website rfp alternative

99% of our discussions with prospective clients about website design follow an eerily similar trajectory:
Them: “We’re looking to redesign our website.”
Us: “Why?”
Them” Our site is really outdated and just doesn’t look professional.”

OK, fair enough. Let’s get that fixed. But first, I have some pretty important news for you. There’s a bigger problem at work here and it has nothing to do with graphic design or fancy copywriting. The real problem is this:

Your website is not a business development tool

If this isn’t the case for you, congrats. You’re doing something right and you don’t need to spend your next ten minutes reading this blog post. But if it rings true, let’s temporarily put your concerns about aesthetics aside because this conversation should be about marketing strategy.

A website redesign will not solve your problems

It just won’t. It might be an exciting undertaking. It might draw some “oooohs” and “ahhhhs”. But it won’t bring you new customers – at least not all by itself. So hold tight on sending that website RFP.

A website needs something much more powerful surrounding it to thrive as a new business tool: an online business development ecosystem.

The online business development ecosystem

The fundamentals of business development in an online setting differ very little from those of traditional settings. The problem is, companies fear the technology hurdle associated with the online space and choose to stay away. The result? Missed opportunity. The truth of the matter is that, other than the technology itself, nothing here is fundamentally new or unique. Let’s use a classic business development venue – the trade show – to compare the online to the traditional.

Traditional business development

Before you invest in a trade show (floor space, booth design, travel expenses, meals, cost of labor, etc.), you invest some energy into carefully choosing the right show to attend. You need a targeted audience, present in a high-enough volume to justify the spend. When you arrive, you don’t set up your newly-designed booth and head back to your hotel room for the day, leaving it unattended. You instead staff it with sales professionals who engage visitors. You fill the booth with information and takeaways that help visitors make buying decisions. And most importantly, you don’t let them walk away before you’ve collected business cards. After the show, the work continues as your sales team calls on new leads, nurtures the relationships and develops opportunities to close sales.

The trade show business development strategy is pretty simple – a tried and true investment for many, many companies over the course of many, many years. Now, here’s where I’m going with this. If the trade show was a success, and you left with a pocket full of new leads, to what do you attribute that success? The fancy booth design? No, I don’t think so.

Now let’s shift back online.

Online business development

Think of your website as your online trade show booth.

Your website is a piece of a bigger system. It’s written to attract your ideal customers through Google searches as a booth might attract visitors at a trade show. It’s filled with valuable content for them to consume when they arrive – content like case studies and buyers guides that help influence their buying decisions. It’s staffed with lead-capture forms rather than employees. And because you’re content is so compelling, your visitors have no problem handing over some contact information in exchange for the content. When they fill out those forms, their contact info is automatically dropped into your marketing database – not so different from a business card dropped into the pocket of a salesman. Your marketing automation system helps you nurture your leads through their buying process with email drip campaigns, further educating them and moving them closer to buying decisions. And when they’re primed to buy, your real, live sales team steps in to close them as customers, just as they would in the traditional environment.

This online business development ecosystem is no different in theory from any traditional lead development infrastructure that’s ever existed. It’s built to mirror your sales process, but it has the added powers of increasing lead volume and strengthening your ability to attend to prospects throughout their buying process.

So I don’t need a website redesign?

OK – that’s a bold statement. I know. You may very well need just that. But without the infrastructure in place for an all-encompassing, online business development strategy, your website is like that empty trade show booth. If you send out that website RFP and invest in a redesign with the expectation of results, the surrounding ecosystem cannot be neglected.

Here’s what you do need

I’ll conclude by leaving you with the essential components of the online business development ecosystem and the functions served by each. Build this infrastructure and prepare to reap the benefits.

Business blog

Functions:

  • Attract your target audience to your website through keyword-driven blog posts, rooted in research around what your customers seek in Google searches
  • Educate your audience in a way that provides value
  • Drive visitors to important pages on your website that will help them make a buying decision

Website

Functions:

  • Continue educating and providing value
  • Create opportunity for dialogue with prospects through lead-capture landing pages

Marketing database

Functions:

  • Record and track information on leads captured through your website
  • Segment these leads by demographics, actions taken on your site and engagement with your company
  • Automatically score leads base on these criteria

Automated email marketing system

Function:

  • Trigger automated email drip campaigns based on lead segments and lead scores
  • Bring leads back to your website by promoting valuable content you have to offer

CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system

Functions:

  • Communicate with marketing database to place the best leads in front of your sales team
  • Record interactions with open sales leads

If you’re interested in talking about your own online business development ecosystem, we’d love to set up a free consultation with you. Click below to get started.

Consultations are free

If you’re thinking, “this is what we need,” then let’s talk. We want to hear about your goals. If there’s an opportunity to work together, great. If not, we’ll point you in the right direction.