How to reflect the voice and vision of the business owner who has abdicated responsibility
The drive and energy of the owner should be the most important aspect of any SME business’s website; it is their voice and vision that defines the company and their quirks, passion and expertise that inspire staff and secure customers. Yet, as they continue to grow, far too many innovative and inspiring businesses mask their true nature by opting for a generic website, so long as the owner can devolve responsibility for it.
They tell themselves “I’m too busy” and “marketing isn’t my expertise” and they get someone who they feel will be better at it. But, as marketers know, an effective website is never an out of the box, one size fits all solution.
Of course it’s wise to hire expert marketers – to be responsible for putting the right mechanics in place, ensuring the design is responsive, that it reflects current trends, and that social media feeds are integrated and link back to fresh content. But does the marketer have that essential business vision or understand what led to the creation of the company in the first place? Not unless the marketer was the founder of the business. The failure to communicate the business’s message through the website is a real missed opportunity.
The business reality
Today’s websites are a world apart from the original static brochure style sites, with their lists of products and services. Such sites did little more than demonstrate a company’s existence and basic area of operations. They prompted one off visits and had minimal impact in defining a company’s vision or building a reputation.
Now, that has changed: sites are live, dynamic and interactive. They are designed to bring customers, prospects and partners back to the company again and again through the use of innovative content marketing and thought provoking discussion to build long-term engagement.
The website is a lens into the company; a way not only to attract the perfect customer but, also, a chance to deter those organisations whose culture and approach simply would not fit.
Achieving the vision
There are a number of essential components of a website – from responsive design to ensure it looks good from any mobile device, to up to date, fresh visuals that reflect current fashion. Even more important is the integration with social media – with live links to active profiles – as well as content marketing to drive that continual engagement. Blogs, eBooks, white papers and newsletters full of innovative, challenging and insightful content have fast become an essential component of the overall marketing mix.
Most businesses that recognise the need to embrace this dynamic website model – and, unfortunately, far too many do not – assume the entire process can be delivered by marketers, either in house or third party agencies. However, the drive, energy and sheer brilliance of the business owner should be the most important aspect of the website – and that simply cannot be achieved if responsibility is devolved to someone who was not part of that initial business vision.
The heart of a prosperous business lies in its marketing and, today, the website is utterly central to business success. The website and associated social media content are more than a shop window: they are the chance to display the essential vision of the business.
It is important for marketers to gain input from across the business – even the youngest intern will provide a fresh perspective and understanding of the company. Coming together in a workshop to discuss the company voice is invaluable. A number of key questions can prompt new insights and make it easier for a marketer to harness the essential nature of the business. Questions such as: What do people always get wrong about you? What do customers most frequently ask? What is it you wish people would do differently if they were to be the perfect customer? What information should prospects just know?
The process of answering these questions will inspire the right kind of content that reflects the company ethos, matches the needs of the audience and provide ideas for the creation of content, from blogs to eBooks. The process of answering these questions will inspire the right kind of content that reflects the company ethos, matches the needs of the audience and provide ideas for the creation of content. Business owners must then remain engaged with this key aspect of website success. Even just one hour a month discussing ideas can make all the difference.
It is time for marketers to help SME owners re-evaluate the company’s public presence. Marketing is fundamentally the portal to the business, a way to drive engagement with prospects and customers, suppliers and business partners – and it needs to be as effective as possible. If a website is to reflect the true essence of a business, it is the voice of the business owner that needs to be heard, and the marketers job to motivate and engage that owner to share his vision, stories and insight.