Many times, when I ask a new client about their website goals, it becomes clear they are not really sure what business they are in, who their target customers are, or what their brand is. It’s as if they think building a website will create clarity. But it doesn’t work that way. Your website is a reflection of having a strong business identity and purpose. It’s about confidently putting your best self out into the world, proudly showing your unique identity, and providing unique value to your target customers.
Business planning can be a large endeavor, but since I usually work with small businesses, let’s keep it simple. Before embarking on your website:
- Know why you are in business. Be able to define the value you add to your customer’s life and be able to state it in a sentence or less. The book “Building a Brand Story” by Donald Miller might be useful. It can also be useful, for this item and the next, to research competitors. How will you differentiate yourself?
- Know your business identity. What makes you unique, gives your business personality? Translate your brand into a logo, color palette, font choices, writing style, and more. Every touchpoint with your customer should reflect your brand.
- Know your customer. Check out my persona blog post. You should know your customer intimately and tailor communications to speak directly to them.
- Know yourself. Besides your passion for creating the incredible service or product you offer, what other activities do you like or dislike? For example, you may have seen a competitor who blogs weekly and you find their blogs engaging. Before you decide to jump on the blogging bandwagon, ask yourself honestly if it is something you will actually do every couple of weeks. Same with creating videos, podcasts, or other marketing collateral. Will you actually do it? Set yourself up for success. This can also hold for the size of your business. How big do you want to be? Would you want to add on staff, or do you want to stay a one-man band? I have actually had a client where we had to slow things down because we created too much business. Be clear about where you and your business are going.
- Know your operating environment. There are several systems you use to run your business and they should all work together. For example, your accounting system; your order fulfillment, and payment processing; your customer database, and contact applications to name a few. It is important to integrate your environment to make your life as easy as possible. Your website needs to fit neatly into this suite.
When I build a site for a client, we start with these areas, integrating the website into the whole and creating clear goals for the site. It makes your site compelling for customers and your business more efficient and enjoyable for you.