Recently we lost a sale. The person championing our cause (a senior partner in the client firm) could not convince the senior team about the need to invest in the next level of web presence for their business. Although, he did mention, that there was quite a heated debate about it. I don't know if we failed to make our case or whether there was just too much inertia within the organization. But this is an issue faced by all web design firms at some point or another.
Our client was quite satisfied with the level of sales they were achieving through the current web presence and other channels. The argument was made that if they were getting orders to fill their current capacity then why bother to fight for more sales and market space. That speaks to the very core goals of the organization? Is it really growth oriented?
I am not saying anything about complacency as growth decisions are affected by many factors which we have no way of knowing. For all we know the clients decision not to scale up might be the right decision for their industry and current period.
However if we do not determine an inclination for growth early in the engagement then all parties will just be spinning their wheels hopelessly without getting anywhere.
The solution, if you can call it that, is to keep demonstrating ROI for other clients and hope that plain old greed will work where logic did not.
The 'Online' medium is very different from anything many of the older managers and board members are used to. Compared to the 'safe' old ways of advertising the net seems to be a chaotic wild west of options and technology. Mind you, not all older managers are like this, I know lots of them who have fully embraced the net.
Usually in a discussion about investing online the older members quite naturally take the skeptical role and play devil's advocate. It's up to the more dynamic and younger members of the team to make their case. Most times the final decision is made due to power levels rather than a serious review of the technology options and capabilities.
The solution is to pre-pave the way by educating the older members from an early time and enrolling them into the brave new world, so that at the time of the proposed investment they are more receptive.
Some businesses might have a 'leave it to the vendor' attitude. This will not work. For a successful online campaign you require complete commitment from the company. There has to be passion and driving force from the business end as well. Otherwise the vendor will blow the money, become demoralized and close the engagement. Neither the vendor nor the company will have got much out of it.
To truly 'invest' in the online marketing initiative:
The companies that get the best out of their vendors are those that engage fully with them.
The web is so all pervasive that you can bet your bottom dollar that some competitor somewhere is plotting on using his online presence to grab market share from you. It's too juicy a medium for anyone to let pass. It's a level playing field where even minnows can take on giants and outsell them.
Actively running your online marketing programme has the added advantage of being able to keep an eye on competitor's moves online. With this you can adapt your own programme to meet any competitor's challenge. However if you have nothing boiling in the pot then you will sure get blindsided. Catching up after the lead is blown is going to be much tougher than if you paced yourself ahead from the beginning.
Basic fact - If you don't invest someone else will. The online world creates new opportunities every day.