What are websites? Are they sales tools for vendors and service providers, or are they electronic guidance for potential customers? Put simply, are you selling or are you helping?
Your answer to this question may determine the success of your website. So think carefully.
How we define what a website is all depends on which side of the fence we're on. I suspect that most - if not all - vendors and service providers would say their website is a sales tool. But this is a fundamentally flawed perspective. Adopt this position, and sooner or later you'll pay for it.
A website that helps them buy when they want to buy. Helps them understand when they want to understand. And - most importantly - a website that helps them decide when they want to decide.
If you really want to build trust, credibility, authority, and site loyalty, helping visitors is the way to go. Of course, that's not to say you have to do it for free. We're all in business to make money after all. In fact, the main aim of many of your visitors will be to buy something. But it's important that you focus on them, not on you. For example, your visitors don't want to know what you have to sell. They want to know what they can choose to buy. If your primary focus is sales, your visitors will pick up on it.
The key to successful online help is to always try to answer one simple question: What does the reader want to know? Do they want reference information or how-to information? Do they want to know how to get started or how to get out of trouble?
Sure, when you're writing for a website, the subject material is different, but the question is still the same. What does your reader want to know?
Obviously, the answer to this question will be different for everyone, but there are some common questions you can ask yourself which might help you decide:
Whether you do some real research or just make some educated guesses, it's important that you know your visitor very well. Then, and only then, can you help them. And only when you help them will you start to realize the true sales potential of your website.
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