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Is your Vail Valley Web site working for you?

Kelly Coffey
Vail, CO, Colorado

By now, Web sites aren’t cutting edge. We all go on-line to research and buy products and services.

As a business owner, you either already have a Web site or have thought about creating one. There are plenty of ways to build a site. If there seems like there are too many choices, that’s because it’s true. With new applications and tactics popping up at lightning pace, how do you know what’s right for marketing your business? How do you know which tactics have staying power and which ones are just passing fads?

You need to ask yourself first what you want your Web site to do for you. A Web site can have plenty of purposes. If you narrow it down to exactly what you kind of tool you need your site to be, you’ll be much more successful in creating a good one.

Do you want to allow potential customers to get information about you on their own terms? Do you want to sell merchandise online? Do you want it to be a resource for current clients? Knowing the purpose going in will help you wade through all the different choices you will need to make as you plan the site.

When considering all the options dealing with creating websites, consider two main things: How will customers find your site? And, noce they find your site, how will the content accomplish your goals?

How you choose to promote your site depends on how you expect customers to use it. If you see your site primarily as a sales tool to get prospects to find out more about you, you don’t need to make too much effort with search engines. You would just want to make sure all of your other sales materials directs those prospects to your Web site.

However, if you sell a niche product to a worldwide audience, then search engines and online ads will play a big factor in your marketing strategy. The most important factor here is this: Have a strategy. A Web site that isn’t promoted will languish in cyberspace, buried under the billions of other sites on the Internet.

Once you figure out how customers will find you, the next most important item is what those customers will see once they get to your site. The content you choose to put on your Web site should go hand in hand with your goals. Analyze all your options within the context of your goals. Will a blog be right? Links to valuable resources? A directions page? Video clips, photos, or downloadable widgets? The right answers always depend on your goals.

The best Web site I’ve seen use their content to convey a company’s character, whether it’s with the design of the home page, video clips, blogs, or quirky facts in the employee bio section.

If you have a moment, check out three great examples of conveying character: Geek Squad’s website (www.GeekSquad.com), and locally, those of the Teva Mountain Games (www.TevaMountainGames.com) and of Dish Restaurant (www.EatDrinkDish.com).

All three of these sites use different tools to express the atmosphere of their products. They use those tools in creative ways so that the viewer can’t help but feel like they’re intimately familiar with the business. Their content gives life to an otherwise lifeless medium. Anything less and these businesses would squander their Web site’s potential.

It doesn’t matter what the latest “it” application may be. Keep your Web site focused on your goals. Choose only the tactics that will further those goals. This advice will make your decisions about planning your Internet presence much easier and much smarter.

Kelly Coffey is the founder of Harebrained Marketing, a firm that specializes in connecting local businesses with local customers. Reach him at Kelly@harebrainedmarketing.com or 926-0888. For more marketing tips, resources, and to sign up for his newsletter, visit http://www.harebrainedmarketing.com.


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