Four Online Tips for Offline Companies

We live in an age when many companies have an online-only presence. “But for most enterprises, a website serves a slightly different purpose—augmenting an already well-established business that conducts the lion’s share of its merchandising offline,” writes Bill Post at MarketingProfs. These brick-and-mortar companies often struggle to adapt their messaging for an online audience, and their sometimes-clumsy web presence might actually hinder the image they want to project.

To avoid that fate, Post has this advice:

Maintain a consistent look and feel. “When customers look at your website,” he notes, “it should be crystal clear to them that they are ‘entering’ the online establishment of [a business with which] they are already at least somewhat familiar.” In other words, use the same logos, fonts, colors and lingo that they encounter in your store.

Make clear what you provide. Don’t take for granted that an online visitor will instantly understand what your company does—instead, assume they’ve never heard of you. Describe your business, list your top products and services and provide links to in-depth descriptions, an FAQ page and a page with contact information.

Show visitors the faces behind your URL. “Let your customers know all about your team, your staff, your management, and even your pets,” he suggests. “Don’t be afraid to include pictures.”

Don’t let your website get stale. If your homepage still trumpets an event or sale from 2010, a visitor will know she has just entered an online ghost town. So keep your site—both content and technology—up-to-date.

The Pont: Build online business for your offline company by making your website an obvious extension of your brand.