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Strategies for Your Web Site Marketing Plan
By Bobette Kyle

How strong are your Web site strategies? Do they move your business toward achieving your objectives or overall goals? Think of your strategies as a framework that clarifies the approaches you will take in meeting your Web site's objectives. They are more specific than the objective, but do not include exact details. After developing the strategic framework, you will fill in the details with tactics (I will leave tactics discussions for later, in part four of this series.).

You can increase your strategies' effectiveness by taking into consideration the business environment you operate in - both online and offline. Two approaches to analyzing the business environment are to complete 1) an industry analysis such as Porter's Five Forces and 2) a situation analysis such as a SWOT analysis.

Porter's Five Forces

A formal industry analysis, such as Michael Porter's Five Forces, is more in depth than simply looking for trends and general industry information and can help you better develop successful strategies.

Michael Porter's Five Forces can provide insight into both your online and offline competitive environments. In the Five Forces Model, Porter explains that in any industry there are five forces that influence what happens within the industry:

 

  1. Existing companies
  2. Potential new companies
  3. Substitutes for products offered
  4. The suppliers
  5. The customers.

These five forces combine to make up the business environment. By studying the structure of and dynamics between these forces, you can discover opportunities for improving upon your strategies. Porter designed his basic model to be applied to an entire industry. The same analytical method, however, could also be used to study a narrower universe, such as online presence within an industry. When developing your Web site marketing plan, for example, you can identify the "forces" as:

 
bullet

Competitors: Those sites that offer the same product, service, or information as your site.

bullet

Potential new entrants: Your site-less off-line competitors as well as new companies entering the industry via a Web site.

bullet

Customers: Visitors and potential visitors to your Web site and your competitors' sites.

bullet

Suppliers: Those companies that supply you with the products (or parts if you are a manufacturer) and/or services offered on your site. Other suppliers are the Web hosting, software, and other vendors that supply Web- enabling technology.

bullet

Substitutes: Other means and sources for the same products, services, or information as your Web site provides.

Using these definitions for the five forces, you can get a clearer picture of the business environment in which your Web site competes. Be aware, however, this is not a true Five Forces analysis. This analysis only borrows Porter's forces to lend structure. His full analysis goes beyond the information gathering and cursory analysis explained here. By fully utilizing Porter's strategic methods you can gain an even clearer picture of the industry, resulting in sounder strategies. To fully appreciate Porter's model, study his two classics, "Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries" and "Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance".

SWOT Analysis

In a SWOT analysis, you identify strengths, weaknesses, market opportunities for your company, and threats to your business. You then use the analysis to develop strategies that will minimize the affect of your weaknesses on your business while maximizing your strengths. Ideally, you will match your strengths against market opportunities that result from your competitors' weaknesses or voids.

When completing a SWOT analysis, you may find it helpful to create a table identifying observations relative to each SWOT component for both your company's site and your competitors' sites. In the table, note Internet-related activities such as trade organization participation, search engine inclusion, and outside links to the sites. Then, from the table you create you can spot your company's strengths and weaknesses as well as opportunities and threats to your business.

Often, opportunities arise as a result of a changing business environment. As you study your competitors, be on the lookout for these opportunities. Some situations that could represent opportunities for a company include, but are certainly not limited to:

 
bullet

New technology is created, but the competition has been unable to deliver acceptable customer service.

bullet

A customer segment is becoming more predominant, but their specific needs are not being fully met by your competitors.

bullet

A customer, competitor, or supplier goes out of business or merges with another company.

Once you develop your strategies, you will be ready to choose tactics for your Web site marketing plan.

Related Articles:

Developing a Web Site Marketing Plan
Your marketing plan is the compass by which you navigate. As opportunities arise or your business environment changes, the objective and strategies in your marketing plan will point you toward the best action. Without a marketing plan, you risk becoming unfocused in your marketing and are only guessing what might be best for your business.

Your Web Site's Objective
Think of a Web site objective as the "big picture". In general terms, the objective answers the question "How can I use the site to overcome my business's main Internet related challenge?" or "What is the purpose of my site?".

Choosing Tactics for Your Web Site Marketing Plan
Objectives, strategies, and tactics - these are the parts of a solid strategic marketing plan. Your site objective defines the big picture, strategies provide the framework, and tactics fill in the details. Tactics are where the action takes place - these are the things you will do to bring your plans to life.


Copyright 2002 Bobette Kyle. All rights reserved.

This article is based on Bobette's book "How Much For Just the Spider? Strategic Web Site Marketing for Small-Budget Businesses", http://www.booklocker.com/books/711.html

Bobette Kyle has over 10 years experience in Corporate Marketing; Brand and Product Marketing; Field Marketing and Sales; and Management. Through her newsletter, site, and marketing services she helps businesses integrate traditional and Internet marketing strategies, http://www.WebSiteMarketingPlan.com

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