Who doesn’t love lists? I mean, haven’t we all got a list or two (or twenty) going at any given time? We have lists for everything:
- Bucket Lists (Things we want to do)
- Work Task Lists (Things we have to do)
- Honey Do Lists (Things others want us to do)
- Reading Lists (Things we want to read)
- Wish Lists (Things we want to have)
- Grocery Lists (Things we need to live)
- Checklists (Things that need to be done)
- Priority Lists (Things that are important to us)
- Laundry Lists (Things that don’t belong to any particular category)
- And more…
Lists help us organize our lives. Lists help us remember details. Lists help us to prioritize so that we can accomplish more. More than that, lists give us a sense of pride when we see yet another item scratched off our ever growing lists. Everyone can make a list, but not everyone makes lists well.
In order to make an effective to-do list, one must fill it with tasks that are actionable and specific. Tasks such as “grow business”—while actionable—are much too vague. How do you measure that growth? And yet, many people – and businesses – set goals just like that one. Specific and manageable tasks that you can do in one sitting e.g.: “review 2017 marketing plan” are much more effective. In fact, breaking projects down into manageable snippets actually helps you accomplish more. You may be asking yourself where I’m going with this, don’t worry, I’m getting to that.
Our clients often come to us with their own lists. Frequently these lists include items like “Get a new website.” And while this task may seem simple and clear, it is not. For example, take the following exchange between someone looking to cross that particular item off their list and myself just last week (I’ve changed some of the details for anonymity and paraphrased for brevity). I received an email from a contact form completed on our website. The request was simple. My response was less simple:
Prospect: How much would a new website cost?
Me: Are you walking or flying?
Me (Again): You see price depends on many factors. Do you have time for a chat where we can talk about the goals and objectives of your organization? All marketing activities, including a website, need to serve the short-term and long-terms goals of the organization. If we don’t know where it is that you want to end up and how quickly you want to get there, how are we going to know if we’ve succeeded in getting you there?
Me (Still): It’s like this: You’re looking to travel from Point A to Point B right? There are many different ways to get from one point to the other, but without knowing where Point A and Point B are, no one can reasonably give you suggestions on the best way to get there. What if Point A is two blocks from Point B? A comfy pair of shoes would get you there easily enough. But if Point A is the CN Tower in Toronto and Point B is the Sydney Opera House in Australia, you’d need to review your travel options. Those same comfy shoes are no longer enough. You may need a bus, a taxi, a car, a flight or two…You get the point.
Prospect: We’re just comparing prices at this point. We were quoted a website for $2,500 and want to see if this is good or if we can do better.
Me: And I’d be happy to answer your question, but the problem is that I still don’t know where Point A and Point B are. It is impossible to know if $2,500 is a good price or not. Indulge me as I continue with the transportation analogy:
Let’s assume that I know that from Point A to Point B is a 25 km commute, one-way every day. There are a couple options to take, each with different price points.
Option 1. You may already own a good pair of shoes – in this case, a basic website – so you can start the commute right away. But let’s be honest, a 25 km walk every day – not so practical.
Option 2. You could go out and buy a bike for $250 – an upgrade. It would get you to and from work but might end up being too tiring and time-consuming.
Option 3. You could get a scooter like the one you’ve been quoted. Let’s say that sets you back the $2,500. But what about the weather conditions?
Option 4. You may need a car, something that handles well in a harsher climate. Let’s call that a $25,000 expense. The only information I have is the distance. I still don’t know where Point A and Point B are. How can I say whether $2,500 is a good price? How do I know if the $250 bike isn’t better suited than the scooter? Without knowing the applicable factors I can’t rightly say whether a $2,500 scooter is sufficient or insufficient, or whether or not saving up for a $25,000 car would be a better idea.
Prospect: Yeah. That makes sense. I think I get it.
Many of our clients have experienced similar frustration and aggravation trying to scratch the “website task” off their list. More often than not, this is because the goal is too general and the details are too elusive. Websites can be – and often are – more complex communication tools than many are aware and vague ideas rarely communicate well. Furthermore, there are many variables to consider when putting together an effective online presence. All of these variables depend on your short-term and long-term goals; things that are best understood after careful thought and planning.
Your website is not something you can quickly put a check-mark beside. As much as we might like to scratch that item off our list as soon as possible, it is absolutely necessary to take the time to understand both where you are as an organization, and where you’re headed before you commit to a plan of action. If you have a task like, ‘build business’ or ‘design website’ on your list this week (or this year), the easiest way to tackle it is to begin identifying your goals. If you need help fine-tuning your goals, contact us! We’d love to help you by designing a website that can help you meet those goals. If you already know what those objectives are then we’d love to work with you to help you get from Point A to Point B in the best possible way. In the end, we want you to look your best. Besides, the real bonus is that when we’re done we’ll all be able to look back and check that off the list.