These were the words I heard the first time I bothered to echo them to one of my prospective clients.
Obviously, all my clever “marketing speak” had failed to really narrow down the fact that what I was trying to communicate wasn’t just a shopping cart application.
My prospect, a middle-aged man, trying to build a website to advertise his rental properties was confused why I would be talking to him about something that sounded like an eCommerce store. He was trying to build a blog and a website to find and attract people to rent his properties from him.
Obviously, the term “Digital Storefront” had failed to hit its mark.
So what is a Digital Storefront?
The basic answer is that it is your website. Or your “web presence”, more accurately. A Digital Storefront is the electronic representation of your business. It is the cornerstone of your brand. Much like if you owned a retail property or office, people would see the sign out front, notice the neighborhood that you are located in. Notice the cracks in the sidewalk as they entered from the parking lot. See if there is any graffiti on the front window as they enter. They’d notice if you had dusted, or if the office was coated with hustle and bustle of the years, forming a thin white layer across all the books and furniture. They’d notice the arrangement of the waiting room and the cheesy hold music you chose to play while they wait to speak with you.
A digital storefront is the electronic representation of your business. When people visit your website they notice the same things. Is your website new and clean? Updated with the latest information or does it host stale pricing for products and services you don’t offer anymore?
We chose to change the terminology because the paradigm had to shift. We wanted people to understand and respect the power that a website has for the face of their organization.
So why should I care?
Obviously, this question that followed was the one that really rang in my ears. Working with companies day in and day out gives all of us here at Champions of the Web a rare view into the marketing strategies across a pretty wide array of industries. But one thing always seems to be the same. Companies that pay no attention to their website get nothing out of their website.
So often we get requests from companies casually looking to do a basic refresh of their website. Why? Because their current website is as stale and worn as the broken window in the storefront across the street from their office.
Website visitors don’t like broken-down office locations as much as they don’t like old and stale websites.
I learned this lesson the hard way when I was forced to show my old and broken-down website to a potential interviewer a few years back.
He had found me through a web forum we were mutual members of and he reached out saying he wanted to do an interview of me for a podcast he was doing. During our initial discussion, he asked me for my website. After giving him the address, I found myself apologizing for the look and content (or lack thereof) on the site.
Why was I apologizing?!
I couldn’t believe that as a company that BUILDS websites I was apologizing for a lack of a decent website myself. I never felt more like a fraud than I did in that moment.
Within 4 days I had crafted a brand new website and launched it. By the time our interview rolled around, I was able to speak with pride about my Digital Storefront and show the world that we meant business here at Champions of the Web.