The URBAN HAWK Tech Start Up Journey CONTINUES!
You’ve Got a Shop Window Around the Corner (Or: The Importance of Launching with a WEBSITE!).
Everything is in place: Business Plan: check. Customer Base for the initial launch drive: perfect. Secure knowledge of a unique service / product model: absolutely. Division of roles for existing personnel and clarity of plans for recruitment of sales staff on take-off: done! Mentor meetings, networking events and corporate style launches booked, naturally. All good! And all for nothing without..WEBSITE! WEBSITE! WEBSITE!
Did I say WEBSITE enough? Ok. One more time and with feeling. WEBSITE. It is the shop window of your business. Yes, we live in an increasingly virtual world and that has changed the way we interact, including on the commercial playing field. But we remain, at heart, a visual society, and all the moreso within a digital economy.
Taking a step back for a second, let’s not forget that we do still have a physical economy. You will still walk down a high street at Christmas or whenever. You will still choose a supermarket or go window shopping and sometimes your precise needs are best met by a provider that simply ‘looked the part’ better than others.
No shop window? Or an inadequate, unclear, overcrowded ‘everything must go’ desperate mess in said window and I suspect that your interest wains and you move on? I could be wrong, of course. We all love a bargain. But ideally, we want to find a bargain WITHIN a credible brand. Or at least, I do.
Great satisfaction can be gained from browsing say an HMV store (itself a model under threat) and on one hand enjoying the gloss and glamour of the latest Blu-rays /Head-Phones etc and yet on the other finding THAT special deal on a box set or CD collection. Best of both worlds. And notice how they and most other stores of similar ilk now expect you to either bring or accept a gift card / points system: ie they know your main planning of purchases is now online based; so they try and cross fertilise those streams. Good move.
Well, in the modern business start up, the principle is exactly the same, but in reverse. Your shop window remains critical to winning customer curiosity or investor talks and so on. Except the window is now virtual and leads into the physical contact and service or product provision.
Fail that first hurdle and your business is dead before it has even started. However embryonic the model you are playing with; whatever level of IP secret you are trying to protect: you MUST have that shop window website. It is frequently the first thing that people check after getting a business card at a networking event and it is inevitably a first port of call should you be located via Google search, LinkedIn or whichever magic portal of location finds your name cropping up.
And the better that website impression, the more ‘hits’ you will gain. Those hits become leads. Leads become contacts and contacts become some sort of contribution to a customer base, be it a direct contract or some sort of recommendation / endorsement / mentor/investor relationship.
But how to accomplish that polish and panache without making promises you are yet able to keep? How to possibly come across as professional and going places without falling into the ‘Walter Mitty’ / ‘I am the next Elon Musk CEO’ trap?
The trick is to be clear about your ambitions and potential, whilst equally showing WHY you have that kind of confidence. IE show, through a well organised and good looking site, that you can model a unique service / product and can plan, credibly for development.
Make the site a living, working model of your company journey and an accessible platform for your first customers. Make it personable, too: USE the vulnerability of being new and untested in sections of the website to compliment the more objective and stark clarity of pitch. Just don’t confuse the two or allow one inadequacy or ambition to upstage the other.
So, this is how we have done it, and it’s working pretty well so far: allowing an ambitious and clear yet credible beginning, whilst also showing both growth and the possibility of spin offs and setbacks in equal measure..
- Think front page as clear visual statement and summary of what you do, how it benefits customers, how solving a specific problem or providing a product /service HELPS them.
- EXPLAIN HOW you do what you do!
- SHOW yourselves: personnel biographies / photos / maybe a shot of you in action and in an office.
- INVITE ENQUIRIES / INVESTMENT!
- TESTIMONIALS: Ok you won’t have them yet. But explain WHY and HOW you ARE worth the investment by perhaps linking to PREVIOUS work projects?
- MEDIA: Have a blog, a podcast: make the audience part of your journey! Show what you are interested in: charities etc.
- LEGALS: Explain that you use standard terms /conditions but link that TO an approved template and indicate your own legal awareness.
- MISCELLANY: Anything else you care to add? Go for it. You can tweak as you go and say ‘This page is under construction’.
This is of course not an exact science. But the principles are pervasive to the very essence of both business and life: First Impressions Count. Fail the audition and you don’t get the part. So make sure YOU are happy with the ‘shop window’ of your site!
It makes the next stages a LOT easier, as we will see in the next posts..Thank you for reading and see you next time.