Jill Smith has published a book and wants to sell in it online. She contacts a Web designer who offers three packages: an economy package, a mid-range package and a premium package. Jill doesn’t know which option to pick so she goes with the least expensive one “in case this doesn’t work.”
The designer builds the site according to Jill’s specifications, takes Jill’s money and moves on to the next client. Jill is left to market her site (by doing that she thinks she’s marketing her book) and a few months later, lack of results, not knowing what to do, and frustration take their toll and she decides, “this website thing just doesn’t work.”
Jill’s real goal has never been met. She wants a website because she thinks that will help her sell her book online. The designer failed to help Jill reach her goal because the designer only thought in terms of building a website that met Jill’s budget. In the end, only the designer wins: the designer at least gets paid for a poor-performance website.
More often than not this scenario characterizes people’s experiences with Web design. Their goals and objectives are not met because:
1) The designer doesn’t design the whole website. The designer creates pages and ways for clients to maintain their website’s content, but no guidance is given on what that content should be, how content affects SEO, and how content drives sales.
2) The designer’s background is in web design, not Internet marketing so the designer automatically assumes a website is a client’s best option, when in fact it may not be.
3) The client assumes marketing online means a website; s/he does not know there are other options – sometimes better options – available for reaching his/her online marketing goals.
Had Jill approached an Internet marketer the results would have been much different.
For an Internet Marketer, the goal is selling Jill’s products or services, not building a website. It may be that Jill doesn’t even need a website for her project and could invest her online marketing dollars elsewhere and get better results.
Internet Marketing is collaboration between the client and marketer. The marketer works very hard to understand (and often help the client understand) the client’s real goals and objectives. When those are established, an Internet Marketing Plan is designed that addresses these major online marketing areas:
1) Relationship Development – How will the Internet marketer help Jill establish relationships with her online customers? What demographics will this product reach and how do we connect the product with the personas that are in this demographic?
2) Conversion Optimization – How will customers come in contact with the product and how are they intentionally moved to a point of sale? What unique messages need to be crafted for presentation in a variety of online marketing arenas? If the product is sold on its own website, what kind of testing plan will be used to maximize sales?
3) Traffic and Promotion – In what markets will this product most likely do well? How will the marketing campaign reach broad markets, targeted markets, and intention-based markets? What SEO strategy (there is more than one) should be used for this particular product? What marketing assumptions can be made and tested with respect to these markets?
4) Community Building – How will we build a secondary relational network around Jill’s product that gives it more validity and adds value to Jill’s customers? What partnerships can be developed with other non-competing entities that strengthen them and Jill’s product? How can this network create a better user experience for the customer?
A website without a marketing plan is like a car without an engine. It may look great, the radio works, the windows go up and down, but when it comes to getting results – it goes nowhere.
This is why my company, Imagine That Creative, includes a marketing plan with every Web development proposal we create. If you have a product or service you want to offer online, start with us. Our mission is to grow your business. We have the expertise and experience to do that. If we can’t – we’ll tell you and recommend someone who can – even a competitor.