One of the first questions I ask someone who wants me to write web content for their business is: "What's the purpose of your website?" In the majority of cases, the answer is "to get clients." Unless it's a direct-marketing site where you are actually selling a product that people pay for on the spot (this requires a different approach) my reply is: "I don't think that's going to happen the way you think it will."
If your website is a tool to build your busness, why would I say that the purpose is not to get clients?
Because getting clients is not a one-step process.
Suppose you want to create a website and you are surfing the web because you are looking for a professional content writer to write your website content. You come across a site that looks good, you like the content, you like the background that the website owner brings to her work and her writing samples are exactly the kind of writing you'd like on your site because it's compelling.
What now? Do you pick up the phone and say: "Hey I found your website on Google, I've looked through it and I'm ready to hire you today?" Unlikely. Why? Because at this point there's only an inkling of a relationship between you and the professional content writer. There's an old saying that people do business with people they know, like and trust. A one-off look at your site, however detailed, is not enough for someone to get to know, like and trust you enough to hand over their hard-earned money. Would YOU do it?
As we know the best way to get business is to build relationships with people who come to know you, and are then willing to enter into a business relationship with you. How often do you hire someone without even a short conversation? Or in the webworld, without at least some getting-to-know-you email exchanges.
For me the purpose of a website is to start a dialogue with a potential client, whether the dialogue unfolds by phone or email. But you still have to nurture and cement the relationship before those visitors will write you a check or hand over their credit card number to you.
Expecting visitors to come to your site and hire you right away is like going on a blind date and expecting a proposal of marriage at the end of the evening. You leave out the whole dating process. Of course, there's always love at first sight, but I wouldn't base my expectations for my website on it!
Copyright 2009 Maggie Dennison