This is a checklist is for any business owner or marketing person who is either getting ready to work with an outside vendor or contractor, or running a DIY project. Even if you are not getting ready to kick off a new project, use this checklist to get control over your digital assets before it is too late.
Nearly every time we start with a new client, we run into a similar situation where the client either has no idea who is hosting their site or where their domain name is registered. It is a rare occasion if they have a list of accounts with usernames and passwords, such as their analytics account or any of their social networking accounts. And trying to find their artwork for their logos, photos, videos, press releases, and other collateral is often times more challenging than finding Waldo.
Although doing this will make your vendor’s life easier, the real reason this is critical is for your access and control. I wish I kept a log of how many times we’ve been called and emailed for a rescue mission. Things change in business, all the time. It is no different than life. You have all the information for your bank account, insurance policies, and trading accounts kept safe and with easy access to you and those you trust, and this should be no different. You have a lot of exposure and risk with these digital properties and having command and control should be taken seriously.
First let me start with the single most important piece: your domain name. If you have been in business for a while, chances are you had a designer or your tech person help you register your domain name. While this is fine, it is not a good idea if they remain in control over your domain name. So first up on the checklist is, drumroll please….
1. Get control of your domain name. If you aren’t sure where your domain name is registered visit DNS Stuff to find out where your domain name is registered and who has control. Get in touch and don’t give up until you have full control over the account. Then update your registration by changing the password, updating the contacts, and renewing for three to five years. Next, in your address book or contact database, enter the information for the URL of where your domain name is registered, the account number, the username and password. This will help you retrieve this information when you need it—and trust me, you will need it.
2. Get control of your hosting. Hosting your website is often done with a different provider than the one where your domain name was registered. Once again, make certain that you have the URL address for the hosting provider, your account number and the username and password to the account. Sometimes your web provider is hosting your site on a type of server farm and will not give you access. If this is the case, then I recommend you read your contract and if you don’t have one, call a lawyer and put an enforceable agreement or contract together.
3. Get control of your brand. Make a folder that you can share with others, both inside your company or with vendors that has the approved logos for web and print, and your tag lines, fonts and other components that make up your brand identity package. Creating a digital Brand Book is an even better idea.
4. Get control of your assets. Open a Flickr account or a photo sharing account and create a photo and image catalog. Have your images together for both print and web versions. You can use YouTube or a similar video sharing site for your videos. These are good for search as well, so they are not only serving as your image bank but are also a search feature.
5. Get control of your accounts. You may, and should have, third party bulk email accounts such as Constant Contact and other accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, or FeedBurner. Create a Google Docs folder with the URL, username, and passwords for centralized access. You should also have a Google analytics account for your website; that information should be included as well. The point is that there should be a centralized point of control for access to all the accounts you use to market your business.
Some suggestions as to where to store this information are:
1. Your address book
2. A spreadsheet (on your computer, server or try docs.Google.com)
Don’t have time to make this happen? Assign someone in your company to be the librarian and set this up and get organized. I know you will be sending me a thank you note every time it comes up that you need to access these things and find out how easy it is once you set up and maintain a system.
Do you have some tips you would like to share?
Mardy Sitzer is a certified inbound marketing professional and president of Bumblebee Design & Marketing. Since 1993, Mardy has been delivering creative and innovative marketing solutions. An avid reader of all things internet and marketing, she also writes blogs, articles, and web content for industry magazines as well as for Bumblebee’s clients. She is an adjunct professor at Fordham University and instructor at Rutgers University teaching social media for business. Follow her on Twitter or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.