This post is from “our own world” and describes the project of renovating the TBK Consult web sites. I would be grateful for any comments and suggestions from those of my readers who know much more about web sites and web based marketing than I do.
Why do we want to renovate our websites?
About a year ago we did a face-lift of all our web sites, ensuring that they were mobile friendly and didn’t get punished by the new ranking principles introduced by Google. As I was preparing our budget for 2016, I realized that our maintenance costs were way too high. Looking for an inexpensive way of keeping our web sites updated I found out that most WordPress maintenance providers charge per URL and we have five of those:
By consolidating all the web sites onto just one URL we can reduce our maintenance costs by 80%.
Talking to some of the WordPress maintenance companies the name codeable.io kept popping up as the place to go for design and migration projects, so there I went, signed up and launched our project.
I didn’t realize that I had jumped right into a chat room and several WordPress designers immediately jumped at me with tons of questions that I couldn’t answer. They were all very good and valid questions, but I just hadn’t been through the process to be able to review them. Just before leaving the chat room one of the designers suggested a specific approach and made a bid for a complete redesign of our homepage for a very low price. I liked the approach and the price was so low that I would lose very little should it fail, so I accepted and paid to Escrow with my credit card.
The gentleman making the bid was David Gaz from The Small Project Bureau in Los Angeles and as it was late in the evening my time we immediately took a Skype call to get acquainted and discuss where to go from here. David turned out to be a very experienced WordPress designer and confirmed that he was prepared to work on the design until I was completely satisfied.
Based on the information I had made available David was in no position to make a new design, so I suggested to take the ball and provide a proper project specification and scope.
What can a web site do for TBK Consult?
This is a question we have been discussing internally ever since we started the company in 2007. My own position has always been that you cannot sell management consulting from a web site. Executives do not search Google for consultants to help them solve serious business problems. Management consulting is a relationship business and potential clients reach out to you because they know you or have been referred to you, by someone they know and trust.
Our first web sites reflected this position and offered content that visitors could download without any strings attached, enabling them to become familiar with our expertise and experience. We were not trying to drive traffic to the web site and we didn’t harvest email permissions or perform any other conversions as we were convinced that potential clients would get in touch if they really needed our assistance.
Selling books and workshops are different stories
Things changed when we started writing books and offering workshops. These are products you can sell through the web. Maintaining a dialog with potential readers and workshop attendees through social media and email is an excellent way to nurture the relationship until clients are ready to buy. Our new website should therefore be designed and maintained with the primary objective of drawing traffic and converting this traffic to sales of publications and workshops.
Business objectives first
Writing the specification it immediately dawned on me that I wasn’t qualified to do just that. What I was qualified to do was to define the objectives or the project scope. Defining the project scope forced me to explain our business model and the role the consolidated web site should play. Revisiting our own business model was a great opportunity to review all the building blocks. I documented the project scope in a Prezi presentation that I sent to David.
Home page design completed
David did deliver on his promise and kept working on the homepage design until I was happy. Even when I changed my mind on some key elements of the design in the middle of the project, David supported the changes and did so with a smile!
Upon completing the design I released the payment from Escrow and had a Skype discussion with David about phase two. Again we agreed that the ball was back with me and that I needed to come up with a site map and some guidelines for the pages and sub-pages. Having to sit down and think it all through again at a more detailed level was an excellent exercise. For inspiration I reread David Meerman Scotts “The New Rules of Marketing & PR” in it’s fifth edition and I read Brian Halligan’s & Dharmesh Shah’s “Inbound Marketing.” Both books are excellent and exactly what you need if you have huge ambitions and a tight budget.
I completed the detailed specification and the site map and within 24 hours David had made a fixed price proposal. The proposal was built using the structure of my specification and was very transparent and easy to understand. I accepted the proposal and we again used codable.io to complete the deal. I paid into Escrow and David could commence the work.
Poets and Plumbers
One of our advantages is that we have and keep producing tons of content. I use writing as method to structure and simplify reality into models we can use for preparing our next move back into reality. I share my ideas and experience in blog posts, white papers, videos and books. David is excited because this is good for SEO and will drive traffic to the web site, when all the content is consolidated on one URL. It is however a challenge to make the new site user friendly, so the visitor immediately knows if she is in the right location and can find the content she is looking for.
David is the plumber who knows how to make web sites easy to find and navigate and I am the poet providing the content that the visitor is ultimately looking for.
We give away a lot of free content with the objective of turning a certain percentage of our visitors into customers. In this respect we are actually not very different from our clients who face the exact same challenges.
To be successful with web and social media marketing requires three basic components:
- A steady stream of highly relevant content
- Products that people are prepared to buy based on the information made available
With these three basic components in place we can start tweaking the web site (SEO) to generate more traffic and improve conversion rates. I am convinced that our new consolidated web site will provide us with the platform to help more clients become more successful and that is the route for us to become more successful, too.
I’ll keep you posted.