Thursday, July 14, 2011

Promoting Your Services the Right Way

As a differencemaker, persuasion is an important part of your message. And if you have a Web site, it's not enough to assume people will look at every page in detail - you need to persuade them to do so.

Every Web site is different, of course, but there’s a common structure that underlies every successful Web site. It consists of four layers, so think of your Web site as being like an onion.

The first, innermost, layer is your on-line "shop", where your Web site visitors take the ultimate action you’d like them to take – buy a product, order something, register for an event, or even just pick up the phone and call you:

Even if you aren't selling any products and services directly, you're still selling a message - and your Web site still needs a call to action, even if that action is for them to think differently.

Every product and service you offer should have some call to action, and a process for your Web site visitor to take that action. If you don’t have a shop of some form, there’s not much point to your Web site.

On the flip side, if you only have a shop, it’s unlikely anybody will "buy" without any other supporting material. So the second layer of the onion is to write a sales letter, brochure of flyer to promote each of the products and services you offer:

Each product and service you offer should have one of these sales letters, describing its benefits and features. This is an important step, because you’re now promoting, not just taking orders, on your Web site.

But this still isn’t enough. A purely promotional Web site is most likely to turn people away, unless you have a strong relationship with them already. The next layer of the onion is your free, high-value content you create to make your Web site attractive and useful:

This can take the form of articles, video clips, photographs, audio clips, surveys, slide shows and so on. The point is you’re giving value, not just promoting your products and services.

You do promote as well, but only at the end of each content piece. For example, you could write an article with tips on how people can improve, followed by a direct link to the sales letter you’ve written for a related product. Or, if you're asking people to join your cause, you could write a story about somebody who has benefited from your cause, and that leads to a "sales letter" about how people can join your group, and that then leads to the call to action (perhaps they phone you, make a donation, subscribe to your newsletter, or pledge to take action in their local community).

You now have high-quality content that leads people to compelling sales letters, which in turn lead them to your shop. The only thing missing is the outermost layer, which is the starting point for most visitors – the home page:

So these are the four layers of every successful Web site:
  1. The shop, for taking orders or actions
  2. The sales letters to promote your products and services
  3. The quality content to demonstrate your value
  4. The home page

Does YOUR Web site have all four layers working for you?

If not, maybe it's time to evaluate your Web site again, and plan a strategy that makes each of these four layers work effectively.

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