Disciplines Engaged: Think, Plan, Move, Write
“I hate our website.”
Those are the words that come out of nearly every prospective clients’ mouths during the first minute of our first conversation. Then I hear things like this:
“The navigation is confusing.”
“The content is stale.”
“Some of the links don’t work.”
And then I hear these things:
“I want to blog.”
“I want to have a presence on social media.”
“I want to publish a newsletter or something so that people will have a reason to come to our site.”
Then, I remind them that they just told me they hate their site, and the conversation repeats itself. Then your website languishes. Months elapse. Years elapse. No changes.
No kidding, I just got off the phone with a client who said all of those things and, as I was talking with her, I checked her site. There are a series of blog posts highlighted on her home page. The last one is dated June 12, 2012. And that seems to be a common time for people to have stopped blogging for some reason, five years ago.
Recently I was watching the movie The Founder, which is the story of Ray Kroc and how he turned McDonald’s into an empire. Several years after he began franchising McDonald’s, the restaurants were making a killing, yet Kroc was nearly bankrupt. Then a man named Harry Sonneborn entered the picture and illuminated a path that actually ended up leading to Kroc’s unbridled wealth. What Sonneborn realized, and which Kroc had not, was that Kroc was not in the food-service business; he was in the real estate business. From that point forward, the company’s profits would not be driven by the sale of hamburgers and milk shakes, but by purchasing land and leasing that land to McDonald’s locations as part of franchise agreements.
I had a similar epiphany last year when I had the opportunity to accompany a few investor relations executives as they told the stories about their companies to investors and to financial analysts. One company was a major hotel chain; another was a medical instruments company; and another was one of the largest banks in the world. Dominating the conversations in each of the meetings was not the products and services the companies were developing; what dominated the conversations was the TECHNOLOGY the companies were using to engage with their clients and partners.
In each corresponding case, the company was no longer a hotel chain, a medical instruments company, or a bank, each of them now is a technology company.
My point is this. Practically without exception, your website is the heart and soul of your enterprise. It is where you clients and members shape their perspectives of you. Your website is the difference between failure and success, or maybe between success and wild success.
Ignore the problems you know exist on your website at your peril. Stay away from social media as a way to draw people to your site if your goal is to prevent your business from growing. And procrastinate on creating a digital newsletter, but know that every day you do so is a day you’re not creating leads and new business.
So, with all that’s riding on it, how could you possibly allow your website and your digital/social media presence to be anything other than a near-perfect reflection of your business?
Because it seems like it will take too much time, too much expense, and too much aggravation to get it done. As with many activities, the most intimidating element of the process is knowing where and how to begin.
So here are some ideas.
First, get moving. Take a couple of hours. Look around at sites that you like. Take a peak at your competitors’ sites and note what they do well and where you think you could be doing better. Assemble some colleagues and/or some friends, and talk to a few clients. Throw some ideas around, get some perspectives.
Here are seven questions to ask as you think about your website and your digital/social media presence:
- Whom in particular do you wish to attract to your website?
- Why should people visit your website?
- What do you want them to do when they get to your site?
- What sites might they be visiting now?
- What do you want your clients, members, or prospects to know about you?
- What is the compelling story about your business and how can you tell that story on your website and through social media?
- How will you continue getting people to visit your website?