I built it, but nobody came. What now?
by Bob McElwain
"Build it and they will come," worked well as the theme in
the movie "Field Of Dreams" in which Kevin Costner turned a cornfield into a ballpark; they did
come. But that was a tale.
Nicely told, but still a tale. In real life, it just is not so. Why does this
In the early days of the Web, it was almost true, for there
was a far greater demand for information than supply. Thus if
one put up some half-way decent content, some people did come. To whatever
extent it was true back then, it is nothing but a myth now.
If you built your site believing in this myth, you have a
problem. Nobody is coming. Can you change this? Maybe. In some cases, though, it may be best to start over. Check out the following to see where you stand, then take it from there.
Why does the site exist? " To make a profit" is not
sufficient. Exactly what is the site expected to do? There are
many good answers. For example: To increase sales in my off-line
business. Or maybe: To grow an on-line business so that it
becomes my full time job. And there are many others. But "To make a profit"
doesn't cut it.
How Do You Plan To Achieve This Goal?
You need a business plan of the same sort required in opening
a store front on Main Street in your home town. This includes
answering a host of questions, and preparing a statement
sufficient to make your banker smile and reach for a pen when you
ask for a loan. While you likely do not need a banker to open a
web site, you do need the same definitive plan required of any
soon-to-be shopkeeper. Some of the questions you need to answer
- What products will I market? (Please substitute services
throughout, if that is what you will offer. )Note products you create will bring
greater profits than those you market for others.
- What is my target market? The more narrowly you can focus,
the more likely you are to succeed. For example, instead of "Dog
Lovers," explore "Doberman Lovers. "The narrower the focus, the easier it is to
position yourself, and your business, at the top of the heap.
- How will I reach them? Search engines and mutual links are
very helpful. But your marketing strategy is usually the key. Again, the narrower your focus, the easier it is to target your
promotional efforts, including advertising.
- How will I position my products relative to the same or
similar products? If you have narrowed the focus sufficiently,
it is much easier to position yourself above your competition.
If you sell better products, this becomes easy.
- How will I demonstrate a perceived value in my products
greater than that of my competitors? Perhaps by the special
nature of the support you offer or your guarantees beyond those
expected. Whatever, this must happen.
- How will I keep my customers coming back for more? This is
fundamental, but simple. Satisfied customers will return, provided you have
additional products of interest.
While questions as suggested above need to be answered in all
cases, there are others. More important, there are many specific
to your particular business. The answers must guide every step
so that it is in accord with the overall business plan. It is also important
that no part of the plan conflict with another; all must lead interactively to
the same goal.
The word used above was "products. "And you were invited to
substitute "services" for "products. Note, however, that both
are plural. In this, there is a difference between products and
services. An artist who provides a graphic you like can expect you to return.
But in selling products, there is a fundamental difference. Some will disagree with me in this, but I am convinced one needs
to sell a variety of products. For example, effective
advertising opportunities for a single product are limited. Sales must exceed costs, or it's a losing proposition.
Given multiple products, you may be able to afford a loss on a first sale that
leads to others.
Most single-product sites do not provide a livable income. At best they bring in extra dollars.
Which may be exactly what
you want. If so, go for it. But if you want to grow your on-line efforts into a
full-time business that provides substantial income, a single product is not
You do not need a shopping mall, however. What is required
is related groups of products that create multiple profit
streams. Just as you would expect one or more such centers to become less
profitable over time, you also expect to add further products which become
additional profit centers.
If you presently have a single-product site, consider adding
additional profit centers related to your product. There is more
profit in adding products you create, but you may find an
affiliate program or two that work for you. Further, you may be able to create
your own personal relationship with other firms.
Given sufficient volume, some manufacturers will put your name on what they
produce for you.
How To Build Or Modify Your Site
All begins with the domain and product names appropriate to
your target. If you are not using names that clearly bring a
focus and define a benefit, you may need to change them. In any case this will
be the initial point of attack.
out the content for each page including the ad copy which sells a
specific product, or opens the door to other pages featuring
separate products which taken together are a single profit
center. One reason for organizing in this way is that if it becomes necessary,
you can drop a profit center from your site without having to rebuild the whole
Since people may enter your site through any page, it is
important that each sell the business and the product specific to
the page. That is, each page must grab reader attention, raise
their interest and draw them quickly more deeply into the page
and thus into the site. At any point interest lags, you may lose
the visitor. So it is important to sustain, even increase intensity, as the page
There is simply no point in creating even a single Web site
page until your plan has been implemented on paper and the
content for all pages:
- Is properly targeted
- Effectively positions both you and the product
Grabs and sustains reader interest.
Even if you have a good idea of how you want your pages to
look, obtain the help of an artist. A good one can indirectly provide powerful
support by enhancing the key points of your plan in the art work itself.
Once your site is up and has been submitted to the search
engines, the real task begins. Marketing and promotion. A
never-ending task. But if your original plan is good, and it is implemented in
your site, you have greatly increased the likelihood your marketing and
promotional efforts will pay off handsomely.
So back to the point. If you are among those who have built
a site that is not working, or not working well enough, there are
really only two options. Build a plan as suggested above, with
your present site in mind. If you can find ways to modify and
expand your site to fit the needs of a good plan, go for it. But if you can't,
the only viable option is to start over.
I hate to admit it, but both my first and second tries were a
total disaster, and have long since vanished. Ask others now
successful, and you will find they have been down this road. But
all was not in vain. Think of how much more you know about the
Web now. How much you know about putting a site together. And maintaining it.
Hey, you're way ahead of another starting his
first site. Take the time to build a good plan and a site to
match, and you'll soon be right where you want to be: On top!
Want to build a winning site? Improve one you already have? Fix one that's busted? Get
to "STAT News" now! join-stat @lyris. dundee. net
Web marketing and consulting since 1993
Site: http://sitetipsandtricks. com