Saturday, August 14, 2010

Purpose Then Strategy

We're in the final days of an election campaign and this has brought about a lot of opinions on whether we 'need' or 'don't need' items around infrastructure and specifically a reliable National Broadband Network. It mirrors opinions around other issues such as whether businesses ‘need’ to be online and using marketing online as a part of their business strategy. Frankly someone using wireless broadband in their house successfully, doesn't mean that it is appropriate for sustaining a national rollout for the next generation. But you have to know something about the topic, in order to understand that these are different contexts, and that different solutions may be the appropriate choice for the issues at hand.

The same is true in business.

Here’s the thing. If a country needs a high speed internet service, or a business needs an overall online marketing presence on the web, then the right way to do it is something that can only be judged after review of the information available, based on merit . If the business has an online presence – or not – determining the right course of action, needs to be done in an environment where all the issues are laid out and examined, as part of that decision making process. No matter whether that decision is: Yes to proceeding, or No.
Understanding the background issues and the facets that will have an impact on what comes after the decision, is fundamental to getting great outcomes.

Example Case: Your Company Starting A Website

Take as an example, a company starting a website. The website needs to fulfil your expectations of what you want it to deliver.So it should follow the form that will allow it to successfully do the thing for which it was designed.

If the purpose of the exercise is to create an additional sales channel for the business, then it is going to need elements that satisfy different desires. It needs to satisfy the end user, the owner and the web developer, to the degree that they can produce a website with the functionality to do, that for which it has been produced.

Lets look at this as a project for a website for a business owner.
Just suppose...

The Company wants:

• To make sales through a new sales channel
• To generate prospects for ongoing sales
• Enhance reputation and positioning
• Ownership and functionality of the site so that changes can be made in-house, easily as needed.

This requires:

• The business to be found by search engines on the first page
• Promotion to attract the right kind of traffic to find it
• A means of capturing visitors who will be interested in receiving future offers and information
• Technical capacity to allow for the smooth transaction of sales
• An ongoing budget with funds to drive the marketing and promotions through this new sales channel
• Functionality that allows the owner of the site to manage the content in-house.

Customers - People searching for it want:

• To find what they are looking for
• Good information to inform them about the products
• To be able to buy what they are looking for easily
• To be able to find out how to get what they want from you
• How to contact you if they wish to
• How to resolve a problem if they have one
• Ease of fulfilment of their purchase
• To feel that you appreciate them choosing to purchase from you

This requires:

• Content that is relevant and of interest to those who would search for it
• A pleasing look and good navigation so people are encouraged to stay and look around
• Simple to find the thing the person is seeking
• A way to buy that is easy to find and easy to complete the sale
• Good system for delivery and problem solving if it becomes necessary
• Client nurturing systems to let customers know you value them and want them to come back
• Delivery systems that are simple and do what they promise

To Get This, Requires:

• Clear instructions to your web developer on what you want to achieve and what you don’t want.
• The web developer to be honest about their capacity to deliver as promised
• A process for delivery as scheduled on time and on budget
• Documentation to you showing how the website will deliver as promised
• Open communication at all stages
• Keeping to the scope of the project as you originally stated it
• Any variations to be documented to show how this will affect budget and delivery dates
• Evidence before commencing, that the developer has completed a project of similar complexity to this kind of project, on time and on budget (especially important if a complex site and not a simple ‘out of the box’ solution
• In many cases, ‘Out of the box’ solution may well be preferable over anything needing to be coded ‘from scratch’! (“There be Beasties here”)
• That there is a backup plan in case the developer is unable to finish as promised. “What If?” Are there others in the organisation capable of delivery of the project?
• Support after launch of the site to ensure that the website continues to function as per the original purpose and to tweak as required.

In this way, the project can progress, and deliver results in line with the objective.

What about SEO?

Note that these issues will take some time to be fleshed out. Each project will have a set of conditions that may be unique to that business and the objectives, but by working through a process to pinpoint the objectives and the overall purpose, there is a chance that the project can actually be set up to do that thing that it was intended to do, and have the functionality it needs for that to happen, and the pieces in place to allow the business and the customers to be happy with the result.

Now if we could just get the voters to look at the issue of a strong reliable fast national broadband network, with the same approach, we might have something!

Lindy Asimus Business Coach & Social Media Development Design Business Engineering
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