Ideas for Your Business from Idea Cafe

Just the FAQs, Ma'am

Do you find yourself answering the same questions over and over? Stuff like: Where are you located? What time do you open? What kinds of companies do you work with? Who are your past clients?

When these questions come by phone, you have no choice but to answer them in person or put on an annoying voice mail system. But the culture of the Net created a better solution, the "FAQ" -- a list of Frequently Asked Questions -- along with your answers to them. When people ask for more information about your company -- everything from who's involved in the biz to how much you charge -- they can find it in your FAQ (you can email a FAQ list or post it on your website or both).

Idea Cafe's Guide to Creating Your Small Business FAQ

1. Start with the questions. Brainstorm all the things people ask you all the time. Then think about other things you'd like them to know about your biz, and turn those points into questions, too. Give clear and easy answers. Be thorough but not tedious. Short and to the point works best.

NOTE: Typically, FAQs list all of the questions at the top (so readers know what to anticipate or know where to scroll down to in order to answer their own question). Then the FAQ starts the question-answer format.

2. Add some flavor. A bland list of questions and answers can be pretty boring. Keep us interested with an oddball question, an unknown fact about your biz, lively writing that sounds more like your own voice and less like an accounting textbook.

3. Include Useful Stuff. It's great if your FAQ makes people laugh and satisfies their curiosity. But it's also good to give them some substance. Give meaningful info about your company, and definitely include info on how to reach you offline and how to order what your offer. Plus, you might want to list other information resources they can turn to, like an article or Website to check out on the subject. It makes you look good to be helpful.

4. Tell Them How to Reach You. A FAQ list will help filter out the real prospects from the "lookie-loos", so you probably want to let potential customers know how to get in touch with you off-line. Phone number, fax, location, and hours are a must.

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