How Michael Westafer builds a business Web strategy at Roger West Featured

5:14am EDT June 11, 2010

If you are in any type of business that requires you to cast a wide net to reach clients and customers, you have probably become aware of the Internet’s usefulness as a marketing tool.

But it goes deeper than that, says Michael Westafer, president and CEO of Roger West Creative and Code, an eight-employee subsidiary of Roger West LLC. Westafer says that with the increasing variety of options for Internet marketing and promotions, you need to craft a strategy that will yield maximum results for your business.

Smart Business spoke with Westafer about how you can utilize your Web site, blogs and social media to increase the profile of your business and how to train your employees to increase their handle on Internet marketing trends.

What elements make for a standout Web presence for a business?

What makes a good Web site is that in a short period of time, you really need to know what a company does, how they’re different from everybody else and have clear paths to predefined goals. You have to go beyond just the text and stock photos to what is the messaging, what is the identity of the company. What do you want to do and where do you want to go?

How do you message what you are and where you are going? It kind of goes with the brand and identity and basic marketing. Who are you, what are you, what makes you different? It’s the internal questions that set tone of all your marketing materials. What makes you different? Is it quality, customer service, price or how you are competing? The Web site needs to talk about that. If it’s quality, the Web site and marketing and everything end to end should be top notch. If it’s customer service, you should have testimonials and customer quotes. Your Web site is part of the messaging that should be going throughout all of your marketing materials.

How can business leaders find the type of Web fixtures that suits their needs?

The big thing is where is your target audience and who is your target audience? Who are you trying to reach? If you’re in the business-to-business market and your target is the directors and top-level executives, where are they, what are their typical search patterns? You need to do some research and find out where you need to be, because you need to be where they are and where they’re looking.

For instance, I read some stats that said over 50 percent of Fortune 500 clients block Facebook and Twitter. They block employee usage of those services during the day. If you’re targeting B-to-B clients, I’m not sure if spending your money on Twitter is the best thing, because the executives you want might not be on Twitter or Facebook or any other social media sites along those lines. You have to find them in the places where they are.

How can you train employees to become more adept with new networking technology?

It just depends on the type of employees you have. There are all kinds of different people, and they learn all different kinds of ways. I find that giving them time and challenging them, taking them out of their comfort zone, giving them some time and supporting them through it, that tends to help people along. For example, if you have a special project that involves a new technology. You might help them and walk them through it, maybe giving them a project and reinforcing them along the way.

I really put pressure back on the employee, because they want to be challenged. They want to learn and ultimately succeed. After a couple of projects, they should pick up what you want them to learn. Then they can start doing it on their own.

With any new technology, it comes back to why we’re using it. First, you have to describe to your employees how it’s going to be used, why it is important. So you kind of get the buy-in from the employees. Secondly, you have to have either some resources or have some type of training or support in place for people. A lot of the newer technologies are user-friendly and easy to learn, but it helps to have some type of process in place to show everyone that this is how you do things, you do X, Y and then Z, just to have some rules in place.

What are some of the main ways a business can utilize blogs in particular?

Blogs and news feeds are both really good for messaging and a good component to have on your site. The personal messaging that you can get from blogs is a great way to open up communication with people. When you’re building a Web site, it’s kind of a one-way communication. You’re talking to someone who is looking at your site. But a blog is a two-way communication where people can comment back on your stories. And it’s very important that they can comment back and open up that communication. You can put a little personality into the blog as well. If the CEO is very charismatic, it’s nice to have a CEO blog, where he or she can write on it every week and add a bit of personal flair to the corporate environment. It’s another way to open up and really differentiate yourself from the other companies.

How to reach: Roger West Creative and Code, (813) 433-1869 or www.rogerwestcreative.com