Filed under: Business Growth, Pittsburgh, Profitable Growth, Uncategorized
For the fourth time in 15 years I’m revamping my website. My technology wingman groans, rolling his eyes and thinks, “Here he goes again.”
Why does the website that made me so proud a few years ago make me cringe? The reasons jump out at me:
It’s too complicated. The messaging isn’t clear, the back end doesn’t work, it’s not SEO-friendly, visitors are down and it’s not written in the right language. Length of stays is down, it’s not customizable, and, thanks to statistics on Google Analytics, the website just isn’t doing the job.
I ask experts and gurus, “What’s your latest thinking on effective websites? What’s working?” The avalanche of ideas and advice I hear only makes things worse.
“Get your reader engaged”…”Crowdsource”…”Give away your value.”…”Tweet, tweet tweet!…”Improve your Klout score!”…Like everything you can on Facebook and you will be liked back”…Your Face book must talk to your blog which talks to your LinkedIn”… “Put ads on your site”… ”Reciprocally link”…”Update your meta tags”…. “Fool Google…”First page or fail!”…“Get people to talk about you!”
With a sense of déjà vu, I freeze up. I can’t move ahead or accept my website for what it is and isn’t. If I upgrade my website, I know I face thousands of dollars and worse yet, a hundred hours invested only to be no further ahead than where I am today.
I ask clients, referral sources, friends and family, “What do you think of my site?” I hear platitudes like: “It’s so informative.” “There’s so much great content.” You’ve done so much.” The worst is, “I was going to hire you anyway.”
I know I have to change my site or accept that websites are nothing more than billboards and content giveaways for a professional-services firm.
Then it hits me. All I ever wanted from my site was to provoke and qualify prospects into having a live conversation with me.
My business, like most conceptual services, only works when I have a conversation with a prospect who shares his or her goals and challenges with me. Website hits, visits, click-throughs, registrations, follows, likes or joins don’t really matter unless they create that conversation.
I went back to the roots about how my prospects hire me, how they build trust with me and their typical buying behavior in hiring me. For every 10 conversations, I can generate five meetings, three proposals and close one sale. And I have decided to build my new website simply to do this.
I can already hear experts scoffing, designers and social media mavens who preach the building of customer engagements, social friendliness and website stickiness. Frankly, I just don’t care. If my strategy generates 10 conversations a month but everyone else thinks it’s a bust, I’ll be pleased.
My business goal is to keep failing in new and different ways, and frankly I haven’t tried this before. And how much worse could it do? But maybe this time, I’ll be saying, “WWWW: Why Website’s Work Wonderfully!”
Filed under: Business Growth, Profitable Growth, Uncategorized
Business people are fascinated by the benefits, profits and potential of technology. Just visit any tech event and witness the financiers, service providers and the media networking with techies to discover “the next business thing.”
But despite all this “technology-transfer”, why isn’t there more technology in business? After 15 years of consulting with more than 430 firms and presenting to or interviewing another 10,000 business leaders, I’m dismayed by how little technology actually makes it into most mainstream, medium and small businesses:
- Most inventories are still managed without RFID or other systems tied into the POS. Despite this decade-old technology being “so easy,” I still see many companies doing it by hand.
- Few companies have good CRM systems. While this software works, few customers integrate their systems with their own sales culture and process or ensure sales force commitment, crippling many users from benefitting from such new technology.
- True cost-accounting information is scarce. Ask business owners what their product or service really costs to make, sell and service and few honestly know. If they had more knowledge, they could more confidently limits test new offers and features.
- Knowledge businesses still communicate with tools from the 1900′s. Despite the many better ways to present and engage their audiences, the gap between what companies say they sell and what customers hear and buy remains enormous. Too few businesses are developing mobile apps or distance learning.
Here’s why there isn’t more technology in business:
- The culture of technology clashes with mainstream business. The technology culture values perfection of their means while mainstream business struggles to convert these means into profitable ends.
- Tech people are schooled to woo investors and grants not to sell to customers. Inventors and startups believe they must write plans to get financing before they approaching and selling customers. Customers need to be understood and served but investors want to be bought out and move on. Who is more important to business longevity?
- Associations and business-plan contests reward planning skills not results. Our schools, associations and governments reward techies more for their thinking than for their sales and profits.
- Social media often encourages engagement without closure. Blogging and tweeting without closing business is like having a fiancé for five years without a marriage.
Why should you in the technology community react or even care? Because mainstream businesses need you, your value and they have money to pay you.
Consider these 3 ways to help you put more of your technology in business:
- Make your “thing” work manually before you try to make it work with technology.
- Understand how your customers use your thing to make money, and whether it’s by selling more, spending less, saving time, reducing risk or improving their lifestyles.
- Sell some version of your product or expertise from the start while you seek investors.
Technology companies have big shoes to fill in sustaining the Western Pennsylvania economy beyond steel. Doing so takes driving their products and services deeply into mainstream business.
Through this column, I will provide you with ways and ideas to do so. Together, we can put more of your technology into business.
In an era where buyers need complete confidence in their business relationships, most favor vendors they can trust to provide the most understandable and least risky solutions possible. This is not surprising considering how much new technology and science is now built into most products and services they buy. And there’s much more on the way. The US News and World Report’s latest report of top careers shows why. Nearly every emerging job is in a narrow technical specialty that is exponentially creating knowledge that will need to be understood by untrained or educated buyers.
Capable buyers know they must process technical information that’s flooding in from all sides. To do so they will need more interpreters, advisers and reconcilers who can instill confidence by comfortably explaining how a technical product meets a layman’s objectives. But from where? In business it seems there is a widening gap between those who can invent technology and those who buy the results of technology. Historically only large corporations have employed staff who are technically educated, can sell product features, and then train a user in how to make money. These “sales engineers” who can leverage and communicate what they know have always been in great demand. But smart business owners like you have always served as your firm’s “sales engineer. You can seize this opportunity if you find and train sales people to sell like you do. Your sales ability, product knowledge and confidence built your business and its success. Now it is time to pay your knowledge forward. To profitably grow to the next level, you need to leverage your expertise and experience through your emerging employees. So take the cue of the sales engineer. You’re your most empathetic people and enhance their grasp of your products or take your technicians who are friendly and communicative and give them more opportunities to teach, train and sell.
In an environment where more things are being bought by buyers only as needed rather than being than sold to consumers acting on impulse, the best way to increase your sales and protect your margins is to sell your expertise and improving the experience of your customer. Do this by teaching and projecting what you do before it’s too late.