Why a Website Without a Strategy is Like a Ship Without a Sail
January 30, 2018
By Steve Phipps | Wayfind Marketing
Before you take a trip what is the first thing you do? Maybe you find a hotel, book a ticket, or arrange a tour. If you’re like me you scope out the local restaurant scene and start making reservations at the top rated local spots along your route. Or perhaps you are a more whimsical traveler and prefer to make no plans at all and simply float along wherever the wind will take you.
A whimsical approach to adventure can be exciting but it comes with high stakes. Let’s suppose you have a two week vacation and this is the only break you will get all year. Would you risk this precious, hard earned time to chance or would you proactively plan out the details of your trip to ensure that you make the best use of your time?
The wise choice is to have a strategy in place.
Without a plan you run the risk of tripping over any number of obstacles along the way that could delay, derail or even destroy your long-anticipated time off.
Steven Covey famously — and rightly — declared that:
“Highly effective people always begin with the end in mind”
The act of beginning with the end in mind is the essence of strategy and it is a necessary prerequisite for any business venture you step into.
Strategy is especially important before sitting down to redesign a logo, a website, or start posting on social media.
This is why our teams (Cross & Crown and Wayfind Marketing) have partnered together on several projects, because a great strategy begets great design. Our team at Wayfind Marketing comes in at the front end of the project and looks at messaging, identity, positioning, content, and develops an overarching marketing framework. Cross & Crown then uses that framework when they start their design discovery and planning process. Our services work like hand in glove together.
Both our teams realize that strategy can often feel like a lofty goal, intimidating, and that you may perceive it to be waste of time.
We get that! You are busy, you are ready to get going, and the idea of slowing down to plot out a strategy may feel like agony for the movers and shakers among us. But every savvy business person knows that strategy is not an option, it is the key component to profitable success.
But how does strategy relate to the actual nuts and bolts of marketing? Here is an example.
Many new clients come to both of our teams seeking a new website. We always ask, “Why do you want a new website?” The answers vary wildly as you might imagine.
- “It’s out of date.” Some websites are painfully out of date, running idly and miles away from responsivity, desperately in need of updating. The messaging is old, the technology is dated, and the site is, well, embarrassing to look at.
- “It functions well but the branding is bad.” Other sites function fine and get the job done, but the look and feel is stale or doesn’t line up with the overall brand personality of the company. What happens is that these customers arrive at the site and then follow up with an actual in-person interaction, a phone call, or a store experience, and nothing that they have experienced online carries through. There is a lack of alignment between digital and actual identity.
- “It looks great but it doesn’t generate any business.” Lastly, some websites have the latest design, align to the brand, but fail to perform and get leads or customers.
These examples are in stark contrast between one another but running through each is a common thread that rings true of all failing website design: weak strategy, sloppy strategy, or worse, no strategy.
In order for any marketing (especially websites!) to fully function and deliver results, there must be a crystal clear strategy in place before the first wireframe is built.
Before developing content, deciding on colors, finding photos or any other bells and whistles with visual (dare I say whimsical) appeal for a website, you must do the work of thinking through the details of the entire customer journey. From first point of contact (often your website) through conversion (in store or signing the deal), and customer journey completion. Each of these touchpoints on the customer’s journey are influenced by a myriad of factors that marketing, business development, and customer service all play a part in. If all of the pieces aren’t aligned in a marketing strategy, any touchpoint can result in failure.
Going back to the website example, you can have a beautiful site that looks stellar on your phone, tablet and desktop — but if your trophy site doesn’t align with the in-store experience, the marketing messaging, a piece of marketing collateral, or the quality of the product, you will bleed customers.
The reason to create a marketing strategy is that it ensures alignment between your organizational plan, business development aspirations, revenue goals, product or service plans, brand elements, and messaging framework.
A great marketing strategy ensures that your customer’s experience from point A to Z is consistent so they will come back for more.
At the end of the day, your website is just one of many communication vehicles that your marketing strategy should leverage to achieve your sales goals. If you are going to invest your hard earned money and time into a project as significant as a website redesign, take the time to strategize. Discover how this communications vehicle integrates with all the players in your marketing mix so that you can land safely and profitably at your financial destination.
Do you have a strategy driving your website or is your website driving you? Don’t know if you do? We can help! Call us today!