Websites are an online, visual brochure of a company broadcast across the Internet to be viewed by individuals worldwide. Though quality websites can be expensive, costing several thousand dollars, they can save business owners the expenses of creating and mailing out brochures. Despite the advantages of owning a website, it can be a challenge to sell websites to businesses, especially those accustomed to traditional advertising. Other challenges include the lack of education about the effectiveness of websites and additional costs related to Web hosting and search engine marketing. However, with a little ingenuity and persistence, you can sell to businesses with no websites or those with existing websites.
Contact businesses in your community and ask if they have a website. If so, visit their sites. Make notes about each site's look (whether or not you like it and why), navigability (how easy it is for visitors to find information) and its content (whether the information provided is engaging and gives a distinctive perspective on the company).
Check the phone book to gauge the size of the business's ads. This is a good indication of how it approaches advertising and how much it spends. Create a sample website implementing the improvements you have noted.
Check the phone book to gauge how businesses without websites advertise. Visit these businesses and take brochures back with you. Create a sample website for each business based on the brochures.
Research the latest statistics regarding website use (impact on consumers, best ways to attract consumers, fiscal advantages for businesses and so on). Create a proposal that includes your notes, website samples, statistics, website costs (factoring in the costs for Web hosting and basic search engine marketing), information about you and your company, companies you have designed websites for and testimonials from these companies.
Set up a meeting with each of the owners. Prepare a presentation that will focus on the website and its use, as opposed to costs. Request a partial payment and draft a formal contract that will outline the services to be performed, who will manage the site, who will host it, how often it will be updated and the costs involved. Ask each owner for a domain name and register it immediately. Offer to register it for no additional charge, but explain that the company will be responsible for registering periodically (normally each year) and paying for the service.
Explain the importance of search engine marketing. Visit search engines such as Google and Yahoo! and observe the top listings of websites in various industries. Negotiate a cost-effective plan that will factor in search engine marketing each year or twice a year.
Complete the website. Schedule a secondary meeting with each owner to show the final draft. Allow the owner to navigate the site to get a better assessment of its usability for consumers. Upload the company's website via the Web hosting company (or your own if you have one). Inform the owner when it will be live (available over the Internet for users to see).
Type up a final invoice and collect payment from each owner. Follow up with phone calls or emails to gauge the response that the websites have been receiving. If you are the Web administrator, provide each business with periodic updates on how many people have visited the website and which keywords visitors use most to find the site.
Be prepared to wait some time for owners to commit to having a website created.
As with any sales career, you will likely get plenty of rejections.
Leonard Dozier is a freelance writer based in southern New Jersey and New York. His film and sports columns have been published by "Casino Connection Magazine" and Trev Rogers sports respectively. A prolific and extremely versatile writer, he is an ASCAP songwriter and has written screenplays and stage plays registered with the Writer's Guild of America.