I get a lot of calls from people, brimming with excitement, who have an idea for a business and want to jump right in and get a website done. They’re sure that it’s such a great idea that it can’t help but work. Yes, most businesses today need a website. They’re as important as having a business card. But, if you don’t do your homework and create a viable plan before setting up your business website what you’re going to have is a very expensive business card because just like a business card, the website is not going to attract your target visitors nor will it work to convert them into clients.
Before starting a website, you need to know your clients, understand what they are looking for, speak their language, find out why they haven’t already found what they need.
You’ll need to define your products or services to cater to your client’s needs and concerns. Your target audience needs to see you as an expert who can help them succeed and get what they need. They need to believe in you.
You have to do the research to validate your idea by spending time talking with and working with your potential clients. Moreover, you can’t skip these steps because a web designer can only go so far in helping you get your concept onto the website without a strong foundation in place.
One of my favorite sayings is, “If you can sell something in-person then you can sell online.” That’s why I love working with people who have done their homework so they already have people waiting to line up to buy their products or services. At that point, my job as a web designer is to bottle that “secret sauce” and recreate it on a website so that visitors have the same experience when encountering the person and their business online.
A year ago, I got a call from Cameron Manish, an entrepreneur from Maryland who was brimming with “secret sauce.” His family has been in the seafood business in stores and restaurants around the Chesapeake Bay for years. Cameron and his cousin had been considering other distribution ideas like using food trucks to sell their crabs and seafood.
However, Cameron happened to come across the e-commerce site New Tricks built for the Wild Alaska Salmon and Seafood Company to sell the fresh salmon that they catch and process each year – direct to their customers around the country. The Wild Alaska site gave Cameron the impetus to explore the idea of online crabs, and he gave us a call to find out more.
One of their most significant considerations was whether people would want to buy crabs online. They started asking people if they would buy their crabs and fresh seafood online. I was one of those people. As a Florida girl who grew up crabbing and fishing, and who lived on the Chesapeake Bay during high school, the answer was a strong, yes!
Their second consideration was about the efficacy of running a nationwide business selling perishable seafood! They figured if it worked for a salmon company it could work for crabs and we gave them a tutorial on the ins and outs of perishable shipping. However, they didn’t stop there. They did their research and tested out the process until they found the very best and the least expensive way to get their products delivered fast and fresh.
New Tricks received the first bushel of crabs that Cameron’s Seafood sent out. My family was in town, and when the big box arrived, we spread out newspaper on our big farm table and dove into the chilled, jumbo, blue crabs. They were heaven.
Cameron’s family knew seafood, and they knew their customers. They knew, and I knew that selling their crabs online was an idea that would fly. We got to work helping Cameron with a website that would sell their crabs to people who were delighted to have a source for this delicacy.
After starting the site, we gave Cameron’s wife and excellent graphic designer, Mimi, an in-depth tutorial on using the site. She was a natural and happily took over the job.
Last week, Cameron posted an article on the website, Starter Story, where he provided an in-depth look into what he did this past year to make his business was a success. I was thrilled to hear that in just one year Cameron’s Seafood is pulling in $175,000 per month selling their crabs online. You have to read the article to see that they have worked their butts off for those results.
The moral of this story is you have to do your homework before consulting with a web designer. Moreover, it’s after the website launches that the real work begins. Business is not for the lazy. We web designers may be good at what we do but, we can’t work miracles.