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Did You Know?

Why build accessible websites? Because it's the right thing to do - blind people with access to a computer can now read the daily newspaper on their own. Imagine that.
-Charles Krug

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Going Green

Ten years ago you sent out direct mail flyers to your prospective customers and then you waited for a response. And waited and waited. Or you printed a thirty page 4-color sales catalog to hand out at Trade Shows. Tens of thousands of dollars later you still have a stack of those catalogs in some boxes in the back room. You realize too that page fifteen has a typo and prices are outdated throughout. But you cannot bring yourself to throw away the excess catalogs. Isn't that like throwing away money?

Today the world expects you to be online. If you do not have a Web site, then why bother compete in business. The population is getting more and more accustomed to searching for businesses online or checking out 3 businesses on the Internet before making a selection. No Web site yet? Well, then you are reducing your global reach from millions to the folks around your neighborhood. On the other hand, maybe you have a business Web site, but it, like the printed catalog, is also outdated. This too is a poor reflection of your business and should be corrected.

What does it mean to go green? And how does it affect your business?

Every 3 years you should evaluate your Web site and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Does it reflect your business goals today? (Keep the site current)
  2. Does it provide useful information for your customers? (Make sure content is relevant)
  3. Is the site easy to navigate? (Make sure your customers can find what they need)
  4. Does having a site save you money? (No more expensive printed catalogs!)
  5. Does it make you money? (Are you selling products online?)
  6. Does it save you time? (Do you have useful educational information online such as driving directions, online products demos?)
  7. Does it educate your customers and help make the sale?
  8. Does it build community? (Consider online newsletters and interactive applications)

It is important to check -in with your marketing director to ensure that you are communicating your short term and long term business goals and that these are reflected on your site. If you are eliminating a product line in 3 months and adding a new division in 6 months, then make sure the Web site conveys this. If you are selling products online, take a look at the ecommerce experience. Is it easy to use? Are you accurately representing your products and prices? Is everything up to date? Is the information valuable to your customers? If you are in the professional services industry then representing your current services accurately is also important. Take a look at your site. If you have an online brochure, then unlike your printed cousin, you can change content in seconds without breaking the bank!

Web sites are huge time saving marketing vehicles. In the pre-Internet days you paid an administrative assistant to answer the phone and explain how to reach your offices. Today all you need to do is post a map and driving directions via Mapquest. You can also provide online product demos in Flash. This is a good way to educate as well as entertain. You obviously cannot do this in print and so take advantage of this! You can create intranet options for your sales force allowing them to log in securely and access valuable sales material for their presentations to your customers.

Going green also relates to building a customer following and community. You have probably heard of online communities like LinkedIn or MySpace. You can have a community site as well. It's all about building brand awareness and providing useful information for your customers and potential customers. Good ways to do this are in providing articles on your site, resources to industry-specific books, publications and links. Also consider creating an e-newsletter. Constant Contact is an easy-to-use service that allows you to select a template, collect names and generate professional looking e-mail blasts. Make sure that the content is useful or you are simply sending SPAM. Consider working with a professional writer who can interview you and create blogs or other articles outside of your Web site. This, too, will help generate more traffic to your site.

Are you taking advantage of the Internet? Now is the time.