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The Origins of Our 9-Step Planning Process

My new book, “A Website That Works,” is based on a 9-Step Process I created to help agencies plan marketing sites. This is a post about how this process came to be.

Over the years, I have been in contact with thousands of agencies. There was one agency from the Midwest I had been eager to work with for quite a few years. They knew of us, but we had not had any opportunities to work together. One day I received a kind and anonymous tip that this firm was starting to think about rebuilding their own site. I wasted no time in emailing their interactive director, whom I had met a few years prior after my first public speaking opportunity at a small conference in Chicago. As it turned out, not only were they interested in rebuilding their own site, but they were also about to launch a new business for which they needed a site, and they were preparing to pitch a site rebuild to one of their biggest clients.

I found myself sitting in a beautiful historic hotel room in Kansas a few weeks later, excited but fretting about the next day’s agenda. The morning would begin with breakfast with two key people from the agency’s interactive department, followed by a tour of their office. After that, we would head to the client’s office so that I could present to them for an hour and a half, then we’d head back to the agency’s office so I could give two presentations, one on marketing firm website best practices and one on planning marketing websites. Looking back, that day still stands out as one of the most intense and enjoyable I’ve ever had.

The firm’s leadership would all be in attendance for the planning presentation, and I only had their attention for thirty minutes. At that point in my career, I had been speaking on web strategy topics for a number of years, but this presentation was going to be a more pointed talk to a more specific group of people in less time than I was used to. I also knew that it was the most important meeting of the day. If that presentation went well, we had a good chance of them choosing to work with us.

So, that night in the hotel room I created the 9 Step Process. It came together quickly, probably due in equal parts to the experiences we have had and the necessity of the situation. The next day, my presentation was successful. The Process was the glue that brought all the otherwise disparate components together. I explained the concepts in much less time than usual, and by the end of the session, it was clear that they had a firm grasp of the material. The fact that we were eventually hired for both jobs was icing on the cake.

Since that day, I have had the opportunity to use this process to explain how marketing websites can work to many dozens of agencies, some who are not sure what a CMS is (CMS stands for Content Management System), and others who regularly do complex web work for huge brands that we all know. In every case, the logic holds and the content is revelatory.


This post is an excerpt from my book, “A Website That Works.”


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