A lesson from the future you about the current pandemic

[This is Part 2 of Lessons You Wish Had Learned from the Pandemic About Your Organization’s Website. Read Part 1 here.

Ask my 12-year-old son what can happen when you don’t have a flight plan.

He recently lost his $100 drone on day two of ownership in part because he didn’t have a clear mission, plan his flight route, or share it with me that day.

I’m applying a few lessons learned from that painful incident when his drone was lost in the woods (as we call them here in Tennessee) to your organization’s presence on the web—specifically your website.

Most non-ecommerce businesses take strategic planning for their website less seriously than a 12-year-old flying his new drone. That’s a shame because their business is worth more than his $100 drone.

Why is strategic website planning so neglected within an organization?

Probably because most organizations view their website as little more than a brochure. I’ll hear business owners (especially in the professional services) say their website is mainly used to help potential clients find them on the web. Not to generate leads. Not to clarify their positioning. Not to communicate their value to potential clients.

Everything significant, they say, happens in the form of in-person conversations and referrals. A website is there to say that “we’re here, stop on by.”

And then a virus hits that shuts all “traditional” business and marketing channels down for four months, and all they have is a website and social media presence to rely on to run their business and generate new leads.

If my son could go back to before he lost his drone, he would like to tell himself to develop a flight plan and “file” it with Dad. Then maybe dad would know the area the drone went down and could have recovered it. Maybe dad would have recommended a lower altitude flight due to wind conditions. Things could have turned out different for him with some strategic planning.

If you are like 99% of businesses (just guessing here, but I’ll probably do some small sample research in the future to validate this assumption), you don’t have a plan for your website beyond possibly a maintenance and updates plan your IT department or web developer provides. You may have a marketing department, and they may have some pages they want to add/delete in the next month or a campaign to run with a new landing page. Even a high level 6 month to 2 year plan about how do strategically manage your website and online presence would be a rarity. A rough outline of a plan might be in your head or that of your marketing folks, but written down? Not likely. (If you have one, hit reply and impress me!)

Probably the main reason you don’t have a strategic plan for your website is you don’t have time, budget an understanding of where you want your organization go and how your website and online presence can take you there. You would be in good company then…with me!

I learned some lessons that drone was lost too. The former Air Force dad (me) didn’t insist on his son having a flight plan and proper training before flying his new drone. The cobbler’s children are running around barefoot, and the person who helps others plan, develop and design websites needs to update his own.

In the next pandemic, economic shutdown, upheaval, both you and I will wish we had learned the lessons from this one: First prepare a strategic plan for your website and review it often (every month to six months…but more on that in another post). If you do, you’ll be able to fly your business out of the woods or at least find it if you get lost.

So, at some point in this newsletter, I’ll take you with my on my journey to develop a strategic website plan for my business. In the meantime you can:

  1. Acknowledge your website is important to your business—more so than a brochure or location device.
  2. Realize you need a plan for your organization’s website that isn’t a sketchy, scattered outline in your head.
  3. Keep reading this newsletter. I’m going to walk you through some basic planning in future emails so you can get started.

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