Kelly loves telling people how the idea that launched her business came to her. It awoke her at 2:00 a.m. It was so compelling that she jumped out of bed, put on a pot of coffee, and began outlining her business plan.
Kelly is quick to add that a great idea is just the launching pad. How she launched her business could be the material for a book on business success, but she is happy to share the 7 steps she employed to launch her website presence and even happier to talk about the designer who gave her the system and helped her bring it to life.
Karen Saunders, owner of MacGraphics Services, had been helping solopreneurs for more than 15 years when Kelly met her. Karen explained the 7-step system she and her team of associates had designed to bring clarity to the process of taking a business or business idea to a website presence that gets results.
Kelly was ahead of many solopreneurs because she understood that without a clear focus on business objectives and the message she wanted to convey, she could spend a great deal of time and money without accomplishing much. She also knew her website would be her most powerful marketing and sales tool. She needed a clear roadmap to avoid finding herself wandering in circles. Here is how she did it . . . and how you can do it, too.
Step 1: Strategize
Have a strategic discussion with your website designer to clarify how your business goals and objectives translate to a website. No effective website design can be created if you don’t know what you want the website to do for you.
Step 2: Define Your Target Market and Niche
Your target market is the overall customer base you serve. Who are they? Are you serving a particular field or industry? Do your customers have particular characteristics, interests, or needs in common? Within that customer base, there is likely a smaller group that is a more specific fit for your product or service, may not be served by your competitors, or both. That is your niche. If your target market is people in job search, for instance, your niche might be people in job search who are over the age of fifty who don’t just want to change jobs, they want to change careers.
Why do you need to define your target market and niche? Because: (1) You cannot be all things to all people; (2) You and your customer base need to find one another, and; (3) The more specific you get, the more your niche will feel you understand them and can serve their specific needs.
Step 3: Position Yourself
If you have done your homework, then you have researched the competition. Who are they? What differentiates you in terms of customer base, quality and makeup of offerings, service methodology, and other aspects of business? What makes you unique? You may determine that there are gaps in how the market is being served. If so, those gaps will help you position yourself and will also help you further define your niche. It will also help you hone your offerings, allowing you to become the expert who is sought out for your know-how.
Step 4: Describe “What” and “How”
Whether you are selling a product or a service, what you are offering must solve a problem or provide a solution for your customers. How it does that key to making your product or service the one of choice for customers. If you cannot describe the “what” element, your customers will not know you have a product or service that might benefit them. If you cannot describe the “how” element, your customers will not be clear that it is doable, usable, and of value. The “how” element also gives, in precise terms, the ways in which the product or service will provide the results customers want. It is a descriptive roadmap from Point A (their need or want) to Point B (the results or benefits).
Step 5: Brand Yourself
You have already named your business. Now you need images, words, and feelings to be associated with it that make it distinctive. Branding involves several elements:
- Perception—How do you want your customers/clients to think about your business? How would your customers describe you and your business? What value do your products/services provide and how do you want the world to perceive that value?
- Logo—Clarify your message based the perception you want your customers to have about your business, your niche, and how you want to position yourself. Distill that into an image that will be the visual representation of your company: your logo.
- Tagline—Then translate that into a powerful, compelling tagline. Keep it brief (3-7 words). Make it memorable. Be sure it fits your business. The best taglines are evocative, meaning they conjure images, thoughts, and feelings.
- Now look at the visual elements that best express and integrate with your logo and tagline. Choose colors, typeface, styles, and other visual representations that graphically support your message.
Step 6: Create Your Website
Develop the key marketing strategies and messaging that will drive the direction, content, features, and functionality of your website. Then start writing your copy and be sure its tone fits the website design. State the key benefits clients will receive based on the key value you and your business deliver.
Make a list of all the topics your website needs to cover and use that to create your website pages. For example, a speaker may need a:
- Home page
- About page
- Who We Serve page
- Presentations/Keynotes page
- Workshops, Classes, and/or Retreats page
- Products (books, CDs, DVDs) page; Shopping Cart
- Meeting Planners page; Contact page
- Blog page; Resources page; Ezine; Special Reports
- Media page/Press room
Then design and develop your site using your visual brand elements (logo, color). Review and test it before going live to ensure accuracy and functionality. Offer a free report or ezine, not only as a way to provide value to website visitors, but also to build your list. Subscribe to an auto-responder program to make it easy to follow up with prospects and send out broadcasts to your clients. Then go live and do a final testing to ensure accuracy on all platforms.
Step 7: Optimize, Market, and Network
First, identify your search engine optimization (SEO) goals and your return on investment targets. Hire a specialist to do foundational search engine optimization with meta-tags and images. With your specialist, set up monthly, robust search engine optimization strategies, driven by the your specific goals.
Next, establish search engine marketing (SEM). Set up pages on and participate in social networking sites. Post comments on blogs that relate to your business, customer base, and overall market. Write and publish articles offline and online for inbound links.
What about Kelly? Who is she, anyway? Kelly could be you. And this year, you just might watch your business take off because you followed these 7 steps to create a powerful brand and website that delivers.
Are YOU ready to create a powerful brand and produce a website that delivers? Karen Saunders leads an outstanding team of professionals who can lead you through her integrated 7-step branding and website launch system. Visit her website to receive a FREE 60-minute audio “Put the Bling Into Your Brand” and to learn more about her extraordinary branding, graphics and website design services: www.BrandingAndWebsiteDesign.com