I love being inspired. This morning, I read Biana Babinsky’s post, Stop Cold Calling. In it, she offers a three step plan for those starting out with online marketing.
- Define your target market
- Create/revise your web site to make it an effective sales tool
- Use online marketing techniques to drive your target market to your web site
These three steps are a really nice beginning. But if I’m a small business or independent service professional, you might be asking, “Aren’t I doing this already?”
It’s likely you’re not. The way to tell is to look at how your website came into existence.
The usual web design process is this:
- You decide you need a website
- You hire a web designer whose work you like and fits in your budget (though you’ve likely stretched your budget a bit)
- You decide on the pages you need, maybe with a little insight from your designer.
- Your web designer creates a visual design that you like and they love
- Your web designer builds out your website and launches it for you.
Now you sit back and wait for the business to rush in. But does it? Likely not. Hopefully you’re asking why. The reason is that you need more than simply a website to grow your business through the web. Otherwise, you’re left efforts and expense that isn’t likely to give you a return on your investment.
So how to you develop an effective, successful website/blog? The answer is a bit bigger than I can offer here. But it begins with understanding who you are, what you do and who you do it for and ends with a solid strategy for using your website to reach and convert your market.
Here’s a brief and undetailed outline for developing and executing a successful website/blog:
- Goals and Objectives – you must know what it is you want to accomplish with your website/blog (or business for that matter)
- Your Audience – who are you speaking too and what are their needs
- Your Peers & Competition – what are they doing well and what can you do better
- Content & Features – what content and features does your website/blog need to have in order to meet your audience’s needs and your business objectives
- Navigation & Visual Design – what goes where and how does it look
- Marketing Strategy – you have a website, now what are you going to do with it? How are you going to reach your market
- Measure and Evaluate – find the metrics and stats that will let you evaluate how well you’re meeting your objectives using your marketing strategy?
- Refine and Repeat – learn what works and what doesn’t and refine your marketing strategy (and maybe your website).
There. Those are the basic eight steps that a good, online business developer will help you through. The process is a bit longer and more involved than most people know it should be. Yet, it is the path to getting the results you want from your site.
I’ve learned, myself and with my clients, anything less than this overall approach to web business development is likely to fail. There are exceptions, but few and mostly for very rare circumstances.
Have I left anything out? What other elements go into creating a healthy website-based business?