“So how is business?” a friend asked me quietly the other day. I could see the barely disguised fear in her eyes at the prospect of having to hear in reply another devastating story of how the Great Recession has turned yet another business into … let’s say a non-profit entity. Imagine her delight when I told her that I feel blessed and business for Pauli Systems has been fantastic. “People are now coming with bigger dreams to our boutique web development and design shop on Radio Road,” I added.
Once upon a time we were seen as a mere office supply store, where one just buys something to put up on the web and is forgotten until something new is needed on the web. Gone are the days when one hops from web developer to web developer, who invariably rip up an old website and installs a new one, which then an instant small business website & ghost town.
I never cared for those cookie-cutter web site shoppers who only want a Number One spot on Google Search and want it with a single key phrase, like “real estate” (in a town with 7,000 Realtors) and want it instantly, without any sense of content or context. “Water removal,” “pet grooming.” .
The conversation has changed and I am very happy about that.
Business owners and managers realize today that “being online” is part of their business and content is king. High demand for story, data and image sharing online have become a strategic part of savvy business plans and daily operations. And the savviest business owners come to us looking for a partner to take them beyond single parts and who offers a broad spectrum of tools, services and guidance. We share our experience to help build systems flexible enough to grow with the business’ and customers’ needs but also stable enough, scalable enough to integrate into operational processes of a growing business.
We don’t have a chinese menu, from which one picks and choose. Online presence and online marketing has so many different moving parts that picking one over the other is like asking which pencil an architect might use to design a structure. As with building a house, we first need to better understand your vision, goals and budgetary outline.
Our motto is “Form follows Function” or “Form follows Content”, all depends on what you want your web site to be or do and what you think your various groups of visitors would want to see or do on your website; and in which context will they interact with you.
Similar to architects, we will find the right combination of software, tools and services that would best fit your overall content strategy, internet marketing plan and budget. Then we will oversee implementation, acquire resources (software, developers, graphic designers, services providers) and manage the configuration and assembling process.
Most online systems integrate with APIs (Application Programming Interface) and the trend now goes to single purpose apps. That’s what mobile phones and tablets brought us but as an enterprise you depend on the best integration of systems. You need a consultant who has a good working knowledge in many systems and is able to weigh advantages against trade-offs and manage the gaps between systems or innovations.
Within the new paradigm, there are, however, challenges. One of those is to keep fresh content filling a content management system, content to share over the social webs, keeping it fresh and real. As most of you know, I founded two years ago, with journalist, author and friend, Steve Hart, a new company, Relevanza, to integrate all aspects of online technology with the ongoing need to produce relevant content and meet customers on their terms and within their own context.
Business communication is not driven any more by corporate speak, no-one wants to speak to a 501(3)(c) any more (waving at Kivi Leroux-Miller). On the other hand, businesses need to tell the stories of their products, how they are produced, what’s in them and how to put them to use. Business news editors do that for industry publications and that’s what your business needs to do, too.
At Relevanza, we provide the missing link. We are your own news room. We help you speak, tell your story and, then, let the whole world know using the “new” online tools and social media.
Each organization needs to develop an online community to be reachable, approachable and transparent. The biggest challenge now is to understand what a business has to say and say it with authenticity, integrity and honesty. That’s part of the contract with your customers. They chose you because you are able to build a relationship of trust.
Businesses now have plenty of data about their customers and can meet them on their own terms and within their own context. Yet most businesses are still not able to put the data to the best of their knowledge.
It’s still hard to connect the real life interaction in the store, in the restaurant, in the classroom or in your office and continue your online relationship. But how much richer does the business interaction become when you get personal and meet your customers as individuals. Most business schools don’t teach that kind of interaction and most corporations discourage that kind of approach to customer service.
But, as a consumer yourself, how much do you like, perhaps even expect, personal interaction, personal services and customizable experiences? Your customers and clients are just like you.