Survey 100 business owners and ask them "What is a Website?"
Most will answer something along the lines of "It's my online presence." Others (usually old school brick and mortar guys) will call it "my digital business card." Tech heads might call it "A bunch of pixels."
But the really smart ones? The ones who are making money hand over fist and killing their competition? They consider their website to not be a thing that they have to pay for. It's not a necessary evil of the 21st Century. It's one of the most valuable things a business owner can have: it’s a conversation between him or her and their customer.
This goes beyond Web 2.0 clichés. I'm not talking about enabling the comment function on your blog and calling it a day. I'm talking about rethinking how you overall conceive – and so design – your site.
Approach your site in a way that's more about your customer than it is about you. Way more. Don't hit them with information about what you and your product or services are all about. Hit them with language that engages them. This is Charm School 101 stuff, people. Who would you rather talk to at a cocktail party? The guy who yammers on about himself all time, or the one who is interested in you…your kids…your business?
Load your home page with images not of YOU at your desk, or even necessarily big pics of your product. Make sure they are images that instantly tell your customer that they are in the right place. That you know what problem they have or what desire brought them there.
Don't just push… pull. Don't just talk… listen.
Don't just market… sell.