When your website means business.

«Return to Blog List Your Business Website as a Garden: For Show or Food?

People have gardens for different reasons. There are flower gardens, usually out front where passersby can easily see them, which are meant to provide enjoyment or present a certain “look” to the neighborhood and to the people who live there. And there are vegetable gardens, which provide food.

If your vegetable garden is a hobby, and you don’t depend on it (i.e., nobody goes hungry if the tomato plants die), getting the kids to water it and pull weeds is a chore in itself. If your garden provides a significant portion of the food that ends up on the dinner table, however, watering and weed-pulling are a lot more interesting and engaging. You can be proud of a nice flower garden, but you can live off a well-managed vegetable garden.

Business websites and blogs are like that. If a website or blog is just for show, and/or disconnected from the marketing functions, no one takes a lot of interest in keeping it filled with fresh content and making sure it engages the company’s customers. These are the websites that often fall into the “set-it-and-forget-it” category: the gardening equivalent of plastic flowers, which show their age as they collect dust and their colors fade in the sunlight. On the other hand, a business website that’s continually updated with new features and timely information is like a well-cared for flower garden which is trimmed, watered, and kept fresh with new plants. People can tell the difference, with gardens and with websites.

Traditional websites are like flower gardens. They’re meant to impress people and tell a certain story about a company, to both its customers and employees. The best ones impress people, but even the badly done ones succeed in telling a story, if not necessarily the one a company had in mind. Blogs are more like vegetable gardens. They can lead to increased visibility, prospects, and business if they are worked diligently and intelligently. In my opinion, most companies need both, and they would benefit by caring for them with adequate time, attention, and resources.

I hear frequently that maintaining a website, writing blog posts, and taking part in social media is “just too time-consuming,” and sometimes, “too expensive.” Probably so, if you treat those activities as “hobbies” rather than as an integral and critical part of marketing in 2009. If you recognized that, done well, those activities could result in more customers (i.e., putting food on the table), you’d see it as time and resources well-spent.

Online marketing, like gardening, bears fruit when you to view it as a serious pursuit worthy of your time and effort. Until then, you should probably expect a bigger than necessary marketing budget and increasingly mediocre results.

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