We have a bone to pick. We are continually approached by companies who have thrown a lot of money down the drain for a new website that lacks any style, purpose or goals. It’s not your fault, really. Websites are complicated, technical beasts where acronyms such as SEO, URL, PHP, HTML are tossed around. It comes as no surprise that some companies succumb to the allure of an inexpensive, quickly produced website from suppliers with limited experience in brand development.
But here’s the catch.
A website represents your entire business and your entire brand online. In fact, 90% (yes, ninety) of your customers will visit your website before deciding to buy from you. It is, without question, the most powerful sales tool you have, and can be considered equally, if not more valuable, than your highest paid salesperson (think about what they get paid for a minute). But, instead of treating it like a valuable sales avenue for your company, you threw the task of creating your company website to a company who barely knew you.
If your web design agency hasn’t asked you about your brand vision and business goals, run. Run now.
A company that doesn’t understand your purpose, your goals, your target markets, your customers, your business, or your products can not possibly lead you down the right path. How can they build an online brand that portrays what you stand for, and also meets your specific goals? There’s a great quote from Lewis Carroll, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” Not only is that true in life, it’s true in the development of your website. Sure you’ll end up somewhere, but is it where you want to be? If no one has ever taken the interest or time to ask you, then it’s doubtful your website will achieve the brand positioning or results you truly want.
“It’s simple, really. An agency that knows where you are now, and where you want to go, will be better able to help you get there.”
Hiring a web design company could be compared to hiring a fitness trainer.
You expect the trainer to get to know you and to create a personalized approach to your goals. They sit down with you and ask you some hard questions before they start a very personal journey with you. (Who wants to share how much they weigh? No one.) Obviously the more they know about you, the better they’ll be able to motivate you and customize a training program that helps you reach your goals.
In a way, Studiothink is much like a personal trainer (except we won’t ask you how much you weigh). What we are going to do is ask a lot of questions about your business and your products, your goals, your customers and your operations. We want to get down to the core of who you are, what your purpose is. Why do you get up and go to work everyday? We want to delve into the core of who you are in order to discover where you are going as a brand so that we know how to design and strategize the best solutions.
A good agency will ask you more than just operational questions.
An agency needs to understand your business and your products. But a company experienced in brand strategy will take it a step further and ask harder questions, for example: What does your company stand for? How do you want customers to perceive you? These questions are more difficult because they require you to remove yourself from day-to-day operations and think about where you want to go in the future. Our client Udo Jahn, wrote an article about the importance of futurization in his blog “What Does it Mean to Futurize Your Business?” It’s definitely worth a read.
Once your agency knows your purpose, goals and vision they will be better equipped to develop a website that will accomplish your business and branding goals while also integrating it with your other marketing efforts. It’s simple really, an agency that knows where you are now, and where you want to go, will be better able to help you get there. Just like that personal trainer. We’ve compiled some key questions that your agency should be asking prior to starting a new website.
QUESTIONS YOUR AGENCY SHOULD BE ASKING
- Beyond making a profit, why are you in business? What is your purpose?
- How do you want customers to feel when they visit your website? What about your staff? And competitors?
- How do people currently perceive your company? How do you want this to change? Why do you want it to change?
- Who are your competitors? Where are you positioned in the market against your competitors? Why are you in that position? How do you want this to change?
- What is the number one action you want visitors to your website to take?
- How does your website fit in with your other marketing activities?
- What will the brand voice be for your site? Will you be writing it, or will you be outsourcing the content?
- How do you want to measure the success of your website? Will it be amount of visitors? Number of inquiries? Amount of online sales? Increased traffic?
- How can we allow for future expansion of your website? Should we be creating your site in stages, or launch the whole thing at once?
Clearly, there are many things to think about in order to have a website that is both beautiful and effective. Today's savvy customer want more than a pretty website. They are smart, and they are looking for websites that offer clear navigation, smart messaging, easy calls to action, and most of all, they want to feel connected to your brand without being given a sales pitch. Before you spend thousands of dollars on a new website, make sure you have an agency who really understands how all the pieces fit together. After all, your company deserves nothing less than the best from your top salesperson.