So who needs a website anyway?

Seriously. Think about it properly. Do you actually need a website?

It's a question posed by blogger Casey Zeman - and it's a very good question. Because many businesses seem to think that a website is an end in itself. That they have to have one. And that when they do, it will somehow generate business all on its own.

None of those ideas is true.

Even the best all-singing, all-dancing website will never generate business on its own. No matter how much you spend on it. That may have worked back in the days when websites themselves were a novelty, but not any more. Today you are competing with literally millions of other web pages, and yours is just a face in the crowd.

Unless, of course, you can make it stand out.

So what makes a website work?

Forget the idea that a website is an end in itself. To do a job of work for you it needs to be part of something else - what Casey Zeeman calls a 'funnel'.

You need something that brings the right people - your target market - to your site. You need something better than enthusiastic self-praise to keep them there. And you need to give them clear, simple choices about what to do next.

That's your funnel. And it's part of what we think of as 'the new marketing'.

It's not about hard sell. It's not about blowing your own trumpet. It's about delivering genuinely valuable content - stuff your audience wants and needs to know. And doing that regularly, consistently, and efficiently to build your contact list. Which today's marketers all agree is your most valuable business asset.

How to build a funnel

Casey Zeman's article suggests several ways of building a funnel. One that will bring in visitors. Hold their attention. Deliver them quality content. And finally bring them to a point where they are willing to give you their contact information. And that's where the real work begins.

Because the new marketing - just like old-style networking - is all about gaining and building trust and confidence.

So you could, for example, write a blog and post about it on social media. That would bring visitors to your site to read it.

At the end of the blog you could add an invitation to send for a free report - for which you will need the visitor's name and email address.

Using an autoresponder you can then get confirmation of their address and send them a link to the downloadable report.

Followed by a request to send them your regular email newsletter. (Yes, really. The Direct Marketing Association puts the return on investment from email marketing at 4,300%!)

Or you could simply send them five or six more autoresponder emails - at ever-longer intervals. Checking they got the report. Asking for their feedback. Asking if it has helped them - or if they need more. And offering that assistance - if it's wanted, of course...

This is an enormous subject, and one we'll be coming back to. But in the meantime why not read Casey Zeman's take on it at