So this past week I’ve been hitting the events hard, from the Gilbane Conference to WebInno, and tonight at the PunchBowl Startup Community Mixer. Rather than go over the usual of who I met, what they do and what I think, I’m going to take a less ego-centric approach and share what I learned.
The Gilbane Conference was an awesome experience in the four hours I spent there. The event was focused on web content management and customer relationship management, which are big fancy terms for getting good stuff online, making it easy to find, getting involved with customers online, providing content and managing all of the things that go into a website and how they relate to a business and can be improved.
As one of the executives put it, if companies spent a fraction of the time creating content as they do trying to optimize their site, SEO, or finding news ways of managing the customer online experience, they would be much better off. The latter is still critical in today’s saturated online market, but things like hits and being on Google’s front page will come naturally as an effect from the cause of good content. What good is a top three ranking if when a prospect clicks on your site they can’t find anything worthwhile? Will a great call to action matter if there is no online presence to back it up? These are all pieces of a business that are interwoven and must be part of a strategy beyond “lets just be on Facebook.” Why do you want to be on Facebook is an important question where in the answer lies the key- to make customers and prospects happy. How do you make a person happy when they are interested in your industry? You guessed it- provide great content free of charge.
Now there are many services out there trying to do all of this stuff for you, and that may be necessary for large corporations. But for people like you and I, we are tasked with trying to do this for small to medium sized businesses. Find out what your customers are interested in, throw the ball back and forth a few times, and make sure your time is well spent engaging people where they are. As the adage goes, fish where the fish are. And no, large nets and trolling do not apply. It doesn’t matter if you have 10 customers or 10 million, everyone wants to feel special and they can tell when an approach is gimmicky or a poorly disguised sales pitch. Give them the free content, and from there you can funnel the prospects and make some money. The more content you make- the better! After all, if someone is interested in say a video on SEO that you just posted, they are likely to check out what else there is and share it. Viral growth doesn’t have to always be by accident or chance, there’s a strategy that can be implemented and it starts with content and the customer. By becoming a trusted source and thought leader, you will be well on your way to getting that ROI every marketer is gauged on, and it will be a heck of a lot more effective than an outbound marketing campaign (though both at once is better).