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5. Your website image must match everything you *do, say and are.*
Create continuity, in person, on paper, and on Internet. You must come across as professional, trustworthy, and knowledgeable. When I was interviewing people for my book, *Sell Yourself Without Selling Your Soul,* I turned to expertise of a professional PR listserve to which I subscribe. One woman, whose knowledge and online manner I'd come to admire, was first on my list to call. I visited her website to research her background before I contacted her. I was baffled to find little dolphins and other silly-looking characters that had nothing to do with a theme or anything else for that matter, on her site. Needless to say her esteem dropped in my eyes. I never called.
On other hand, my client Leslie Kirk Campbell, Founder of Ripe Fruit School of writing, took time to ruminate over her website for months. She carefully chose photos that gave her potential clients a real sense of her as a teacher and leader. She poured over hundreds of testimonials to select just right ones that captured essence of taking a class or going on a writing retreat. And she thought intensely about what it was that people whose creativity was stifled, stalled, on brief hiatus, or in full roar, would need from her. Her site isn't *perfect* and it's still in evolution, but basics for what her audience needs are there. See what she came up with that represents her teaching/living style and her love of language at: http://www.ripefruitwriting.com
A Wall Street Journal article about best Southern pork barbeque,illustrates my point. Restaurateur Wilbur King who got started doing mail order Bar-B-Q by sending care packages of his *Kingston, N.C., 'cue to displaced locals,* said that he didn't want to make his website too slick. *People have an image in their mind, and if it's not three rednecks over a pit in woods, they think it's not real deal.* Smart marketer this Bar-B-Q salesman.
Another great example of how look and feel serenely match is Feng Shui expert Shannon Lee Turner's website. Visit at http://www.tranquilspaces.com to get a sense of how content, images, design, graphics, and services are completely congruous. Besides offering classes and business or residential consultations, Shannon also has a free weekly newsletter called *Feng Shui Tips.* You'll get many fascinating ideas about how to run your business better with insights on structuring your environment. Her newsletter also perfectly matches sensibility of her business. To subscribe to list, send your name and city of residence to mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
I look forward to getting this one in my mailbox. It always contains both wise advice and a beautiful quote or poem. By way, there is no archive of past tips so only way to get them is to subscribe.
6. BONUS TIP! Don't give your customers too many choices.
Potential customers will log off if they're confronted with a dizzying display of decisions. Case in point, a friend of mine was looking to buy Herman Miller Aeron chair on a site that advertised it for a great price and free shipping. First he needed to choose a size. Then color of frame. Then color of material. Next, color for arms, and size and type of casters, and on and on! He decided he couldn't make a decision unless he saw darn chair.
The solution? Offer a few of most popular standards first. Then note that any of items can be customized. It's your job to help guide your customers to optimal answers to most common asked questions--before they're asked. Since you're tracking your most popular items you can let people know what has worked best for others. You're helping them make an intelligent decision. In other words, simplify thinking and ordering process so it's a quick and easy process.
Back to my original point. While ordering process is crucial, look and feel of your website may be more important than you think. It's a surprising fact that people remember feelings more than specifics of what you say. Make sure your online image matches your expertise and feeling you want to leave with people. Warrant that every step someone takes on your website is in direction you want them to go. Finally, take time to ensure that their journey is guided tour you want them to take.
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Susan Harrow is a top media coach, marketing strategist and author of *Sell Yourself Without Selling Your Soul* (HarperCollins), *The Ultimate Guide to Getting Booked on Oprah*, and *How You Can Get a 6- Figure Book Advance.* Her clients include Fortune 500 CEOs, millionaires, best-selling authors and successful entrepreneurs who have appeared on Oprah, 60 Minutes, NPR, and in TIME, USA Today, Parade, People, Wall Street Journal, and Inc.