Ten Commandments of Website Development
By Dan Berman
ADMIT IT: When you saw the title of this article, you felt compelled to read the first paragraph, didn't you? More on this in the ninth "commandment" below. Even if you consider yourself a seasoned pro, you might want to review the points here, to make sure you're staying on track:
1. Articulate a USP (Unique Selling Proposition). Whether online or off, any first-rate business will clearly and concisely communicate a persuasive USP (e.g., FedEx's famous USP, "When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight"). By paying attention to this critical element of positioning, you will immediately rise above the competition, as most businesses fail to observe this very elementary principle. Your USP should be expressed in one clear, concise phrase.
2. Register Your Own Domain. Anyone who is serious about doing business on the Internet will register and utilize at least one unique domain (www.yourdomainname.com). If you can afford a computer and an Internet connection, you can afford the fee to register your domain name directly with InterNIC. Choose your domain name wisely: Once committed to it, you'll have to live with it for a while (maybe many years).
3. "Reverse Engineer." This valuable technique, properly implemented, will save you countless hours and thousands of dollars. Successful competitors - as well as other existing operations that do not represent your competition - offer good models. Remember the story about how Mr. Chrysler got started: he bought a Ford, took it apart, put it back together again and repeated the process many times. You owe it to yourself to do in your industry what Chrysler did in his.
4. Make Content King. As a general rule, outside the
"adult" arena, graphics don't sell. Rather, it is words
that sell. People surf the Net for information, to answer their questions and to solve their problems. Regardless of the specific field you are in, your purpose is to solve problems. So put yourself in the place of the visitor to your site and ask yourself what you yourself would want to find there.
5. Emphasize Benefits, not Features. People care not so
much about features but more about benefits, which
represent the key to effective selling. Keep in mind that what prospects are ultimately buying from you is not your product or service itself but rather the FUTURE ENJOYMENT of that product or service - or the future enjoyment of the results of that product or service. "Selling is essentially a transference of feeling," as master salesman Zig Ziglar has pointed out.
6. Embrace Simplicity & Convenience. Anything you can do to make your online presence more simple and convenient will work to your advantage. Ask yourself which Websites you yourself find the most convenient and why. What features do they use? Are there models that you can adopt for your own purposes? Grab willing friends and family members, as "focus groups" of one. Difficult, perhaps even painful, as it may be, OBSERVE them as they read and navigate your pages. Then improve and upgrade accordingly.
7. Leverage Automation. In the long run, a high level of automation is the key to successful Internet commerce. The degree to which it is appropriate for you to automate depends of course on your particular endeavor. Ultimately, the level of success to which you rise will be largely a function of the degree to which you harness automated processes in your activities. The investment you make in this area will pay handsome rewards.
8. Test & Track. Years ago, I paid $1,000 for a single
consultation with marketing guru Jay Abraham (I'm told
that the fee for such a consultation is now up to $5,000!). His pricey advice amounted to three words, which I'll give you here for free: "test and track." (Aren't you glad you read this publication?) One major beauty of the Internet is that testing and tracking can be so fast, easy and inexpensive.
9. Utilize Winning Copy Principles. Think in terms of your headline as the device that grabs the prospect's attention. Your "lead" (opening sentence or paragraph) is the "hook" that draws the prospect into the piece. From that point, it's simply a matter of TELLING YOUR STORY in a clear and compelling way. In writing, use conversation as your guide. Compose your words as if you are talking to a close friend or family member. Be clear, lose the jargon and don't try to impress people with big words.
10. Recognize the Lifetime Value of a Customer. How much money would you be willing to invest to acquire a new customer? Management consultant Tom Peters advises
corporate clients to think of customers as appreciating
assets," similar to more traditional investments shown on standard balance sheets. The lifetime value is the amount of business you can expect from a customer through repeat purchases (and referrals!), provided that you sustain the customer's loyalty.
OK - Now it's YOUR turn to evaluate ME: Come visit our
Website at www.CyberTip4theDay.com and tell me whether I have successfully followed my own commandments!
Dan Berman directs CyberTip4theDay http://CyberTips.NET
"Free tips in 21 categories," including 'Net Marketing
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