Basics of E-Business – Building a Successful ‘Brochure’ Website

By Matthew Capala

By far the most prevalent business model on the Internet is using a Website simply to promote an offline business, a practice also known as the Brochure Website model. You might be a graphic designer showing your portfolio of work online; an attorney trying to generate leads by putting up a new type of shingle in the form of your Web site; or any other kind of service provider that is simply maintaining a site to make it easier for prospects to find out about your services and contact you.

It is the simplest model, but it is also often the most effective one for small businesses. We are in a service economy, and so for many, the Brochure Model might be the way to go. As the World Wide Web has become a major source of information, many small and mid-sized businesses just simply cannot afford losing all those customers who are looking online for the service they provide. Nowadays, having a presence on the Web and being found on search engines, such as Google or Yahoo!, is just another core component of every business strategy.

The keys to such a site are:

(1) easy navigation so that visitors don’t get confused and click away; and,

(2) clear and concise copywriting (the words on your site) so that visitors quickly understand who you are, how you can help them, and how to find out more.

The ultimate goal is to “monetize,” or convert, the casual browser on your site to a paying customer. If you don’t sell online, you should assign another non-cash objective to your Web site, such as getting someone to call you and inquiry about your product or service. This will allow you to measure your Internet marketing success, which you should always try to quantify.

In order to accomplish your Web site goals you need to get visitors to your site, and you also need effective copy so that you keep the visitors reading your site, and then taking some action to move them closer to buying from you. Web browsers are typically impatient. They have the power to click on the back button in your browser. So make sure your content is interesting, and clearly lays out benefits that your product or service can provide to your prospective customer.

The Brochure Model is all about clarity and credibility. Your enemy, when pursuing this model, is the clutter of the Internet. Everyone tries to position themselves as the best attorney in their field, or the most creative graphic designer. But rather think of it this way, you are looking for people in pain – people with problems – that you can solve.

The biggest mistake I have seen people making on their Websites is not spending enough time on their copy (the words on the pages). Part of the problem is that they spend their time – and the space on their pages – on fancy design, graphics, visuals and etc, but next to no time on writing a powerful copy that would captivate their Website visitors. There is little differentiation in this strategy and Web searchers usually get annoyed by fancy graphics or intro, which also usually slows down your Website. If they search, they usually have a problem that they want solved.

With that said, what you should be doing is showing your prospective customers that you know what their problems, their pains, and their fears are, and how you can help them solve those problems, ease their pains, and calm those fears.

In order to accomplish that, you should display: (1) testimonials – good things that your customers have to say about you; (2) case studies – to show that you have solved other people’s problems in powerful and measurable ways; and (3) your and/or your team’s biographies, so that you can show that you have good work experience, training, and education that can convince a prospective customer that they should check you out further.

But, you should mainly focus on your prospective customer. How do you do that?

Think of this simple formula. Say:

“We can do X for you, so that you can achieve Y.”

For example, if you are a Web designer, say something like: “We can design your site so that it looks good and increases the number of people who call you to ask you about your products or services.”This is a concrete, measurable benefit. The key term here is “so that”. Your product or service will do something for them so that they can, for example, save time, money, and/or energy.

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