Your business is about making custom fabric products, not creating a Web site to sell custom fabric products. So, dismiss his ideas on forming canopies, if you will, but listen to Bob Filipczak when he talks about conducting business on the Internet. Don’t let his long title—site content and experience specialist in interactive marketing for Ameriprise Financial—intimidate you. Filipczak has down-to-earth advice for those plying the waters of the World Wide Web.
“Have a page that asks questions that will help frame the discussion when the sales person calls,” he suggests. “That seems the logical thing to me: gathering information.”
However, he adds, to get people to give up information, you need to offer something in return. Ameriprise provides potential clients with a sophisticated “decision tree” that helps them customize a financial plan to fit their needs. “It gives them a hint of what the discussion will look like when they meet with one of our advisers,” Filipczak says. Along the way, Ameriprise suggests that they call for a complimentary consultation.
Building a decision tree is “very labor intensive and expensive to build, and you have to know somebody who knows how to build that program,” he cautions.
“Give customers a tips article,” Filipczak says, such as “three things to think about when you are ordering an awning. Hire a writer to question your three best salespeople. What are the first 10 questions you ask a customer? Take those questions and write an article, a how-to, tips, and put it next to a form that asks for more information.”
Although three custom fabric companies interviewed for this article were disinclined toward links on their Web sites, Filipczak points out that having reciprocal links places your site higher in search engines. “They help ratify the fact that you are a business that should be taken seriously,” he says.
Above all, make sure you have provided a place on your Web site for people to contact you for more information.