BSC Web sites: If you build it, will they come?
Many businesses make the mistake of creating Web sites that are essentially self-promoting advertisements.

Self-promotion definitely is not the approach to use if you want your Web site to serve as a marketing tool for your business. Your Web site should be centered around your prospects and what you can do for them. In other words, offer solutions to your customers’ problems and show them why they should call you.

To create a successful, customer-needs focused Web site, you must understand the four elements necessary to convey your marketing message: strategy, design, creativity and architecture.

Marketing strategy. Focus on customer needs. Ask yourself, “What do clients look for in a janitorial service?” and “What are a customers’ overriding concerns when selecting a new contractor?” Is it price? Is it quality? Most clients will tell you that they want a contractor that charges fairly and meets their needs satisfactorily. Your marketing strategy should impress upon your prospects that you can do this for them.

Design. Consult a professional designer. Design, color, graphics and artwork, and overall style are very subjective terms, but a skilled graphic designer will know what is most visually appealing and professional.

Creativity. Find ways to make your site stand out and attract interest in your company. Study the Web sites of other building service contractors around the globe. See what they have done that you find impressive and how they use a customer-needs approach.

Navigation. Finally, make sure your site is easy to navigate; this is the site’s architecture. Be sure everything on your Web site is easy to find, all pertinent information is readily available, and everything follows a logical pattern.

As a marketing tool, a Web site should tell your prospects two things: What you do and how you can help them. Always keep these two essentials in mind. Convey these messages impressively to encourage perspective clients to take the next step and contact you.

Robert Kravitz is a 30-year veteran of the janitorial industry. He has written four books on the janitorial industry and is manager of Internet content for the International Sanitary Supply Association.

Mobile Software Kiosks Take Flight
Are you looking for new ways to make your time spent on business trips more productive?

New Mobile Content kiosks from nReach are popping up at the Los Angeles International Airport this fall, allowing PDA and hand-held computer users to download maps, books, personal and business legal forms, business inventory software, asset manager software, movies, music and games for purchase.

To transfer programming from the kiosk, customers insert their preferred media card or disc into a corresponding slot and choose titles to purchase. After a financial transaction, the kiosk determines what type of device is being used, transferring the appropriate file in seconds.

The nReach kiosk will roll out nationally in retail establishments, malls and airports.

Google’s Got Answers, Just Ask
Need an answer to a quick question, but you’re not sure who to ask, and your own Internet searches come up empty? Try your luck at Google Answers.

The site,, allows users to register and post questions on any topic, ranging from how to program a speed dial to explanations of the origins of the universe. Askers also set the price, anywhere from $2.50 on up, generally selecting higher prices for more difficult questions.

Registered researchers then peruse the questions and will choose to answer one if the price is right. A good answer could include several links to Web sites for more information. Users can add comments, rate answers or ask for a refund if the results were unsatisfactory. One caveat: Although researchers have gone through a screening process, they aren’t experts in every field, so any law- or safety-related information they give shouldn’t be taken as binding legal advice.

There have been a few cleaning-related questions posted to the site — one user wanted to find an environmentally friendly carpet cleaning firm in Baltimore, and another needed to find out how to care for leather furniture.

But building service contractors looking to make a few extra dollars as researchers are out of luck — even though the site still is in beta testing, the response to the initial call for researchers was so great the company isn’t accepting new applicants. (Try again in a few months.)

Stacie Whitacre, managing editor