By Sharon V. Munroe
This month, SCORE Austin focuses on helping clients with websites and technology, both of which can propel a small business forward. Before tackling web platforms and applications, however, business owners should first determine how their website is intended to serve its customer base.
Here are top 10 things to consider:
- Determine who your website is for. Give some thought as to the type of consumer and/or business professional that would seek out your business and website. Beyond that, what are the specific characteristics of your target audience?
- What are the key products and/or services you are marketing online? What do you want to promote primarily and secondarily? Consider your offering and audience carefully so that your target customers can immediately understand your focus and message and then quickly act (e.g. buy, contact you).
- How will you sell? Will you be able to sell to customers directly online (with ecommerce) or will you need some other online store to support you? Do you sell the products to either wholesale or retail channels that exist in the physical world (i.e. stores)? Again, consider what actions a customer must take when they are ready to inquire or purchase.
- Conduct a competitive analysis among similar businesses’ websites. What are they promoting? Consider ways you can make your website more appealing and unique. Research other websites that you really love and why you love them. What do you dislike about other websites and why?
- What features and functions does your website need to achieve your goals? Do they all need to be ready first or is it best to launch in stages? Often businesses get started with a basic website and then add on features and functions as they have time and budget. Knowing what comes with stage two is helpful when planning and executing stage one.
- Carefully consider your budget for the whole project. What is the maximum you can spend now? What can you spend later? Create realistic phases for time and budget.
- What is your timeline? How quickly do you need or want the website to be completed? Be realistic and definitely consider the role you will play as the business owner in allocating your time to ensure the project is finished on time.
- What can you do? Are there specific elements you can do yourself, such as writing the online content, or do you need someone else to lead the writing while you act as editor? Sometimes, because of time constraints and heavy demands on your time, you might be the one holding up the project. Just because you can do it doesn’t mean you will. Be honest and realistic with yourself.
- Use the referral process. Collect referrals for firms and freelancers from business owners you trust and then write a request for proposal (RFP) that can be sent to a few different professionals.
- Choose carefully. Take the time to review the RFP responses to decide which meets your top needs best. Schedule interviews and gather ideas that you think will work best to achieve your goals Get referrals from other clients and ensure you feel comfortable with these professionals, who after all will help to shape your brand.
Sharon will conduct a hands-on SCORE Austin workshop on this topic on Friday, May 20 at the Microsoft Store at The Domain. [Include a link to the registration]
About The Author:
Sharon V. Munroe has more than 20 years’ experience in building and growing businesses through marketing and sales. Her work has focused on marketing communications, online marketing, market research and strategy. A SCORE Austin client since 2010, she has founded or co‐founded four organizations. Her marketing strategy and research firm is NGrowthMode (pronounced In‐Growth‐Mode).