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+++ S P E C I A L R E P O R T +++
"WEB STRATEGY: A WARM-UP EXERCISE"
by Martha Retallick, Tucson, Arizona, USA
E-mail: info(at)Lrpdesigns.com
Web: http://www.Lrpdesigns.com/
 December 6, 2001

AUTHOR'S NOTE: The following special report includes material from Your
Online Success Guide: A People- Friendly Manual. This new e-book is
published by Lrpdesigns. Further information is available at:
http://www.Lrpdesigns.com/


INTRODUCTION: Types of Strategy

The dictionary definition of strategy goes something like this: "A plan,
method or series of maneuvers for obtaining a specific result."

PART ONE: Plan Your Strategy First, Then Do Your Website

How does this dictionary definition apply to the Internet? Well, it means
that what you do online should be directed toward achieving your desired
result.

For example, if you want to sell things via your website, you'll want to
structure your site so that the visitor can easily make purchases.

Some online store owners go by the "Three Clicks to Buy" rule, which means
that a customer shouldn't have follow more than three page links in order
to buy something. Making it easy for them to buy can help you achieve your
goal of increasing sales by 30% this year.

On the other hand, some businesses will need to adopt a more
marketing-focused strategy. If you're a dentist, people are going to have
to come to you for your services. But your website can persuade a
prospective patient to choose you for her dental care. This approach could
dovetail with your business goal of increasing your practice by 15% in the
next six months.

These examples are based on the idea that your website should get people to
do something. But the next act of the play must take place inside your
business, and like any topnotch theatre production, execution is
everything. Let's return to our online store and the dental office to see
this concept in action.

At the online store, once someone clicks on the "buy it" button, that order
must be filled and shipped to the customer. You, the business owner or
manager, must decide how will that be done. Are you going to do the order
packing and shipping on your own premises, or will you contract out?

If you decide to contract out, you will need to find a fulfillment house to
do the order packing and shipping for you. This company will store your
inventory in its warehouse, and keep a supply of packing and shipping
materials on hand, and fill customer orders. If you're interested in
learning more, here's the web address of a Tucson-based fulfillment house:

http://www.FillOrders.com/

Once a customer has received an order from your company, how do you follow
up to see if everything is all right? What sort of system do you have in
place to keep in contact so that you can make repeat sales?

Over at the dental office, what if a prospective patient has a question?
Can she send your office an e-mail from the website? Who in the office is
responsible for handling the e-mail? What does this responsibility entail?

These are important questions, so please take the time to answer them
carefully!

Money-Saving Tip: It's a lot cheaper to devise your online strategy
_before_ you start having your website designed. Why? Because website
changes prompted by last-minute strategy changes can _really_ run up your
bill at the design studio.

PART TWO: Don't Hide Behind Your Website

People who sell Internet services love to tell prospects about how much
money a website can save them. One of their favorite examples comes from
the customer service arena. The pitch goes something like this...

The salespeople will tell you that your site can help you save on the costs
of hiring employees to deal with that never-ending barrage of customer
questions.

Nothing wrong with this idea. After all, hiring and training employees
costs money lots of money.

But companies often fall into the trap of thinking that if they direct
people to their website, the people will go there, find what they need to
know, go away happy, then buy more stuff.

Unfortunately, the opposite tends to happen. People go to the site, they
can't find the answers to their questions, and they go away mad. In fact,
they're probably so mad that they give their business to the competition.

Not a good scenario...

The problem is that most people are quite busy these days. They don't have
time to go on an information treasure-hunt through your website. Or anyone
else's, for that matter.

And since we in the small business world are in the business of helping
busy people get what they want, we shouldn't put them off with the "see our
website" line. Let's present our information in a way they can use. And we
can even use the Internet to do it. Here's how:

Let's say your site has an online auction area that requires people to sign
up as members. And, once a member enrolls, your Wonderful Autoresponder
sends her a welcoming e-mail that looks something like this...

Welcome to the ABC Company's Wonderful Auction Club! We are delighted that
you have decided to join us as a member. To help you get the most out of
your membership, here are some resources that can help you.

An explanation of how Wonderful Auctions work can be found at:

[ web page address here ]

A complete listing of Frequently Asked Questions can be found at:


[ web page address here ]

Want to know what's up for auction right now? Go to:

[ web page address here ]

Upcoming special auctions, including charity fundraisers, are listed on
this page:

[ web page address here ]

Need help with getting around the Wonderful Auctions site? See our site map:

[ web page address here ]

Your privacy is important to us. Our Privacy Statement can be found at:

[ web page address here ]

Would you like to ask us a question? Please use this special e-mail address:

[ special e-mail address here ]

And so on...

This e-mail could also be adapted for use in a printed letter that could be
sent out with things like your ABC Company brochure. And it also could be
incorporated into a periodic e-mail update touting new things on your website.

To further assist customers in communicating with you, your site should
include your e-mail address, mailing address and phone number on every
page. Even though your site is on the Internet, you'd be surprised at how
many people will pick up the phone and call.

Your site should also include a "how to use this website" page. To see this
concept in action, visit:

http://www.Lrpdesigns.com/explanation.html

You should also help people find their way around your site. So, give your
visitors a site map and link the rest of your pages to it. Want to see how
this is done? Take a look at:

http://www.Lrpdesigns.com/map.html

In short, use your website as a way to help your customers, not hide from
them. And remember, over-communication beats under-communication any day!

FOLLOW-UP EXERCISES: Create Your Own Action Plan

Here are some follow-up exercises to help you implement the ideas from this
special report:

1. When people come to your website, what do you want them to do?

2. If you're planning on selling things on your site, sketch the steps
people need to go through in order to buy.

3. Are you going to do the order packing and shipping on your own premises,
or will you contract out?

4. What happens if a prospective customer or client has a question? Can she
send e-mail from the website? Who in your company is responsible for
handling the e-mail? What does this responsibility entail?

5. Once a customer has received an order from your company, how do you
follow up to see if everything is all right? What sort of system do you
have in place to keep in contact so that you can make repeat sales?
 
6. Your website needs to fit in to your business's "Sales and Service Flow." It looks something like this:

Marketing -> Sales -> Service After the Sale -> Repeat Sales and Referrals

How will your site do this?
 

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