In the first of two blogs that dispel the myths behind digital marketing, Jonny Wills explains why clarifying the job is essential for clients and project success
Sometimes there are wonderful clients you meet who are wallets-out ready to spend on a website; the trouble is some of them don't know what their end goal is. One woman I met didn't really know what she wanted, all she knew was that she wanted to present herself like a DJ-version of Victoria Beckham. Without the DJ experience or the fashion house and singing career. Or marriage to a global sports superstar.
Of course, it's interesting, perhaps it says more about a quick ambition fix or even vanity if a website buyer doesn't realise they are essentially commissioning a marketing strategy not only to help it exist; but... that they are it. So I always ask my customers:
Would you buy a car without an engine or fuel?
In other words, would you invest in a website operation that is set not to work? I know this story well, I was there with my own music .com back in the day. I was happy that the world could see me, pleased my imagination full of fans would find me, somehow. Of course, I might as well have gone up to Fulking escarpment and opened up cake stall. Halfway down. Where it's rockier.
Don't get me wrong, I'm more than happy to make standalone websites.
You might even tell me: "That's your job, do as I pay". Yes, I'm at your service and comfortable giving you my bank transfer details.
But first, if a website is not marketing, what is it we are doing? What are you actually transacting me to do? Okay, so in a sit-down consult we'd go through this, but generally it's about dealing with the presumptions:
If we build a site, are we assuming people will just visit it?
Do you actually want fans, followers, clients? All three?
Would you like or be able to cope with more sales and customers?
Unfortunately for me with my vanity name.com they didn't.
Oh, I played gigs, but that's gig-goers, I didn't really think about the rest of the world or cater for people that just like to look at websites and hate gigs. More often than not when we think about the end result and it's consequences, sometimes we can be reticent about touting for a bigger version of our operation. More often than this is the lack of thinking things through altogether, especially on the ongoing side.
Let's digress a minute to look at this business of digital work.
You see the confusion not only arises by what we might expect people to want from us online, but also when we project what we think they should get. This muddle – or to be honest, bad research – is compounded for clients by the number of different job descriptions within web marketing: Because once you know what you want then can find out what services you actually need. Working out which ones are best for you can be easily overlooked or mishandled.
That's why I take time to define my remit for the benefit of the client.
It's essential because there are many jumping on the superhighway these days, seemingly taking advantage of this confusion. Bad copywriters who don't know SEO or are unreadable or can't lead the way to selling without spamming. Or the developer who knows you don't know what you want and will never tell you you are locked into them exclusively for the next year.
Indeed, clients can be suspicious because of this very thing, especially when difficult or vague techy terms are used. Then when these big words are used they can be implemented non-specifically: in other words, done on the wing. Sometimes the features are not even understood by the person selling them. Can you trust someone who can't write an email in anything other than good English to handle your SEO, your keyword listing, meta-tags or copy?
Unfortunately there are many trying to capitalise on these grey areas, some cynical, some naively learning on the job. My tip is not to hesitate to keep asking questions and check what they've said, their transparency should be a standard part of the service. How else are you going to build integrity into what essentially is a collaboration?
Let's start with some clarity by explaining my version of my job description to show you what different terms can mean:
What exactly is my job?
Helping you communicate through multi-channels online? Yes, but I build websites so I can also start you from the ground up.
Yes, but creation, coding, build and making sure it complements the business is only part of the picture. Plus I am only semi-precious about the design if you really insist on 90s spirituality colours, comic sans fonts and 'clip art to the hilt'. (Please note that why I will point out why I know my job I really wouldn't dream of telling you yours, haha!).
Sorting out the words that reveal you as the expert in your field that read naturally? Of course, ascertaining a business' most wanted actions and targets and converting them to readable advertorial is a basic skill of all marketing.
Ah, so I'm a web developer/marketer?
Hmmm, I like it, but it puts me in the same bracket as a pure coder and for me that's not where the juice is. And these labels are can easily be confused as meaning a designer and a digital marketer.
I prefer to say I'm in website marketing.
For me being a website marketer means presenting a business for the internet in the way it would best like to be perceived... while reflecting what currently works best online. The website is basically an extra reception area, shop or forum for your business personified in USPs, profile, best features, history, team, products and services etc.If we establish all this, then we are marketing your ongoing operation.
Website marketing is a present continuous verbal phrase.
And it's not a term you'll see often because actually... this is my way of proving I can market a business uniquely. But I have to tell you, providing a site is fine, but not the whole story. Frankly you'd be mis-sold. Not telling you what you're really buying into would be remiss of me.
To summarize, what we're actually doing is making something ongoing to encourage searches and return custom where a focus on website marketing means not only will you see a bigger, clearer picture but you'll also be building with integrity to prepare you for a bigger future.