Posts Tagged ‘website content development’

Why Bother with a Website If You Have Good Word-of-Mouth?

Monday, November 12th, 2012

I know a small business owner, a specialist in computer repair and Internet security, who doesn’t have a website. Ironic, he admits, to be in the business of helping others have safe and effective communication online while lacking an on-line presence. But he does great work and has an excellent network of person-to-person referrals, and he’s been very busy.

The problem is this: Last year, someone across the globe pushed a scam over the Internet using the name of his company. If a potential customer looks up his business online, the first thing they find is the thread of warnings about the scam. You have to know him and type in his name to get to the real information about his business on his LinkedIn profile. Last time we spoke, he was planning to create his own website, but I have yet to see one.

Maintain Control of Your Message

Now, just because you don’t have a website for your business doesn’t mean you’ll end up with this kind of dilemma about your good name. But the point is, just about everyone checks you out online these days before they try to contact you to do business. And you want to be sure to have the upper hand in controlling what they read about you when they do.

According to Google, 97 percent of consumers go online to find local businesses. So if you’re relying on word-of-mouth for your business, like my friend, chances are you have a clientele that is primarily local and possibly regional. If people hear about you from trusted sources, they may call, but they probably will look you up, too. If they don’t find you online, this is what can happen:

  • They won’t fully understand your work and the range of options you offer for helping them solve the problem that’s brought them to you in the first place.
  • They may make assumptions about your qualifications that aren’t true.
  • They may make assumptions about your pricing that aren’t true.
  • They may wonder if you take your work seriously.

At the least, answering any of these questions or doubts can cost you time, having to explain yourself and your work in detail whenever you get an inquiry. At most, your lack of a web presence can cost you more business.

Expand Your Referral Network

While it’s wonderful to have a strong word-of-mouth network, you expand your odds of getting more business through your website. As any solopreneur soon learns, there are unpredictable cycles of feast or famine. If you’re just relying on a local personal network for business, you can find yourself without work at the most inopportune moment. Building a strong referral network online begins with a solid web presence that is your main reference point.

Clarify What You Do and Why

One of the great benefits of creating a website for your business is that it forces you to clarify for yourself what you do, the value of your work and why you do it. You may already have good answers for all of the above, but until you sit down to put it into words, you won’t realize what you’re missing from your pitch and how you could make it better.

Simply put, even if you have a strong personal referral network, a professional website that presents you and your great work in a way that resonates with those you hope to reach is well worth the time and investment to ensure you that you’ll continue to have all the business you need.

Marketing consultant Evelyn Herwitz loves to help you tell a great story about your great work. She specializes in search-optimized web content that positions you as an approachable expert in your field and helps you grow your business. Contact Evelyn for a free half-hour consult for new clients.

Build Your Authority and Site Traffic With a Great Resources Page

Monday, May 14th, 2012

To find facts fast, search online, right? But online searches aren’t always that efficient. Often, it’s easy to get sidetracked down one alley of tangential references after another, only to look up and discover that an hour slipped by while you were trying to figure out cheap flights to San Francisco and you landed in the story of Al Capone at Alcatraz.

So, how about helping your potential clients search for answers more efficiently? You can build your authority as an approachable expert as well as attract qualified visitors to your website by developing excellent resources that solve your clients’ problems.

Be a Content Curator
One way to do this is to be a content curator in your field. For example, in Debbie Fins’s resource page for her geriatric care management website, we included a variety of links to help families of aging loved ones research their options for care management, assisted living, nursing homes, hospice care and elder law representation, as well as to learn more about various dementia-related diseases. Beneath each link is a blurb about the resource, to make it easier to skim the page and find the right information.

For Attorney Marcia Tannenbaum’s resources page, we collected links relevant to her specialties in divorce, mediation and collaborative practice. These included websites that describe Massachusetts divorce guidelines, downloadable forms needed to file for divorce in the Commonwealth, reading lists of books about divorce that Marcia has found helpful for her clients and their children, and professional resources and organizations that explain more about this form of dispute resolution.

In developing your professional resources page, think about the kinds of information you give out to your clients on a regular basis. If you’re an accountant, include a list of tips for preparing information to file your taxes. If you’re a doctor, share books about nutrition and exercise to improve patient wellness. If you’re a therapist, refer to readings about coping with anxiety or dealing with addictions.

Combine downloadable PDFs of tips and recommended books with links to websites that you rely on for accurate, easy-to-find, relevant information for your clients’ most-asked questions, and you have the foundation of a great resources page.

Blog About Answers to Your Ideal Clients’ Questions
Another approach is to blog about issues that your clients struggle with. You need to have a thorough understanding of your target audience and helpful, useful advice to answer their pressing questions. You also have to enjoy writing and be willing to stick to a regular publishing schedule, at least once a week.

I’ve chosen the blogging approach for my own website, because I like to write and teach, and blogging adds fresh content to my site each week, helping me to get noticed in the very crowded field of marketing consulting. If you skim through my blog posts, you’ll see that most of them are targeted toward helping service professionals and solo entrepreneurs to understand the basics of market research and how to create content for a solid professional website.

Blogging is an art and science, as well as a significant time commitment. Some excellent blogging resources include and

Whichever approach you choose, you can point potential clients to your resources page or blog to help answer their questions as you cultivate a professional relationship. Once you’ve invested the time in developing quality content, you’ll reap the benefits with a ready set of useful, accessible information that helps to establish you as an approachable expert in your field.

Marketing consultant Evelyn Herwitz loves to help you tell a great story about your great work. She specializes in search-optimized web content that positions you as an approachable expert in your field and helps you grow your business. Contact Evelyn for a free half-hour consult for new clients.


Extreme Web Makeover II: The Good People Fund

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

The Good People Fund (GPF) is a wonderful philanthropy that supports small to mid-sized, grassroots non-profits that are finding creative, hands-on ways to help alleviate poverty, hunger, social isolation, homelessness and more in their home communities.

I should know. I’m on their Board of Trustees. I’ve also been helping GPF redo their website, which needed a major overhaul to better represent the organization’s great work. We just went live with the new site last week, which is already starting to generate more traffic and donations.

Here’s the back story:

Founded in 2008 when its predecessor foundation closed doors, GPF has been growing steadily for the past four years, carefully screening, mentoring and supporting non-profits in Israel and the U.S. that meet its criteria of low overhead and highly effective programming. The organization created a website soon after it went into operation in order to have an online presence.

The site served its purpose, providing a basic explanation of the philanthropy’s mission and vision, listing information about leadership and financials, providing links to grantee’s websites, and sharing heart-felt stories about how people benefited from GPF grants through the Tzedakah Diaries, written by Executive Director Naomi Eisenberger. The site had a form for online donations and educational materials for families and Jewish educators.

So far, so good. But as GPF grew, the site needed work. The Board agreed that there were several major issues:

  • Upgrade the website’s amateur design with a friendly, professional image.
  • Update content to better explain GPF’s mission and focus, as well as the value-added of giving to GPF (screening, mentoring, matching donors to grantees).
  • Explain the work of grantees, replacing links to their websites (which drew traffic and potential donations from GPF’s site) with clear and compelling descriptions of their work.
  • Convert the Tzedakah Diaries to a subscription-based blog, distributed via social media as well as email.
  • Create user-friendly navigation and add graphic images and videos to enhance the user experience.
  • Ensure that the Donations call-to-action has a prominent place on the site, on every page.
  • Improve search optimization.

Working with the Board, Naomi, a wonderful designer who prefers to keep his contribution to the project anonymous, and Ed Booth of Insight
Dezign, I directed the site upgrade. I came up with a new tag line, “Small actions, huge impacts,” which our designer incorporated into a beautiful new logo that expresses the global nature of our work as well as GPF’s Jewish roots. He adapted the green and blue color scheme of the original logo and created an upbeat design for the website that alludes to earth and sky, and to the Jewish art form of paper-cutting. The text is set in Verdana, a clean, web-friendly typeface, and titles are in Mrs. Eaves, adding a touch of sophistication.

Naomi and I spent many hours writing and rewriting content for the site. Much of the program description text was adapted from GPF’s Annual Report, revised for the web to make it easy to skim. I wrote all of the key marketing content for the homepage, and revised the Mission, Vision and Overview with input from Naomi and the Board. We reviewed all of the text from the old site, tweaking and tightening for readability. I conducted keyword research that guided my creation of search-optimized, branded urls for each page, as well as site content.

Naomi collected images for many of the grantees, and we added videos that were created by editing and repurposing existing footage, thanks to Eli Katzoff of Stormport Productions.

Ed worked wonders with all of the design direction, executing many rounds of refinements with equanimity and attention to detail. He tied the site into the original back end of the old website, which was a key criteria for the project’s success.

Now we are working with Ross Plotkin, Head of Paid Search for Kahena Digital Marketing, to enhance search with Google AdWords. Thanks to Ross, GPF received a Google Grant for an AdWord campaign that has already begun to generate more donations.

It’s been a huge project that has stretched over many months, but the Board is thrilled with the results, and we look forward to growing our donor base, enabling GPF to help support even more worthy endeavors.

Marketing consultant Evelyn Herwitz loves to help you tell a great story about your good work. She specializes in search-optimized web content that positions you as an approachable expert in your field and helps you grow your business. Contact Evelyn for a free half-hour consult for new clients.


How We Created My Website: Finding My Voice

Monday, March 28th, 2011


Welcome to my new website! I’m very pleased to be finally writing my first blog post. This site has been several months in the making, and I’d like to share how we made it happen. A lot goes into creating a website, and the story behind my own provides a great example of the amount of thought, detail and teamwork involved in the process.

I’ve been creating websites for clients and other organizations for years, now, but I must admit—when it came to creating one for myself, I had a mental block. What was my goal? How to describe myself?  Who was my audience? How to explain this abstract thing called marketing in a way that distinguishes me and reflects my personal tastes and talents?

Listening and Storytelling
After a few false starts, I landed on two key themes: listening and storytelling. I love to listen to others explain what is interesting and special about their work. It’s what drew me to journalism years ago and what fascinates me about my clients, today. I also love to tell stories—both true-life and fiction. These are the themes that unify all of my work as a marketing consultant.

What is my goal? To provide a strong online reference for potential and new clients who want to learn more about my background and experience. To demonstrate how I think about marketing by how I do it for myself. To provide a showcase of some of my best work and how my clients have benefited.

Defining My Audience
Who is my audience? Someone like you, if you’ve read this far! Someone who cares about well-crafted language, excellent design, thoughtful messaging, and who enjoys surprises.

So I wrote with you in mind, inspired by a wonderful book, The Story Factor, by Annette Simmons, which I highly recommend for anyone interested in the use of storytelling to inspire, influence and persuade. My goal was to make the content engaging by telling stories about my experience and the work I’ve done.

You’ll be the judge if I succeeded. Please let me know what you think about the site! And I’d love to hear how you found out about me.

Next: Designing with Text in Mind