In the past, if you wanted a new website – or to redesign an existing one – the first step was to find a web design firm. This was fine when your website was an online brochure.
Today, if you make your first concern the design and look/feel of your site, you’re missing valuable opportunities to use the web project to refine or redefine your business focus, to add new business lines – and to get found.
A marketing/business consultant is well suited to help you in this effort and is a prudent first stop. Getting an outside eye on your business and online marketing can yield fresh ideas about how you can use your web presence to grow.
Then find a good design/web development firm capable of implementing your brand identity and web strategy, offering technical advice, and organizing your content for usability. Your marketing consultant will undoubtedly be able to help you source the right partner.
Here are 20 steps to structuring a website project to maximize business growth:
1. Review and audit your current marketing, as well as new marketing approaches you’d like to add.
2. Be able to articulate, “What’s our business?”
3. Do a lot of competitive research. Look at other sites. See what your competitors are doing or not doing. A good consultant will come up with ways that you can leap-frog them with your expanded web presence. (Tip: SEO utilizing current best practices provides fertile soil for growth. Most businesses simply aren’t doing it, or doing it right.)
4. Be sure to answer the question: “Are there any new products, services or offerings related to our core business that we can and should add?”
5. Make sure you’re focused on the right customer.
6. Identify your market positioning.
7. Think out of the box to identify all stakeholders and key influencers.
8. Interview a few of them
9. Develop your key messages – the most important ideas you want to convey consistently to your audiences.
10. Do your keyword research – identify the words/phrases people are actually using to search on line for products/services like yours. (Hint: Not necessarily the words you’d use to search for them).
11. Organize your site by developing a sample navigation. Be sure to include a blog if you want to drive maximum traffic to your site. Have your consultant recommend internal linking strategies to help users work efficiently through your site.
12. Decide: What existing content can be re-used? What content should be scrapped? What new pages do you need to develop?
13. Determine the level of control you want or need to have over your website. What edits do you want to be able to make in-house without tech assistance. We recommend having as much control as possible if you want to use your website to help grow your business.
14. Source a web designer/developer who works in technology platforms that will accommodate the level of control you desire.
15. Provide the navigation and all the guidance you’ve developed in completing the steps above to your web developer. It will help them prepare a realistic budget.
16. Write/develop the content for all of your pages – including all SEO information for each page, any photos, videos and other media you’ll want to use – and provide the content to the web developer.
17. Get into the design process and have fun with the visual.
18. Code the site in accordance with the provided SEO, content and linking strategies. In the case of website re-do’s, make sure to properly re-direct existing pages and to retain important backlinks to the site.
19. Test and tweak for usability.
Emphasizing business and marketing strategy first in the web development process has never failed to yield new directions for our clients’ businesses.
The illustration “Dollar Sign in Space” is by DonkeyHotey under Creative Commons license.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
On Saturday evening, Jeff and I went into NY City to hear a classic jazz trio – piano, bass and drums — of the highest caliber at the intimate jazz room in the Kitano Hotel. The trio was led by George Cables on piano, who has played with everyone from Art Blakey to Sarah Vaughan to Sonny Rollins. He was joined by the best rhythm section in the business, Peter Washington on stand-up bass and Lewis Nash on drums.
That evening’s performance reminded me again why I love jazz. It is the single most intelligent and creative art form I’ve ever experienced – and when it’s melodic, rhythmic and it swings, it’s heaven on earth. At the highest levels, it demonstrates improvisational qualities that we can all seek to emulate and bring into our work lives. If we’re able to do that, we will surely elevate our business games.
Let me explain. I’ve heard many hundreds of live jazz sets over the years. Every once in awhile, one stands out as spectacular — beyond special. That happened on Saturday. The jazz musicians we heard this weekend have their skills honed and fine tuned to the max – as many of us do in our chosen fields. When they play their solos, their virtuosity is unmistakable. That’s job one for all of us: get our chops up.
It’s what they do in the ensemble environment that provides awesome lessons for business – and, in this political season, for government, too.
We observed the epitome of active listening. There was an intensity to it – although it seemed effortless. You could see – and hear the result of — the three listening to one another. It enabled them to pick up on a musical phrase played by one and allowed the others to echo it or bend it or transform it.
Do you think this level of listening could boost the results of corporate teams, small businesses and the US Congress? It’s not about what power I can gain by pushing my idea, but what we can all achieve together by listening to each other’s ideas to synthesize new and exciting solutions.
There were also non-verbal cues: a nod, a gesture, fingers held up in a silent count. The trio picked them all up and used them to create a polished performance that has never before or will ever again be created. It was seamless and precise. It sounded like they were reading from a score, but they weren’t. They were playing from a basic set of chords and improvising on the fly.
It reminded me of a moment a while back at a meeting with a prospective client, the owner of a business. He had invited key staff members to join us and provide their input. When they got too far from his vision and tolerances, I saw his expression change.
I chose that moment to make eye contact with him to express that I was happy to engage with his staff, but that I recognized that ultimately he was the client and decision maker. In that brief instant, he and I communicated how we would proceed together.
In an hour of music, there was also a lesson in story telling. Several of the tunes were George Cable compositions. Original works by jazz musicians fill the jazz repertoire.
Young players feel compelled to follow in this tradition but don’t really understand what makes a great tune. They think that if they write a theme — a few notes — and improvise on those notes seemingly endlessly, they’ve composed a song worthy of recording. Not!
There is only a handful of musicians who are also great composers; whose songs, in my opinion, are worth recording. Dave Brubeck is one and George Cables is another. The reason they stand out is that they know how to tell a musical story.
Their stories are about something that we can relate to. They have a beginning, a middle and an end. Go to www.georgecables.com. You’ll spontaneously hear part of one of his compositions called Song for Helen. He wrote it for his life partner, a woman whose love saw him through a liver and kidney transplant. You’ve probably never heard it before. But you’ll want to hear it again. You’ll get what their relationship is about. We who create content need to keep story telling top of mind.
The final business lesson from jazz in this post is that none of the above could happen without respect. It all started with musicians who respect one another’s talents and skills. Without that they could not have listened without ego, subjugating their own needs to what they could create as a group. Nor could they have trusted their nonverbal cues to be understood and acted upon.
The story telling part comes from self respect, which allows us to honestly communication our life experiences. I hope you enjoyed this story of a Saturday night out that led to some thoughts that could propel me into a more effective Monday.
What are your passions that give you lessons for your work life? And thanks for sharing one or two.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 4 so far )
Welcome to Tuesday Tweets for August 16, 2011 — where we take a look at tweets from my Twitter timeline for do’s, don’ts, best practices – and sometimes just for fun. Keep in mind that what we examine here is in no way personal. We’re all learning about building audiences online. In that spirit, if you disagree with my assessments, let me have it! I’m learning, too!
If you want to stay on top of what’s going on in technology, following TechCrunch is a must. This tweet is the big one from TechCrunch, though; the one I’ve been waiting for. Finally someone’s invented a way that I the tube will mute itself when I’m lunching in front of the screen and a pharma ad comes on, complete with a long list of nauseating potential side effects. I’m already compiling my list of keywords to trigger the blessed silence.
This chick-friendly tweet from Nick Jones got me seeing visions of shopping bags dancing in my head. When I clicked the link it got me to a page with the right headline and a video that said, “The video is no longer available because the YouTube account associated with this video has been terminated.” How disappointing. L But then I saw a link that said, “read the rest of the story…” so I clicked. It did get me to a blog post with links to a few bargain fashion sites, but it seemed as though – even though the post date was today — the content was recycled on this news aggregator site as the post referenced Spring clothing in the stores andHollywoodawards show glam season. It was a bit confusing. Nice idea, but it’s a good reminder to check out what’s at the end of links before we tweet them.
@dragonblogger Justin Germino Challenge me in the Random Twitter Poetry game. Send me 1 word to use in today’s poem.
A few weeks ago in Tuesday Tweets I referenced @dragonblogger’s interesting idea of twitter-sourcing a poem – and stated at the time that it was unique and looked like it would be fun to play. Well yesterday I did. I sent the word ‘vision’. Here are the subsequent tweets and the results.
The Climb is a poem about climbing the corporate ladder but doing so any way possible even at the expense of integrity or honor. This poem was inspired by the 10 random submissions (in bold) provided by the following Twitter players:
@ptaylor98 (enthusiastic), @eileencan (peck), @techwork_dk (Monday), @laraca44 (softly), @sweetnote (fiducia), @alanhbush (cacophony), @elliebpr (vision), @rajanbalana (crystal), @opinionatedant (quest), @wordzeal (salacious)
Fiducia means trust, faith
Monday‘s crystal vision
salacious quest of life
you softly peck your way
silently over the cacophony
Enthusiastic measures pay off
corporate ladder with sawed rungs
caring not for loss of fiducia
as long as you reach the top
Poem by Justin Germino
@elliebpr recommends you follow @dragonblogger who does this out of his passion for poetry. I was pleased to join the others to contribute to his creative ‘vision.’ No corporate ladders at all cost for me!!
Come on and send me some of your favorite tweets!!
The recently adopted Tuesday Tweets graphic is from Freshalex Online under Creative Commons license.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
What’s more powerful than re-tweeting someone’s tweet or answering 1000 questions on LinkedIn? What will build relationships faster than the speed of light?
Connecting people to each other.
If you listen carefully to what people in your online and offline networks are trying to achieve, you’ll think of people in your network who would be a good fit for them. Make the introductions proactively.
You’ll be surprised at the results, not the least of which will be deeper relationships with the people you connect.
I had a few examples of that today, which reminded me to share the thought with you.
How have you benefited from connecting people in your network with each other?
Image from Jeff Sandquist Under Creative Commons License.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 3 so far )
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