Websites for professional firms (part two)

Jul 2, 2007 | Websites

A few weeks ago I posted the first of my observations and advice concerning websites for professional firms.

When I consult with ambitious firms I invariably check out their websites beforehand. Some are good. Some are lousy. Some don’t exist and some are almost indistinguishable from those of other firms who have bought the same web package.

I always ask the same key question:
Who is your audience for the website?
For most firms IT IS NOT for clients.
The real target audience, whose needs should be satisfied normally includes:
– prospects who have been recommended to the firm ;
– prospects who have found the site when searching online;
– ambassadors and advocates of the firm and the partners eg: bankers, solicitors and other networking contacts who want to check out what the partners have told them about the firm.

It’s also for suppliers and prospective suppliers. AND a commonly overlooked but often very important audience, being PROSPECTIVE STAFF. These days almost anyone worth recruiting will have a look at a potential employer’s website. Does yours contain anything that makes your firm stand out as being a more attractive place to work than whoever you are competing with for good quality staff?

Why do I think a website is NOT for clients?
Because, in most cases you want them to get in touch and to speak with you when they need your help. If they can access all the help they need via your website you are less likely to secure additional paid work. You are less likely to be able to help them to clarify their enquiry and to determine whether or not you can help.

There may be cases where accountants are playing a strong ‘volume’ game and DO want to discourage phone calls. For them it makes sense to share lots of content on the web. It may also make sense in other cases as well but if a firms’ website contains loads of material that does not encourage the user to contact the accountant for relevant advice, there will be plenty of lost opportunities.

You have to decide what it is you want your website to do. And the starting point is always: Who is the audience? What will they want and what do you want to tell them?

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