Building A Website Is No Guarantee They'll Come
There is a popular phrase from popular culture that says, “Build it and they will come” which is derived from a quote in the movie “Field Of Dreams” starring Kevin Costner. The actual line in the movie from which this movie is derived says, “build it and he will come”.
Now, for a little context; let me lay out the circumstances under which the line was uttered. In the movie, the character played by Costner hears a voice whilst walking his corn field which tells him that if he builds it, he will come. The it refers to a baseball field and the him to Costner’s baseball hero, who was no longer living.
As the movie progresses Costner eventually builds the baseball field on his corn field and lo and behold ghosts from his favourite team, the the 1919 White Sox, including his hero arrive. This is a feel-good movie about going out and building your dreams and that if you do, people will naturally gravitate to what you have built.
Of Expectations and Disappointments
Without a doubt this is an inspiring story and I agree that people should build things they intuitively feel they should because dreams hold promise that can only be realised by going out and doing it. That being said, we should not look at this as the complete picture.
In my years of building websites I have seen hope rise in people at the prospect of owning their own website. Their spirits are lifted because now they are on the World Wide Web; Their business is online!
It however is not long before I see these high expectations transform into shattered hope and and growing disappointment. Soon enough the new website owner, after their incredible high and excitement quickly realise that nothing much has changed as far as their business is concerned.
Their expectations when building the website were that they will suddenly have more customers than they could care to count; that the website is the saviour for their business they had been waiting for so long.
This realisation hits them with a force that knocks the wind out of them and sure enough the website becomes a white elephant, a relic to never be truly utilized except as an online business card. When this happens, and it happens almost all the time, it is a waste of an incredible resource- the website that has unrealised potential.
I know I have painted a grim picture of the outcomes of having a website built. That is not my intention, however. My intention is to point out that thinking that only building something is sufficient for people to gravitate towards it is fundamentally flawed.
Whilst I am all for going all out and listening to that inner voice and building our dreams, this should never be considered the be all and end all. Whether it is in life, in business or in building websites, we should never fall under the illusion of thinking that building something is all we need to do to succeed.
If you build something, get ready to put in massive effort to make it work. In the first instance, the fact that no one knows about what you have built means that there is more work for you to get the word out so people can actually see and appreciate your creation.
Furthermore, it is rare that there is a product that just sells itself. I hear the phrase, “it practically sells itself” sometimes. Notice the qualifying “practically” because in the real world, nothing sells itself. Therefore the biggest flaw in thinking to address is that you have to actively promote your website or creation, whatever it is.
Flawed thinking is thinking that once your website is built, then people will trip all over themselves to visit it and patronage your business. Building a website is not the be all and end all for a business, it is just the beginning.
My Experiences Making A Website Work
I was also once under the illusion that building a website would be the answer to everything when I built SynergyK Dot Com. I quickly learned that this was not the case. My initial efforts to promote the website consisted of the basic activity of giving friends and family the address for them to visit.
Sure enough, I had an increase in visits soon after inviting friends and family to visit. And then reality quickly sets in once I realised that what I needed were customers not necessarily visitors. Besides,most friends and family will look at your website once and never visit again. Whilst customers visiting your website are website visitors, not all website visitors are in fact customers.
My way of looking at the website changed from that point onward. It was great and exciting to get visitors to the website, even if they were not buying, but it was critical for business to be able to get visitors who can convert to customers.
When you start looking at your website as more than something that just disseminates information but also as a marketing tool, your perception of what it represents changes. This is important for any website owner to make this transition to stop thinking along the lines of “build it and they will come”.
Viewed as a tool, a website can and should start to be seen as a means to an end and not the end in itself. The “build it and they will come” mentality defaults your thinking into developing a false expectation. The idea of a tool forces you to realize that you have to use it to make it work rather than having it just sit there and perform magic.
Making A Website Work
Once you have built it, it is not time to sit back yet; it is a time to start making it work. Making a website work involves investing time, effort and even money to attract the right kind of audience to visit and subsequently patronage your business.
The first step in doing this is developing a website strategy. A website strategy is essential for making a success out of the website. It charts a game plan and path to be taken to achieve your objectives.
Think of a website as a map to guide you on the path to realizing success. The website strategy should map out sub-strategies including content strategy, social strategy, marketing strategy, customer strategy, human resources strategy and not least security strategy.
They Might Come
What is required therefore to make a success of any website is a change in perspective. This applies whether you have a website and have been disappointed on the return you have received from it or maybe you are thinking of building one in the future.
Whatever your website situation, you need to transition from having a default expectation for success that is not based on a concerted effort to making the website work for you. It takes more than simply building to realize success.
You have to stop of thinking of a website as some static thing that even yourself never visit. It should instead be an active part of your business strategy and it should be constantly updated to make adjustments from knowledge gained from lessons in the process of adjusting your strategy to make the website work.
If there is one thing I can say for certain is that, “Build it and they might come” instead of they will. This is a weaker version of the statement and relies on chance and we both know that a self-respecting business cannot count on chance. A website owner has to increase their chances of success by actively using a website as a tool and realising its potential for what it is and through dedicated effort, they will indeed come.