The difficult part for many companies is developing their product to a point where it sells itself. Consumers want a meaningful experience from the companies with which they interact, a statement especially true on the web. Not only will people give you more time and money for the right experience – they will connect you to their peers. Using the connectivity of the web then, producing a product that sells itself should be easier than ever.
At his business seminar last Friday in Atlanta, Seth Godin began with the example of Amazon.com. While developing the company, the leaders at Amazon made a decision to forgo traditional television marketing, and instead budgeted to improve their product offering. They chose to focus on activities like offering free shipping and to develop one of the most content rich, consumer friendly sites on the web. They chose creating a meaningful experience over traditional marketing.
Today, this is the model for a successful business. Experience is at the forefront and the web is one of the main battlegrounds. Ecommerce site or not, your web presence is a fundamental part of your perceived value. If you devote the right resources to your website, you can get your product to sell itself. If you create the right online experience your users will share your site content and the web will do the rest. After all, the web was not created for traditional display marketing – it was created in order to connect.
Groupon and 37signals’ business models work because they utilize the web as a connectivity tool. Their businesses are built on the concept that users will want to share their products with peers. Groupon members want to share daily coupons with their friends, since after a certain amount of people apply, the coupon activates. 37signals users are brand ambassadors because the system is most powerful when people actively use it together. The two sites are also leaders in usability and user experience.
It is more important than ever that you devote resources to your web strategy and build a competent web business. Don’t make just another website, provide a thoughtful, structured, and intuitive web experience that users will appreciate. Just another website is no longer acceptable. Utilizing solid coding, analytics, usability, information architecture and SEO can propel the type of meaningful online experience that will push the needle forward for your company. These tactics are vital to elevating your connectivity and perceived value on the web.
An example: For smaller companies, become the best in your community. If you can achieve a highly perceived value in your industry or location, you can begin to develop a base that will advocate for you. Consider utilizing search marketing to gain brand advocates in your community before branching out to state or national scale campaigns. Focus on keywords like “best in Atlanta” or “best in the [industry]”. By creating a strong base in your community, be it geographical, occupational, ideological, etc., word will spread … the web connects us all.