your brand deserves it!