Glitzy graphics showcasing this year’s latest technological developments, surveys and questionnaires supported by product literature designed to help prospects select the models that best fit their needs or technical support FAQs and repair diagrams that facilitate self-repair and minimize the number of request for telephone and onsite technical service: which of these services is the focus of the company’s website? Maybe, all three?
Earlier this year, Jupiter Research, a division of Jupitermedia Corporation, reported, “Often there is neither an incentive for [business] units to work together to accommodate each other’s objectives, nor a governance mechanism to maximize the overall value of the Web site as a corporate asset.” “The Web [site] represents a confluence among different part so the company,” Says David Schatsky, Jupiter Research senior vice president and the author of the report.
One of my graduate business students is a senior at a well-known international travel services company. He is responsible for the proper handling of millions of dollars in corporate travel arrangements each year. During an e-business management class this year he described the company’s plan to incorporate a marketing effort designed to develop personal travel management services into the same website that currently serves only corporate clients. The chance for success in the new effort seems slight, at best, and the opportunity for incurring damage to the company’s primary niche is amply clear. So, why would a team of experienced marketers make such an obvious blunder?
The answer is more obvious than you may imagine.
When departments compete for clients’ attention, the overall corporate message can become muddled. Multiple, sometimes competing, messages are presented via single website that confuses the clients and creates an improper public image for the organization. Worse, clients may leave (both the website and corporate account) and encourage others to do the same.
Companies must be clear, from the outset, about the goal and expected outcome of the website. It is vital that clarity and buy-in from all stakeholders is created at each of the three major phases of website development: conception, design, and rollout. Senior leadership must participate in or delegate full authority to representatives who participate in the concept development and formative design processes. Cross-departmental coordination, focusing on fundamental needs and expectations, is most likely to ensure a final website product that, rather than seeming a Rube Goldberg invention, is actually a clearly-presented and crisp display of information that becomes a properly functioning business tool and creates significant return on investment.
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