In the prior post on the topic of Launching a Consulting Business we began discussing your online presence, which has (at least) 3 major components:
- Comprehensive LinkedIn Profile (previously covered)
- Blog and/or e-Newsletter
We will now cover the 2nd topic (Website).
Let’s face it…When we are looking for products and/or services (personally and/or professionally), where is the first place we’ll go to perform research? The web! And, that is exactly where people will be looking for your services. As such, to be “officially” in business you MUST have a website.
To be clear, the most difficult part of this step is NOT the website itself — that is simple. The hard part is the generation and organization of the content that you wish to present. As such, if you’ve completed the prior steps covered on this topic (of Launching a Consulting Business) then you should be in very good shape to take this step (of standing up a website).
First and foremost, it must present a professional look and feel. And, even though you may be a “one-person shop” (at least in the beginning?) there is absolutely NO NEED to give that impression on your website.
There are a couple of approaches to consider as you prepare to setup your website (and finalize your marketing content):
- Get help!
- Regarding your marketing content – Prior to placing your marketing content on your website (or on any other marketing collateral) you are going to want a second set of eyes to review / edit your content. This may be hired help or someone in your inner circle — someone who can help make you “look good.” To reinforce, the “technical” part of setting up a website (which we’ll talk about next) is VERY different than properly preparing and organizing your marketing content — for your intended audience.
- Regarding your website – If you’ve never built or maintained a website, there are plenty of professionals who can help you. The fees will range from very expensive (agencies that will charge thousands upon thousands) to cheap (and, you will likely get what you pay for). A recommendation I can make in this regard would be my son, Ian. Click here to visit his website. If you end up contacting him, tell him I sent you :-). Alternatively, you may have someone in your inner circle (on your Board of Advisors?) with the appropriate experience who would be willing to help get you started.
- Do-It-Yourself – If you have previously built or maintained a website then you are obviously capable of doing so again. I’ll even go so far as to say that with today’s tools if you are highly proficient with MS Word you can stand up a (simple / starter) website within just a few short hours (and do so – FOR FREE). The tool I’d recommend for this is WordPress (which is what I use for this blog).
Once you have finalized your marketing content and determined the approach to setting up your website it is now time to “frame-up” your site. There are many approaches / styles for doing so. And, you may already have an idea with regards to how you’d like things to look (and work) based on sites you’ve visited. That said, effective websites (especially for a consulting business) typically have the following elements (sections and/or pages):
- The home page – Should INSTANTLY provide the visitor some sense of what you do.
- Services Overview – A more detailed overview of what you do, the results you help companies achieve and your approach to doing so.
- An “About Us” section – This is where you’d share your bio (and that of any other members of your team). In addition, within this section of my business website I provide a link to my LinkedIn profile so people can dig deeper to learn more about me, if they so desire.
- Customer References and/or Testimonials – We’ll talk later about how to get these during the early stage after launching your business. As such, this section may need to initially be “on hold.”
- Resources – This page would contain any reference materials (recommended readings, upcoming events, etc.) that your audience might find useful in their quest to solve problems in your general area of expertise. This may be content you’ve generated and/or other useful resources available online (i.e., relevant professional associations / organizations, etc.).
- Contact Us – This is where you’ll offer a phone number and email address to reach you. A couple of notes on this:
- You do NOT (necessarily) need to get a separate phone number for your business. For example, the main number to reach me is my cell (whether for personal or professional reasons). And, this is the number offered on my business website. That said, you’ll just want a professional sounding greeting for when people reach your voice-mail.
- You might consider setting up a generic email address for your business (although not absolutely required) such as: info@[insert your business domain here].
In closing, the above is meant to provide a high-level framework for how you might structure content on your website. That said, “make it your own” based on your style, approach and the intended audience you hope to reach. And, once you’ve setup the above you’ll again want to have people within your inner circle (including Board of Advisors) review your site and provide feedback so that you can make any adjustments prior to the “official” launch.
In the next post we’ll discuss the 3rd topic related to your online presence (Blog and/or e-Newsletter).
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