‘Tis The Season

December 5, 2010 Uncategorized Leave a comment

December is the perfect time to be considering your budget plan for 2011. One of my clients from Sugar Land, Texas sparked this topic because of an idiosyncrasy I have that I did not even realize. I talk about your Online Digital Development a lot, or being O.D.D. (So for those of you wondering why I talk about being odd all the time, now you know. I am referring to being different, ahead of the majority, and about your business’ digital optimization!) Many times a business approaches me to take care of one specific aspect of their business for them. Whether that be their Search Engine Marketing (SEM), or website construction. However, something often missed is to look at the whole picture of the digital plan.

Dollar for dollar you can get a much greater ROI (return of investment) on digital media marketing than on traditional marketing such as newspapers, bill boards, or yellow page ads. You cannot just go at it mishmash though. You will still get a good ROI from it but not nearly as much so if you take the entire process into consideration. Also there are different time lines on each of the aspects involved. To truly be O.D.D. (and who doesn’t want to be odd? We all want to stand out from the crowd!) you have to take care of the whole process start to finish and then follow through with the maintenance required year to year. Like a house, building it is the most costly part, then there is yearly maintenance that is fairly cost efficient, and on occasion you add an upgrade in there to spruce things up and keep them modern.

A proper Online Digital Development plan starts with hardware surprisingly enough. Do you have the equipment, programs, and networking in place to do what you want to for your business digitally? Is the hardware ready to handle your companies growth? Sometimes you don’t need any thing fancy at all, other times heavier or more specific equipment needs must be met. If you are going to be accepting orders online and shipping products, do you have a printer to print receipts or invoices? Do you have the proper software, if you are going to be doing your own bookkeeping do you have the right program for you? Most people think the process starts with the website and though it is a very important consideration, when researching and developing your plan, hardware should be the first thing considered. Often, it can be the most expensive part of the budget.

Now it is time to start considering how your business name is seen online. Are you known online at all? Is it a good or bad sort of being known? This part is all research. Knowing the answers to those questions will help you decide how to proceed next. Do you have a website already? If not, is the domain name you want available? If not, what alternatives do you have? If you do have a website, is it modern, does it look good, and does it have all the features you want? Does it have a good and easy to use, secure, Content Management System? If you have a good, functional website (though you may want to have a professional determine or verify this for you, someone you trust, not someone just out to make money.) then you are well on your way.

Many of the next considerations take place simultaneously. Is your website properly optimized? Is word about your website being well spread? Are you properly listed in all directories? Have you been building links, distributing articles? How are you using your website to interact with your clients, are you blogging or even better, video blogging? What about guest blogging? That is a magnificent way to get word out about your knowledge. Do you have social media links on your website and are you actively participating in social media? Are your profiles properly updated and your posts of a non sales manner? Are you posting video content for your users or at least something to keep them engaged in any format?

Each of these things and even more should be considered before acting on this plan. Each item should have an amount budgeted for development or a realistic amount of time you are willing to put into doing that item yourself. Some things, such as optimizing your website you may be comfortable doing yourself where other things you may want to pay to have done to save you precious time. It really helps to consult a digital professional on this part because not budgeting enough in one area, or not accounting for growth in another area, or even not scheduling enough time for an important task can stop you from reaching your dreams on schedule.

I strongly urge you to make sure you are O.D.D. this year and every year following. Renewing this part of your budget in detail is something that needs done every year, doing so will help you space out large costs like website reconstruction and computer upgrades, as well as help you see what areas are working best for you and where you can increase your ROI most easily. I also suggest you compare your digital ROI to your traditional ROI every year.  Most important though, and I cannot stress this enough, make sure you thoroughly write out your entire plan and work it into your overall budgeting and business goals for the year before you act. The last thing you want to do is inadvertently start something you cannot finish or make a purchase that is superfluous.

As always, thanks for listening to me ramble. Good luck in your upcoming year of business ventures!!