One of the world’s most famous questions…. ”which came first”. Whichever way you look at it there is always an equally compelling counter argument, an alternative perspective. However, within marketing the answer is much clearer cut…
Q: Should a business get their website sorted before considering their wider marketing strategy?
A: Definitely not!
It amazes us how many clients approach Opportunity Marketing to help with their marketing, just after they have had their website redesigned. However, there are no logical alternative perspectives to this one, it is just a big mistake. When you think about it, the logic is obvious. Before embarking on any marketing activity (and yes, a website is a marketing activity) then the business needs to have absolute clarity over what its all-encompassing marketing strategy actually is. But why?
A well thought through marketing strategy will lay out the following elements….
- The company’s mission, vision and values
- The company’s competitive positioning
- Clearly defined key target markets and their purchasing behaviours
- Segmentation of products and services
- Core messaging
- Financial metrics surrounding cost per enquiry (CPE) and cost per acquisition (CPA)
When you consider the above points, you wonder how on earth anyone can design a website that is going to work for the company without knowing all of this. Now some business owners will, quite rightly, claim that they already know all of the above. Unfortunately though, if it is in their head, it does not mean that they can necessarily communicate this effectively to their web designer. Nor does it mean that a web designer has an effective process to extract this information from the business.
Create a Brief
When we talk to website designers we often ask how detailed the brief’s are that they receive from clients. We are usually met with a puzzled look and “brief? What brief?” Not only does this mean that the web designer is working “blind”, it also means that project is going to take much longer than it needs to – and we are talking additional months here rather than weeks (recent horror stories have even turned into years).
Another mistake that most SMEs make is getting a website designed because they “want a new website”. They will either be driven to launching a new one because they are bored with the current one, it looks outdated, or it is not currently generating anything for them. However, without the above insight a new website that looks better is still likely to be just as ineffective.
If from the onset of the project the client has no idea on all of the above, or even an understanding of what they want their website to achieve for them, how can even the best web design company in the world create anything worthwhile?
Understand the online market
Another issue which we continually come up against is that companies have no idea what the online potential for their business is. There has been little to no research into keyword volumes or trends and many companies today still do not even have Google Analytics embedded in their site.
What this means is because there has been little research into the terms that the target customers are using and their behaviours, companies are often wide of the mark with headings and page titles, using too much industry jargon that many prospective customers won’t even understand. Every website project must start from the outside and view things from the customer’s perspective assuming that they have found your business “cold” from a Google search. Are you making their journey to enquiry or sale as easy and as straightforward as possible? Most business owners struggle to view things from any other perspective than their own.
So, before you embark on the next development of your website, pause for a moment, take a breath and think about the above. Do I know the answers to these questions? Can I provide a website company with clarity, do I know how I want it structured and why? If the answer is no, then you need to speak to a marketing strategy specialist first to potentially carry out a marketing audit. This will also enable all of your marketing activity (the bigger picture) to be coordinated and consistent.
A good analogy is to imagine you have bought a plot of land and are planning to build your dream home. Would you just crack on and start building from your imagination – describing to a builder from your mind’s eye what you would like? Or would you take the time to get an architect to design up some drawings first to ensure that the house would work for you, and so that the builder had clear direction from which to work from and the build was complete on time, on budget and to the specifications required?
So before you start always ensure you put the chicken before the egg, or is it the egg before the chicken?
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