Recently in an interview on Blog Talk Radio with Patty Farmer, The Networking CEO, a listener on the line asked this question: “How have things changed over 20 years in what clients need?”
I feel this question is so important that it needs an extended answer.
When I first opened my business in the fall of 1993, most of my projects were singular. Design a book cover, a logo, or a brochure. Clients came along and most only thought about the one project they had. It was my job, of course, to ask questions and make sure the client was seeing more of the overall marketing strategy: “Now that we have a book cover, how are you planning to promote your book? Before we design this postcard and brochure, how are you planning to distribute them? Is it a self-mailing piece with an address area, or do we need to design an envelope or packaging label?”
Starting, in 1998, to design a web presence for clients was a game-changer. Having the world at a business’s fingertips demands a more comprehensive plan of action. The job is no longer about a single project, it’s about the big picture. That’s the change that’s come about over 20 years.
Case study #1 – Total brand success
A local bakery didn’t have a web presence before 2008, so we created an e-commerce, custom cake-building site. A few weeks after the launch, the online orders were coming in and not just from the tri-state area. Cakes were being ordered from Europe to be delivered locally. Business has increased 15-20 percent and has been steadily climbing. The website changes occasionally with added images to the galleries and the help of social media driving more traffic. This thriving business now has three locations.
Case study #2 – Small business woes
A travel agency has to compete on a daily basis and attract those who might feel they can do their bookings online themselves. It may seem easier to book a flight or cruise yourself, but what most forget are the things a travel agent can deliver. With decades of experience and a wealth of knowledge about which hotels are great and which are mediocre or to be avoided, and the ability to steer you to interesting destinations you may not know about, a travel agent can save a client the hassle of looking and may be able to secure deals one can’t access other way.
The problem this local business has is shared by many. The challenge it must rise to is building the online traffic needed to secure new potential clients. But this travel agency’s website is not updated, and it doesn’t have a blog. There is a minimal social media presence, and minimal advertising in local papers and magazines.
As you can see, business 1 is building its web presence and business 2 is not. Both could be succeeding, but one isn’t looking at the big picture. A business has to be sure it has a solid marketing strategy both online and offline, as well as continually look into new areas and communities to find clients. Again, this is the change in clients’ needs that 20 years has produced.
In 2014, with so many avenues available to increase visibility, a business must consider hiring a marketing and social media manager, someone who’s posting daily everywhere, who’s creating new galleries, videos, and even podcasts. Expanding your reach opens you up to new followers and greater visibility, while sitting still and virtually silent on the sidelines only guarantees an unobstructed view of everyone else’s successful plays. The big picture needs to be in focus.
- Building Websites for the 97%
- Is Everybody Talking and Not Listening?