What can a website do for you?

Does your group have a website? If so, are you using it to your best advantage?

Many groups use their website purely for the benefit of their own membership, the content very often is just a bald statement of activities and a few snapshots of their latest visit. These in themselves are not bad things, in fact they are a part of the nitty gritty of an organisations website, but you should aim your sights a lot higher than that.

You should aim to make your website work for you:- to create interest within the local community, to attract new membership, to gain support for your activities and to create an extension of your link with your twin town.

We all know the problems of advertising our existence, the cost of newspaper advertisements, or leafleting the locality, putting up posters of your activities is seldom successful because they get torn, dogeared, disfigured or just ripped down. Various marketing surveys have shown that a web presence is not only one of the most effective forms of communication but also one of the cheapest.

The aim therefore, should be to try and maximise the effect of your site by using professional standards in the building and presentation of the site. By ”professional” standards, I am not saying that you should hire a professional web designer to develop your site, but rather that you should use professional standards of presentation in making each of your pages say something about you or your organisation. Treat it as though you are selling a product and you should make your product sound more attractive and desirable than any similar product on the market because you want to make the reader spent their money on your product, and no one elses.

You are not actually asking people to buy a product in a financial sense, but you are asking them to invest their time and efforts in your activities.

You need to make it attractive and interesting to appeal to all sections of the community, young and old, rich and poor, it is this very mix of people which makes the twinning movement so successful so you need to broaden your appeal to cover as wide a sector as possible.

Most twinning groups have some problems of attracting new membership, especially among the younger generation, so remember that this is the generation which is most au fait with computer technology, so they become a prime target, but, remember also, the world wide web is just that, not just local, it covers the whole world so your potential audience suddenly leaps from a few hundred or thousand in your immediate neighbourhood to an possible audience of millions. Whilst you do not want to attract membership from around the world you are able to reach other nearby communities which are just outside your traditional boundaries and are a potential source of new members.

Many of us have problems in finding enough people to join in our overseas visits or in hosting when our overseas friends visit us. I know from experience that you can reach so many more people by using your website, especially if you have a link to your partners website or to the twin towns official website.

How about fundraising? Most of us raise our funds by various activities, dances, raffles etc. Well; a website is a good way of extending your advertising for these activities and reaching more people (at no extra cost), but, this is not necessarily the end of the fund raising potential if you have a website. Why not consider a sponsorship scheme with a local business, if they know that your website could possibly be viewed on any PC within their trading area, they may well be prepared to invest part of their advertising budget with your organisation in return for some banner advertising space on your website.

These are just a few suggestions for you to think about when you operate your website. Of course, you will need to include the normal items such as history of the link, details of the twin towns, an activities calendar, a newsletter, and most importantly, all the necessary details of how to contact you. it would be a shame if you put this much effort into building and presenting a superb website but forget to put any contact details. And finally, whatever else you do, make sure your contact details are always fully up to date.

© Copyright 2005 Alan Wicks. All rights reserved.

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