Written By: Alix Snow
So you have a great business idea in mind and are excited to launch it so that you can finally see it jump to life and take form. You have put a lot of thought into every little detail of your business plan and logistics strategy, and you know your product or service inside and out. But have you gone through a checklist of how exactly you will effectively bring this idea online to give your business the best possible start?
Here are a few things that you should think about before launching your business website or taking your business online.
This is step number one and will inform everything else that you do, down to your business plan and marketing strategies.
First things first, identify who your business is trying to serve; that is, what sorts of people will your clients or customers be and what are their wants and needs? Then, crucially, identify what will satisfy these requirements. Once these planning foundations are in place, you’ll need to figure out how best to achieve it and build a relationship with them. Customers are the heart of any business, and therefore good customer service is the key to your long-term success.
You then need to find a way of specifically serving your online customer base and think of any of the difficulties that may arise. Develop a good customer relationship management (CRM) strategy and invest in the right CRM tools to allow you to effectively implement that strategy.
This is your opportunity to express exactly what your business is about. Put some thought into constructing a brand identity that you would like communicated – the impression that you would prefer your clients and competition to have of your company. You need to build your brand through the content that you publish on your website that describes your business. Then it’s a case of putting those words into action by delivering outstanding services and driving customer satisfaction.
Ultimately, the goal is to create a powerful brand that people can trust and want to do business with. Plan to further control the online reputation of this brand by tracking all of the mentions of your company online and responding to complaints and compliments promptly. Take all feedback and customer comments seriously and show that you are taking the care required to implement the necessary changes that have been brought up.
Once you know exactly who your customer base is that you are trying to reach and exactly how you want to portray your company to them, you can start creating your marketing materials and plan. This should include a combination of content marketing and social media marketing, among other strategies that you feel would be beneficial. Put a thorough and well-thought-out marketing plan together, including time-frame and implementation techniques; just remember to develop a strategy that makes customers (not noise), especially with your social media marketing.
Furthermore, and this ties in with client base and branding, where is your business going to be primarily operational? Will you be offering international services, or country-specific? You no doubt considered all of the operational logistics of this – if not, you need to do that before even thinking of anything else (see here for a helpful example of what you should include), however, before you launch anything online you need to consider how you will best communicate this plan and its logistics. One example to consider is your domain name. If you are planning on developing an international brand, then you should reflect that with a generic top-level domain (gTLD) – .com being the most popular. Whereas, if on the other hand you will be branding yourself as strictly Canadian, then you may want to choose the telling .ca country code top-level domain (ccTLD) so that customers can tell at first glance where your business is based.
At the end of the day taking your business online is not easy, but it’s not insurmountable either. It will require careful consideration: building and maintaining customer relationships, developing marketing strategies and a powerful brand, and ensuring that you offer services with your current means. But in an age where information is a commodity and businesses are swiftly transitioning to the net, online businesses are more important than ever.