I say it frequently: A website is the core to a good marketing strategy.

But why is a website the core to a good marketing strategy?

It’s really quite simple, and can be summed up in the word ‘control.’ In order for a marketing strategy to be effective, it must establish control over an audience or an industry. Sinister? Not exactly.

If you have any experience in networking your business in a local community, you’ve heard this justification for spending time in networking circles:

“The reason you network consistently in our group is to become top of mind when our members need your services (or goods)”

I served as the captain for a leads group for two years that repeated this message. It’s not inherently wrong; in fact, that’s the point of any marketing strategy. But read that statement again and you’ll realize that it’s about control – specifically, control over the correlation in your network’s mind between your industry and your brand.

How does control factor into website design and marketing strategies?

Your website is the one place that anyone can access where you may communicate 100% who your brand is for, what it stands for, what it looks like, and why people should do business with you. Nowhere else do you have this type of control:

  • Your storefront is likely shaped how the designers wanted it or your city dictated, not as you designed. Furthermore, access to your location is limited to the people who live nearby or travel to your location.
  • Your social media has your name, your imagery, and your content, but all of that is encapsulated in Facebook’s brand, or Instagram’s brand, or LinkedIn’s brand. Worse than that, if at any time, for any obscure reason they disagree or dislike what you post, they can take down your content or page at any time. The point is that they own their platform and control access to your content.
  • Your printed brand materials are not accessible from anywhere, no matter how widely distributed they may be. This is why newspapers now publish their articles online.

Imagine being unable to unleash your brand’s unique and creative approach to its industry, being unable to say what you want, when you want, as much as you want. Take a moment, really think about that. Now go get a website.

For your marketing strategy to succeed, you need to own your web presence.

Here’s how:

  1. Register your domain! This should absolutely be the first thing you do when starting a brand. I like NameCheap.com for this, but GoDaddy works if you absolutely must (personally I find all of the other products they’ll try to upsell on you subpar). For more on choosing domains, check out SEO specialist, Moz. Do this for yourself and NEVER let someone register a domain on your behalf – it is your most important piece of intellectual property online.
  2. Hire a website designer. Can you design a website yourself? Eh… sure. If you say so. As a professional who has designed websites for a number of years, I’ve seen many people struggle to design the website they want with DIY solutions such as SquareSpace (or the afore mentioned subpar services from GoDaddy). Save your valuable time and hire a pro. Your designer will become a key member of your marketing team, even if the only other member is you.

Now that you have your website, you can connect everything to it.

Business cards. Social media pages. Articles. Vehicle wraps. Direct mail flyers. Radio and TV. The list goes into infinity of what you can connect to your website, in both the real and virtual worlds. This fundamental concept is why your first steps in a marketing plan should include website design.