This post is part of the: What your business SHOULD be doing online series.

To get the whole picture, you may want to click that link and start at the beginning.

As promised in my post, "There's Something About the Web," this post dishes all the details on a step-by-step approach that can help people finally figure out what their business should be doing online.

So, without further ado, I'm proud to present:

The “What your business SHOULD be doing online” Formula

What you CAN do online / What you NEED to do =
What your business SHOULD be doing online

This formula sums-up a straightforward approach to using the web to manage and market your business:

  1. By learning what you can do online (all the myriad management and marketing tools and approaches) and then
  2. Determining what you need to do for your business right now (get folks into your store, manage your finances, etc.) you can
  3. Divide out (i.e. remove) all the distractions and focus on what you should be doing to achieve success!

Putting the Cart Before the Horse

You see, aside from the discomfort a lot of people feel toward the web, many folks decide what they will do online first and then try to tie in their efforts to specific business goals.

This approach often, if not inevitably, leads to wasted time and money, frustration and failure.

For example, you cannot go online these days without reading about social media and how your business needs to get active on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and all the rest.

This has led fictional Company A to conclude:  “We need to get going with social media – let’s set up a Twitter ID and work hard to get thousands of followers nationwide by starting conversations with folks about what we sell. We’ll be the product experts to the world, folks will think we’re a great company and our reputation will grow!”.

But what Company A should be doing is thinking about the business goals they need to achieve and then learning and evaluating which online methodologies, approaches, tools and software would be best used to achieve those goals.

In the case of Company A, they need to increase in-store traffic during slow times. Twitter is not a bad way to achieve this goal, but a different approach would likely work better:

“We need to get more people into our store during slow times so we should really only care about getting local folks to follow us on Twitter. That way, when in-store traffic is slow, we can tweet out limited-time deals that will drive our local customers to visit.”

Company A now has a goal that will really impact their success (increase in-store traffic during slow times) and a clear methodology for achieving the goal (send limited-time deals to local Twitter followers).

Next, they will need to work on how to get locals to follow them on Twitter (such as in-store sign-up and handouts, local ads and flyers, etc.) and then start planning out their deal offers on the calendar.

They are on their way.

It’s All About Focus

The advantage of using the “What Your Company SHOULD be Doing Online” formula is FOCUS.

By working in this direction (CAN do / NEED to do = SHOULD do), you are much more focused on achieving the goals that your company needs to meet.

By planning your actions with your business goals in mind, you will avoid spending time and money online doing things that look and sound neat, and may even be fun, but do not bring your company closer to success.

More to Come

Over the next few posts in this series, I’m going to dive deeper into each of the three parts of the “What Your Business SHOULD be Doing Online” formula so stay tuned.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post in the comments.

About the Author(s)

Matt Mansfield

Matt helps entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 companies figure out what their business SHOULD be doing online.  Since 1993, his career has included product and project management, marketing and PR, software design and development, entrepreneurship and startup experience, public speaking and training for both groups and individuals.