BEYOND BUSINESS BASICS
Is your Web Site a Living Brochure or Marketing Workhorse?
By
Sylva Leduc

If you've spent any time on the Internet in the past couple of years, you know how many Business Coaches have a Web presence. In preparation for writing this article, I did a Google search for "Business Coach." The result? 17,500,000 references

Popular theory (at least among the Search Engine Optimization Companies) is that if you aren't in the first 30 listings then you are doomed to failure. With 17,500,000 Web pages mentioning the term Business Coach, of course that's not true. 

Today, the Internet is ubiquitous, as are Web sites and Google. If you don't have a Web site yet, then shame on you! Not only are you missing out on a wonderful marketing medium, you're wasting paper by printing too many paper-based brochures.

I look upon a Web site as either a living brochure or a marketing workhorse. A marketing workhorse is one that generates income directly through your site. That's the case for my software company, Client Compass. 

While my Client Compass site is a true marketing workhorse, I consider my coaching Web sites to be more brochure-oriented. They are visually appealing, and provide useful information about the type of coaching I do, the benefits clients achieve, my coaching processes, assessments, testimonials -- the standard fare. 

Yet, there is a major distinction between my two coaching sites (www.TurningPointLeaders.com and www.TheLeadershipCenter.com). For the first site, I contracted with a professional web designer, and paid several thousand dollars for its creation. For my newer coaching company, however, I used an online Web site creator company (www.1and1.com) and created the site myself. That cost no more than the price for hosting each month and the time it took to insert my content into the template. Voila! Instant Web site. 

Which is better? It's the site I am showing to a prospective client at that moment in time. The point is, having a Web site adds to your professional credibility. You don't need to spend thousands of dollars to "get on the Web." But neither should you shortchange your business by putting up something that's sloppy looking and obviously a "homemade" site. 

So, if you are the type of person who likes to tinker with your site, then consider using a Web template design company. If you are less tech-savvy or want to outsource all the design work, find some sites you really like before contracting your project to a Web site designer. The designer will appreciate your prep time, you'll find some great examples, and ultimately reduce the overall costs. 

Here's how to find sites to provide a springboard for ideas:

  1. Use Google (www.google.com) and use the specific search term that matches, or is close to, how you describe your coaching.
  2. Make a list of the top 10-12 sites you like. Record their Internet addresses, or URLs.

Now here's something fun to do (just don't waste too much time):

  1. Go to www.waybackmachine.org. Insert the URL of two or three of the sites you really like and have a look at them from their earlier days.
  2. Chuckle quietly to yourself when you see how some of the sites looked when they were initially created.
  3. Also notice that some of the sites have changed very little over time. Many of the most successful coaches I know settle on a design. While they may make some minor changes, they spend more time coaching current clients and marketing to prospective clients, and less time tweaking.

If you personally know any of the coaches found during your search, ask them if they created their own site, if they do the Web maintenance, or outsource the work. Then consider how much time, effort and energy you'll want to invest in creating, upgrading or maintaining your own site.

Finally, think about how much time you'll spend creating a site that, while good-looking, is essentially only a living brochure. Create your site, but don't obsess over it.

Oh, by the way, regardless of whether you have a workhorse or a living brochure, when you create or update your site, be sure to add a privacy policy somewhere. Visitors to your site are more likely to provide their e-mail address.

 
Sylva (Syl) Leduc, MEd, is a Leadership Coach who has worked with business owners, executives, and coaches for over 14 years. She is the President of www.TheLeadershipCenter.com and www.ClientCompass.com, a custom software program for coaches. Read more about Sylva in the WABC Coach Directory. She may be reached by email, at: info@TheLeadershipCenter.com.

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