Table Stakes: Your Website

I write a lot about business strategy and topics such as differentiation . Those are incredibly important to the growth of your business.

But today I want to move downstream and discuss table stakes. For those unfamiliar with the term, the Urban Dictionary colorfully defines it as “the minimum amount of effort your lazy [___] needs to expend to compete at work, in relationships and basically all facets of life.”

I don’t think we need to be that harsh, but for our purposes, we can say that table stakes are what customers have been trained to expect when they look to do business with someone in your industry. These things could include good customer services, returning their phone calls in a timely manner, keeping your promises, quick shipping, and so on.

Table stakes are high online

But there are also more general types of table stakes that aren’t specific to any industry. And one of the most important places where this comes into play is on your website.

In working with various clients on their web presence and messaging, I’ve come to see a few patterns. So in service to them and to others with a nagging sense their website isn’t up to scratch, I offer my top 10 table stakes for B2B or B2C websites:

  1. The copyright notice in your footer displays the current year.
  2. You’re using photos of real people, not stock photos.
  3. You have photos of your team on your website.
  4. There’s a real email address someone can use to get in touch with you, not info@soandso.com or sales@soandso.com.
  5. You either have blogs posted within the past month or have removed dates from your posts entirely.
  6. The titles of your blog posts are not cut off.
  7. The font size you use is at least 12pt.
  8. There’s a phone number someone can call to talk to a real person.
  9. You’ve translated any industry jargon into plain English.
  10. Your text and images aren’t low-resolution or distorted.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it’s a start!

Time to set the table?

Not having these items in place gives customers the impression that your business is not current, is not invested and frankly is not all that interested in being of service to them. Of course a business never intentionally neglects its website, but the effect is the same.

Don’t fall down at the first hurdle when prospects come to your website. Make sure they see what they’re expecting. If you do that, then you’ve started down the path to building the trust that’s essential for any sale.

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