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Don't "Do A Little Bit of Everything" with Your Web Site
By Mary A. Sicard

Years ago, Peter Drucker wrote: "Concentration is the key to economic results. Economic results require that managers concentrate their efforts on the smallest number of activities that will produce the largest amount of revenue...No other principle is violated as constantly today as the basic principle of concentration...Our motto seems to be: let's do a little bit of everything."

If you've violated the basic principle of concentration with your bricks-and-mortar store, here's a simple process to avoid doing the same with your Web store or Web site. Ask yourself: "Why am I building this site?" If your answer is, "Because everyone else is on the Internet," you're better off investing those dollars elsewhere. If your answer says something about marketing, sales, internal communication or customer service, you're on the right track.

Now, narrow your focus. Ask: "What holds the best hope for my company's future?" This might be a single product, service or idea. Or it could be recruiting high-caliber employees, decreasing internal costs, enhancing customer service, addressing internal communication issues or generating new business.

Your answer to this question will help you come up with a Raison d'Ítre Sentence, a single sentence that states the reason your site exists. (Yes, your site can have other purposes, but limit them to two and do not allow them to take priority over your site's raison d'Ítre.)

It's not enough to say, "The main purpose of my site is marketing." What does "marketing" mean exactly? Will the site serve to:

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Increase visibility and market exposure?

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Generate leads?

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Offer pre-sale and post-sale customer service and product information?

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Strengthen investor relations?

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Re-inforce corporate identity?

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Secure new dealers, representatives or distributors?

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Reduce fulfillment and print costs for marketing or technical materials?

If the site is for sales, what kind of sales:

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Business to business?

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Business to consumer?

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Business to representatives or distributors only?

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First-time sales?

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Repeat sales?

If the site's main purpose is for internal communications, what kind of communication:

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Low-cost connection between headquarters and sales offices or subsidiaries?

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Reduced cost of long-distance phone calls, faxes, overnight deliveries?

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Employee-to-employee communication?

If the site's main purpose is for customer service, does that mean you want the site to:

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Delivery information?

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Offer instant updates?

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Lower 800 number usage and associated labor cost?

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Reduce mistakes made on request for proposals?

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Enable customers to provide feedback?

Now, fill in the blank: The main purpose of my site is to _______.

This single sentence is one of the most important you'll write for your Web efforts. It becomes the criterion by which you judge everything you put on the site and where and how you'll market the site. For example, if you think the best hope for your business is new business and decide that the main purpose of your site is to generate sales leads, every page on your site should have a link to your "Contact Us" or "Request More Information" page.

If you insist on devoting space on your site to "The President's Message," make that message something that will generate an inquiry. If you can't figure out how to do that, the page doesn't belong on your site. If you have a favored photograph and want to post it on your site, ask yourself, "How will this photograph help generate sales leads?" If it won't help generate sales leads, get rid of it.

Your site's Raison d'etre Sentence also forces you to think about what you can do on the site to fulfill that purpose. You'll find yourself thinking about what kind of contests or incentives you can offer to increase the likelihood that prospects won't leave your site without submitting qualification information.

Although you'll be tempted to "do a little bit of everything" with your Web site, don't. Be merciless. Concentrate - make less dilute, bring or direct toward a common center or objective, focus - your Web efforts (and dollars) into one area that promises the best hope for your company's future.

Mary A. Sicard is chief interactivator at i-Genuity, the click-here strategy and services firm. She rarely violates the basic principle of concentration because she's too busy to remember it. For more information, call 706.737.6546, e-mail msicard@i-genuity.com or visit http://www.i-genuity.com/

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