I can see you.
A company's reasons for building a website fall under the following main areas:
- Credentials, confirmations site
- Ecom, sell products site
- Information site
- Professional association site
- Catalog site
- Ego site
...or any combination of the above.
The one thing businesses have in common is that they are trying to figure out how to translate what they are doing in the 'real' world to the Internet. The Internet can really feel unreal sometimes. I think partly this comes from the fact that you've been able to hide for a long time behind your tiny, brand-challenged, local experience. That might seem a bit harsh but once you're on the Internet then everyone can see you and suddenly you need to up your game and you've no experience with game upping. You have no experience playing on a bigger stage.
You've never had to dress for the big party and you're confused which outfit to buy. You are also really shocked at how much a nice outfit costs. You've spent all your life doing business by picking up the phone. Your voice and your integrity are your brand. But that doesn't translate on the Internet. It's really hard to describe in words how good you are, besides, that's not what an Internet audience is coming to your website for. They are coming to your website to satisfy their own needs, not get a lesson in YOU 101. A website is really a different beast.
In other words, Would your mother let your website go out dressed like that? I think not.
So, now with this lack of motivation, knowledge and resources are now ready to start selling online? Right now you're thinking, "I don't need any of this honesty. I need fake motivation so I can hand over untold amounts of cash to someone who will tell me that my future is in my future, or some such thing. You're a downer."
Sorry, I'm a downer, but at least this excellent advice is free. And the fact is an online business is not the same as your bricks and mortars business. You will have to have the following nailed down:
- You will have to know who your target market is (And it's not everyone, I might add. If you said everyone, then go to jail, go directly to jail and do not pass GO.)
- Are you B2B, or B2C?
- You will need to know how you want to be portrayed. What do you want others to think of you?
- Do you have a professionally designed logo that makes it clear what you do or sets the tone as to what kind of company you are?
- Do you have lots of great content in the form of stunning product photography and videos?
NOTE: Do you really want your website to be the equivalent of the ripped vinyl chairs you have in your waiting room?
- What are you going to sell? Are you going to sell everything or just a subset?
- How are you going to handle fulfilment? Are you selling outside of the country?
- What kind of ecom do you need? Does it have to tie into your POS (point of sales) system? Does it have to work with your accounting program?
- Do you have a payment gateway account already? If not, then one will have to be set up.
- Do you want to have people post their opinions about your product or service?
- Do you have a social media strategy (do you need one?)
- Have you researched your competition?
- Better still, have you researched your market? Are you selling on line what you should be selling? Are you sure how you are selling is correct for online?
- Do you have someone full-time attacking this or is this a part-time, test-the-waters thing?
- Are you capturing opt-in user information?
- Are you planning on using this data to send regular email offers and news?
The thing that really disappoints me is how little companies respect the power of the Internet. They think they can 'just throw something up' and that's that. Their driving force is to do as little, and to do it as cheaply, as possible. Don't forget that the number one motivator for many businesses to having a website is because their competition have one. That's not a Johnny-come-lately attitude, that's a Johnny-you're-a-loser attitude and I see this all the time. Most companies view the a website as an expense and not as an investment.
There is nothing wrong with setting something up that is the best you can do at the time you can do it, but then don't leave it alone for 5 years collecting mould. Revisit it every 3 months and see what you can do to improve it. Are you measuring traffic? Do you have sales targets? You're no longer in some cinderblock business unit in an industrial park you're on the world stage. People in North Korea can see you!
Paul Chato has been many things: a graphic designer, programmer, comedian, head of network TV comedy, game producer, 3D animator, playwright, event host, director and anything else that matches his fancy. Most of the time he is a managing partner at Your Web Department and is most excited about LiveBuild™.
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