Chris Rand of Business Marketing On-Line and former industrial trade magazine editor, wrote a recent blog where he argued that the company web site should be viewed as a member of the team. The argument went thus: suppose a colleague rings in sick, it’s inconvenient but you can probably share out the work, re-prioritise and find work-arounds. Now suppose the web site goes down, for perhaps just a few hours. This often causes panic, especially if the website is taking orders directly but also because the web site is for most business a vital showcase to the world and acknowledged as the route by which many, if not most, customers will find you.
Chris goes on to ask an important and obvious question. Why then do so many such businesses devote such miserly resources to the design, development and regular refreshment of their web site? How often is the web site as important as a chief officer to the company, but budgeted at the level of the most junior staff member?
In his blog Chris has simply highlighted the central role and value of owned media in business today. Via a web site, every business owns a significant media channel through which they can publish and broadcast material it owns and controls, without moderation by external editors. Websites are not the only owned media, there is: Video creating unlimited possibilities to produce content for your own web site and for commercial outlets such as YouTube, Vimeo and others. Key staff interviews can signpost your direction and highlight your achievements. ‘How to’ product demonstrations, unboxings, events, installations, time-lapses – the possibilities are varied. As a rule, keep it simple, keep it short, stick to a single subject and make it lively.
These processes are most potent when used in combination. Post event your video can be re-edited specifically for your web site, video shorts can be combined to make useful crowd pullers for exhibitions. Your e-book may be the subject of a newsletter and offered on other channels. Material can be diced into smaller digestible bite sized pieces for serving up through your social media platforms.
Few industrial companies provide hardware alone, most are knowledge driven. You need to engage and communicate with your customers continuously, right through the buying cycle and beyond. Owned media is the way to do this. They help you to capture an audience. They help you to engage and develop dialogue. They help you provide service and information. They help you research new opportunities. They add significant value to your business.
So if your web site is in need of some TLC, think about what it does for you – 24/7. No member of staff works like that – surely that deserves a decent budget, not just a few blurred iPhone pics and some text from an old brochure, cobbled together on a bland WordPress template and then forgotten about!
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