The road to developing a web strategy

Second blog post on the web. – how can you develop a web presence strategy that will lead to success.  This is my ideas right here and now so they are unlikely to be comprehensive, if you have suggestions please do comment!

In the mid nineties the web was new an exciting and having a website was something to do, you could get away with anything, I did.  Since those early days the internet has now changed, no longer do you pick up a website like a flat packed piece of furniture and follow a set of instructions to build it, sit back and wait for people to come, it’s now about putting yourself out on the web and looking for the interactions, becoming part of the web, how would you go about planning a new web presense.

I think there are three main steps to developing a path of what you should do on the web, firstly identify why you want to do it and what you want to achieve, secondly consider the audience that will help you achieve that, and thirdly work out how you are going to do it.

1:         Define your goals – what is your strategic objectives, what is you are trying to achieve and at this stage try to forget about the web and technology.  If you get this right you stand a far better chance of success, write it down and order in with priorities.  It would be easy to say you need a website but probably that isn’t an objective, unless you objective is geniunly to have a website.

So, what do you want to achieve, for a new band this may be –

  • Sell more CDS
  • Sell more merch
  • Get more gigs
  • Get a record deal
  • Get Radio airplay
  • Get Support gigs
  • Find more listeners
  • Have your music played on television or film soundtrack
  • Get a promoter to show interest

And when you know what you want to achieve, how will you measure your success, how will you know if you are achieving your aims, do you have targets?

This section you may return to as the sometimes unpredictable nature of the web may result in you finding some very positive outcomes that you weren’t expecting, but having a starting objective will help you decide your initial path and once you’ve worked out objectives and priorities you can continue!

2:         Identify your potential customers/fans

The needs and wants of your potential customers are vital, you must meet them in order to help them make your web presence a success, if you don’t there will be no end of other sites waiting to serve them.  Once again, this all needs to be written down.

  • Define, who are your audience, who do you want to target?
  • Where are your potential audience
  • What are your audience using (do they view the web on their mobiles, do they live on social networks, which networks)
  • What appeals to your audience (in the example of a band given above, what similar imagery works for other bands, why not try and be similar to give the impression of a connection)
  • What are the competition doing, where are they successful
  • What will assist your audience with meeting your aims
  • How should content be written for the audience
  • What do the audience expect

And the ultimate question as we’re now in the world of user contributed content – how can I inspire the audience to do the work to help achieve all the aims that have been laid out within the goals. If you can do this you stand an even bigger chance of success,

3:         The Solution

So, you now know what you want to achieve and who your audience are, now it’s time to look at the solution – and this is when you start to consider technologies.  You will have saved yourself a lot of time and potentially money but doing step 2 above, for instance going back to the band example, do you need a custom website when your potential audience lives on myspace, loves youtube and are addicted to twitter?

There will be endless solutions out there but you will narrow it down by working through set of questions that will help you identify what it is that you need.

Constraints / Scoping –

  • Cost factor – can you pay for a custom solution or are free solutions appropriate, how would a free solution be viewed by your customers, is it enough
  • Length of project – is it for a short campaign or the start of a new long term venture – is a solution based on social media sufficient or is a separate site required
  • What availability do you require – only relevant if you are looking at a solution that you host
  • How quickly do you have to deliver the solution
  • Is ownership of data an issue

How will you deal with

  • Usability – who will test the interface, who will give you feedback, have you got time for a soft launch to test the water with some volunteers before lauchning it t the community.
  • How will your attract customers to come along, what tactics do others use, how can you find your customers and draw them in to you
  • How will you measure success
  • Maintaining – who will maintain the site and keep it up to date
  • Does it matter who owns the data in the solution, would a facebook group suffice

I don’t have the solution for what you need after you’ve answered these questions, and if I did it would be out of date by the time I post this.  However what I hope you will have is a much clearer of what it is you need a website for, and what the requirements for the solution should be.

There are of course other considerations – and can you afford with trial and error.  Many social sites are free and therefore the outlay to give them a go is free (other than your time) – with costs like that you may not be as concerned on the risks of return.

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