This blog often talks about the tools and technologies that companies can use, the same principles apply to real-life, and how we treat the next customer.
Last night, I had dinner and drinks over at my Uncle’s friend’s place. Ted, who’s already retired, shared some of his wisdom with me regarding running a business. His business? he launched a silicon valley startup right in the heart of the valley, but the thing was, it has nothing to do with tech. In fact, he had run a fly fishing shop in San Mateo for 15 years, and knows what it’s like to run a startup. Like most startups in the valley, it’s a combination of ambition, risk, and all passion.
The most meaningful story, which I’m now sharing with you, explained how he treated prospects. Three gentleman used to visit his fly fishing shop, yet they didn’t have enough money to purchase the gear or attend any of the exclusive trips accustomed to the fly fishing community, yet Ted welcomed them in. They were encouraged to be part of the shop’s community, hang out in the store, and at least live the dream –even if from afar.
Three years had passed and the gentlemen kept on returning, the small software company, which the three gents co-owned, eventually was sold. Each of the three were worth about $11 million dollars –each! There was no way to predict these guys would have ‘made it’ for their company when Ted invited them to hang and be part of the club.
They came back specifically to thank Ted, for letting them hang out in his ‘club house’, even though they couldn’t afford to purchase any of the gear or excursions at the time. Over the next few years, they purchased 3 exclusive excursions per year, helping Ted grow his business from a 11k net to a million dollar yearly business. (and yes they had a website).
1) You never know which one of your guests will become your big customers, treat everyone as a top customer.
2) Those who are interested in your products, invite them in, let them be part of your community. This applies to the web as well.
What about Ted? He’s now happily retired, with all the creature comforts as well as friends and family, and couldn’t be wealthier. So back to you. How are you treating your prospects? Do you give them the same amount of benefits and respect as customers? How can websites align with this strategy
A few weeks ago, I met some SF folks at Lunch 2.0 in SF (see pics of this rooftop party.
Randy Fong is a Flex champion and evangelist and gives us his reasons why he prefers to develop there. He tells us about the differences between Flex, Ajax, and Silverlight, and answers which one he thinks will have a faster development time.
I probed him about measurement, which has been a point of contention for many web strategists, he gives his response.
There’s a lot of web strategists reading this blog, tell me about which technology you’re using for rich user experiences and why.
My antennae are being retrained to watch what people are saying about Forrester, my new employer. I’m starting to understand the conversations around the company and am actively starting internal conversations about what you are all saying. Yes, we are listening.
I woke up this morning to see that Robert has challenged Pete’s data in his post entitled: “Where did Forrester get its Twitter data?” Peter (Analyst) and Cynthia (Researcher) have data on usage of microblogging. His relationship with the Obvious folks gave him suspicion about the numbers. In just a few hours, Peter has responded via his blog, and Cynthia provides details on the methodology (read comments). If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my three short weeks here is that data is key, and there’s lots of it available here. Data is nothing without analysis, and even less without actionable recommendations. If you’ve more questions for Pete, he’s on Twitter.
Also, If you want to check out some of the great Analysts at Forrester, start with Bruce Temkin, who is one of the all star analysts at the firm, and has the highest read reports in the entire company. He blogs at Experience Matters, and if you’re into user experience, put him on your reader.
Here’s one of the last Web Strategy Show videos that will be published on this round (new readers: I interviewed the top web and marketing leaders in the industry at PodTech, see archives). Josh Hallett is known in the web marketing and social media fields, and is frequently seen at conferences speaking, sharing, or just taking pictures. Based out of Florida, he’s become a personal contact of mine, and he recently visited me at PodTech in Palo Alto.
Josh shares with us at the WeMedia conference on the topic of Citizen Journalism, (1:10). He discusses how we both witnessed Shel Israel pissing off the traditional journalists in the room who are holding on to the old publishing model in a new world. The challenge of monetizing the social sphere continues to come up (although I’m very aware of how elite bloggers are cashing in). Find out about the tools used in Citizen Journalism. Josh has designed some of the top blogs out there, when he named off the list, it was many of the blogs that I’ve read. He’s sure right about mastheads for blogs need to clearly state what the blog is about, you only have a few seconds to impress upon visitors that they get the context.
Speaking of blog design, this blog was heavily modified by me, I tweaked an existing template, created the banner, and shifted the style sheet. In the spirit of practicing what I preach I actually polled my community to give me feedback about this blog design.
A Web Strategy must balance all three spheres
What’s a Web Strategy? It’s the balance between the three spheres for effective long-term planning of a website. This person is a hybrid of a few roles, and may have emerged from any of the following spheres. A Web Strategist is responsible for the long-term planning and decision making of a website, but must balance ALL of the following three spheres:
1) Community (formerly Users)
The Web Strategist must understand (by using a variety of techniques and tactics) what users want. This is commonly known as User Experience Research which will create and craft a ‘mental model’. In addition, the strategist will need to be in tune with the community in which their website is part of, this is greater than just users, as it will include competitors, partners, and prospects.
Skills: User experience (UX), usability, information architecture, social media skills, customer support, community marketing, marketing, product marketing, ability to listen and be empathetic.
The business sphere requires a strategist to understand the long term objective of a website and it’s goals. This sphere also requires ability to internally maneuver within an organization and maximize the persistent limitation in resources. A website that is not aligned to business or market objectives is ultimately doomed to fail. The User and Business requirements will often match, but will rarely ever be a perfect fit. The Web Strategist) will need to obtain business requirements from stakeholders, whether that be execs, sponsors, sales, or even shareholders. Understanding the market, competitors (and key milestones) and other external forces are also required –a business requirements model will be formed, these are your objectives.
Skills: Marketing, advertising, media, management, measurement, ability to evangelize internally, process management, resource management, obtain objectives, product development, product management, savvy in political maneuvering
Lastly, a Web Strategist needs to know how each and every tool and technology work, they’ll need to know the strengths, benefits, limitations and costs. This also applies to human capital, and timelines. Often technical limitations will reduce the scope of User and Business needs, so you’ll need to incorporate this going forward.
Skills: Software Development, Web Development, Web Architecture, Industry Trends, experiments with web technology, but understands how to extrapolate and harness a tool.
Can’t master them all? Be able to Learn or Delegate
It’s unlikely he or she is a master at all, but most importantly, has the ability to learn and delegate. In my career, I’ve tried to have a balance in all these spheres (former UI Designer, Marketing Degree, and worked in software engineering group) keeping up with all spheres is nearly impossible. Therefore two skills become very important: 1) The ability to quickly learn, and extract value, 2) Ability to find talent and delegate, no really, I mean really delegate, which requires trust.
If you have other skills to suggest, please leave a comment, and I’ll add.
I originally introduced this concept August 25th 2006, just about one year earlier, and am now making these amendments. This was primarily spurred by Johnathan’s suggestion of looking at the user sphere as greater than just a customer base, thanks Jonathan, you’re an excellent strategist. Also, Robert suggested I try to incorporate more of a visual representation in my concepts, which I think is a great idea.
Did this post interest you? See all posts tagged Web Strategy, or watch the supplemental Web Strategy Video Show.
Delicious is a social bookmarking tool. It empowers anyone the ability to tag, label, and share with others web pages. For the Web Strategist, it’s a great tool to understand how people think (or don’t think) of your brand. Those who tag your website are more engaged than passive readers, and are sharing your content with others, so pay attention.
How to use?
How do you use it? Go to Delicious, in the search bar, type in the name of your brand, website, or name, and review results. You’ll see some pink highlighed words “Saved by X People”, click on that, and it’ll take you to that page where you can see details of comments, a sorted tag listing, and a history.
Here are the top 5 tags on my index page:
76 tagged the site “blog”
74 tagged the site “strategy”
73 tagged the site “web2.0”
58 tagged the site “marketing”
52 tagged the site “web”
Interesting, I don’t consider myself a Marketing blogger, or a Web 2.0 blogger (I don’t even have a keyword category for that term), to me those are just sub-sets of what Web Strategy is about. It’s amazing the the tags that I use for my own posts are slightly different than readers perceived it. I could even get more granular and look at specific posts that were tagged, try sifting on your own pages.
I did a Delicious search on my Facebook Strategy post, and discovered that the post had been tagged 186 times, I could then drill down and find out what they said (such as Peter He), and what else they tagged –that’s intelligence. What’s amazing is there is far more activity in Delicious than in the comments of the same post.
I did the same for Jennifer Jones’s Marketing Voices, Scoble’s blog,
If you want to learn more about how to use Folksonomies to build a better website, I wrote this post a while back. You should be using these keywords to help you uncover what people are classifying your content as, and as a result should factor into your SEO strategy.