Be Clear About Who Your Website Serves

03/09/2011 04:07 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

If you are thinking of building a new website or making significant changes to your existing one make sure you have a clear plan for website and your target market.

Before you design your new web site or redesign your old one, you need to determine how you want your site to serve you and others.

  • Is it your desire to do business through your website (that is, do you want to sell products and services over the internet)?
  • Is your site's purpose to give your customers more information about your brand and teach them where they can purchase what you are selling? For example, if you want to do wholesale sales, you might prefer to speak to people over the phone and make it clear on your site that you do not do retail sales.
  • Do you want to secure speaking engagements, get media attention, or build a prospect list?
  • Do you want your site to serve many functions?
  • Do you want to have several sites?

Regardless of how you answered these questions, plan in advance the items you want to have on your website. One of the easiest things you can do is to find other sites that are accomplishing what you wish to accomplish and model your site after theirs.

Also, make sure you know your target audience.

Being everything to everybody may not be your best strategy. Niche marketing can be an excellent way to generate profits. To be in a niche market, you must know your target audience and what you need to communicate to them, and how, in order to make a sale.

For instance, a niche market for me is providing services to authors who write, publish or self publish and they want their book to be a best-selling book. Although my internet marketing techniques have been successfully used by many outside of this niche (entrepreneurs, small business owners, experts, etc), it's easy for me to go back to my target audience to sell new products and services.

Satisfied customers recommend my products to their peers, which is how I built such a strong client base of authors. I love when my customers do word-of-mouth advertising for me!
If they recommend me to people who have a different goal for using internet marketing, that's great too, because I know I have products and services that will match their needs.

Sometimes you'll attract your audience to you without even planning on it (as I did with authors). Sometimes, if you think about whom would most benefit from your products and services, the target audience will suggest itself. One of my clients has a book that appeals to parents but also to teachers and professionals who work with children who have specific learning needs.

You might think about whom besides "the usual suspects" would appreciate what you are selling. You may find there's a larger target audience than the one you'd originally planned to reach!

As you think about the purpose of your site and your target market, take notes that will help you and your web designer accomplish your goals in the most streamlined and creative way. Your list may change, but simply by making it you are working through the process and refining your outcomes.

For more information about optimizing your website and putting your best brand forward online, check out my new book, 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Marketing on the Internet