Here’s a mistake I see repeated so often by small business owner — assuming that their website IS the marketing plan.
Many people imagine the Internet like a Mississippi River of money — a wide, swollen sea of cash just rushing by! All you have to do is put an Internet site out there and start diverting money away from ol’Man River. This is rarely true.
Here’s an actual conversation I had with a seasoned business person looking to start a new business. To protect her identity, let’s use codename “Clueless.”
Clueless: “I want to start a new Internet business and I want you to help me build a website.”
Me: “Well, what’s your business idea?”
Clueless: “I don’t have one yet.”
Me: “Then how do you know you want to start a business?”
Clueless: “Does it really matter what I come up with? I mean you can SELL anything on the Internet! All you need is a website.”
I swear … it happened.
In defense of Clueless and thousands like her, the Internet is an amazing place. I read an article where a woman had made over $10,000 selling tumbleweeds through a website. Well, even a blind hog finds an acorn once in while. Maybe it’s you … but probably not.
A website must be viewed as just ONE possible sales and marketing communication channel for your business. And it’s going to be worthless unless you have …. what? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? A STRATEGY!
Your marketing strategy serves as your guide to a successful and cost-effective promotional plan. The strategy is built around customer NEEDS, not your passion to have a website with animations and disco music. If you’ve done a good job on your strategy you’ll KNOW if a website is going to be a major workhouse for you or just a pony you have to have out there for show.
For most small businesses, a website is not even the primary sales channel. Usually it’s another form of advertising or networking and referrals. Is networking really a marketing strategy? Sure it is. Remember, you’re trying to sell more stuff, to more people, for more money. If it helps you do that, it’s marketing.