It’s 2009! Are You Ready to Fail?

Internet Marketing

Tom Schmitz Jan 23 2009

How’s that web site thing working out for you?

If you market a business, knowing how people use the Web and how people might find your web site and how they want to use it is critical. Notice I wrote might find and how they want to use it. Face facts; it’s not about what you want. It’s about what your prospects and customers want. It’s about how they want it.

For success there must be a strategic and purposeful overlap between how people use the Internet, how your industry or niche operates and how your web site functions. There must be measurable goals, based in reality, and you must create a systematic process that moves visitors through the engagement or sales funnel from beginning to close, then through after-sale customer service and re-engagement.

I’m amazed at how many businesses just toss-up a cookie cutter web site or treat their online presence as if it were a brick and mortar office or shop. I am dumbfounded by how many decision makers embrace a least effort possible approach and even more flabbergasted by how many business owners, executives and managers are shocked when their online efforts lack luster.

Do you know the answers to these questions?

1. How much did your industry or niche sell last year? How much of it was online?

2. What is your industry market share? What about online market share?

3. What industries or niches does your own industry serve? What industries does your company serve?

4. Do members of the industries that your own industry serves congregate online? Where? Are you active there?

5. How do businesses and decisions in each industry you serve make their acquisition decisions? How does your web site walk people through each step of this process?

I could easily add a dozen more questions to this list – and you should.

After you answer these questions, isolate the gaps. Make a list. Quantify them. Get specific. Break them apart. Juggle them. Toss them in a blender. Get the person in the next office or cube to do the same. Get someone who knows little or nothing about what you’re doing and is unbiased and unscarred by history to take a crack at it.

These gaps are teaming with opportunities and pitfalls.

  • What are other companies doing online that yours is not. Do they work? Should your company be following their example? Why? Can you do it better or make it work? How?
  • Does your industry ignore how its customers and prospects behave online? Can your company turn this into a strategic advantage? How?
  • Do members of your industry congregate online? Where? Can you join in naturally? If they do not congregate online can your company bring them online or make a home for them?

What will you do about it?

Now that you have this intelligence and some great ideas, how can you act on it? Who can you get involved? Where will you get the resources? By now you should have shattered one or more preconceptions. If you haven’t, go back to the drawing board and try harder. Few businesses utilize the Internet well. If yours is one of them I want to know about it. Otherwise, do not stop until you have a kick-ass game plan (or you’ve decided to roll over and play dead).