Philip Fisher tackles the tricky issue of making your firm's website stand out from the competition.
This article starts with a couple of very basic assumptions. First, most readers are involved in businesses, whether in public practice or commerce, and it is highly likely that every single one of them will have a website. Secondly, particularly for those running accountancy practices, those websites will be boring.
While the profession has a reputation for dullness, that need not, and most definitely should not, extend to our public face, which these days is a website, possibly supplemented by various social media platforms.
Some of us are probably still rather scared of technology, and having wasted an inordinate amount of time setting up a website have forgotten that it exists.
Even large firms seem frightened of doing anything that might be vaguely interesting with their web presence, often neglecting to change stories that are years out of date and including photos of staff members who have long been working for competitors.
The stupid thing is that if you were to ask your 14-year-old son or daughter to pep up the firm’s website during their summer holidays and pay them an amount that seems laughable in a professional context, there is every chance that they will improve things 100 fold without even moving out of first gear.
While none of us is likely to be competing with Facebook, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to create something that is informative, attractive and, above all, capable of winning business, which is our raison d’être.
If a prospective client happens to find our website, the last thing we want is for them to burst out laughing and move straight on to a competitor – falling asleep isn’t much use either.
At the very least, if we can get them to stick around for short period, perhaps they might make that vital phone call or send a quick email, asking whether we want to tender for their audit or provide some exciting and highly lucrative tax advice.
The key here is likely to be the use of modern technology and media to provide an attractive and interesting experience for anyone lucky enough to need our services.
This could include a decent set of photos making partners, staff and conceivable office premises look lively and attractive, rather than like 1940s throwbacks or escapees from a police identity parade. That can take 20 minutes and cost next to nothing in the grand scheme of things.
While clients, contacts and others who might be interested in our businesses may find stock articles incredibly dull, something lively about a sponsorship deal or whizzy bit of advice is a little better but may still meet with an unexcited yawn.
However, have you thought about setting up a series of podcasts? These could literally be recorded on a mobile phone and should immediately set you apart from competitors. It may well be possible to go a step further by turning on the video program on your phone and recording experts giving advice or, if you’re feeling really brave, staff having fun on an away day.
Depending upon the capabilities of your website’s back-end (sorry for the technical term) these strategies can be achieved at close to zero cost and could just make that vital difference. The next stage is to find something worthwhile to say but most of us can manage that, if pressed.
Just think – a little imagination could hook a juicy new client. Surely that is worth overcoming your natural technophobia or lassitude for a few minutes.