Hosting and developing Web sites for advertising clients can bring advantages to media companies.
Hosting and developing Web sites for advertising clients can bring advantages to media companies.

If you host/develop your client’s Web site, then you can (and should) own the preeminent client relationship. There is no product or service you can offer a client that binds you more intimately and intrinsically into his business operations.

If you are not already offering your clients robust Web development and hosting capabilities, I strongly urge you to “regroup” and consider doing so.

Since leaving the media industry more than a year ago, I have had the opportunity to delve deeply into a number of organisations’ marketing budgets and practices, and I find one consistent behaviour: They spend far more digital dollars with their Web provider/host than with any media organisation. And they spend it on a lot more than just hosting a Web site.

In fact, it is not unusual to observe the client spending more with or through the Web partner/provider than he does with all other media organisations combined.

“Winning” the right to be the client’s Web provider can eliminate once and for all the brand perception that traditional media organisations aren’t in step with the leading edge of digital marketing. You’ve become the client’s partner on the ever-changing technological trek into the future and, if you do a good job, your company will be the first place he will look to as next-generation technology and techniques present themselves.

“Winning” the right to be the client’s Web provider earns you an immediate and ongoing foot in the door. If you manage the relationship wholesomely, you not only have primary access to the client to propose additional services and products, you are the “go-to” digital marketing professional he reaches out to first to discuss new programmes, products, promotions, and services that he plans to move to market.

You are on the inside track to understand the client’s strategy and planning (hey, no surprises). Hopefully, you will be the partner helping develop the strategy and planning (or, even better, shaping his future and your own).

The technology asset requirements necessary to host client Web sites for most media companies already exist to host your own Web presence. Alternatively, you could broker third-party servers and hosting services.

While you can easily access Web site templates and one-size-fits-all solutions for micro-marketers on very limited budgets, ideally you will invest as much in technique (knowledge and training) as you will in capital assets.

Your human assets are the most valuable thing you can offer in managing the client hosting relationship. You need to offer your clients the best digital and relationship marketing skill sets. This is not a sales relationship; it is an account management relationship that drives revenue.

Think about the difference between “sales” and “account management” relationships. Are you a vendor or a partner?

Let’s recap some of the possibilities:  

  1. If you host the Web site, you can own the client relationship.

    • You are always at the nexus of what’s new with your client.

    • You need to offer the complete array of collateral digital services:

      1. Mobile (preferably responsive design in most cases).

      2. Specialised apps as appropriate.

      3. CRM data aggregation and application; know your customer’s customer.

      4. SEO.

      5. Content development/curation.

      6. Social media integration and connectivity.

      7. E-mail newsletter.

      8. E-commerce linkage.

      9. Event marketing/attendance applications.

  2. Meanwhile, don’t underplay the power of your traditional medium because only you can offer the best of both worlds. However, you may want to present it using the same audience metrics/nomenclature you use for digital products:

    • How many “user sessions” (as readers) does your newspaper offer daily?

    • How many pageviews does your newspaper generate daily? (Readers x pages x percentage of pages scanned by average reader. For example, 210,000 readers x 60 pages x 60% of pages scanned = 7,560,000 pageviews.)

    • How many impressions can your newspaper generate for the typical advertisement (Readers x percentage of pages viewed by average readers. For example, 210,000 readers x 60% of pages = 126,000 impressions.)

While this adaptation (No. 2 above) does not factor in for size of the advertisement, it shouldn’t be difficult to incorporate “magnitudes” of impression based on ad size and value. Get creative. It is also not an effective tool for pre-print advertisers who do not correlate value with readership since they are paying for delivery.

The counsel I am offering above is not intended to be exhaustive much less provide a road map to launching Web hosting. It is merely food for thought for those surviving on the increasing lean diet of digital advertising “sales” who have not thought about the smorgasbord of revenue opportunities on the “services” side of the digital landscape.