Building Business Relationships

Are you struggling to create and keep profitable customers? Columns for Sales and Marketing Management who wants to build business relationships.
Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Using your website to improve business relationships

The following contains research notes and commentary for an upcoming tutorial Developing business to business Websites for Cultivating Relationships and Sales and includes original pages of reference in bibliography format. While various sources are referenced they both as samples and context -- but not necessarily identified as such.

____. Improving Your Website. (The Health Hub, Building Relationship & Revenue)

  1. A website is more than a glossy brochure or sales literature.  Think of your website as one of the many ways your prospective customers want to receive information about your products. It's a communications channel that supports multiple mediums of materials.
  2. A website is a hard working part of your relationship management strategy.  In many industries it's how your prospects learn about your company, it can be a cost effective way to support customers needs, and you website can serve as a data collection tool.
  3. Use your website to deliver additional value to existing customers (which includes content that assists in generating results, directory assistance related, frequently asked questions, and industry related news.)  Depending on design and business objectives, websites can delivery niche specific information not available elsewhere (or partner with larger networks to reach a greater audience.)
  4. Ask yourself: "How are my competitors are using the web to build relationships?", "How could they use it?", "What answers are my customers having trouble buying?", "How can I be useful to both my customers and those of my competitors?", and "How can my website solve common problems in the industry as it pertains to our offering?"

Sterne, Jim. Customer Service on the Internet. 326 pages; John Wiley & Sons; 15 Jan 1996; ASIN 0471155063

Mena, Jesus. Data Mining Your Website. 368 pages; Digital Press; 15 July 1999; ISBN 1555582222

____. Website Strategy Assessment. The Sanity Patrol Press, 1999. (on Business Relationships)

  1. Translate offline communications agreements with new on-line channel.  If advertising with a certain publication is profitable, test their on-line properties reaching the same audience. Test copy on-line, then later use it in print campaigns.
  2. Business size doesn't matter much only for on-line engagement.  You still have to be able to serve the customer, but you can build a relationship based on your knowledge over size. In the world of subcontractors, this means a small company can get specialist work on larger contracts where they may not have been considered in the past.
  3. Work with other target organizations with stronger on-line strategies.  Build your own strategy while working with select media and partners who already have a website serving your target audience. This gives you time to test methods and materials.

(Continued in Notes and commentary on improving relationships with your website)

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How your website looks is important to buyers

Design Very Important to E-Commerce. eMarketer: Importance of Site Design to E-Commerce ... According to a new study from Genex, 36.2% say site design is very important, 28.7% say it is extremely important, and 13.5% say it is somewhat important. These people also say they will leave a poorly designed site for a better design site to buy their goods. [MarketingFix]

Just like in any encounter, first impressions matter. While your website doesn't have to be fancy (or even flashy), it needs to fit the corporate identity if you want customers to take you seriously. For a prospective customer who hasn't met any of your people, the professional appearance of your website (all marketing collateral) makes a huge difference.

What this report didn't say is that (a) it's function over fashion, (b) ease of use is just as important, (c) visitors want to be able to find what they are looking for quickly, (d) your website should load fast (<15 sec a page), and (e) your search tool should be easy to find. Your corporate website must be all these things if you expect visitors to engage in ecommerce with your company.

While the Center for Strategic Relations website isn't very visual appealing it was designed to meet these measures. In fact, the underlying design makes all parts of the site accessable in 3 to 4 clicks, and searchable in less. Visitors can quickly find what they need and move on to the implementation of information.

Our audience enjoys the no-frills approach because they generally don't have time for the images to load on mobile devices or while on travel. While this simple design works for us, it may not support the needs of your company.

How do I know who and what my audience wants in a website?  Afterall design is a subjective aspect of a website. Survey your audience regularly asking: (a) When you visited our site what were your objectives?, (b) Did you accomplish what you set out to do?, (c) What features could the site have to help you reach that objective?, and (d) What is a reasonable amount of time to accomplish this?

For more information visit Developing business to business Websites for Cultivating Relationships and Sales or call for a "Website Relationship Assessment".

Justin Hitt helps executive build stronger relationships that can increase profits and create loyal customers. For more information visit Inside Strategic Relations or call +1 (276) 254-8747

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Last update: 04/08/2004; 2:29:54 PM.

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