Lessing Flynn

Ad Mavericks

October 2, 2012

Marketers: How to Start Your Web Project

Congratulations marketer! You have been tasked with leading your company's Website overhaul. Or reskinning. Or makeover. Or whatever other term your less than tech savvy CEO is spewing these days. And you're overwhelmed. And you have every right to be. However, you can apply what you already know to this seemingly foreign project. Here we go.

You or your company makes a product or delivers a service. And when you go through the planning process of developing that product or service, where do you start? You try to determine what you want that product or service to do. You talk to people. You ask them about the things the product or service needs to accomplish and how to deliver an end result that makes the customer buy that product or continue to use your service.

Why would the same methodology not be applied to your next Web project? The first question your Web project you should begin with is:

"What do I want my Website to do?"

Go ahead and ask yourself, I talk to myself too. What are your answers to that question? Let me guess what you came up with:
  • Lead generation.
  • Sell product.
  • Be interactive.
  • Be a resource for current customers.
  • Provide a better impression of your company.
  • Improve my search rankings.
  • Highlight our company's history.
  • I want to be able to update my site on my own.
  • I want to recruit new employees.
What did I miss?

The point is, without asking first essential question, you can't get to the other questions and challenges you face. Once you truly consider this question you'll inevitably find yourself asking more questions. And that's a good thing as it leads to helping you build an overall strategy.

We're Not Talking About Forks

Now that you're done talking to yourself, get out of your chair. Who are the key stakeholders not only for this project but for the entire company you are building it for? Seek them out. Talk to anyone who thinks they should have a say in the project. Everyone from accounting, to human resources to product development and sales should be consulted. Ask them the following question:

"What do you want our Website to do?"

You'll be surprised at what you hear. Their answers are different than yours. And rightly so, they probably aren't marketers and they think of their own worlds before considering yours or even the big picture company objective. Take good notes when you are meeting with these folks. Be an active listener and even if you disagree with what they are saying just keep nodding your head. Ask questions based on what they are saying. Pull every ounce of information you can get out of them.

After these one-on-one conversations begin, it's time to get to work. Host a meeting and/or put together a presentation that outlines everything you just heard on your department tour and invite everyone you just talked with to attend. Encourage an interactive meeting format allowing meeting attendees to provide feedback on all of the ideas. Let the group elevate the great ideas to the top with your guidance. Those lame ideas you heard, if they are truly lame, will be disregarded as you prioritize.

Yes. Sounds like a lot of work, but getting buy-in from these folks before you build your Website will eliminate the inevitable, "That's not how I would have done it" comments that are likely to come post launch.

People are human. Did I just say that? Yes, I did. But the point is that you can't count on humans to be supportive of anything unless they play a (perceived to be) vital role in the success of, well, anything. Your tour of department heads may have yielded some good ideas - and probably a lot of bad ideas. Demonstrating that their ideas were considered and heard will not only help your project, but probably your career as well.

Treat your Web project with the same methodology you would apply to a product or a service and not just as a sales tool.


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