After viewing hundreds of business broker’s websites we have come to the realization that one thing most brokers are lacking is website marketing expertise. We were amazed at how poor and unprofessional many of the business broker’s websites are. When someone with $500K or $5 million is ready to invest and wants the assistance from a business broker, if they choose to search on the internet for brokers, their selection process will be largely based on what they see on your website.
Your website is like the lobby of your company. If the lobby is shabby then that is a reflection of the type of business you have. Some websites have a professional look but much of the basic information is hidden deep inside the site that a prospect buyer or seller might just click back and search for another broker out of pure frustration. Here are recommendations for business brokers on how to improve their website by making some fundamental and basic changes to their site.
Points to remember:
1. Your website is your storefront display window
2. Your website is your business card
3. How does your website compare to your competitors?
4. Do you update the information on your website often?
5. When was the last time you gave you website a facelift?
6. Does your website reflect your professional image?
7. Is it time to update your website to reflect the image you would like your firm to portray
The contact information should be easy to locate but with a lot of brokers it the biggest fault. You should have two basic places where you post your contact information, somewhere on the homepage with full contact information or a tab or link labeled Contact. The contact link should be accessible from every page on your website. The moment the prospect decides you are the company they want to use, they should have that information at their fingertips. Many brokers post their contact information along with their professional profiles and biographies. This means that in order to find the contact information they first have to find the profiles. This is OK as long as the general office phone number, address and email is located in the obvious areas mentioned above. I feel that companies that include a contact name and title are at an advantage. People should know who to call for when calling your business. Think of your website as your business card.
Some brokerage firms prefer to that they are contacted via filling out a form. This method of contacting your firm is the one that will make most clients run from your site and move on to another broker. Nobody wants to fill out their name, address, and email information or how much they want to invest and send it to some unknown company. When a buyer or seller is searching, they do not want to fill out forms.
The TEST: Open your website and without touching or scrolling…can you locate your contact information? Do you see the Contact Tab? If you have to scroll, is it obvious with just a glance to where the contact information is? Test it with someone that is not familiar with your site and see how long it takes them to locate your contact information. If you need a magnifying glass to read the phone number or email address listed in fine print, then you need to make the changes immediately. Visitors should not struggle to find or read your contact information.
This information is crucial to a buyer that wants to know more about your company. Information here should include history of your firm or the purpose of your firm. This can also be combined with the SERVICES category if the company is rather small and you need to combine both for filler info. The About Us section should give a brief history of the company in order to show expertise, background of the brokers and should include information that will provide peace of mind to a buyer that you are a serious professional and will be able to help the buyer or seller in a professional manner. Include statistics about your company’s achievements. When possible state how long you have been in business for.
A large majority of the websites do not specify the territory they service. When reviewing broker websites in larger cities, the service areas or territory is not specified. For example, in New York City, there were several brokers that did not mention what areas in NYC were serviced. Be specific as your clients need to know!!! In smaller states some firms cover the whole state some just certain cities…be specific and mention you cover the whole state so visitors won’t discard you. Make it clear what is your service area.
Font and Graphics:
Websites look professional when pictures are included. Posting pictures of your staff wearing casual attire is not recommended. Wear a suit and a tie to show it’s a serious business. The background on your pictures is also very important. Exceptions can be made, I found a very professional firm with one of the brokers wearing a cowboy hat, but that was their trademark and so it was a distinctive touch. A picture of you wearing a polo shirt next to your yellow Corvette is not a good idea. From this site I got the message that the owner was focused on chasing women in a flashy car and midlife crisis had finally set in nicely and in full force. There should be one or two type of fonts in your website. I noticed one site had 7 different types of fonts in all sizes so the website looked more like a flier than anything else. Professional websites do not have super large headings in all sizes and colors. Simple is better. Avoid bright flashy colors or bright backgrounds. Do not post black backgrounds unless the font is large and clear to read. The font in a website by default is small so don’t make your clients squint when reading your site.
It really makes a big difference when there is a profile of members of your professional staff. It sends a message of stability on the staff, professionalism and high standards. A short story on their background is great. This can also be a part of the About Us section but it’s highly recommended to place a tab for this section separately. Even if you are a one-man/one-woman operation it’s a nice touch to post your picture and business biography. Don’t post pictures with your dogs, family or the Corvette.
Directory of Business for Sale:
If you choose not to post a listing of business for sale, make it very clear they are available upon request. Make sure it’s clear that you do have listings and don’t send the wrong message you have no listings. Many companies post only a few businesses as confidentiality is a priority for some firms, but if all possible give some signs that you do have listings. No listings at all means to many people no business.
Be very specific and make it simple. Heading and explanation for each one of the services you provide. Separate them by either paragraphs or bullet points. I noticed plenty of brokers that are not specific on what of services they provide. If you only cover certain industries, make sure you mention those. If you cover all areas then make sure it’s clear. It’s a good idea to mention that you offer free one time consultation for buyers and sellers. Include some of this information in your homepage as well. Make sure you include the free services you provide. I believe that posting a brief description of the buying and selling process is important. Sends a message that you have a plan of action.
Some companies offer free valuations and some charge for the service. Either way, you should be specific on what type of valuations you do. Include some bullet points on what the valuation report will include and how you perform the valuations. Make the client feel comfortable that it’s not a flight by night type service. Give the client confidence that it will be a professional and reliable report.
Adding video puts your firm above the rest. This should be easy to do as most business broker websites fail when it comes to projecting and image of success and professionalism. When posting a video on your site, it should start automatically and should be short. It should not exceed two or 3 minutes. You should have included on your video, several quick topics to give the visitor additional information about your firm. Ideally you want to mention your services, the benefits of using your firm, a quick testimonial and why your firm is better than the rest. The video should be there to give your website the human touch that text cannot provide.
The overall image of your website should be success, money, profitability, knowledge and experience. The first thing your visitor should read is information on what type of business you are. It should start with: Welcome to ABC Business Brokers, we are a full service brokerage firm specializing in XXX industries, etc in the Metro XXX area. Our services include…XXX.
This first paragraph should be just a quick summary at a glance of your firm.
Next, you should write or inform customers of your primary services. Look at your homepage as the bait to get people interested in other subjects, topics, and areas. The homepage is like the front page of the newspaper, bits of information that get you hooked and forces you to click and read further.
Completed Transactions and Testimonials
This is a very important section of your site. You should be proud of the work you have done and should be able to share the previous sales transactions with future clients so they can see that you have already done plenty of similar work in the same filed. Testimonials should not be long. One phrase should be enough and if you add a picture it’s even better.
o Don’t post a form to fill out by visitors requesting their personal information
o Do not post your email or contact information in such tiny print that nobody can read. Do not post your contact information at the very bottom of your homepage next to the copyright and disclaimer information.
o You must have a phone number to reach someone in our firm. Many websites do not have phone numbers. Don’t be surprised if you are not getting much business.
o Include photos. Make your site more personable and helps set the tone for your firm. Pictures should be there to help you create the right image that you want to portray to your clients.
o Only large professional firms have videos in their websites. Creating a video is inexpensive and posting it on your website by your webmaster is also inexpensive but ads a nice touch that puts your firm above the rest.
o Update your website as often as possible so those visitors that visit your website frequently, they will see new fresh information.
o Include a News section that you can update once a week or once a month. Do not let your website become stagnant or stale.
o If you have one picture on your homepage, try to change it several times during the year on a rotating basis. Depending on the traffic, you might want to change that picture as often as weekly.