Potential clients, particularly start-ups and emerging growth companies looking to demonstrate their momentum, often seemed confused by what a new website will “do” for them. Will it increase sales? Will it attract new clients or funding sources? Do I need to have a best-in-class site on day one?
While our primary focus is not website development, the answers to those questions, in our experience, are Not Necessarily, Maybe, and Not Really, in that order.
Let me explain by way of three client anecdotes.
The managing partner of one of our clients, a very successful middle market investment firm, asked our advice about the question that has been nagging him since his firm’s first “real” website went live about three years ago. Does it really communicate who we are as a company? The answer? No. It communicates who you were back then, before you raised another fund, before you did some great deals, and before you doubled the size of your team. (It also has some annoying flash components.)
Another client, the managing partner of an emerging financial services company, is focused on the same issue, from a different perspective: Is our site keeping up with what we’re doing, what our momentum is, and how we’re constantly adapting to rapid changes in the industry we service. The answer? Yes, it does – because you are constantly on top of it, sending us (as the creators of new content, including media coverage) and the website vendor emails asking if the site has been updated recently.
A third client, the CEO of a start-up pharmaceutical company focused on “orphan drug” development, was intimately involved in the concept behind the site, not just signing off on the website designer’s ideas. She opted for simplicity and transparency. She viewed the site as a billboard on the side of the great funding superhighway and, while she knew a website alone can’t guarantee venture funding, wanted the proposition to be compelling. So we all smiled the other day when she wrote and said that a key investor found the company through its website (and loved the logo concept, which had been hers from the first).
So, any lessons learned here?
There’s really only one. It’s not enough to just put up a website…you need to create a living, breathing selling document that effectively communicates your brand and your selling proposition.
Then it’s up to you!