In the 21st century, if you’re in business, you better have a Web site (and not just any old website … one that looks modern and reflects your brand and style). Your customers expect it, and as a small business, it should be your second best marketing asset (besides yourself).
With that said, I’ve been in marketing for 20 years (before I entered the wedding planning software business I ran a marketing firm), and in all honesty, you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on a glitzy, sparkly Web site with tons of bells and whistles. Your customers want enough information to decide if they want to call you, so it’s best to get to the point and give them your story. Here’s our list of things to do and not to do when you’re building (or revamping) your site.
- Do feature on your home page what sets you apart – Don’t wait to tell your site visitors what makes you different and what you specialize in … put it front-and-center on your home page.
- Do put your phone number on every page – You never want someone to hunt for how to contact you, so just include your phone number in the header or footer of every page on your site.
- Do buy your own domain name – Using a free Web site provider just shows that you aren’t serious about being in business. Instead, go to GoDaddy.com or Register.com and buy your own domain name (these companies and thousands others also offer hosting services) under which you can put your site.
- Do hire a professional to design your site – You work in an industry that prides itself in providing a custom, personalized experience for each and every customer. So what is a prospect to think if you use a boilerplate design cranked out by some online Web design firm or, worse yet, some off-the-shelf, default layout provided by a free Web site provider. Instead, have a professional Web designer create a custom site that expresses who you are and what your business stands for.
- Do put your main navigation on the top or left of your site – Top or left-hand navigation is pretty standard, and putting your main navigation anywhere else just confuses people.
- Do tell your story – People don’t want to hear how great you are (most of use have learned to tune out marketing-speak). However, we all want to hear a great story, so tell us one about how you got started, what inspired you to become a planner, your first wedding/client, or any other great tale that shows us your passion and talent.
- Do put your picture on your About page – Pictures of human beings warm up a site and let visitors put a name with a face, so put your picture (and those of your staff) on your About page. Additional tip: people especially love pics of dogs and cats (they make you even more human and likeable), so if you are completely shameless (and smart), put your pet’s picture on your site, too.
- Do create a page for testimonials – Your prospects will want proof of your abilities and experience, and nothing is better than letting your clients speak on your behalf.
- Do list your training and credentials – This provides additional proof of your abilities (and acronyms after a name always impress, plus they show you take this stuff seriously).
- Do post pictures of your past events – In this industry, pictures definitely tell a story, so include some slideshows of some of your more impressive events. Note: Make sure that the pictures you post are professionally done, and don’t post every picture or every event … just the ones that will wow people.
- Do talk about your packages and offerings – You should give people an idea of how you work when it comes to the services you offer, so provide a basic outline of your packages or how you structure your services.
- Do put up links to your Twitter and Facebook pages – Brides are all over Twitter and Facebook these days. As such, you should guide them to follow you on Twitter and like you on Facebook to keep the conversation with them going when they’re not on your Web site.
- Don’t have a blog (unless you intend to post at least a few times a month) – Everybody’s first reaction for their Web site is to put up a blog. However, unless you post somewhat regularly, it is fairly useless and can even give the impression that, since you don’t regularly attend to your blog, you may also similarly neglect your business (people do sometimes jump to odd conclusions).
- Don’t include unrelated services – I’ve seen wedding planner websites that also promote the consultant’s cosmetic sales business, home cleaning business and such. This only confuses your prospects and makes them wonder what you are really good at. Stick to promoting one business per site.
- Don’t post your pricing – The purpose of a Web site is to get someone interested in calling you and setting up an appointment. You don’t want to post anything that would give a prospect the chance to eliminate you as a potential vendor. If you post your pricing, your prospects can immediately judge you based on price without hearing about all the value you deliver for that price.
- Don’t use reversed out type – An example of this would be white type on a black, dark blue or dark red background. Reversed out type usually isn’t too hard to read on the printed page, but on the Web it really strains the eyes and could lead your visitor to leave your site without having read all about your services.
- Don’t use a Flash intro – 10 years ago animated Flash intros were all the rage. Today, they’re not only passe, but they impede your visitors from getting to information about your business (which is why they are visiting in the first place). People want information; they don’t want roadblocks to it.
- Don’t use background music – Again, background music gives someone a reason to leave your site. For example, what if you have easygoing lounge music on your site and your visitor likes country? They may think you’re not right for them. Or what if they like listening to their own music on their computer and, when your site comes up, your unwanted background music blares at them. In the end, it’s best to not have any music.
One final DO … Try our online software tools for event management for free and discover how they can simplify how you plan any kind of events, from weddings to parties to corporate events and even events for non-profits.