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Web Design and Advertising

Is there a difference?

OK, about advertising.  Let's just admit it.  Advertising is gambling.  You pay money, people come right?  Well, sometimes.  It depends on who sees it.  Will it be people who are good candidates to become your customers?  Will it be seen at all?  Does any body really read the newspaper anymore?  What about Facebook ads?  It seems there are more questions in advertising then answers (and customers too)  Here is a great article explaining the cost of advertising and how to compare.

Now, a lot of people think about websites like they do about advertising.  If you build it, they will come.  But, let me put it to you like this:  Will buying business cards bring you customers?  Yes, and no.  Sure, you need business cards, but if they sit in a box on your desk and you never pass them out, they will not bring you any business.  If you run a daycare, and pass them out at the nursing home where you volunteer, you may get a few from relatives and nurses in the facility.  If you pass them out at a PTA meeting, you are sure to make your business card investment a little more worthwhile, but there is NEVER a guarantee.

The article I mentioned talks about the value of exposure time.  How long is the consumer exposed to your product?  A billboard might be just a few distracted seconds.  A thirty second commercial might be missed while the family disperses to get popcorn or check their Facebook.  But it might be the best thing ever.  Again, no guarantee. That's life.  It can't be helped. Such is the nature of advertising.  No one is trying to be shady, it's just the way it is.

The First thing I would like to point out is that a website is nothing but a super awesome business card.  Super awesome may not be strong enough.  A business card gives you what?  5 lines?  A website is pretty much unlimited.  If you wanted, you could post your own TV series!  But, just like a stack of business cards, you have to create the exposure.  If it just sits on a server somewhere and no one ever sees it, its a waste of money. 

You know how to pass out business cards, but how do you pass out a website?  Actually the first way is just by making sure your website is on all your promotional material.  It should be on your business cards, brochures, front door of your store front, your automobile signs, your pencils and coffee mugs. 

Another way is through search engines.  Your website needs to be designed in a way that search engines will consider it for results.  This is called SEO (search Engine Optimization) and it just means that your key words are in all the places a search engine would look.  For more see the SEO article.  Search engines are great because you know you are reaching customers that are looking for you. A web designer can help you with this, and you can learn for your self online.

There are other ways to spread your website around.  When you leave comments (especially helpful comments about topics relating to your business) you need to leave your address. 

Posting a blog about your topic addressing problems that would be customers might have is a great way to get their attention.  For example, if I am a dentist, I might write an article about good nutrition that promotes healthy teeth.  I might write about the best times to go for cleanings to get in sooner.  I might write about how to select a good dental plan.  I might write about the consequences of unchecked tooth decay.  (now you want to go to the dentist, right?)  Blogs help people, and they bring you business.  Win/win.

Social media is a free way to spread the word.  Tell your friends. Find incentives for people to "like" you.  Post your status.  Be active.  Just a few minutes a day will show people you are a busy _____  (insert occupation here).   Post pics of your customers and your work.  Post testimonials.  People want to do what other people are interested in.  Its called traction, and for some crazy reason it works.  Drive by a garage sale where there are no cars in the drive.  All you want to do is slow down, then keep on going.  If you saw 10 cars piled up on the street and a large crowd... Now you know your missing out on something.  They must be giving away free ipads.  (by the way, ipads wouldn't be so great if you only knew NOBODY that had one.)

You Tube videos get clicks too.  It is along the same lines as a blog, but videos instead.  People like videos.  They don't have to feature Robert Downy Jr., but we do ask that you change out of your pajamas!

So websites are not just giant customer magnets.  It doesn't matter how much money you spend, it does not make it produce customers out of thin air, but it does serve as a net to catch the customers you send by.  The more engaging the website the more likely the fish are to not pass through. 
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