Three questions that can determine the success of your website

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking recently about the things that can determine success or failure for a business. So I thought I would share some of my thoughts and write about the key factors that drive a business’ marketing. And, of course, devising an effective marketing strategy is an essential precursor to designing an effective website.

The first thing any business should do is to decide the answers to three questions. If you’ve never done this, then I suggest that  now is the time to stand back and do it for your business.

The three questions

What it is you’re offering to customers? Even if you think you already know what it is, my guess is that you probably don’t. Can you express what you offer in one sentence? If you can’t, then the chances are that you haven’t defined it clearly enough. Go back and answer the question again. Then do it again and again until you are crystal clear what you’re offering. 

Who are your customers? Many businesses will simply answer “anybody” to this question, thinking that the wider they cast their net, the more people they will attract. That might work if you’re fishing, but it won’t work in marketing. You can’t possibly get your messages out to everybody. You need to focus on specific types of people – specific markets. A scatter gun approach will simply dilute everything you do and will be ineffective.

What is your USP (unique selling proposition)? In other words, what are you offering that will attract your target market to you as opposed to your competitors? 

The opera singer – an analogy

Thinking about these three key factors, brought to mind an analogy, which I would like to share with you because I think it illustrates my points extremely well.

A few years ago, a guy from just outside my home town, became a professional opera singer. He knew he had some talent, he had been studying for a number of years, and eventually decided that he would take a chance and turn professional.

To cut a long story short he is now a well known singer in the world of opera, and regularly performs at La Scala in Milan, La Fenice in Venice, and many other prestigious venues. He tends to specialize in Wagner operas, and in particular, playing the role of Tristan in the Wagner Opera, Tristan and Isolde.

My thinking led me to apply the three questions to Ian

What does he offer to his customers? He is an opera singer. He specializes in Wagner operas and especially the role of Tristan. That seems to be to be an extremely clear offering that can be expressed in a single sentence.

Who are his target customers? They are lovers of opera, and especially Wagner operas. Wagner tends to be music that people either love with a passion or hate with a passion, so Ian has got a well focused niche market of Wagner lovers. People in niche markets like this tend to stick together and communicate with each other regularly. So it’s not difficult for Ian to get a name for himself in this niche.

What is his USP? He specialized in the role of Tristan. This role is very demanding, and only a very few opera singer in the world can effectively pull it off. So Ian’s competition is very limited.

How does this apply to you?

Consider this analogy, understand it and then go back and analyze your own business in similar terms. Can you express your products and services, define your target market, and your USPs, as well as Ian can? I don’t think I can for my business at the moment, so I’ve got some work to do. I’ll bet you’re the same.

Once you’ve done this exercise, the answers will serve as the foundation for all your marketing strategy and your website.


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Written by
Mike Brogan
Mike is a website developer specializiing in website design, online marketing, ecommerce design, and consutancy. He has developed website for clients for over 20 years.

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