This may sound like a ‘Big Company’ question but these days it really does apply to everyone who has a business – even if it is just you. I talk and write extensively about the importance of ‘Brand’ – the market perception of who you are and what your business stands for – and how you can deliver real value to your customers and clients. Unless you operate in a very small bubble with only a handful of long-standing clients that you don’t expect to change (is this actually a ‘business’?), your communication and engagement with potential customers in your wider market is crucial.
Your most important Marketing Collateral
While networking, advertising and direct marketing are examples of tools that can be valuable in your marketing mix, I suggest that there is one piece of marketing collateral that is more important – your website. Your website (or Social Media platform for a few) is your business shop window. Whether you like it or not, it is where potential customers will visit to find out about who you are and what you do – and how you can help them! I have said before that you should be proud of your website. I will now go further: if you really want to be proud of your website and ensure that you stay proud of it, add regular updates. It must continue to reflect your business as it is today and not just as it was when you launched your site. News, case studies, technical tips, advice etc. are all things that you can add regularly. The bottom line is that, in my experience, if you don’t have the knowledge and resources to add regular content updates to your website in-house, this presents the biggest risk of your website increasingly not reflecting your business. To look at it another way, if you don’t have control over your website it is difficult to be in control of your brand. Sure, if you let it slide for long enough you can justify a complete revamp and update of your entire site. This makes the problem go away – for a while – but the cycle soon starts again. What is worse, for most of the cycle you are NOT proud of your website and it doesn’t reflect your business very well – or at all!
How do I take control of my website?
Bottom line, you should be confident to add and update at least the core content and blog/news pages on your website. If your website is built on one of the many Content Management systems that are out there, the facility to ‘log-in’ and make changes should be part of the package. There be a bit of a learning curve but trust me, it is worth it. If your site is built in WordPress, there is lots of information and many tutorials online. If you want a more personal touch, give me a call. We offer one to one WordPress training which means we work on YOUR website and give you the knowledge most useful to you. If your site is older and ‘hard-coded’ with no online editing capability, maybe it is time to think about a change? If you do, make sure that flexible Content Management is high on your wishlist. You don’t need to become a web-wizard and you never need touch the scary code bits of your site but taking some control of your site content is a big step to controlling what people see when they visit – and so controlling your brand.
Back to basics – your Domain Name(s)
Your website may be a vital piece of your brand marketing collateral but it is only any good if people can visit it! Perhaps the most fundamental piece of the online brand marketing puzzle is your domain name.
Do you control your domain name?
Despite what some people think, you never ‘own’ a domain name, you simply have it registered, for anything from 1 to 10 years. Domain name registration is managed by a number of international bodies. Which one depends on the TLD (top level domain). This is the bit at the end of the domain address (.com, .co.uk, .net etc.) – OK, for the techies out there I know that strictly .co.uk is a second level domain! The point is that the registration bodies keep records of who a domain is registered to and it is this Registered Person (or Company) who controls the domain. The issue is that if you ask your web designer etc. to register a domain on your behalf, it is common practice for them to register the domain in their own name – simply because it is easy! It’s something I have done! Most of the time there is no problem with this. However, I have come across cases where a company approaches BSA having ‘fallen out’ with their previous web hosting supplier, only to find that their domain name isn’t theirs at all! Hopefully, the previous hosts will be happy to transfer the domain registration across. However, if they decide to ‘take their bat home‘ things can get messy. It can take a long time to sort out during which you may have no visible website – not good!
Control your domain – control your brand
It is easy to overlook your domain name. It is there, it works. What’s the problem? This may be true but a quick check and, if necessary a quick change in your time and on your terms can save a great deal of grief later! The best solution is to make sure you control your domain name(s). By having control of your domain name you also have control of your online brand. These days, I reckon that’s pretty important! If you aren’t sure of the position with your own domain(s) or have any other questions about domains or content managed websites, drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to help you.