Website Development: Don’t Skip the Two Most Important Steps

What do website development, entrepreneurship and awesome sex have in common?

All three can rock your world if you are mentally strong and disciplined enough to practice delayed gratification. Oh, and this: No matter how accomplished you think you are at these things, there’s a decent chance you’re not doing it as well as you could be.

The sex thing? That’s a discussion for another time, maybe over beers once we know each other a little better. And even though I believe anyone who hopes to be successful in the Internet marketing industry would do well to learn as much as possible about the principles of entrepreneurship, the concept of delayed gratification in business is not really what this is about, either.

It’s about this: It is a bad idea to skip or skim over the two most important steps in developing a kick-ass website. But what are those steps? And why are they so important? More on that in a minute.

Listen, if you’re satisfied with your current process for website development; if you think you know what you’re doing and don’t need to know more; if all you care about is the quick fee you’ll make off your next website launch; by all means, feel free to move along. Best of luck to you.

If you’re still reading, good. It means you would have done well as one of those kids in the Stanford marshmallow test. Rather than gobbling down that lone marshmallow in front of you, you have the patience required to discipline yourself to wait for that second marshmallow you were promised.

Here It Is

The two steps you should never – ever – skip or skim over in website development are the precise definition of goals and the proper use of functional mockups.

Website Development Skipped Steps

OK, no big secret, that. Of course you set goals. Of course you use functional mockups. But do you, really?

Here’s the thing. After initial discovery with a client, once you have that first, vague notion of how to proceed, how often do you find yourself skipping directly to the development of design mockups? Come on, be honest. You and I know that’s the fun part – it’s where the artistry of web development lives.

Yet, the artistry can’t come to life without the consummation of a happy marriage between clear, well-defined goals based on a deep and thorough discovery process and a functional wireframe designed specifically to achieve those goals. Only when those two steps are integrated – and approved by the client – is a project truly ready to graduate to the design mockup phase.

Look, I’m not necessarily saying you’re taking lazy shortcuts if you don’t pay enough attention to the definition of goals and the creation of functional mockups. What I’m saying is, you might not even know you’re selling those steps short. The point is, you probably already do this well, but you might not be doing it as well as you could be.

Why?

So, why are these steps so important?

Because well-defined goals establish traceable metrics that tell you – in no uncertain terms – how well or poorly your site is doing. These metrics, in turn, help you learn about what works and what doesn’t, lessons that you can incorporate into your future websites. And using functional mockups the right way allows you to think clearly – without the distraction of a website’s many potential design bells and whistles – about how you intend to achieve those established goals.

It takes time, it takes thought, and yes, it might feel a little painful and tedious at times. It will undoubtedly slow you down and delay the “fun” part, as well as the tangible reward of a launched and successful site. In some respects, it takes the magic out of website development, because you are forced to do things a little more clinically.

But these two steps are absolutely mandatory if you want to deliver meaningful results to your clients and reach your full potential in the industry. And why would you settle for less than your full potential? Be strong. Be patient. Practice discipline. Trust me on this – it’s worth the wait.

And You?

Have you seen these steps skipped? Tell me your war story below?

Mass Marketing Is Only Mostly Dead

Note: This video was shot using a Flip video MinoHD 8GB camcorder (Amazon affiliate link) and a Fat Gecko Double Knuckle Camera Mount (Amazon affiliate link). Boo-Yah!

My Flip is awesome! Though I wish I had the 3rd generation version which includes image stabilization. The Fat Gecko is wicked. Use it in or out of your car, snowboards, mountain bikes, bike helmets. I love it!


Transcript

I’ve had this video transcribed below for those who prefer to read rather than listen or watch. The transcription provided by me.

Hey, everybody, Mark Regan here.

I’m in the middle of listening to Seth Godin’s latest book, We Are All Weird, a great book that takes the theory that mass market is dead and marketing to smaller, groups smaller segments, tribes, as he calls them, is going to be the way of the future, at least, going forward.

And I agree with him in many respects. agree that the infomercial model, the HSN, where you take a product and, by purely throwing marketing dollars at it you can turn it into a huge masses success, and I believe that that’s true.

However, he makes it jump from mass marketing is dead to imply that mass production is dead therefore, so large soda drinks and Coke and Diet Coke, Pepsi, and also plastic forks, paper plates. That the market for them is dead is absolutely not true.

So if you can believe that the market for mass produced products in the millions or hundreds of millions is not going to disappear, then there will always be some form of marketing of those types of products. And, therefore, mass marketing at that scale is not gonna disappear. Mass marketing where you’re creating a market that didn’t exist necessarily, I believe, is gone, but there will always be some form of mass marketing. Therefore, mass production and products and his implication that both of them are dead is just not true.

I believe only one form of that is going to disappear or at the process of disappearing now.

But I’ll be interested in your thoughts. Let me know in the comments below. Take care.

How to Fail at Multi-Location Online Marketing

The Dilemma of Multi-Location Online MarketingI’ve worked for two large national brands to solve the dilemma of marketing multi-location, local businesses online in a cost-effective manner, Sylvan Learning Centers (1,100 locations) and Coast Dental (200 locations). And next week I start a new gig for a third, PowerChord Systems (thousands of client locations).

Those experiences have highlighted to me the biggest challenges facing multi-location businesses.

The Rub

Only when banded together, can local businesses get the economies of scale needed to implement the online marketing tactics and strategies that will crush their mom & pop competition.

But at the same time, they expect these tactics and strategies to be designed and customized for their and only their local customers.

But you can’t do that in a cost-effective manner if each local business were to hire a local agency. You need to design your multi-location online marketing in a way that solves the sometimes competing requirements of the corporate parent/franchisor AND the local dealer/franchisee/branch.

Corporate Requirements

  • Consistent Brand – protect the brand’s equity
  • Professional imagery – no stretched logos, clip art or incorrect use of colors
  • Approval and oversight – legal and business
  • Implement Best Practices – communication frequency, correct use of channels
  • Reporting – detailed breakdown of why some local businesses are seeing great results compared to others
  • Optimization – how can we better use our investments to get more leads per dollar?

Local Requirements

  • Hyper-local variations – keyword bidding, use of languages other than English
  • Customization – local name vs. corporate brand
  • Local Channels – local websites
  • On-Demand/Impulse Campaigns – weather-based, tragedy-based, event-based
  • Expense – want the Corporate rate but with local control
  • Reporting – how many customers did I get last month for my investment?

How to Fail

Considering these requirements you may think the solution is easy.  But here are three obvious solutions that will actually fail if implemented.

  1. Implement your corporate strategy as though it was developed for each local business.  The same banner ads, email newsletters and online offers are deployed in each location.  In doing this you just portray yourself to your prospects as a cold corporate machine.  Coca-Cola can get away with this.  You can’t.
  2. Hand over the keys to the local businesses.  Letting them solve the online marketing needs on their will guarantee you end up with 1,000 different strategies developed by 1,000 different local agencies. And your brand will slowly disappear as you know it.
  3. Develop your corporate strategy, tactics, campaigns and editorial calendars and then customize each of them for each location. You will quickly run out of money and time once the changes and demands from the local level overwhelm you and your budget. Your campaigns will never see the light of day due to a lack of funds.

How to Win

How to Win at Multi-Location Online MarketingI’ve found there is a solution that sits in between the requirements of the two parties. It’s a complex one, but when done right gets you closer to winning than any other method I’ve seen.

But I want to hear from you first.

  • How have you approached solving this dilemma?
  • How have you figured out how to solve the competing requirements of Corporate and the local businesses?

Let me know in the comments below.

Props to Mashable Connect

Note: This video was shot using a Flip video MinoHD 8GB camcorder (Amazon affiliate link) and a Fat Gecko Double Knuckle Camera Mount (Amazon affiliate link). Boo-Yah!

My Flip is awesome! Though I wish I had the 3rd generation version which includes image stabilization. The Fat Gecko is wicked. Use it in or out of your car, snowboards, mountain bikes, bike helmets. I love it!


Transcript

I’ve had this video transcribed below for those who prefer to read rather than listen or watch. The transcription provided by me.

Hey everyone, Mark Regan here.

I just got back from Orlando over the weekend where I spent some time with the folks from Mashable at their Mashable Connect event 2011.
Mashable Connect

A pretty amazing event over there, they kept it to invite-only which kept a lot of the vendors out and they were actually able to make sure a lot of the folks that were there were the practitioners, the people that do it every day.

From digital directors to VPs to brand managers, what have you across a whole bunch of big name international brands. And I was fortunate enough to be in the crowd.

They put on a really fun event. Props out to Mashable for a fun event even at 18 hour long each of the days were amazing, really impactful. A lot of deep stuff and pretty damn fun!

If any of you guys know of anything similar out there, conferences that really rock, let me know in the comments below or reach out to me somehow.

Until then take care.

Tim Moore Interview

Tim Moore from Maximum joined me for an interview.


Your Background

Tim Moore

Mark Regan: Tell me a little about your background and how you came into your current role as Social Media Director at Maximum Design.

Tim Moore: Digital Biography: http://TimMoore.tumblr.com/about and Digital Business Architect at Maximum (http://maximumrocks.com) Erupts 4.22.11

Mark Regan: With the constant arrival of emerging techniques, products and companies, how do you decide which ones are worth testing out for your clients?
Tim Moore: Easy, for production advertising, established channels with large demographic base that meets client needs and has an ad platform that is trackable.  For emerging platforms, most need maturing before you would use client ad spend on them. We have to report monthly ROI, so efficient and strategic A/B testing is critical, before a recommendation is proposed.  We are not in the hype business, we are in the conversion business.

Mark Regan: Do you approach developing a personal brand differently than you do a corporate brand?
Tim Moore: Yes, completely. Also, each brand will have different goals, expectations and definitions of ‘success’, so listen, listen, listen, before talking.

Mark Regan: How has your experience in the business world helped you master your own personal brand marketing?
Tim Moore: I haven’t mastered it, I am learning everyday. The more I listen, the more I learn. I don’t see that changing.

Mark Regan: Bonus: What is your favorite online marketing/social media toy of the day?
Tim Moore: Hitpad (new release – http://hitpad.com) and Poweri (new startup – dropping 5.1.11)

Mark Regan: Thanks Tim! How can people find out more about you and connect with you?
Tim Moore: Twitter: @TimMoore; Facebook: /TimMoore; Email: TimMoore (at) Facebook (dot) com; Tumblr: http://TimMoore.tumblr.com

Why I Wasn’t Invited to Speak at TEDx Tampa Bay

I’m Not

I’m not a player.  I’m not a sought-after speaker.  My blog doesn’t draw thousands of visitors each day (maybe in a month it does).

TEDx

So why wasn’t I invited to share my wisdom at the 2011 TEDx Tampa Bay?

The A-Crowd

In high school I wasn’t in the A-Crowd.  Heck when I got there I wasn’t even in the C-Crowd.  But I wanted more.  More friends like any teenager. I wanted people to want to be with me.

That hasn’t changed has it?  I want to be popular.  Have people listen to me speak.  Pay me money to speak.  I want TEDx to want me.

I wanted the invite.

Yearbook Photographer

In high school I wasn’t a jock.  So I took my photography skill and became the yearbook and newspaper photographer.  Bingo.  It was admission to the A-Crowd.  It was an identity.  People knew my name.
High School Photographer

At the 10 and 20 year reunions, they knew my name.

I have something to say.  But I haven’t found an audience.  That’s OK, I’ll keep talking.  Everyone says I need to speak to my audience about them and not be about me.  But that’s all I know.  Me.  Not them.  I can only tell my story and hope that it will connect with someone.

Backstage Pass

Today I still want to be in that A-Crowd even if it means I have to work my way in.  I’m headed to the invite-only Mashable Connect in May.  Not as Mark Regan, but as Mark Regan an the Internet Marketing guy at Coast Dental.  My application as Mark Regan was denied.  So I reapplied as Coast Dental and BAM, I’m in.

Mashable Connect

Did they want titles?  Did they want to make sure there were no salesmen, scammers or affiliate kings? I don’t know, but I’m in.  Again everyone will know my name.

Maybe I can back-door TEDx the same way.  Do you guys want me to speak as Coast Dental?  Maybe as a great husband or Gator fan?  Maybe I can connect you with someone important or in some way make you important.

Kingmaker

That’s what I did in high school without knowing it.  I was a kingmaker in my own right.  I held the keys to yearbook immortality.  Do I need to find a 2011 equivalent before I can be invited to speak at TEDx?

Maybe I’ll try to find it.

Maybe I’ll just continue to be me and one day a TEDx by a different name will recognize me, care what I have say and invite me to speak at their event.

I Invited Me

I’m not waiting for them.  I’m not waiting to be picked.  I’ve picked myself and moved on to my next great masterpiece.

It’s me.  Want to know more?

MLB, Publix and Buffalo Wild Wings

Note: This video was shot using a Flip video MinoHD 8GB camcorder (Amazon affiliate link) and a Fat Gecko Double Knuckle Camera Mount (Amazon affiliate link). Boo-Yah!

My Flip is awesome! Though I wish I had the 3rd generation version which includes image stabilization. The Fat Gecko is wicked. Use it in or out of your car, snowboards, mountain bikes, bike helmets. I love it!


Transcript

I’ve had this video transcribed below for those who prefer to read rather than listen or watch. The transcription provided by me.

Hi everybody! Mark Regan here.

MLB Fan CaveLast week Major Baseball league kicked off its 2011 season. And one of their initiatives that they put up together was this Fancave — at www.MLBFanCave.com where they put a guy up inside a loft in Manhattan.

And for the entire season, he’s going to watch every baseball game on a bank of TVs and really kind of grow that concept to bring in fans, big stars to do interviews and they had a big contest to choose who this person was.  As the executive from Major League Baseball termed it, it’s real great opportunity to take that major league baseball brand and humanize it and bring it to the fans that are already out there talking about their baseball teams on social media and bring this whole concept and connect with it to the “electronic water cooler” to quote him.

And it made me begin to think about a couple of brands that might be able to make that same concept and really capitalize on it here in the Bay Area that I frequent.

PublixOne of them is Publix, a grocery store chain here in the Southeast and very popular that can take its Aprons brand which is a all-in-one package that allows you to cook an entire meal right there from one counter to pick all your products out.

But take that same concept and tie into the holiday season, from November, December. Where you open up a kitchen throughout the month, 2 months, and for 24 hours a day you run chefs through it, you run Ordinary Joes, allow them to come in and do some stuff and you actually get to see the creation of these foods in live and real-time without any edited Hollywood style, 30-minute snippets that you see on the Food Network and then also build up this great library of content that allows people to see in a time-shifted manner.

It is a great opportunity to really connect that Publix brand which is really great in helping you serve great food to your family and bringing it and making it much more approachable.

Buffalo Wild WingsLikewise, Buffalo Wild Wings, a sports bar which I have gone to before here in Tampa could take that same concept, but instead of using a central location for their initiative, like Major League Baseball or Publix, they can actually put together tour bus that ran through all of their franchises.

And during the restaurant hours run a live camera setup through the internet to this social media connection that they had to really talk to their fans and build that relationship that can only be had in social media and really humanizing it and that’s what I really like about what major baseball league is doing, as well as what these other brands are doing or any other brand could do, but allowing the ordinary Joe to connect with the brand.

And so let me know if you’re from Buffalo Wild Wings or Publix. Please put some comments below. Or if you have any thoughts on the concept of what Major League Baseball is doing or some other brands can do.  Leave me something below.

Thanks a lot! Take care!

Mashable Connect 2011 – The Interviews

Mashable Connect

In preparing to attend Mashable Connect 2011 in May I am again extended my interview series by inviting the lineup of speakers for an interview before we all converge on Orlando.

Much like I did prior to Social Fresh coming into town this past February, I’m expanding this interview series by bringing in video, audio and possibly even a Twitter-view or two.

Stop back by and join in the conversation with some of the very influential people on tap for this year’s event.

Who Do You Love?

Who Do You Love

Pick One

When you get in a personal relationship with someone in real life, you know who you’re getting involved with.

But when you get into an email marketing relationship with a business (aka email newsletter), are you making the deep dive with the right brand?

Brand or Location?

For example, if I sign up for Starbucks emails, am I getting an email from the SBUX giant in Seattle or is my local coffee shop going to reach out to me through email?  The same goes for the multi-location McDonald’s.

How about IKEA?  Am I going to read emails authored by the Scandinavian Marketing Team, the US arm of the Scandinavian giant or one of their multiple locations here in Tampa?

Who Am I Connecting With?

Let’s turn this around now.  Say you manage a multi-location business.  You solicit email subscribers everywhere you can.  Your website, social media even your print materials and in-store collateral.

And you succeed at not failing your customers: Best Buy Email, University of Florida,

Who do your customers want to hear from?  The Corporation?  The Brand? Or do they want to know and learn about their local brand torch bearer?

There is no single answer.  Rather I believe you need to ask tough question about your customers to learn what they want from an email relationship.  Who knows maybe you’ll learn a thing or two.

Ask  The Questions

  • How many of my locations would my customer likely visit in one year?
  • Are my locations close to my customer’s homes or likely visited while traveling?
  • Is there a chance that my customers might like our brand so much that they want to visit other locations?

Asking questions like this of your brand and its customers will help you decide whether you speak to them as a single brand or whether each of your locations has its own brand that needs to have a dedicated and personalized email relationship with them.

Who Do THEY Love?

So it’s not who do YOU love, the right question is Who Do THEY Love?

Answer that and your customers will appreciate your email relationship more.

Are You Torn?

Do you struggle with the problem of how to develop a relationship between multiple locations and your customers?

Speak up in the comments below!

Foursquare 3.0

Foursquare Campaign WizardJust in time for SXSW, Foursquare has rolled out a new release of features and their focus on multi-location businesses sings to me.

For those of you managing multiple venues in your Foursquare account know well how hard it is to kick off a campaign, deploy specials and aggregate your venue’s check-ins.

Foursquare 3.0 addresses each of those needs and then some.

Benefits to Enterprises

Greg Sterling does a great job of analyzing the release, here are some of his highlights:

  • You can now initiate a campaign once and apply to any or all of your claimed venues.
  • You’ll be able to aggregate your stats across venues to see track demographics as well as campaigns analytics.
  • While not new, it’s key to note that all of this data is real-time.  So you can quickly react, deploy, correct and reward based on what you’re seeing happen.

Imagine deploying a Flash, Swarm or Friends Special across all of your sports bars during the heat of the March Madness.  Are you listening Beef ‘O’ Brady’s?

To me this brings Foursquare to the big kids table by courting the enterprise users.  A single point for management and analysis is key if you’re going to think about having large companies and their extensive reach and deep pockets.

Foursquare Analytics

Deaf Ears

Now if only Facebook and Twitter would take notice and provide an enterprise portal so I can manage over 100 online presence through a single tool.

Next Up

Is you’re listening Foursquare I’d like for your analytics and tracking to better integrate with my web analytics packages.  You don’t have to do this directly for each vendor, but at least allow me to better tag my venues with their website sibling.

This will allow me to roll up Foursquare’s role in my customer relationship and compare it to my other initiatives.