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Having posted a copywriting tip about the importance of prominent contact details on Twitter and Facebook, I decided the subject was worthy of a blog post.

I’m sure I’m not alone in suffering the frustration of wanting to contact a company after looking at their website, and several minutes later giving up because their details were not to be found!  I touched on this subject in an earlier blog about calls to action and recommended you include a phone number there too.

Companies which fail to provide their contact details on their marketing materials are nothing new.  Perhaps worse are the examples of incorrect contact details – old addresses and phone numbers which are no longer in service.  Have you experienced this?

For want of an address a sale was lost!

In the late 1990s, a brochure from a garden centre was posted through my letter box.  It arrived at a very opportune time.  I decided to pay them a visit and buy some plants.  But, I had recently moved to the area and I didn’t have a clue where this particular garden centre was located.  I combed the brochure from start to finish and – nothing!  Undeterred, I went online to see if I could find a website – there wasn’t one (but that wasn’t uncommon at that time).  Because the garden centre wasn’t in the immediate area, they weren’t in my Yellow Pages either.  Needless to say that garden centre didn’t get my sale and I can’t  help but wonder how many other people were put off by their oversight.

What the law says

But aside from the inconvenience and the possible loss of business, companies failing to put their contact details on their website are breaching the legislation.  The law states a company must disclose its address on its website, other marketing materials and business communications.  Sole traders or partnerships must give a business address – a PO Box doesn’t count.

Limited companies must display their registration number, state where the company is registered and give the registered office address.  If you are VAT registered, then your VAT registration number should also be given.  Remember: this doesn’t just apply to your website – even your email signature should contain the same information.

Address it and gain!

Apart from the legal implications, companies which hide under a veil of anonymity are missing some very obvious marketing opportunities.

In today’s market there is an increasing desire to ‘keep it local’.  ‘Business miles’ are as important to some as ‘food miles’.  If your website visitor can’t tell if you are in Wick or Winchester, you could be missing out on valuable local sales.

Then of course there’s the matter of trust.  Are you going to spend your hard-earned cash with a company you know nothing about and can’t contact if things go wrong?  I wouldn’t and I don’t think I’m alone in that!

I know many home business owners are reluctant to display their address publicly.  If it does concern you, perhaps using a virtual office address is the solution.  The benefits of being open and visible can far outweigh the disadvantages of being a well-kept secret.

Blog post by Joy McCarthy

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