So you're thinking about a new website or improving your online marketing...who should you be sure to include internally throughout this process? I'm going to start off by telling you it should not just be the person or people with the most time. Obviously that's the easiest decision...the whole process from meetings to management gets handed off then you don't have to think about it. But your website and web marketing strategy should be just as important of a business decision as buying up one of your competitors. It has the power to change the future of your business the same way buying up a competitor does, so why not give it the same attention. The biggest reason is that a lot of executives still have the mindset that your online marketing can't truly generate leads, sales, and add to your overall business success. That's a catch 22. These types of executives/owners/management are the same people that don't put true effort into the strategy, in turn it fails. A web marketing strategy will be successful if done right and can change your business! One of the key elements of finding success is having the right people involved from the beginning, so what might that look like?
Who To Include in Your Planning Meetings
1. Include someone that truly understands your underlying business objectives and goals. This person knows what steers the companies past, present and future. It would be someone like the owner, CEO, CFO, President, etc. They are not involved to just kick ideas to the curb, they should be involved to determine whether the strategy is in line with meeting those business objectives and goals and hold people accountable throughout the entire process.
2. A decision maker. This may be the same person as number 1, but not always. The above person is steering the objectives of the strategy, but may be uncomfortable in making decisions about technology if they have no understanding of it. That's OK, but if they hand off that decision they have to allow that decision to be made by the person they put in charge. This person is not there to be a dictator, but will be able to make the final decisions that need to be made. It is important that they are involved first hand, not hearing second hand information.
3. Someone from sales should be included. These are the individuals that are making the offline sales and know what the client asks for and needs. They can bring a lot to the table in a web marketing strategy.
4. If you have dedicated marketing personnel at least 1 of them should be involved, starting with the meetings. This individual knows the current marketing messages, objectives, and hopefully knows what marketing tactics in the past have worked and haven't worked. If you don't have DEDICATED marketing personnel you should rely on the expertise of your vendor. Build an ongoing relationship with them and include them in these types of meetings they will bring a ton of value! However, if you are taking this route be sure that your vendor is very competent with marketing, not just technology.
5.Whomever will be managing the website content in the future should be in the initial discussions. It is important that this person is involved from day 1. They need to know what the goals are, what the marketing messages are, what helps sell...they should be aware of all of this! Additionally they will be able to speak to their comfort level with the technology powering the website. Many CMS solutions don't require any HTML knowledge so they don't have to be super techie...but at the same time you don't want to put someone in charge that has never sat in front of a computer before.
6. Someone that knows the ins and outs of your products/services and the competitors products/services. This might be someone like an engineer. While they might not have a marketing mindset, you can use their knowledge to shape your content strategy playing up your strengths and why you are better than the competition.
Don't Include the Whole Company
This list may not include everyone you want to include, but be sure to include people that contribute value. Keeping your group small will help things move forward and keep everything on track. Keep in mind, the people I've included are the ones that are involved with planning and meetings. There may be different people involved as your marketing strategy gets implemented. Your decision maker, CEO, etc. does not necessarily have to be hands on throughout implementation, but they absolutely should be involved with planning and meetings. Bringing the right people to the table throughout the process will mean the difference between success and failure.