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December 9, 2011

Cindy Penchina, President
The product you’re selling is YOU

Many times at Hudson Fusion, we talk to service-based business clients who think they’re unique in not wanting to use their website to “sell” their services. Instead, they want prospects to contact them to continue, or complete, the sales process.

Actually this is a typical approach for most service businesses. Law firms, accountants, business advisors and other such companies know it’s unlikely that a prospect will land on their site and decide to hire them just because their website is great.

But you have to do some selling – or directing, or encouraging – in order to strike a chord with your prospects. Where an apparel website’s goal might be an online sale, the goal of a service business is probably a phone call, an e-mail or a form submission. To meet this goal, you have to sell you, your brand, your image.

There are many aspects to planning an effective website for your service business. Two very important aspects are the look and message of your Home page.

1. State clearly and immediately what you do and who you do it for. Within seconds of landing on your Home page, visitors must know what you do and how it will benefit them. You express all this with a brief but powerful statement, a tagline and visual imagery.

Keep it simple. Don't expect people to read a stack of paragraphs before they “get” what you’re taking forever to say. Because you provide a service, you don't have the luxury of including photos of your products, so it’s critical to get your message across fast.

2. Make a personal or emotional connection. You do this with the copy on the Home page as well as with design and imagery. Your clients are hiring you, not buying a pair of pants, so your copy needs to reflect who you are. Decide if the tone should be conversational and relaxed, or technical and formal, or somewhere in between. Plan well to make the right impression.

The colors and images on your site also send messages about your firm. Do you want to project a warm and inviting atmosphere, or one that is strong and stable, or one that speaks of skill and experience? Will the aesthetics of your site frame you as a large company, or as a small boutique?

The correct message and look will help you attract qualified prospects and discourage those who are not good matches. These two elements properly positioned will sell you and get people to contact you so you can finalize the deal.

Think of your Home page as your reception area. It's where you make your first impression, and it sets the tone for everything that comes later. When prospects walk through your "virtual door," they should immediately know whether or not they’re in the right place. If they are, you can “invite them in” for a more formal conversation by asking them to contact you.

What else should owners of service-based businesses know when planning their websites? Stay tuned for more!