To set the tone for this article, the vast majority of small business websites are billboards. The billboard website is often considered a necessary evil of having a business, but it is never considered valuable to helping the business grow. With that out of the way, here are the differences and how to transform your site from a billboard to a directional sign.
The Billboard Website
Think about the billboards you speed by on the highway. Other than a few that may get your attention because you’re caught in traffic and moving slowly or they have a great graphic, the average billboard website is a necessary evil for most business owners.
The small business, whether product or service oriented, business-to-consumer or business-to-business, knows that most people will check out a business on the internet when they hear about it elsewhere. Traditional marketing, from refrigerator magnets to newspaper ads, can point people to the business website, and some will go there to check out the business.
The billboard site is one that is “driven by” in large part. People see references to it in other media or even in internet search results. However, they don’t see any reason to actually go there to get more information or make a purchase decision. When they see a reference to it elsewhere, they simply drive on by. Cookie-cutter websites, like the ones you see advertised on TV, are usually more billboards than really valuable to business growth.
The Directional Sign Website
By definition, a directional sign directs someone to a desired destination. If it’s next to the highway, it’s an arrow with the name of the destination, or sometimes the product or service. Either way, it is an arrow, and whatever the visitor is searching for, they see this sign as the place to go to get it.
Using real estate as an example, a website that appears in marketing or searches as the place to go for a “top producer,” or “listing powerhouse,” is really not directional. A website that is a sign with an arrow and the statement “don’t make the typical first-time homebuyer mistakes.” is one that directs first-time homebuyers to valuable information.
The same goes for a home cleaning service. If the site references talk about “best home cleaning,” or “fast cleaning service,” they are only mildly interesting to viewers. The site reference that says something like “don’t ruin your health – use our environmentally friendly home cleaning service” is directing people with health and environmental concerns to the business site.
How to Move From Billboard to Directional
First, start developing website content of your own, not purchased or free cookie-cutter content. Create content that answers questions, as questions are actually requests for direction. The best content plan you can create for a small business website is created around answering the questions that the business answers every day from prospects and customers. The potential visitor doesn’t just drive by when they have a need for direction, and your site gives them a sign to get what they need.
While you can take a cookie-cutter site and rewrite all of the content, why pay monthly for something you can have at much lower cost and build it right from the start? Around 100 million websites are built with free WordPress software, so it is a great choice. There is plenty of instruction in how to use it, and the simple interface is much like your word processing software.
Instead of trying to draw their eyes as they drive by, give people a directional sign to the information they want and need to make a purchase decision.