In this quickly evolving age of new media the necessity for a company to be online in some form or fashion is pretty much mandatory. But what’s the best way to do it? Does your company need to be on Facebook? What about Twitter? Or Google+? Or Instagram? The list goes on.
According to Maisha Walker, a top Internet strategist, it’s more important to create an Internet strategy that suits each business than to hop onto the next big trend. In addition, having a good website of its own is also an important factor.
Walker is founder and president of Message Medium, a website design and Internet marketing firm based in New York City that provides companies with strategic, design, marketing, and technical guidance.
Walker will speak at the Princeton Chamber’s mostly breakfast about, “Using Social, Mobile, and Local Marketing to Drive Customers and Profit” on Wednesday, May 15, from 7:30 to 9:15 a.m., at the Nassau Club, 6 Mercer Street. Cost: $40. Visit www.princetonchamber.org.
One area that can help a company in its online efforts is to revitalize its website. According to an article by Walker on messagemedium.com, a revitalized site “can help you generate more leads, build sales, and develop a loyal following.”
Carefully define what you want you site to do. “You wouldn’t hire someone without outlining responsibilities would you? Same with your website,” says Walker. “List specific tasks you want it to accomplish regularly. At what step in their decision making should potential customers visit your site? How will the site get them to the next step? Give your site defined roles in your operations and review your traffic to make sure it’s working.”
Set a budget. Most small businesses use 90 percent of their budget on design, according to Walker. “Whether you spend $1,500 or $15,000 to build a site, be sure your designer or developer spells out exactly what’s included, and plan 60 percent of your budget for construction, maintenance, and marketing.”
Content is king. What you say and how you say it is what will sell your products. “Design and technology are important, but only in how well they convey your message,” says Walker. “Make sure your content is consistent with your offline marketing materials, but using shorter, scannable text. Make sure it’s easy to read and that you tell the reader what they gain, not how your company is organized. Also try to stay away from graphical bells and whistles as they just distract your visitors from your products.”
Become a collector of E-mail addresses. According to Walker, companies should install an E-mail address collection tool on every page of its website. “If you don’t offer your visitors a way to hear from you, you’re throwing away leads and potential customers.”
Use those E-mail addresses to send out a newsletter on a regular schedule with links back to your website. “Your E-mail newsletter tool should tell you how many people (and who) clicked on your links so you can see not only what your audience is interested in, but also who your most interested customers are.”
Walker grew up in Uniondale, New York, where her father was a metal lather and her mother worked in the mailroom at Doubleday. Walker attended Princeton University, where she earned her bachelor’s in French and Italian in 1994. Her mother, who died when Walker was 16, placed an emphasis education and insisted that Walker attend a great school.
“Neither of my parents had the chance to go to college,” Walker says. “Back then, government funding and financial aid didn’t exist. I was the first in my immediate family to go to college. But my parents were both entrepreneurs at heart and encouraged me to learn the things they didn’t learn and to find my own path.”
Walker began her Internet career with Cybergrrl, which built the first website for companies like Avon. It also was one of the first editorial websites that catered to the online women’s sector. In 1997 she founded one of the first e-zines, e.vent, which shared her insight about events that shape society and the New York experience. She then worked as a direct marketer for New York Magazine and then for an internal consulting team at Morgan Stanley.
She founded Message Medium in 2005, and in 2007 published “website Fundamentals for Entrepreneurs,” a book that helps small business owners unravel the world of online business without needing a marketing or computer science degree. She has also written an online column for Inc. magazine called “The Internet Strategist” in which she discussed business strategies for online marketing using both social tools, such as Facebook, and more “traditional” tools, such as E-mail marketing and search engine optimization.