I often get asked the same question: I’m a start-up and I need a website. How much? My response usually is: That depends on your needs. Are you looking for a small informational site or a larger transactional e-commerce website? Do you have a budget for the website and for marketing? Besides a website, have you thought of other channels like apps and mobile?
More often than not, my answer creates more questions and causes them to run for the hills. But that is not what I want to talk about. I want to switch the focus on what you are spending upfront vs what you can gain on the back end if you plan things right.
So, if you’re a start-up, here are 8 things you should consider before you talk to me or anyone else about building your web presence.
1. Marketing plan
A marketing plan should be the first thing on your list. It forces you to think about each major aspect and put things in black and white so you know what is needed before you start. It becomes your road map to set your direction. Most of what I cover here are also covered in you’re marketing plan, or it should.
To get help with a marketing plan you can contact your local SBDC office.
2. Website yesterday = web presence today.
You cannot think about a website-only approach as a marketing solution. Not anymore. A website can be a very good beginning but you should also consider mobile media or maybe an app is a better place to start depending on your business needs. There a number of successful businesses that skips the website all together and create an app instead. Then as an afterthought they create a website to support the app.
3. Are you turning on your customers or are you turning them away?
We all know that there are people that can make a website, email, banner for close to nothing. But what impact will it have on your business? A poorly planned site or app will turn your customers away.
4. Wrong technology will cost you
Many fall in the trap of “saving” money upfront and end up paying for it later.
It’s hard to imagine what will happen in one year in business and with the economy. But if you build your presence with your business goal in mind, it’s easier to predict what your will need down the road. If you invest in the wrong technology today and have to throw it all out in one year later, you have effectively thrown out most of your investment. You can avoid this trap by carefully plan your needs.
5. What do you want to get out of it?
Will you get the sales or leads that you are looking for? The answer can be sales if this is an e-commerce business. Or leads if the sales usually happens on the phone. But it does not have to be. It can be purely informational and give your potential customer a lot if information before they contact you and save your staff a lot of wasted time on the phone.
I want my clients to be goal oriented and know what they want from their web presence regardless if this means sales, leads or increased traffic. If you are looking to gain organic search engine traffic and build a flash based websites your are not going to gain the traffic you are looking for.
6. Do you have a marketing budget?
I have personally encountered many clients that are willing to spend the time, energy and money to build a website but have not thought about what it will take to make it successful. My question is: How are you planning to get the word out? What marketing channels are you planning to use? Do you have a marketing budget?
Building a web presence without thinking about how you are getting the word out is like in the old world to print thousands of glossy 4 color brochures and sticking them in your closet to collect dust. It’s a waste of time, energy and money.
7. Social media is not an option.
Consumers see social media as part of their everyday lives, and are accessing it via mobile devices. You need to be there if you are not already doing it. For a start-up you can start small and build a more complex web presence later. Tabjuice (http://www.tabjuice.com/) have launched an e-commerce solution where you can open your own store on Facebook.
8. Who is your target audience?
The most common answer I get is: Everybody! Sure you want everybody to buy your widget but it’s highly unlikely.
What are your strength and weakness in your offering and focus on the sweet spot?
Save your sanity
In the end it will save you time, effort, money and a lot of aggravation to consider these step before starting on your journey. I have seen many examples failed businesses with great ideas but no marketing muscle to back it. Don’t fall into that trap – get prepared.
I’m available for a free consultation if you have questions. I have been successful in building businesses on the web and are actively looking for new opportunities. If you have a web-based idea or app that development help but you have no idea what to do next, contact me.