The seeds of the next big thing are being planted now. Are you getting ready to turn the downturn into an upturn?

No-one yet knows what the new economy will look like, but one thing is for sure, 2009 is going to be pretty turbulent. This is why it’s crucial to know your customers and where they are headed in the next 12 months.

strategydownturnAround 2000, when the dot-com bubble burst, some of the most influential companies on the web today were in their infancy. Businesses familiar to Kiwis are Google and Trademe, while early internet adopters such as Woolworths Online and AirNZ turned-around their online presence to ensure ongoing success.

No one knows what the next Trademe or Google will be, but if it is not being built now, then someone will probably start working on it in the near future. Examples of New Zealand online businesses in their infancy today include Ponoko, Xero and HireThings.

What we need right now are ideas that could turn into brilliant products and services. These then might turn into the catalyst that spur your business onward in the new economy.

One vital (but often overlooked) ingredient to online success is the creation of an Online Strategy (aka ‘Web Strategy’).

So what does an Online Strategy look like?

While businesses and their interactive agency often talk about the desired results of their work, what we don\’t talk enough about is the careful framing of the project that allows us to do the great work in the first place.

Typically a strategy includes:

  1. An understanding of the goals of your business.
  2. Attention to how your online presence will generate business value.
  3. A clearly articulated description of the user experience.
  4. Analysis on the unique value your online presence offers to customers.
  5. A roadmap to ensure your project delivers the right initiatives at the right time (scope).

Recently I shared a draft of a website strategy with a designer. His response was “wow, that’s really useful!”. It helped him to understand the big picture, the business and marketing objectives and how the success of the website would be measured. A strategic approach your online presence creates focus and a much higher chance of success.

The new economy is full of opportunity and now is the time to start planning for the downturnaround…

Last week Adaptive Path talked to my friends Lulu Pachuau and Bob Medcalf from my old firm Provoke. In this podcast they talk about and show the tools and methods they used to help the research institute Industrial Research Limited create a cohesive web strategy for the future. Great interview!