Three strategic questions to (quickly) ponder before you start building a new site.

With the start of a new year, we reflect on those positive changes we want to make and goals we want to achieve. We resolve to improve our health, spend more time with family, get organized, and of course, update our website.

Before you pick up the phone and call that guy (or gal) who said he could build you a great new site for $1,000, please resist the urge to fire until you’ve had a chance to aim – or quickly define your goals, market and message. This doesn’t have to take months. Just spend an hour or so thinking through these three questions. Then you can make the call, or read more below…

  1. What are you trying to accomplish? Although your firm’s services may be unique, most websites won’t actually close sales. The goals are then to educate, differentiate, and generate a contact for the next step (consultation or meeting). What will you need to include in order to meet those goals? Also think about how long you’ll have to accomplish those goals, since most visitors will only stay on your site for a couple of minutes.
  2. What/who is your target audience? The saying about “not trying to be everything to everybody” applies here. Think about your best client(s), or the clients you would most like to have. Could be small businesses with 10-50 employees and less than $10MM revenue, or families with 2+ kids and a net worth of $500-750K. Keep this pretty specific, realistic, and prioritize if there is more than one audience.
  3. What is your unique message? What makes you better than similar firms? Be realistic here as well, rather than cliche. Trying harder is not a real differentiator unless you can quantitatively prove that you expend 66% more energy per client. Positive aggregate results, relevant experience, unique relationships, and educational focus are better choices. If you don’t know what sets you apart, ask your clients. They’ll tell you.

Remember, the nice thing about a well-designed website is that you can make changes anytime based on feedback from prospects and clients. But you need to aim first or you’ll never be close enough to elicit good information.

When you do pull the trigger on your new site, the guy (more likely a company) you choose should immediately ask you these questions and more. You should be providing information about your business, your competitors, and your personal likes/dislikes. If that’s not step 1 on the agenda, stop and find a new guy. There’s no way the end results will meet your expectations. You’ll end up with a generic site template and the same generic language that so many other firms use.

Here’s one last note about website guys. It actually takes three distinct skill sets to create a site, meaning you need a designer, developer, and marketing copywriter. If you find one person with those three skills, please let me know. That would be a first.

If you can’t measure it, don’t do it.

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