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How to let others know how your business is doing

How is a market entrant doing? I have spent much of the past year looking at websites of tech companies in the aging-tech or digital health-tech areas. As part of this look, I am always trying to figure out how these companies are doing. Talking to the company executives is interesting, but the website, to me is very revealing and sometimes contradicts verbal descriptions of momentum. To me, these are visible indicators of company health:

How fresh is the content?  How recent are the PR releases -- that's the first thing I check. I've been doing this since I started at Forrester in 1998 and in general, the website reveals all that one needs to know about the status of a company, whether it is struggling or thriving. I can hear the response chorus now -- 'our channel is not the web, we have a sales force or partner sales force that calls on companies, our resellers are the channel, etc., etc.' Or all of the above. The tactics of keeping content fresh: Read this excellent and free eBook by Mark Willaman (who learned what works when he helped marketers of HR-related products): How to Reach and Engage Buyers of Senior Care Products and Convert Them to Leads.  One piece of advice: press releases should be a regular and monthly occurrence.

How clear is the target audience? It is difficult to market and sell a product that targets customers too broadly, especially when it comes to identifying prices and profit models, projecting revenue for each audience. But vendors continue to want to do this. Okay. So if the product or service supports multiple audiences, are there tabs or links that represent those audiences -- and is the content rich under all tabs?

What does it mean - rich content? Are there recent blog posts under blogs? Are there related links, white papers, case studies/examples, (short) videos, gems that turn products into compelling experiences, even life-changing experiences? While blogs are great ways to refresh content, don't start one if you can't keep it frequently refreshed -- and not just repeats of prior points. Here's a tiny clip from IN2L (It's Never Too Late) to see what I mean.

Why does the website matter so much? It's the face of the company -- even one that sells products and services in a local region.  More than your business card, your face-to-face meeting, and your demo. Even starting from those as truly wonderful, the website can totally deflate perception, whether it is poor website performance, broken links (which I admit plague viewers and me on my own site), or missing information.  Frankly I don't trust any organization on the Internet (and there are plenty in the senior care market, amazingly) that don't say who the people or organization that is responsible for the site.

Part of the marketing mix. In addition to being the face of your company, websites (as Mark Willaman notes) are integral to gaining increased publicity, traffic, and leads that can convert to sales. And most importantly, an integrated marketing plan that incorporates all of these components, represents the kind of discipline and attention to detail that builds trust in the company. In an industry totally dependent on trust, that's certainly our collective mission.