A company builds a website, they build it to sell products directly or generate leads for the sales team, perhaps to communicate financial results to shareholders. Performance is measured in unit sales or leads generated. Yet this is a failure today. Some companies do the same, and don’t experience expected mass growth in sales and think their Website has failed, so they cut the budget. Yet some companies excel on the Web, but they have done something that many companies still don’t do. What is it? What is the key missing element in why many companies view their websites or web efforts as failures or only marginally successful?
Experience has shown it has to do with the difference in how C-Level management views, understands and integrates the Web into the overall business strategy. Even for businesses servicing niche markets that are only targeting a select market in the real-world. By saying “strategy” we mean the entire business strategy; not just marketing, investor relations and sales. Companies that have found success on the Web, including traditional physical product companies, have learned to integrate the Web across the organization, internally and externally. They have also begun to understand and leverage, conversations with their key stakeholders, from employees to prospects to suppliers to investors and media. Internally, they understand that Web 2.0 applications like Wiki’s, scheduling and project management applications can improve productivity, tear down departmental walls and improve interdepartmental communications.
I still see with a majority of companies, a desire to learn how to integrate the Web into their business, but the weak point comes in how they do this, and where to begin. A company that says “okay, how can the Web work with our overall strategy? How does it tie to corporate goals, production goals, marketing, sales, HR and investor relations?” When this approach is taken, a company’s senior management can then ask their departmental reports to look at solutions. Senior management can then look at solutions that impact the organizational whole, while departments can look at solutions that meet departmental needs.
By taking the fundamental and simple step of acknowledging the Web as a key element in strategic thinking and planning, the Web will no longer seem such a strange and wild place. The Web as a marketing channel then becomes just one aspect of success and the organization can find competitive advantages. The companies that have embraced this approach, are the companies that have seen greater market penetration, increased loyalty and perhaps (it’s too early to tell) improved overall shareholder value, even better economic profit.