Follow me here, ’cause this is important:

How do you or your employees use the Web to “buy” stuff?

Don’t bother answering. These are the basic rules that define your online research behaviors to support a purchasing decision:

  • Need – Maybe something broke, maybe it never worked well, maybe you’ve recognized a better market/opportunity/technology, or maybe a supplier has changed the way it does business. It all starts with the idea that you need something.
  • Forage – Your search begins. You’re laser focused on finding solutions, like an animal searching for food. No matter what media or channel you use, now’s the time to assemble your options.
  • Select – You assess and choose the most acceptable solutions to your need, BASED ON THE QUALITY OF THE INFORMATION YOU FIND. The rest you throw away.
  • Contact – Now armed with your “short list,” you move to the collaborative stage or the research cycle. You’ll dig deeper into the solutions you’ve found to select the best of breed for your needs.

Think about this carefully: Is this not so? Personal habits aside, these are the steps that every SMM goes through when seeking information important to their business.

So do you ever get frustrated? Ever found yourself searching high and low for technologies, equipment, services or answers, and you either can’t find squat, or what you find is insufficient?

Stinks, don’t it?

So why is it that your Web site’s likely doing the same thing to the people that are looking for you?

Once a prospect is on your site, they are looking for JUSTIFICATION to present to their bosses, supervisors, or to satisfy their own demands. They want good reasons to justify picking your company as a supplier.

But you probably don’t give them one.

As a manufacturer with a single opportunity to influence a prospect visiting your Web site RIGHT NOW, you have to start thinking of it as an advocacy toolkit – one that offers prospects in the industries you serve good reasons to pick you as a partner or supplier. Here’s what to do to capitalize:

  • Present brief, easy-to-read explanations of projects, processes and products you’ve made better or improved. REMEMBER: the people you want to talk to don’t go to the Web to read – they go to the Web to work.
  • Provide detailed descriptions of services and logistical support aside from the actual product that your company offers, and examples of how they’ve translated to success for your customers.
  • Include all contact information for your company on each page and in each area (Many people still like to print pages or copy info into a Power Point presentation – make it easy for them to contact you offline).

Imagine your prospects assembling reports to justify selecting your company as a partner or supplier. Now, imagine the information they would see on your Web site, next to that of your competitors. Do you really think all it takes to convince them of your value is a list noting your 4 machining centers, 2 centerless grinders and a CMM?

Think about how you use the Web to support technical research and purchases for your company, and what you look for. Think about what job your prospects are doing when you most want to talk to them. And use your Web site to show them.

Think of using your site to make your prospects your company’s advocates.