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In This Age of “Digital Overload,” Awareness is King!

Don't Be Afraid of Online StrategySo many companies are driving home the need for web presence, social media involvement, and outbound authorship (blogs). How can a small business owner wade through this sea of information and create an action plan? The answer starts with identifying strengths, setting goals, and aligning resources. An organized way to accomplish this is through a SWOT analysis. The analysis provides a framework to build strategy and align resources effectively.

Next Step: How?

The biggest issues facing small business owners are time management, costs, vendor selection, and creation of valuable content. Even with a comprehensive analysis building an effective action plan can be a challenge in itself. I have found the best method is to break down the solution into workable chunks and focus energy on each piece. To keep things in perspective a process-based approach to the problem is best. For the purpose of this discussion, let’s focus on your digital real estate the “website”.

Website, I don’t need no S*&^%@# Website!

Unfortunately the idea of a website is beyond the capability of many business owners and they simply ignore its value and opportunity in hopes of success using “old school” methods. If they send enough direct mail, go to enough networking events, and discount their wares, success is a sure bet. Not so in today’s business climate. All aspects of marketing have to be addressed in some fashion or failure will be a foregone conclusion. A website can be boiled down to two types: Informational or Call to Action.

Information Website

Companies that rely more on industry tenure, publicity, and/or indirect sales efforts may not need a massive web presence to be successful. These companies can use an informational site designed to demonstrate product knowledge, show industry issues, prove quality through testimonial, give access to distribution, and showcase their culture. The site normally includes data about the company, reference material about the products, lifestyle interaction, blogs, links to social media and forums, and connection to distributors or alliance partners. In essence, its primary purpose is company awareness.

Call To Action Website

Websites for small businesses should be incorporated as “call-to-action” marketing mechanisms. The driving goal is to stimulate direct sales or demonstrate content value leading to the sales process. This type of site should include information about the company, value of its products to the buyer, ability to purchase easily (shopping cart), and strong linkage to social media, market pulse, and valuable content like blogs, FAQs, forums, or white papers. This comes with a cost. Small business owners are wooed by third party sites that offer bundled services in lieu of component-based processes and pay a premium per transaction cost rather than a manageable monthly fee. Unfortunately, the devil IS in the details.

Websites for Information or ActionGetting the Process Right

Time to take a step back and evaluate the current organization of your business and see how a web presence can be more effective. In 2014 alone, over 40% of small and medium businesses are going to spend money on optimization and  websites platforms.  Obviously, fellow business owners have identified the need and are in the process of change. Your first step is to set a budget and list expectations prior to taking any action. Use a strategic plan that builds value, adaptability, and efficiency into the design proactively rather than reactively.  Marshall the right resources and start today because Inaction will eventually lead to failure.

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