I recently got asked by someone that I highly respect, what the valid reasons would be to build a microsite based strategy rather than just posting content on a corporate website. This entry contains my answer – not complete but hopefully at least tries to answer the question from my perspective:
I think there are several answers to the question but two important ones in my opinion:
1/ If you have very distinctive customer sets that do not overlap well – competitive, different industries or mutual disdain (in other words don’t respect each other) then a microsoite strategy can work well but it is dependent upon making sure that the branding and support marketing is strong and distinctive enough. This is a very careful balance between diluting the company brand and creation and building of a sub brand.
2/ You are undergoing some kind of major flux in the company brand and need to focus your customers on something focused on them rather than you. There is still so much rubbish out there about using a website to “build own awareness” especially at the corporate executive level. They seem to believe in many cases that a website is built for their personal benefit – that is a very 1990s view. If the website is not focused on making it easy for a customer to find you (as a company), understand you and conduct business with you then it should be taken down.
3/ To provide some level of local control or relevance without losing control of the brand strategy or structure and not expose the corporate site to editing from junior or remote employees. This also can specifically help leverage of good ideas across the organization as they would need to be agreed and then implemented – but with an associated cost in time. Remote or subsidiary marketing people get very frustrated at the time it “takes those guys in corporate” because generally none of them have ever spent time in a corporate environment and also have local pressures for their own management but if it can be made to work it can be of tremendous benefit because that is where the customers are!! This is dependent on building a logical brand architecture that can be easily understood and an infrastructure that reinforces that structure in order to keep control of it. This actually has the corporate level benefit of reducing costs but requires a lot of focus on structural co-ordination.
The major issues is that junior marketing people or local sales/subsidiary management generally has little marketing or corporatelvel expereince and tend to want to “build a website of their own” because they are not thinking about what value they bring to the organization as a whole – they just want to play with colors and websites and events because that is “fun” and they don”t “like” the corporate brand or structure. None of these are valid reasons to build a seperate website or microsite!!
Hope that helps