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design & marketing blog

Marketing, design, and technical resources for making your digital and print communications more effective.

Web 2.0 Marketing Strategy

August 1st, 2008

In a previous post post, I presented a definition of Web 2.0 as the widespread acceptance and use of technology that allows continually changing or active communication. The main points of the post were:

  • The most important aspect of Web 2.0 is not the technology itself, but rather the new culture of free and open communication that comes about because of technology.
  • The old era of caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) that was supported through biased and untrustworthy advertising is past.
  • Web 2.0 technology has birthed a new era of caveat venditor (let the seller beware) since consumers are now able to communicate freely amongst themselves and provide unbiased feedback on sellers’ claims. Amazon.com is a prime example.

How can Web 2.0 help your business?

From a marketing perspective, the questions are simple:

  1. How can Web 2.0 help us reach more prospects,
  2. deliver a more effective message and
  3. decrease our message cost?

Is your business Web 2.0 compatible?

Again, the most vital element to success is not the technology itself, but rather the real value your business presently offers consumers. For those businesses who meet this criteria, Web 2.0 technology is tailor made to effectively assist in achieving the marketing goals mentioned above.

Bear with me as I give yet another Web 2.0 analogy. If I buy this 2006 ADR3 race car for $85k, its got the technological capability to win races. However, just because I buy the car does not make me competitive with professional drivers. Assuming I could con my way into entering a professional race, it would soon become apparent, when I crashed and burned on the first corner, that I was an amateur. The technology would do me little good if I did not posses the real ability to utilize its potential.

Likewise, the benefit that Web 2.0 technology can bring is directly proportional to some more fundamental aspects of your business, such as:

  • Do your current customers (not you, your employees, or executives) consider the products you offer to be truly unique and superior solutions?
  • Do you receive a significant portion of new business through referrals?
  • Is it easy for your prospects to understand your unique value proposition?
  • Is the leader of your business dedicated to establishing a front facing culture of transparency, honesty and direct communication with customers?
  • Do your employees understand and embrace this vision?

This by no means is a comprehensive list, but hopefully you get the idea. The more “yes” answers you can give to these types of questions the more potential your business has for excelling by implementing Web 2.0 technology and tactics.

For a more detailed look at how Web 2.0 technology can help you achieve your marketing goals you may want to check out our “Helping you achieve your goals” page.

What is Web 2.0?

May 29th, 2008

Web 2.0 is a term that has proliferated rapidly over the last few years. The term has become so popular that it’s now being used by about anyone for about anything (Web 2.0 Easter greeting card anyone?). For most businesses, it’s not necessary to understand Web 2.0 in much technical detail. What is important to understand are the massive social and business environment changes that the Web 2.0 phenomena is driving.

Web 2.0—The widespread acceptance and use of technology that allows continually changing or active communication.

Web 2.0—The Basics

Web 2.0 is simply the widespread acceptance and use of technology that allows continually changing or active communication. As you may be aware, some of the most common Web 2.0 applications are blogs, podcasts, Content Management Systems (CMS), social networking sites and user forums. Each of these technologies can be defined within Web 2.0 depending upon how they’re utilized. Technology is a prerequisite for Web 2.0, but it’s the widespread acceptance and use part of the definition that really matters.

Let the Buyer Beware

The most important aspect to Web 2.0, from my perspective, is that it has sparked a grassroots revolution by consumers. The era of caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) progressively grew through the 20th century until we languished under a never ending stream of unbelievable advertising. Regardless of consumer protection laws, the reality was that we were largely forced to rely on the naturally biased advertising and promotional information provided by businesses.

The losers in this environment were of course the consumers, but also those businesses who truly did offer unique value and could not afford to carpet-bomb our televisions, magazines and mailboxes. Nor could a business offering real value do much in their advertising to show they were different, since their competitors would make the same claims.

Consumers who wanted unbiased information about a seller relied on personal referrals—the most unbiased and believable feedback available. They were limited however by the finite capacity of their own personal networks.

Let the Seller Beware

Web 2.0 has ignited a new era of caveat venditor (let the seller beware). The rapid change in the marketing nvironment is not due to legislation or litigation, but rather the widespread practice of consumers sharing unbiased
information about a sellers product to other customers and prospects.

A simple example can be seen with books. Outside of our friends’ recommendations, we’ve had to rely on the
publisher’s information or from the questionably neutral editorial reviews. Now, thanks to Amazon and others, we have access to a large and active community of other consumers who provide us their unbiased feedback. Of course this is not a perfect system, those with ulterior motives can post reviews but we can use common sense to evaluate the reviews collectively and form a more reliable conclusion about a product.

For example, if I were to rely on attractive cover and glowing editorial review for Deck Planner: 120 Outstanding Decks You Can Build I might convinced to buy this book. But when I look at relatively low rating by consumers and their mixed reviews, I opt for a better choice.

The important point to understand about Web 2.0 from a business perspective is that our products and services will increasingly be promoted or demoted in the marketplace by consumers, and that advertising and PR will continue to lose effectiveness. Consumers now have better choices of where to get information before making a purchase decision.

The Web 2.0 revolution is only bad news for those sellers who have gotten away with neglecting their customers. In my next post, we’ll explore some of the unprecedented opportunities and strategies for businesses offering true value.

Be Aware of These Web Scams

May 15th, 2008

We receive a very high percentage of customer inquires regarding two general type of solicitations they receive. Since these same scams continue, sometimes with different company names and angles, we thought it would behoove our valued clients for us to post some info on them.

The most important principle to remember to protect yourself from any marketing scam is to always be extremely wary of any unsolicited communication, whether by phone, email or postal mail, that claims to:

A. Be able to do something that seems too good to be true, or

B. Presents a “bill” or “invoice” regarding your domain, Website or some other Web related service from a company that sounds official, but of whom you’ve not dealt with before.

Scam 1—Bogus Domain Registration Invoices

Almost anyone with a domain name registered has probably come across this one. An official sounding company sends you an invoice that states or implies you will soon lose your domain if you don’t register with them. If you have never heard of this company, there is a 99% chance it’s an unethical attempt to get your money. The easiest thing to do is Google the company name or do search on the FTC site. If are still uncertain don’t hesitate to fax or email us a copy.

Scam 2—Unsolicited SEO Spam

I get a kick out the chutzpah of professed SEO companies who resort to spam marketing their implied expertise in driving new customers through search engines. If they really are so good at getting business through search engines why do they have to resort to the most despised of illegal Web marketing to get their own?  The answer is obvious.

Google states it best:

Be wary of SEO firms and web consultants or agencies that send you email out of the blue….Reserve the same skepticism for unsolicited email about search engines as you do for “burn fat at night” diet pills or requests to help transfer funds from deposed dictators. No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google. (Read the whole page at Google.com)

We encourage you to read this prior post of ours where we go into more detail on the topic.

Web Design

April 24th, 2008

Graphic design is the first thing that many Web site owners and managers think about when they seek out the services of a Web developer. There is no denying that the graphic design element of a Web site is important, in fact research shows that design has an immense and immediate effect on your visitors. Within moments, about 1/2 of those visitors will make a judgment on the credibility of your company based solely on the quality of your graphic design. So design is immensely important, just like a foundation is important for a building. The foundation must be solid and it must come first but without the building on top it acheives little.

    Google screen shotWithout design being part of a holistic strategic approach to communication, it becomes impotent. A site with no design will trump the most artistically original site if the former has quality content and offers intuitive and easy to use solutions to its target visitors needs. The classic example is the most visited and arguably most successful Web site in the world: Google.

    Web sites are a lot like people, their success is ultimately based on the value they contain, not their outward appearance. This is vital to understand so that design is put into its proper place. Web design is still important, it just has to be the dressing for content of real value.

    Google is like one of those geniuses who are so recognizable and brilliant that they can get away with wearing an old t-shirt and jeans to deliver a key-note speech. It’s fair to say the brilliance of most of us is not as common knowledge.

    Web design is the same, once the foundation of quality content is present, professional and usable design is an excellent catalyst to facilitate communicating the value of your site. In my next post I’ll get into some specifics about our philosophy and methods for designing Web sites that are modern, appealing and clearly communicate the values of your organization.

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