If you want to grow your professional-service firm, don’t ignore your most-visible marketing vehicle – your site.

First impressions are lasting impressions. You’ve got about three seconds to make a favorable impression.

To retain and add clients to grow your practice, compelling thought leadership and other qualities that generate trust trust are key factors for your Web site.

Of course, your treatment of clients should reflect exemplary client-service policies.

In other words, if your site claims you deliver outstanding service, be sure to walk the talk.

Here are 11 online principles:

1. Don’t be complacent on quality. Assess your strategies in providing cutting-edge content. Then, develop goals and implement an action plan to attract and keep readers.

2. Demonstrate stability with a consistent style. Convey an authoritative, but consistent, thoughtful approach with the same content traits.

3. Your substantive content should be the right quantity. Contrary to the advice you’ll often see on the Internet about brevity, your articles should be thoughtful enough to pique interest of your readers.

Quantity includes frequency considerations. Use the right proportion in frequency vs. value.

4. Use rich media and other tools. Demonstrate that you’re a contemporary firm with an interesting site. That means professional-looking videos, white papers, e-books and graphics.

5. Convey a positive personality — don’t be ostentatious on your “About us” page. You need to convey credibility and expertise in your bios and “about us” page. Be accurate but human and humble about it. Avoid an academic or technical tone. Third-person descriptions help in this regard.

Take advantage of the five motivating perceptions that prompt people to buy from you — be sure to create five positive perceptions:

Employees, Spokespersons – 52 percent. The key characteristics are integrity, judgment, friendliness and knowledge.

Image of Company – 15 percent. They are concerned about the image of your company in the community.

Quality of Product or Service Utility – 13 percent. The customer is asking the question – “What will this do for me?”

Convenience –12 percent. Customers like easy accessibility to do business with you. That includes your Web site, telephoning you, and the convenience of patronizing your business.

Price – 8 percent. Price is important, but it’s the least concern among the five value-motivating perceptions.

6. Use state-of-the-art search engine optimization (SEO). SEO makes it easy for prospects and clients to find you. (Be sure to see the comprehensive tips to capitalize on SEO trends.)

7. Be organized in your use of relevant links. Make it easy for your users. Link your content to other relevant content.

8. Use the right tools for better branding. That means a slogan and knowing the best characteristics for a standout logo and a favicon. (A favicon is briefly explained among the eight best practices in small business marketing.)

9. Hire the right talent to enhance your site. If you don’t have the necessary online skill sets, hire the right right marketers for traditional and experiential expertise.

 10. Use the right calls to action. Ensure that your content makes it easy for readers to see how your services meet their needs, and prompts them to contact you. Don’t overlook the capabilities available via Web site priming

11. Continue to analyze your site’s effectiveness. It’s a never-ending process. If your site is losing visitors, use best practices to fix the trend.

From the Coach’s Corner, additional resource links:

6 Tips to Increase the Quality, Quantity of Your Client Referrals — As a professional, you can ease the pain and save time in making sales calls, if you’re a good steward of your already-existing circle of associates and clients – potential centers of influence. That’s a term that refers to people who can and will refer business your way.

Are You Attacked by Bad or Bogus Reviews? 5 Tips to Respond – Certainly you only want positive customer reviews. Understanding customer behavior is important. Internet-savvy shoppers read reviews to make buying decisions. Reviews can make or break you.

14 Tips to Profit from Online Customer Reviews – For competitiveness and profits, businesses can’t afford to ignore the potential of online reviews. They’re a factor in revolutionizing commerce.

Free Vital Email-Marketing Tools (or Have Free Trial Periods) – Whatever your business, whether it’s B2B or B2C, email marketing is a cost-effective way of targeting your prospects and connecting with your current and past customers. For important email marketing tools that are either free or have gratis trial options, here is a list.

“The Internet is the most important single development in the history of human communication since the invention of call waiting.”

-Dave Barry

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Photo courtesy of patpitchaya at www.freedigitalphotos.net