Website Design, Strategy, Social Networking, SEO, Susan Pomeroy, Ph.D.

Three Steps to a Web Strategy to Achieve Your Wildest Dreams

by Susan Pomeroy

website strategy

Have you ever clicked onto a web page, a long page full of description, bullet points, yellow highlighting, red dashes, astounding testimonials… and you’re instantly overwhelmed with the feeling that (a) you will regret it for the rest of your life if you don’t buy this product NOW, (b) you will suffer terrible consequences—or you’ll be sabotaged by your own lack of daring, money, willpower, etc.—if you don’t buy this product NOW, or (c) you suddenly feel so hooked into the fantasy of doing/having/being what this page promises that you absolutely NEED and WANT this product NOW…?

So you click. You pay. You download. You start the ebook, watch the video… but get stalled a third of the way through. It wasn’t as interesting, or maybe as easy, as the sales copy promised. Then you tell yourself you just don’t have the … time… right now to finish it. And there it sits, in a folder on your computer along with all the other e-books you’ve bought, and free handouts you’ve collected about how to make  your business better. You know… the ones you plan to read when you have time.

This is when I usually realize that I once again fell into the fantasy of thinking I could achieve or attain something I want… without actually working through whatever issue or block has been keeping me from doing it in the first place.

Some of us are always suckers for these fantasies, though, like Zack, a friend who is an internet marketing junkie. Whenever he sees a new sales gimmick, he wants it. Whether it’s a Facebook site, a Twitter account, Youtube videos, an autoresponder ecourse, audio, video on site, voiceover testimonials, a dedicated sales page bursting with hypey marketing language… if he sees it, and some so-called marketing guru is charging hundreds or thousands for it, and promising it will earn Zack millions … he wants it.

Never mind if the advertising is filled with half-truths and exaggerations, and the product itself is wildly overpriced. Never mind whether the product, even if it performs as advertised, is a smart use of time and resources to achieve his site’s goals! Zack spends a ton of time and money on tools which can be valuable in themselves, but may not be practical for his site right now. And then he wonders why his sales just don’t keep pace with his expenditures. It’s a frustrating (and expensive) situation.

I have many clients who sell products or services over the Internet. The ones who build a profitable business that’s sustainable over time—without wasting thousands of dollars and many hours in wild goose chases along the way—tend to have one big thing in common. They have a plan.

How Can You Plan, in this Time of Rapid Changes?

Simple. Your plan, roadmap, whatever you want to call it, has three key elements. Here’s how to get started.

1. Know what and where you want to be. Dream big. In your wildest dreams, what does success look like to you? How much do you want to work, what kind of work will that be, what dollar figure would you like to earn… ask yourself as many concrete questions as you can. Don’t be afraid of the answers! This is “Point B,” in other words, it’s where you’re going.

When you measure everything against an explicit goal, rather than a half-articulated fantasy, you know when to say yes, or no. For example, if your goal is to spend all your working time writing, say, and support yourself easily this way, then you probably shouldn’t plunk down your money for a course on cold-calling, or videocasting, no matter what kind of fame and riches it promises. What about a copywriting course? Well, does writing sales copy help you achieve, or is it part of,  your ultimate goal? If so, that’s a possibility to consider. If not, say no.

2. Budget. What’s coming in, what’s going out? How much money do you have? How much does your business earn now? How much or little time and money can you devote, right now, to achieving your goals? Be thorough, honest, and realistic. This is “Point A,” your starting point.

Your budget is another kind of yardstick. Even if that ebook normally sells for $500, but—for today only!—it’s $150… do you have the $150, and is this how it’s best spent to achieve your goal? Does this purchase enable you to progress toward your ultimate goal significantly faster or better than you would without it? If the answer to all questions is “yes,” then the purchase is one to consider.

3. Strategy. Wikipedia says, “A strategy is a plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal.” In other words, it’s a roadmap which tells you how to get from point A, where  you are now, to point B, where you want to be. It’s a sequential to-do list that will propel you from here to there.

Make a list. “Chunk it down,” as my friend Connie says, into bite-sized steps. Write down every stage and step towards your goal, and every concrete task needed to achieve each step. Do as much research as you can—whether online, at the library, talking to people, hiring a consultant—to fill in the blanks. Put each tiny step in a logical, chronological order. This is your “strategy.” It will change and evolve, but at any given point it is your best and most informed guess as to what you need to do first, next, and later.

It may not be perfect. Your timeline may be off, you might miss a step or two, you might decide to abandon step 3 and go directly to step 5. But this plan provides you with a structure—a guide into the trackless wilderness of the future, based upon your best understanding of the steps needed to reach your goals, and your available budget for doing so.

Flexibility and an Open Mind

Now that we have your plan, we also need to be able to alter or even abandon it. (Note: it took me many years to understand that this is not at all the same as not having a plan in the first place.) If a new technology comes along, a new opportunity comes your way, a new product is released, a seminar is announced… you need the flexibility to evaluate it rationally. Can it enhance or speed your progress? Will it require complete retooling, yet ultimately enable you to achieve your dream? Your goal, your budget and your strategy give you structure. Balancing the structure, we also need to give ourselves permission to abandon it when to do so serves our greater goals.

Ensure Success by “Paying Yourself First”

No, I’m not talking about money, I’m talking about time. Now that we have a roadmap to our goals, that has to become our priority. Do a step on that list every single day, before you do any other work, before you read your email, before you go online to get the news. Devote the first half hour, or hour, or two, of your work day to achieving YOUR goals. Otherwise, it’s too easy to get swamped by the pressures of day-to-day tasks. Do you want your plan for 2011 to look exactly the same as the one you did back in 2005? No? Then “pay” yourself first.

What has worked for you? Do you have a plan, did success just “happen,” or are you still waiting for it? Please add your comments.

 

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