You’ve got a new business, and it’s time to build your website.
Here’s the question you need to ask yourself: Do I need website or a marketing program?
The answer: You need both, and they’re not mutually exclusive.
Obviously, at this point every business needs a website. But your website isn’t just a pretty face. It’s part of your marketing program.
Your website should serve as the hub of all your online marketing: blog posts, articles, videos, and links to your social media feeds.
More and more business-to-business marketers say they are embracing inbound marketing — that is, creating original content that can inform or entertain their customers or potential customers — as an alternative to traditional advertising. It’s a way of engaging in a relationship with customer online, since that’s where most of their buying decisions are now made.
Web Design and Web Development
Here’s another question to ask yourself: Do I need someone to do website design, or someone to do web development?
Those things might sound interchangeable, but there are differences.
The web designer handles anything visual that appears on your site, using programs such as Adobe Photoshop or InDesign. They oversee everything from color to layout to usability.
They focus on how the site looks and how customers interact with it. They should have an understanding of who your audience is and what they’re after.
Making a Marketing Plan
And now for a third question: What’s your marketing program?
Here are a few steps on how to come up a plan to market your business.
1. Analyze Your Situation
What defines your company? What sets it apart from the competition?
“Not only do you need to be able to describe what you market, but you must also have a clear understanding of what your competitors are offering and be able to show how your product or service provides a better value,” Entrepreneur.com says in its guide to making a marketing plan.
2. Find Your Target Audience
Do a little research. Put together a spread sheet and identify key traits, needs, and terminology that is appropriate to your ideal customer. Ask yourself: Are they innovators, or more conservative? Aggressive or laid back? What are they looking for in my product; reliability, price, service? How often do they make a purchase? Where do they go for their information before they do?
And ask yourself what the best way is to communicate with them. Every business is different, and every group of customers is different. Where do they hand out online?
3. List Your Goals, and Be SMART About Them
In this case, we’re using SMART as an acronym.
First off, think of Specific and Measurable goals. Instead of “We want to increase sales,” say “We want to increase sales by 15 percent.”
And make sure those goals are Attainable and Realistic. You’re a new company, not Google. But you should also be Time-bound, so be sure give yourself a deadline.
Marketing your company can be challenging. Setting up a good looking, functional website design can be challenging. But if you remember that those two jobs are part of the same function, your work will be a little less challenging and results will be more satisfying.
Your website can be the center of your marketing universe. Just make sure your considering all the factors for success before engaging in a website design project.