Three Smarter Strategies for Generating Online Sales

May 28, 2012 Comments Off by

Strategies, tactics and tools…
Last week, Wayne Spencer and I ran a special seminar in Albany for the Albany Chamber of Commerce. It was about big picture strategies for retailers and also lots of actions, activities and tools business owners can use to achieve their strategies.

Wayne is the Executive Director of the Retail Traders’ Association of Western Australia. Obviously, Wayne’s focus is mostly on the retail sector.  Many retailers are doing it tough, but others are winning. For some retailers, business is booming.  It’s fascinating to understand what separates the winners from the strugglers. (More on that another time.)

In the seminar, Wayne outlined the current position and challenges of many retailers in Australia and elsewhere. Overall, it’s not a pretty picture. High rents, high labor costs and of course, online competition. Some of Wayne’s stats are frightening, but also inspiring for businesses who embrace smarter ways to operate.

I presented the second part of the seminar, outlining some 35 different business strategies available to retailers and others. I also gave an overview of my process for building a Smarter Digital RoadMap, and looked at some of the stages and issues for developing roadmaps for Website Sales and Web Marketing.  The presentation I gave and the handouts I provided are available here.

What is a Strategy?

Many people get confused between strategies, tactics and tools. Using Facebook is NOT a strategy.  At best, Facebook may be a tactic and a tool. And using Google AdWords or using SEO on your website are not strategies.  

Let me clarify what I mean…

To start with, a business has a purpose and the business owners & Directors have Goals and Objectives for the business.  Ideally, the business owners develop various strategies to achieve these business goals and objectives.

Strategies are long term Big Picture plans for the business. Ideally, strategies have defined Strategic Goals  and Objectives – but often business owners leave these goals undefined. If you don’t measure something, it’s hard to know when you’ve achieved the outcome you want.

Tactics are actions and activities done to achieve your long-term plans. Often, these actions are short-term, but they form part of the long-term strategies. Ideally, the various actions and activities you do will work together to help you achieve your strategies. They need to work with  the various people, resources tools and systems in your business to fulfill your business plans.  And again ideally, you will have goals for each of the tactics.

As a business owner, you will come across hundreds (or thousands) of possible tactics and tools, but without smart and sensible over-arching big picture strategies, trying to use lots of these tactics and tools will result in ad-hoc decision making, confusion, frustration and usually wasted money and opportunities.

Three Smarter Web Strategies

Not all business strategies will be based on using the Web. Not too many businesses can ignore the Web, but many seem to ignore the need for web strategies.  And that’s not smart – it’s just dumb.

Many businesses these days have a website, but sadly most businesses DO NOT have a digital strategy.  One survey suggests less than 16% of Australian SME businesses have a digital strategy.

Web Strategies are high-level Big Picture plans for your business and how you want to use the Web in your business. As an example, here are three possible web strategies from my list of 35.

8. Use the Web to reinforce our great relationships with our suppliers and ensure they continue to value us and require us in their distribution channels.

17. Use the Web to build our database into an incredibly valuable and highly saleable asset of our business.

25. Use the Web to establish prominent points of difference between our business and other online sellers so ‘price’ is not the key differentiator for customers.

Each of these strategies will require activities and tools to make it happen, but when you have a strategic focus, you have very clear reasons why you are doing the activities, learning the tools and investing your time and money.

These are the types of web strategies I encourage businesses to consider and adopt.  Decide the time-frames and strategic goals for your business, and the tactics, actions and activities that make sense for your business.

Plan your Digital RoadMap. Work out the capabilities you need on your team and allocate or find the resources to make it happen. Then get started.  You’ll learn a lot on the journey.

Thanks Albany

Thanks again to Graham Harvey, the CEO of the Albany Chamber of Commerce & Industry for organizing the seminar last week.  And thank you to the 22 business owners who participated in the highly interactive and enjoyable session.  You’ll find the notes and handouts from the session here.

Thanks also to Graham for the photo which he cunningly uploaded to Facebook during the session…

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