Are you considering creating a website for your business?
What can commercial bus drivers teach you about building a profitable business website?
A business website is much more than a collective piece of code with beautiful design. It is much like a platform to reach an endless pool of target audience. It is not another online brochure or worse an amplified version of a business card but a media platform to tell demonstrate your dedication to meet your customers/clients needs.
Unfortunately, most business owners and entrepreneurs prefer to go back to 2001 when creating a website for their business. That’s taking your business back to over a decade ago.
The foundation upon which you lay your business online will either give you the leverage to build a converting website or not.
Before hiring a designer or developer to create a website for your business, here are important thing to note.
1. A website is never complete
About a decade ago, you could create a website and get away with the mere impression of having a virtual presence. That is not the case today.
Think of building a website today like raising a child. You need to show up and hang around if you want to make a good citizen out of her. Her success is your success; her failure, unfortunately so, is your failure. You may want to rely on the service of a nanny but if you want your child to reflect your core value and principles, you need to give a good portion of your time for her at that early stage – until she grows into a matured adult that can take care of herself.
If your website is going to do the marketing job for your business, which is what a website should do in the first place, it has to be an ongoing process. The design and development process can be a one off project, but to get your website out there you need to nurture her.
2. Business objective should drive your website not trend
A website is not something you create because you want to have one. If you can’t define how a website will help you further achieve your business goals, you are better off without one. Before you decide to create a website, you should ask the question; how will a website help my business grow? Will it bring more customers; create awareness for our product/service; promote our cause; promote our core value and purpose? Then think of creating your website around your objectives.
3. A website is nothing without a continuous flow of traffic and visitors
Imagine you are in a commercial vehicle from Ojuelegba to Ikeja. Bus conductors on the other vehicles are relentlessly announcing their route; “Ikeja. Maryland. Palmgroove”; scouting for passengers. But your bus conductor simple puts up a sign on the bus that reads, “Ikeja. Maryland. Palmgroove” and then sits back hoping passengers read the sign and join his bus.
That may work in a rural uncompetitive area where the drivers have to queue for their turn; Or of course with BRT bus. But in a city of hustling and bustling like Lagos, you’d better put up a show. You’ll agree with me that that bus conductor will run an empty vehicle because even the few commuters who managed to join will abandon him for a more serious businessperson. People go where the action is.
Putting up an online brochure kind of website on a crowded place like the internet is like putting up a sign post on a commercial vehicle and hoping the passengers shows up. As a business owner online, it is your duty to attract and keep an audience. This brings us to the next point.
4. A website needs a system to convert prospects into leads
Still on the commercial vehicle and bus conductor analogy, even when he is actively seeking passengers like other competitors, he still needs to convince them to get on his vehicle.
If you are like most Lagosians, you’ve probably seen where a passenger decides to get down a bus because the driver is delaying to leave a bus stop, because the bus is untidy, because he got on the wrong bus or because the conductor failed to announce his destination clearly. Several possible reasons you’ll agree.
Like a commercial bus driver, your website should not just attract an audience but should be able to convince a reasonable percentage of that audience to stay a little longer with you. Your website should have a clear message of what your business is about and who it is for. Your website should look professional and should do the job of converting browsers into readers and then leads.
Get them to like and follow you on social media, subscribe to your newsletter and so on. Confusing visitors is a luxury you can’t afford.
5. A website needs to nurture leads into customers
A commercial bus driver has one primary objective that leads to business; getting passengers to their proposed destination. Although passengers often pay before they get to their destination, the contract ends only when they get to their designated bus-stop.
Your website is the vehicle to take your prospects through a journey; from a browser to a reader, then a lead and finally to where they decide to do business with you.
Most websites are designed to bypass this process and jump straight to “we are the best. You should do business with us”. Nobody cares, really. It’s about them.
Rather than be like the wind trying to forcefully take the man’s jacket off (causing him to hold on to it tightly), be like the sun that gently shines him into warmth. And he will willingly take off his jacket for you.
6. What you should think about building is not a website
Technology is only a means to an end; not an end in itself.
A lot of business owners and entrepreneurs often get consumed trying to get the best looking design, graphics and fancy codes that they forget the number one purpose of business in the first place – your customer. People like to do business not just with someone they like but with someone they believe care about them.
Don’t think about building a website; think about building relationships. If the website building approach you have taken does not offer you the leverage to build relationship with your prospects and customers, this may be the right time to reconsider your approach.
7. Forget quick, fast and easy website
With a simple search, you will find thousands of options for cheap, quick and easy website creating services and software. Cheap, quick and easy is not really the point. You need to know what you want to achieve with a website and then look for the right tool that offers flexibility to achieve those objective.
When you go for cheap, quick and easy what you are doing is forcing your business to fit into the rigid tool. You’ll agree with me that this is just wrong for a business with objectives. What you need, and I believe is what you want, is a flexible, easy to use platform to attract, engage and connect with your target audience.
Your website is not a onetime event, where you set it and everyone goes home expecting phone calls. In most cases what you get is the cricket chirping. To get your website to do the job of marketing your business, it has to be an ongoing process.
You need to become a reliable source of information, education, engagement, entertainment or whatever your business represents, to your prospects and customers.
If you build your website as a continuous provider of education, insights and entertaining content, you will develop a relationship with your prospects and customers and they will naturally want to do business with you over your competitor. The concept of becoming a trusted online platform is to attracts visitors, keep them coming back and turn a reasonable percentage of then into paying customers.
What you should look for in website building platform
- Ability to publish continually at your pace without the need to call a designer or developer to do every little thing for you
- Ability to publicly present the value you offer to your target customers
- Easy and flexibility for rapid content creation & distribution in virtually any media (CMS)
- Provide customer interaction (Social Media & Blog Commenting)
- Ease to optimize your keyword focused content for Search engine (SEO)
- Build authority and expertise as a thought-leader (Blog & Structured Content Marketing Plan)
- Support community building, connecting, influencing and sharing (email marketing)