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  Article # 10
  How To Present A Case For Web Site Investments
  by: Rick Costello, The Web Site Profit Doctor.


What happened the last time you needed money for a sales and marketing initiative? Did management sign-off on everything you wanted -- no questions asked?

If they did, congratulations, you're part of the minority. As for the rest of us, we're facing massive cost reductions and "spending" freezes. Everyone is holding back on web and marketing expenditures.

So what can you do? How can you convince others that web investments are a wise decision in a slow economy?

First, remove the word "spend" from the picture and replace it with the word "invest." You should always expect a return from web site enhancements. Then present an investment opportunity to highlight how your initiative will either increase company revenues or decrease company costs.

With that in mind, use these guidelines to build your case. Be concise and keep your documentation under two pages (one page is best).

1. Summarize the objective(s) of your Web site initiative.

Clearly state the expected outcome or benefit. For example, an initiative might be to increase sales leads, increase customer purchase size, cross-sell product lines, reduce sales cycle time, reduce cost of sales, strengthen brand perception, etc. Note: giving your web site a "new look" is not a measurable objective.

Be specific. Increase qualified sales leads from 25 per month to 50 per month or reduce sales cycle time 25%. Also, be sure to communicate the monetary value of each increase or decrease.

For example, if your company values the cost of each lead acquired off-line at $250, then each lead acquired online saves your company $250. Or on the revenue side, if marginal profit on each widget sold is $X, then Y more purchases results in a $X*Y increased profit.

2. Summarize the problem(s) of your current web site.

Document any known problems and factors that prevent your Web site from meeting the objective above.

Common web site problems are: confusing navigation, long check-out process, absence of strategy, non-persuasive (or boring) copy, brand misrepresentation, poor load time, lack of credibility, lack of unique identity and proposition, etc. Use quantitative data to support your analysis. For example, subtract the number of acquired web site leads (or sales) from your web site's monthly unique visitors. What's left is the number of lost customer acquisition opportunities. (See last week's article to learn how to determine monthly Web site visitors.)

Use qualitative data. Your customer service and sales reps talk with potential customers everyday. Find out why potential and existing customers call. Was something on the Web site unclear? What did they need? For every prospect that calls, several do not. Use your findings to support your case.

3. Estimate the total investment of your initiative.

If you're absorbing the project in-house, work with your web tech to estimate labor efforts. Be sure to allocate time for strategic planning, design/development, file transfer, two rounds of testing and collaboration. Never underestimate and always leave room for unknowns.

If you wish to outsource, contact a Web professional to request an estimate. You can do this one of two ways.

A. Issue an RFP (Request For Proposal) to a few Web professionals. Be careful though. Most organizations need to thoroughly understand your objectives, requirements and timeframes before responding with an accurate proposal. (Or at least they should.)

B. Contact a Web professional directly to ask for an estimate. Again, most organizations need to understand your objectives, requirements and timeframes prior to the estimate.

4. Summarize your recommended solution to the problem.

State how your in-house team or selected partner will help accomplish the objective. Stand behind your recommendation and stress the investment. Include the project approach, timeframes, warrantees, guarantees and any other incentives that might help the investment decision.

So there you have it. Present your Web initiatives as investment opportunities and melt the spending freeze. As long as you prove the initiative will either increase company revenues or decrease company costs you'll win your case. (Just make sure you deliver.)