Put on the Website Mask: Using Your Website to Control Perceptions

Don’t let internal weaknesses show on your website. Have you ever been to a website that screams any of these: Disorganized! Small! Incapable! Your website doesn’t have to scream these things, even if it is the truth. Your company might be small, but your website can scream big. Your company might be disorganized, but your website can scream organized. Your company might be new, but your website can scream experienced. Here is a list of things to get your mind when thinking about how you can wear your website mask:

Competent, Skilled, & Capable!

  • Check your spelling & grammar on your website. This is simple, but little mistakes could cause someone to think that you don’t care, you’re incapable, or you aren’t resourceful.
  • Break down products & services as much as possible. Have a page for each item. This benefits your search engine optimization efforts by adding good content, adds beneficial landing pages, & helps the site to be organized as future expansion occurs. Feature them on the home page to show the assortment of things you can do. For example, let’s say you are a small business owner who will be selling cupcakes locally. You might think, “Well, gee, I only have that one product.” How about variations of this by flavor, by icing, by color, by size. How about variations by whom you sell to (i.e. cupcakes for schools, cupcakes for birthday parties, cupcakes for weddings). When you think like this, it becomes much easier to showcase the “many” things you can do, as well as generate great content for your website that you can send users to directly! This is not only a good tip for masking, but essential for an efficient website.
  • Consider how you will & who will maintain your website. Is this someone internal or the company that built the website? Keeping the content fresh & the graphics modern, as well as keeping up with the web’s changes & best practices, takes a lot of work. Small companies can fall victim to this phenomena & end up with sites that scream outdated! Along the same lines, use a script to generate your date (i.e. Javascript or PHP). Don’t manually type in the date. Chances are, you’ll get busy running your business and that date will say 2011 when it’s 2015! Anyway, you want to leverage as many “could be automatic” updates as possible.

Big, Even If You’re Not!

  • Invest in some nice photographs & graphics. Don’t get scared by the cost. You can always take your own pictures, get a photographer to snap some, or just buy a few from the mass of websites offering sock photos. Spend some time gathering as many “free for commercial use” photos out there. They exist! www.morguefile.com (last time I checked) had a nice range of pictures available for free download, without even signing up!
  • Don’t put your sole picture or just a few employees on the site. If you do want to add a bio about your small staff, try titling the page “Management” with a blurb about staff in general. This reduces the ability for customers to make assumptions about your capabilities based on size.
  • Include a “job inquiry” section. You can always use this when you are looking for employees; when you aren’t, you can put something like “currently not hiring.” Another idea is to put an email address to send all job inquiries to, and then offer an automatic response when the user submits their inquiry.
  • Discuss your main location as if it were the headquarters. Essentially, it is; even if you only have one or two locations!
  • Maintaining the website, again, is something that can help with size perceptions. An old website just doesn’t scream large profitable agency.
  • Interaction. Larger companies have more resources to devote to marketing efforts. Despite this fact, not all of them do. The best way to achieve this is with careful planning. Don’t unveil a Facebook page or a website feature, if you aren’t prepared for it. Don’t assume that it will be okay to ignore questions, have an empty Facebook page, or have 0 Comments on your posts that request feedback. If you act small, you’ll appear small.
  • Make Yourself Popular: Appear Everywhere! If you, as a person, wanted to appear like “a big deal,” you would show up at certain venues that are the best places to find other similar “big deals,” right? Well, if you want your company to appear large, it needs to appear (and become) well-known & show up in all the right places, too. On the web, there are accelerants for this fire. Make sure your company is located in the right directories, local listings, websites, social media sites, in web videos & YouTube, mentioned on blogs, and anywhere else you can go.
  • Integration – Don’t Hide Your Popularity. Show all of your efforts in the media, on tv, on other websites, in social media, in videos, events that your organization holds, and so on. Give the website user the impression that you are a big deal, without them having to search for it!
  • Be a Trusted & Professional Contact. Aside from using professional pictures & content, use a professional email address. You can have an email address at your website domain, which is typically an option when you purchase your domain & hosting. Gmail allows for accounts to be set up at the company domain.

What other ideas do you have for making your small business appear big on the web?