i wrote this blog post a little over three years ago for a friend of mine who was starting up a web marketing consultancy. while he has moved on to other things this post still rings true and so i have decided to offer it here (updated and edited).

In your browser open a new tab and search for “web marketing strategy”. What do you see?

i see nearly 45 132 million search results with the top entries promoting gimmicks, formulas and sales pitches for commoditized versions of whatever they do.

now ask yourself, what does any of this have to do with my business?

there is the rub.

the most difficult part of navigating the environment that is the interwebs is understanding how your business fits in.

i offer here four simple things that you can do to figure out what you should be doing on the web—and through them you can create a set of criteria to make an intelligent strategic decision about how to spend your web marketing budget.

one: define what web marketing means to you
the first thing i do when engaging new clients about web services is to find define with them what “marketing” means to them, what marketing activities have they done in the past, and their personal experiences as a user of the web. doing this sets a strong foundation for understanding, by all parties, what web marketing means—establishing a baseline to compare apples to apples when evaluating services.

two: measure what you are doing now
seriously, how can you figure out if you are doing what you need to be doing on the web without some way to figure out if what you are doing is successful?

three: evaluate the competitive landscape
look at what is being done in your field (or similar fields) and ask, “is what is being done working?”
if you answer that question yes, resolve to do similar things–better. it is not a bad thing to use a competitor as a blueprint (if they are successful), you can reap the rewards of their hard work. if you answer the question no, become a pioneer and do things differently. either way, the key to being strategic with web marketing is to create an opportunity to win.too many website are built that have no shot of winning in their marketplace.

four: bite off only as much as you can chew
only do as much as you are capable of handling. that is, content creation and management, seo, and social marketing, can all be difficult to execute on, expensive, and time consuming. be realistic in both estimating your time and your budget. if you have the resources (or lack of internal resources), outside providers can be great at filling the gaps, often at a good value.

once you work through all four put together a checklist of what you would consider negotiables and non-negotiables for any solution you evaluate. once you have an objective criterion in which to evaluate vendor offerings it is not such a big deal to wade through web service proposals to see which one is the best fit (and remember price should also be considered as a checklist item – but do it with an eye for total cost of ownership, not just initial fees).

the bottom line – have a strategy for the web. better yet have a strategy for marketing in general and develop an arm of that specifically for the web.

thank you todd mcdonald for posting the original (you can read it here).


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