The "Force Multiplier" Website: Changing Conversations More than One Audience at a Time.
The Internet keeps on empowering change. And technology is not the only thing that is changing. Earlier on EmpoweringPumps.com, Emerson Process Management’s Jim Cahill used this article to ask some important questions:
Are you noticing any kind of changes in your customers’ and prospective customers’ expectations of your company? If so, what is causing this change?
While a website ought to be just a part of your full-spectrum marketing program, it is increasingly the tool of first resort for any pump marketer. The effects of the Web are undisputable. Professional web marketers in every industry segment know there are some 7.6 million businesses in the US alone (US Census, 2010). This follows that for every strategically smart business with a great website, there are 10 or 15 that do not realize all the impacts a website can have on their company’s sales, marketing and growth. They do not realize that the technical performance considerations and purchasing patterns even of customers they know very well can change radically.
The effects of change on your audiences are both negative and positive.
On the negative side, consider the possibility that real control is a myth. A paper mill discovers this the first time a critical valve cracks and dumps black liquor into the nearest river. An offshore drilling rig realizes it when it suffers a massive blowout. Change in our industry is constant. (It probably has been since the Egyptians innovated the chain pump with gear wheels around 200BC – change just happens faster these days.)
You cannot completely manage corporate conversations with industry specialists, with your company’s shareholders, with investment analysts or with the media. Yet every one of the “audiences” with which your company is involved is worth engaging in a conversation – whether it is about your newest submersible pump model or the widely used but failure-prone AC induction pump you are attempting to troubleshoot.
The first positive is that your company managers, whether in operations or marketing, can guide conversations with plant engineering customers or purchasing professionals or shareholders. And help move the conversations onto the subjects you wish to promote or address.
The second positive is that, today, a company’s website is going to be the first place people go to have a conversation in both literal and marketing senses. In order to turn your website from an online brochure into a conversation changer, you want to make certain you know – and address – the audiences that are critical to your company’s success.
When it comes to audiences, most of the time, there are more of them than your company managers realize – more audiences affected by a firm’s website than many businesspeople consider. There are two basic types.
1. Dialogue targets
It is the art and science of two-way conversation. So an effective website allows dialogue between:
â�ª You and your customers
â�ª You and your prospects
â�ª You and your employees.
Marketing is not just for selling products and services outside your company, intercommunicating about needs and fulfillments, questions and answers. That’s as true for new aspects of an employee health plan as for the technical details of a pump installation. Inside and out, the effective website offers a two-way street.
2. Monologue targets
Other interactions may be one-way. Consider how you communicate with (and change the minds of):
â�ª Trade press editors, for example; or the news media more broadly
â�ª Investment analysts and financial institutions if you are a publicly traded company
â�ª Vendors – many “industrial” websites have vendor sections, wherein changes in policy and pricing are posted
â�ª Search engines, so that prospects searching for your category get more quickly to your company.
There is not always a bright line between dialogue and monologue audiences. Stakeholder groups may shift back and forth across the boundary. It is increasingly true, for example, for vendors and subcontractors – two-way conversations about RFPs and RPQs in “Plan Rooms” provide free access space to encourage discussions about job plans and project specs.
These exemplify change at work, in operations, business practices and marketing to many targeted audiences. So using change technology (like the Worldwide Web) to have more conversations with more audiences at once, to take advantage of your website’s potential force-multiplier effects, becomes good business strategy and improves business survivability.
You should be strategic about your website before you actually make changes, radical or not. SEO is important; content creation also. But deliberation counts for more – knowing who is going to be searching for what is part of your strategic plan, not merely your web development program.
Playing a much larger role in company marketing today, the right website, one touched by human thinking, will change your sales, marketing or employee conversations for the better. This is provably true. The best websites can change your game.
About the Authors: Richard Laurence Baron is President of Signalwrite Marketing, a strategic marketing communication firm; and Brian Bearden is president of Upstream Marketing, an industrial website development company. For more information please visit www.signalwrite.com and www.upstreammarketing.net today.
Written by: Richard Laurence Baron and Brian Bearden
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