I frequently encounter firms who have been ignoring the Internet, or at the very least, not taking advantage of anything beyond their brochure looking website. It’s amazing to me that multi-million dollar firms have very little in terms of strategy or a business plan for the web. So if you’re caught in this stage: very little engagement online and no plan, where is the best place to start?
- Educate yourself. The first step to finding out what you need to know is to identify what you do not know. Technology changes so rapidly that you need to educate your management team about the web and what you’re missing out on.
- Find the web leaders. You may not know, but there are probably several people inside your company who are cutting edge, web savvy individuals outside of work who are always talking about how far behind the firm is online. Find those employees and engage with them to get input on what your company is missing online.
- Don’t waste a bunch of time with consultants. I’ve seen several firms spend gobs of cash on outside consultants to help define what they’re missing when they’re missing everything. The reports and feedback they receive is so elementary that the exercise is a waste of money and time. Don’t bring in the consultants until you get the basics down.
- Engage with your customers. Find out what your customers expect from you on the web. Just ask – send them a survey, call them, send them an email. Don’t delay or commission a study. Don’t waste money on companies who promise to tell you what a sampling of your customer base expects, find out for yourself.
- Use open source technologies. Too many firms go after what they think is an enterprise solution when what they need is a working solution. Don’t overlook PHP, WordPress, Apache, or MySQL as a solution for what you need. Cost and technology are no longer issues – or excuses.
- Take it incrementally – but do something. It’s not enough to plan a strategy or business plan and then never do anything with it. Start small (think: open a Twitter account for customer service and interact with your customers) and expand out as you get buy-in – and most importantly, as you generate results for the company.