You’ve got a brand new product. Now what? You have so many decisions to make that a website is probably on the back burner — if you can find a back burner free. One of our clients has a new line of barbecue sauce on all his burners. We’ve helped with a logo and a label, and he’s dealing with so many issues all along the supply chain that he’s not even thinking about a website yet.
Another of our clients has a product ready to ship and wants to go ahead and build a website, but still has a lot of questions about his business that are unanswered. Who’s his audience? Why should they buy his product? What’s the price? Where should they go to get the product?
If you’re thinking about a website… sometime between buying a bottling machine and making sales calls… here are the things you should think about.
Now. Register your domain name (MyBusiness.com) right away, because it’s getting hard to find a good domain name. An old domain and an established website will do you good with the search engines, and neither of those things comes fast.
[tweet bird="yes"]The best time to build a website: the 20th century. The next best: today.[/tweet]
You need to build brand awareness for your new brand.
[tweet bird="yes"]Woody Allen said, “80% of success is showing up.” For your brand, that means being findable online when customers search for you. [/tweet] The majority of your customers will now see your website before they see you or your product. If you have word of mouth going for you, it will cause people to look for you online first. If someone happens upon your product and wants more, they’ll look online. You have to be there.
There are plenty of low-cost DIY options for building a website. Bear in mind that consumers don’t trust a site with a DIY look, though. You need a polished, professional website to make a positive impression. You don’t have to have the fanciest possible website with all the bells and whistles. Rosie points out that if you’re spending most of your money on design, you’re paying the most for the thing that will be out of date first. A content-focused firm like ours might be your best choice. You may also want to go with a marketing firm so the focus is on branding, which is probably the highest priority for a new brand. Determine your budget and look for someone who can work with that budget.
If your budget is tight, choose a good WordPress theme and get some help implementing and customizing it. Get great content and you can update your design in a couple of years without losing that content. With WordPress, you can also update your content easily and quickly as things change — which, in a new business, they will. For best performance, your website should have a strong homepage that immediately tells visitors what you have to offer and how they can get it. You should also have a blog, which needs to be updated regularly, and social media integration. An About Us page and contact information help establish trust and let consumers provide helpful feedback. A larger site will perform better in search, so consider adding a few more pages: a store finder, authority pages with helpful information for visitors, or a gallery of great shots showing your product in use, for example.
Notice that we’ve been talking about a website. That’s better than relying entirely on a Facebook or G+ page, because social media platforms belong to the owner of the social media platform, not to you. Your website belongs to you. Be active on social media, too, but don’t put all your eggs in someone else’s basket. Ditto for putting your website on a free platform like Weebly or Wix. If free is the only option, build on WordPress.com so you can easily transfer to a self-hosted (that is, where you pay for the hosting) site. However, we think an unwillingness to commit to a hosting fee is a sign of an unwillingness to commit to your brand.
Make a list of the things you want your customers and prospective customers to know. For JJ, it might be the ingredients of his BBQ sauce, how the recipe was developed, his great grilling secrets, or the stores that carry his sauce. Make a good long list, and then divide the list of items into pages. That’s what you want for your website. Develop a logo — the one shown here was one of the options Jay created for JJ, though not the one he chose. Take some great photos of your product. Now you have the things you need to get your website built.