Work with Your Board of Directors to Formulate Online Strategy: Free Teleconference

The snow must go on! And the show will too. If you would like to attend a free teleconference from David Gammel on how to formulate web strategy effectively with boards of directors and other leaders, sign up now! This session was originally in the line up for ASAE’s Technology Conference, which has been canceled due to an impending ice age in the Nation’s Capital.

Online and On Mission: Work with Your Board of Directors to Formulate Online Strategy

Your organization’s website makes substantial and tangible contributions to the mission of your organization, and your board of directors is a crucial participant in developing a Web strategy that achieves breakthrough results. Identify key questions you must answer when creating your Web strategy, and walk away with proven methods to formulate and launch your strategy with the full engagement of your top leaders.

Presented by C. David Gammel, CAE. Author of Online and On Mission: Practical Web Strategy for Breakthrough Results.

The call will be held at 10:15 a.m. EST on Friday, February 12, 2010. You will receive an e-mail with connection instructions before the call.

You must follow this link and complete the form to receive the conference call instructions. Register now!

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Video Interview about Breakthrough Results Online

The folks over at ASAE & the Center just released a video interview with me discussing my book, Online and On Mission: Practical Web Strategy for Breakthrough Results. In the interview I explain what a breakthrough results looks like online.

You can buy a copy of the book for yourself via my site, Amazon or ASAE. ASAE members should buy from them to receive the greatest discount.

Two Web Strategy Screencasts

I created two screencasts (video of a browser session with voice over) showing websites that demonstrate several of the web strategies that I cover in my book, Online and On Mission: Practical Web Strategy for Breakthrough Results. The videos accompany an article I wrote for the December issue of Associations Now, What Drives Your Web Strategy?. You can view the videos below or go to read the article and see them there as well.

Revenue Examples

Market Needs and Marketing Examples

Many thanks to the folks at the following organizations: Air Conditioning Contractors of America; American Institute of Physics; Maryland Chamber of Commerce; and HopeWell Cancer Support.

Finally, thank to Lisa Junker for inviting me to be their first author to contribute both text and online video for Associations Now.

Zappos using video to drive next actions

Zappos.com, the online shoe (and more) retailer recently acquired by Amazon.com, is experimenting with video promotions to drive click throughs to produce detail pages. Here is an example* from their first effort, promoting Nike running shoes. (Scroll down to see the video.)

As you watch the video you can mouse over both the shoes as well as the shirt the model is wearing. The video shows a box over clickable items, which then launches a small dialog box from which the viewer can then click to go to learn more about that product. Nifty technology!

The way Zappos is deploying this facilitates seeing the product in a rich medium while still making it very easy to progress to the product detail page where the sale will be completed. This approach could be effective for any product that would benefit from a video presentation to convey its value and message.

* I tried to use the embeddable video for this post but the way they have created it takes up a huge amount of space since it displays a lot more interface than just the video. This will need to be adjusted because few people will share a video that will blow up their web site layouts.

Fiber to Cuba Illuminates Future Opportunity

I wrote an article for Association’s Now earlier this year on the web strategy implications of a more open Cuba. One of the key factors I noted was that Cuba has no fiber optic lines, to the rest of the world, which drastically limits the available bandwidth in the island country. Looks like that may change in a couple years: Miami Firm Plans First U.S.-Cuba Fiber Optic Cable.

If an open Cuba is an opportunity for your organization, then you have a window in which to prepare for making greater connections online with Cuban citizens.

Web Strategy Outcomes

There are a few key outcomes that any web strategy formulation process should help you to achieve. They include:

  • Clearly defined and prioritized outcomes and audiences that your site must address.
  • A statement of strategic intent that clearly indicates how you will address those outcome and audiences.
  • A plan of action that ties your future website directly to your mission and organizational priorities.

If you can get clarity on these items then you have just dramatically improved your ability to create significant value with your web site.

Budgeting for a Website Redesign

The big question: what’s it going to cost to redesign our web site? Everyone comes to this sooner or later (usually sooner!) when they are determining how to improve their web presence. I’d like to share a page from my book, Online and On MIssion: Practical Web Strategy for Breakthrough Results, that addresses this very issue.

Show Me the Money!

Budgeting for your website falls into two general types: ongoing and redesign. Ongoing budget support should cover things such as staff, outsourced resources, hosting, maintenance and support agreements for technology, and other items required to keep your site up and running and performing well. Redesign budget is money specifically allocated to update or completely replace your existing web site.

Ongoing budgets vary widely and are often a function of the size of your organization and the relative importance placed upon web operations. It is easy to overlook the ongoing expenses required to keep your current site humming along while you are in the midst of figuring out how to replace it entirely. Always plan this out after devising your strategy but before investing in a redesign. The best site in the world won’t do you much good if you can’t afford to maintain it. You don’t want to be like the game show contestant who wins a new car and then has to sell it for cash because they can’t afford the taxes and insurance on the windfall.

Budgeting for a revamp or redesign of your website always raises the question of how much you can expect to spend. The investment will be determined by the technology you ultimately need and the expertise and assistance you require to create the site, including design and content development. All of these variables have a huge impact on what you will invest in and to what degree. When working with outside providers (rather than doing the work in-house with your own staff) I’ve seen everything from budgets of $25,000 to well into the hundreds of thousands. In general, the budget will track with the size of the organization’s overall budget, since complexity and the total requirements tend to go up proportionally.

Ultimately, a redesign should be driven by a change in strategy. The same goes for budget; it should be an output of your chosen strategic direction online rather than your starting point. Once you have your strategy, look at the available budget and consider if you can achieve it given the resources you are likely to have available. Sometimes you can get pretty creative and do a lot without huge budget but you won’t know until you do the strategy legwork first.

The reality is that web strategy projects often do start with a pot of money that was allocated for the site. If that is what you have to work with, look at that number briefly and then try to forget about it while you devise your strategy. Do not limit any ideas or concepts because you think you might not be able to afford them. You won’t know until later in the process, so eliminating them early may simply limit how much value you can create online with the budget you have.

When interacting with outside vendors you are considering to help you with your site, I am always in favor of disclosing to them the budget you have available. Firms that are out of your league will withdraw and those for whom your budget falls into their sweet spot will actively pursue your business. This is a good outcome! Hiding your budget simply delays things and wastes a lot of time both for you and the providers that will not be a good fit.

Finally, this strategy process will give you very good ammunition for increasing your budget to fund site development and maintenance. When done well, you will have clearly identified outcomes the site will create to serve the core of your organization’s mission and purpose. Outcomes draw money. When someone tells you they don’t have money available to fund the site it means that they don’t see the value in doing so. There is always money available if you demonstrate enough value.

Ultimately, there is no magic answer and benchmarking against other organizations is not going to be tremendously valuable if all you look at is raw budget. Above I mention $25k as a low end but you could certainly do it for considerably less if you are simply putting a new look on an existing site, not adding functionality, and already have a good content management system in place that can push the design out. That is rarely the case in a redesign, however.

If you’d like to get a copy of the book, please visit this page.

Speaking on September 14 at the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore

I am presenting next month at a lunch event for the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore, right here in Salisbury MD. I will be discussing the top lessons from my new book, which the session is titled after: Online and On Mission: Practical Web Strategy for Breakthrough Results.

David Gammel, an internationally known web strategist, will discuss his new book, Online and On Mission: Practical Web Strategies for Breakthrough Results. David will zero in on: why you must have a driving force for your web strategy; the precise steps in formulating strategy; the seven potential online strategies for any organization; and more. $40 registration fee, lunch provided, first 25 paid registrants receive a copy of David's newly released book of same title.

Here is the registration page. Hope to see you there!

The Single Greatest Pre-Requisite for an Effective Web Strategty

The single greatest requirement for developing an effective web strategy is the will and ability to set priorities in what you want to achieve.

This sounds obvious, as do most pragmatic ideas. However, in my many years of working with organizations to develop web strategy, those who were ready, willing and able to set priorities for what they wanted to achieve online were the most successful.

The secret to setting priorities effectively is not so much in identifying the top ones. That’s usually easy. The challenge comes in actually investing less in the lower priority outcomes. This is where discipline pays off. This is where having the right people at the table who can actually enforce the desired allocation of scarce resources pays off.

Without that discipline you may have a prioritized set of outcomes but you end up investing in them all equally. Or, worse, one of the junior outcomes gets more than top priorities simply because it has a more effective champion representing it! Effective web strategy is built upon a statement of intent and your wherewithal to implement that intent will determine your success or failure.

This is why I like using the concept of a driving force web strategy that determines the content, design and functionality of your site more than any other factor. It forces the conversation on priority and gives you a strong implementation path for making it a reality. I cover this in great depth in my book, Online and On Mission: Practical Web Strategy for Breakthrough Results.

Remember, no web strategy fails on the white board. Failure will happen during execution of the strategy, so make sure you stack the deck in your favor by exerting discipline in your outcomes prioritization.

Online and On Mission Interview

My new book is coming out in a bit over a week. Titled Online and On Mission: Practical Web Strategy for Breakthrough Results, you can pre-order from the publisher now or pick one up in person at ASAE’s annual meeting in Toronto.

Seth Kahan, who helps visionary leaders get traction for their big ideas, was kind enough to interview me about the book last week. I have added the video to the Facebook fan page I set up for the book. Watch the vid and become a fan to get updates on content and events related to the book.

http://www.facebook.com/v/120082525670