Many small businesses and professionals are missing out on the power of the Internet by not having websites. Or if they do have a website, it is just about them, which is as bad as not having a website.

A website is the best marketing tool you can get, so long as you get a good design and use it well. Let’s start with the design. As the website is part of your brand, you want it to be unique to you in design, and informative, with easy navigation. You don’t want to buy a template that is used by hundreds of other sites. Instead, get the site designed for you.

The main elements you need are:

1. Navigation buttons to each page or section

2. A title tag

3. Your logo

4. Good information about your products

5. An about you page

6. A contact page

The most important thing is that you give people information about the products you sell, and why they are good. Don’t tell them how good your service is, show them. How do you do this? By making an offer they can’t refuse, which can be speedy delivery, preferably free, very low prices, or exclusive products, or a free trial.

Free trials bring in business

Free trials are particularly valuable marketing tools for every business, although you cannot offer a free trial of a banana. But you could offer free delivery, with ‘return on inspection’ for perishable goods.

In other words, when the food is delivered, the customer can inspect it and if not satisfied, give it straight back to the delivery driver. Hassle? Yes, but if it gives you more satisfied customers, worthwhile.

A lawyer or accountant needs to give a better free trial than is common in his profession. Go further than ‘free first consultation’. Instead, give two or three free consultations, depending on the job. If the client will obviously have follow-up business, you could offer a free trial of a complete procedure.

But offer this only to people who make their booking through the website.

A contact page is important

The contact information is important. These days, emails are unreliable, and of course, there is still plenty of spam, so the contact page can have a form where you ask people to enter their question. Some people don’t like these forms, and won’t use them, so put your email address at the bottom so they can email you. Otherwise, you will loose these people.

Of course, you should include your phone number prominently.

You may be thinking that website design will cost you a fortune. It is true that if you go to some designers, a 20-page website could easily cost you $2,000, which seems a big investment.

However, you can get a custom-designed website which meets your requirements for free. Generally, if a firm offers this fixed price website design, you will have to host your website on their hosting service. This is not a problem, as you have to get your website hosted somewhere. Actually, this is an ideal solution for small businesses, because you get the site maintained as well.

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