9 years on from signing my first website deal for Urban Element, I have been asked by Oxford Rugby Football club to speak at one of their monthly networking events run by Abbotts Advertising. Having previously spoken at their event at The Bicester Hotel Golf & Spa last year and wanting to support Oxford RFC, I immediately agreed.
However, then the panic crept in about what to talk about and how to make the session not only entertaining, but also of real value. I spend at least 10% of my working life at networking meetings or seminars, and 90% of what I hear is either uninteresting or the same old rhetoric.
As a starting point, I looked back over my notes from last year’s session grandly titled “‘How to get a great return on web design and online marketing” and wondered if I could just revamp that one. It made me laugh to think that my ego had allowed me not to use the word average, good or even strong, but GREAT. I wonder what my SEO team would say about measuring a “great return”….
From our own return on investment point of view, we did sign two new clients from this event, one of which hadn’t attended but had heard how “great” it was (people who know me will know to take this all with a pinch of salt).
But back to the problem of what to talk about at the seminar. Being in a competitive industry where pretty much anyone who has a laptop claims to be able to design a website, it is rare for me to get frustrated by cheap nasty alternatives. Everyday someone is shouting about a £500 website package or being a Social Media expert and this I can rise above. However, in the last few months we have seen the growth in website packages from companies such as BT, Yell, 1 and 1 etc., all promising to provide a professional online presence in a matter of minutes/hours. These claims coupled with the fact that I have recently listened to several well respected business speakers recommending that businesses should start using social media without a care in the world have raised alarm bells. It is scary that these professional speakers have spent years telling us that we need a sound, well thought out business plan, but when it comes to tweets, blogs and the all the rest, we should just go out and go hell for leather.
It is these two factors that have started shaping the seminar that I want to present. Before joining Urban Element in 2003, I ran a traditional marketing company and from day one I have believed that any marketing should be strategic. For your website or online marketing campaign to succeed, it has to be carefully thought out and well planned. Business people spend decades developing their customer relationship skills and service but rarely ever think about what customer experience their customers (or potential customers) are having on their website. Business owners will take the time to speak with their top clients on the phone, but then pay someone to tweet or blog on their behalf without a well thought out and agreed online communications strategy. Companies with excellent internal operational processes that have been honed over many years fail to see this through their website offering time and time again. How many times have we tried to buy online from a trusted high street retailer only to leave many clicks later, angry and frustrated that we couldn’t find what we wanted as there was no online help?
I am, of course, generalising in many ways but the point that I am trying to make, and what will become the substance of my seminar, is that for a website or online marketing campaign to succeed, it needs to be strategically thought about and have the right investment, resource and commitment behind it.
As part of this ongoing strategy, we have noticed a number of issues in our own existing website that needed updating, and so we have spent the past few months working on a new site for ourselves, a sneak preview of which can be seen in the screenshot below:
My advice to other business owners and managers is to live and breathe your website. Be involved in every step and make sure that your purpose and USPs comes across and are evident in your web and online marketing activities.
If you have found my musings of interest, please let me know and I will expand upon them and also update you on the structure of my seminar. Alternatively, if you want to attend the event which is being held at our office on November 15th 2011 between 12 and 2pm, please contact Lisa at Abbotts Advertising.