Since I have run into this issue with several clients and prospects as of late, I thought I would post a blog about it since it is on the forefront of my mind. In fact, I have taken this directly from a presentation I gave to a group looking to build a website.
A lot of organizations start with the idea that what they need is a website. So they start talking to web development shops in the hope that they can find one that will develop the best website for the least amount of money.
In my presentation I used the following analogy:
In general, how many people do you know who ask for a bid from their contractor:
before they draw up the blueprints:
However, most organizations ask for exactly that. Web developers are excellent problem solvers, but they need to solve the right problems. They will also tell you that the worst thing that happens with clients is they develop a really cool website, but the client asks them “where is the content”. The web developer typically expects the client to write their own content, but the client expects – a website.
Here is my formula for launching a website. In the end, just because you build it doesn’t me people will come to it. I broke it up into 7 easy steps:
- Positioning – Who is the website for? Why would the want to go to the website? What are the types of things they are looking for? What makes you different than everyone else out there? All these questions need to be answered before you ever put fingers to keyboard.
- Design – This is the blueprint phase of the process. This is where you typically identify key functionality, click flow, and usability, you build a site map, and you do blocking layouts for key pages. If done right, 60% of building a website should be in this phase.
- Build – This is the step most organizations are looking for when they want someone to do a website for them. However, a true build includes programming, writing content, proofing, testing, and revisions.
- Recruitment – Who are the influencers who will encourage participation? What is the value proposition to the influencers? Where does your audience congregate? Whatever your target audience, it is key to recruit both contributors and buyers.
- Online Promotion – Once your website is live, it is critical to promote it. This includes things like search engine optimization (both paid and organic), blogger relations, social tagging, and social networking. There are many ways to promote your website using web 2.0 tools, but they all require involvement and time.
- Offline Promotion – In the end, a website is just a digital store front. Even if you don’t sell products online, you sell yourself. Therefore, any traditional marketing efforts you use should drive traffic to your website. These could include efforts such as public relations, strategic alliances, events, and advertising.
- Maintenance – This one is often forgotten. However, it needs to be decided up front who will be responsible not only for ongoing site changes (new features, bug fixes, etc.), but who will be responsible for fresh content.
In the end, a website is just a tool that needs to be used properly in order to be effective. Not only that, but web marketing follows the basic rules of general marketing, namely – you have to have an audience that cares and engage that audience in what you are doing.