It’s time to redesign our website. Our company has changed significantly over the last couple of years and our web presence should reflect that.
I gave our team the following objectives, stepped back and let them loose. You can be the judge of how well these have been achieved. A taste of our new marketing is featured in the February 2011 issue of CT&L and we needed to coordinate our new web with that release date. The directives were as follows and can act as a helpful guideline for anyone in the process of updating their site.
Message first - It’s great to be clever but it’s critical to communicate…if you can combine the two it becomes memorable and creates impact
Front door message- Lead with your strength which in our case is 22 years of experience marketing the transportation industry. It’s important not to cast too wide a net and weight your product offerings so that people get a real sense of who you are and what you do…in short order
Side door message - Leave the door open to other opportunities which for us is the fact that our process works for any industry. You need to back that side door message up with hard facts to make it believable.
Easy to navigate - With the help of Google Analytics you can track how customers are reacting to your site through a number of metrics. Most come to your site to get contact info and get an overall impression if this is a company they want to deal with. Ease of navigation is a key element.
Warm and personal – Our clients are becoming directly involved with a higher proportion of our staff. It’s a function of running lean and streamlining communications. In general terms, we believe it is important that your web has a personality that reflects your company. A few real shots mixed in with a stock library can help accomplish this. Yes people leave but the web can be updated very easily. It’s a more dynamic and flexible media that you can measure a return on.
Assess the brand – Take a look at your brand elements. Do they need a tweak. Is your tag line unique and does it help establish a persona for the company. In B2B you can change elements of your brand without so much as a ripple in the stream. Be open to subtle change. It can breathe new life into your marketing.
Incorporate social media – We continue to experiment in this area. Our blog efforts have shown the most return. You need a champion to lead this charge. Anything that brings fresh content to your site helps promote your company and raise your ranking on search engines
Engage SEO (search engine optimization) – There is an expense to this and it varies on the size of the site and how deep you want to go with. We plan on taking it all the way. Why? It works and you can clearly measure the results (With Google Analytics) and fine tune it for even greater benefit in the future
Meet the Deadline - It’s important to set a date and work towards it with diligence. You get a certain flow that takes the project to a higher level. When too much time goes by where the project is parked on a shelf, it’s increasingly hard to get it off the bottom of the pile and successfully launched.
Lee’s quote for the day
“Change is good and engaging proper SEO powers your site like fuel powers your vehicle. Doing one without the other doesn’t make much sense or get you any further down the road”
Anyone on the sales side of the equation knows how hard it is to turn a single transaction into a repetitive one and a business contact into a customer. Screwing up and subsequently how you handle a screw up is one of the defining moments in establishing lasting supplier and customer relationships.
As much as we strive for perfection the fact is we are all going to mess up occasionally. When we do, we need to correct the immediate problem and figure out how to stop it from happening again. Thus the birth of processes and standard operating procedures… but then if you’re not careful, the rigidity of these quality standards can put you into a situation where you cannot be as responsive as you once were. Like many things, it’s all about striking balance.
Food for thought…
“It’s been my experience that most small business is better positioned to perform miracles then they are to run a solid day to day operation. A few years ago we beefed up our supplier base to get the best of both worlds and through a trial and error basis, established an improved network of suppliers. Suppliers that owned up when they made an error and worked closely with us to proactively manage each project consistently, in a quality manner and to specific timelines.”
“We’re a mature company of 22 years and through a process of learning everything the hard way, we’ve come to know what makes us a fit for a customer. We’re not order takers… so today we shy away from situations where the customers wants to micro manage from the directors chair and is looking for technicians, not thinkers. Our best fit is where we are dealing with the senior executive of a company who needs someone who can take the ball and run with it. That is our make up, we understand it. I believe it’s important to know what your value is and promote it to the appropriate market”.
“I would say we have an extremely high percentage of great customers… suppliers too. But we fired one this past week. After 2 months of going back and forth on a service failure they let process and procedure get in the way of making a fair and equitable decision to satisfy a legitimate customer complaint. We credited the order for our customer and after several attempts to mediate the problem, fired the supplier of 20 odd years. Circling back to the top, how well you handle a problem is a critical factor in building business relationships that last.”
Lee’s quote for the day
“Know your product and your market. Don’t get frustrated unnecessarily by trying to sell your Grade A Beef to Vegetarians. The fact that they don’t buy it doesn’t mean you’ve priced it wrong or there is something wrong with it, you’re simply talking to the wrong audience.”
In one of my blogs not too far back, I suggested that if you have a diversified service mix you need to maintain the quality of each product to a similar high standard…maybe not. Last night some musician friends of mine were backing up a Japanese blues guy and invited me to come by. After viewing the performance it made me rethink my previous stance.
So here is a young blues man who has studied the traditional greats like Little Walter, Muddy Walters, Big Joe Williams and so on. His main thing is playing harp (harmonica) and he is extremely good at it, way above average and most definitely at a professional level. Born in Japan, he hasn’t quite mastered the English language and you can clearly hear a thick accent in his voice. If he had started off singing, you might have dismissed him totally as a bad karaoke performer, for at first it’s almost comical to hear his rendition of the traditional blues classics that make up his repertoire. But…
..but he started off with his strongest talent first. He was very credible as a blues harp player so you gave him a little more rope before judging his vocal abilities. And guess what? Although an acquired taste, he was very sincere in his performance and within a few songs you couldn’t help but accept him. And after a set of his brand of blues, with an awesome back up band (another immediate source of credibility) and confident performance…he was an undeniable hit.
It was a bit of an epiphany for me and maybe a lesson for us all. If we lead with our strength, are prepared and confident… maybe clients will let us sing the occasional number that is a little out of tune, providing we continue to impress them with our core service talents.
Lee’s quote for the day
“It’s probably true that you never get a second chance at a first impression… so let’s hone our talent and lead with our strength so that by association, the odd sour notes that come later aren’t quite as noticeable!”