Death of the Web?

In August 2010, Wired Magazine published an article entitled The Web is Dead. Long Live the Internet. The authors describe the dramatic change in the way people use the internet compared to how it’s been used in the past 15 years.

Sure, we’ll always have Web pages,” Chris Anderson says. “We still have postcards and telegrams, don’t we?

But as technology evolves and our use of it adapts, the traditional ways businesses have used the internet to build their brands and expand their influence will no longer be effective to the same degree. What worked yesterday simply will not work tomorrow. You may have noticed that downward trend is already taking impacting your online efforts.

Take a quick mental inventory of the time you’ve spent online lately. What are some of the traits you notice? Avalanches of information, often conflicting other sources. Mediocre content quality. Spam and scams. Wild pitch fests.

And everyone is an “expert,” even if they’re not.

Do you remember high school economics class? One of the first concepts you learn is supply and demand. As the supply of anything increases, its value decreases. On the internet, we’ve pretty much reached the maximum capacity for information demand, but the supply continues to grow exponentially.

So, you see the two causes for the general decline of perceived value of online information: 1) the low quality of the majority of content and 2) the super-abundance and ease of access.

On some level, everyone over the age of 16 senses this deterioration.

Seth Godin, one of the most popular marketing minds in the world recently wrote in his blog:

…Prepare for a continuous erosion of what you pay for digital content, at the same time we’ll see a sticky and upward trend for what you might be charged for the… the scarce or custom.

The world wide web is increasingly becoming a content flea market, so much so that internet giants like Yahoo and AOL are struggling with their current business models.

Don’t misunderstand. Although it seems contradictory, the internet is more important than ever. The rules are changing, and you will have to modify your online initiatives to take full advantage.

Counteract This Trend

To overcome the quality erosion of online information, you absolutely must offer something unique and indisputably valuable. You also have to be able to successfully deliver it to your core audience, the people who can most benefit from what you have to offer. Exclusivity can also protect the perception of high worth around your content.

Unique – It’s cliché, but you have to be yourself. Do the hard work of getting to know yourself and defining your Unique Value Proposition (UVP). Then you have to get the message out.

A large percentage of your peers heavily model themselves and their business after someone they admire. Modeling makes sense – up to a point. But imitation is a problem.

Legendary adman Bruce Barton notes that everyone possesses a “single spark of divinity that sets you off and makes you different from every other living creature.” Nurture that spark instead of copying someone else’s.

Not only do you have to have a one-of-a-kind persona, you have do conduct business in a way that differs from your competitors.

  • What can you do that others can’t or won’t do?
  • What do your clients experience while working with you that no one else can claim to provide?
  • How can you reach your audience in a way that the competition doesn’t?

Valuable – Everything you do should be impressive. Your personal brand and your reputation depend on showing yourself to be someone who improves the lives of others, not a peddler trying to sell stuff. (People love to buy, but they hate to be sold.)

Value starts with understanding what your target audience wants and needs, then helping them attain those things. A hefty percentage of people online are openly egocentric and their efforts online revolve around trying to suck money out of their customers’ wallets.

Quite a few businesses, entrepreneurs and service providers adhere to an online strategy that emphasizes quantity over quality. The more pages you have on your website, the more visible it becomes to search engines. More articles on more directories put you in front of more potential clients. Blogging every day will keep readers from forgetting about you and help you stay relevant…

That’s a lot of pressure! Placing so much attention to creating large quantities of content makes it difficult to make each piece shine. All of the information you make available to clients and prospects is a reflection of who you are and what you’re about. If your content is highly-visible but poorly crafted or boring, what have you accomplished? Not much more than demonstrating to more people that you’re nothing special. The last thing you want to be is average (or worse).

Search engine optimization (SEO) is another facet of your promotional efforts that can be tricky. Do you write to be attractive to search engines or to have the biggest impact on your readers?

Of course, you want to rank well in search rankings. There are benefits to being on Google’s first page. But, again, if you spend your effort to please the algorithms search engines use (which are constantly changing), you can lose out on opportunities to communicate more powerfully with your audience.

Focus on value. Remember that quality trumps quantity every day of the week

Exclusive – You are unique and valuable. You are not a commodity. Being too available decreases your sense of worth. Exclusivity gives the impression that your content and services are even more valuable. Make potential clients qualify themselves through opt-ins, purchases or other requirements.

Making some of your material available only to qualified individuals heightens the value and significance of that material.

The same is true for making some of your content or products only available in physical copies rather than electronic form. That increases your fulfillment costs, but that is part of what makes going offline work. It feels more expensive. Your prestige factor increases when your readers and listeners know that you’re “putting your money where your mouth is.” (This will also force you to deliver high-level quality because it costs you time and money to produce these items.)

Examples:

  • books
  • CDs
  • DVDs
  • print newsletter (free, paid or bundled with another service or product)
  • columns in print magazines

This distinguishes you from nearly all of your competitors and everyone else online. Rarity increases actual consumption of your content. Your teachings have little effect if they never enter your clients’ brains and get put to use.

Exclusivity builds a sense of belonging and entitlement. The effect creates a formidable emotional and intellectual bond between your audience and you, even while they’re forgetting everyone else.

twittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailtwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Business Growth Lessons from the Delivery Room

I honestly hope my wife doesn’t read this article. She will not be happy. Let me explain…

My 4th child was born yesterday afternoon. He’s as handsome as can be, by the way.

I’m just getting home from a hospital stay that lasted nearly 30 hours. It’s a long story; I’ll spare you the details. Everything worked out well. Mama and baby boy are both in fantastic condition

Here’s the problem. If my wife finds out I spent even one second thinking about work rather than being focused on what was going on in that hospital room, I’ll probably be needing a doctor myself.

After I got home (because I seriously was not thinking about marketing until after I left the hospital), I thought about 6 dynamics that had big impacts on me throughout the experience. If you apply them to your business, I promise you’ll be impacted, too.

Let’s get into it:

1) Use of technical language/jargon

Have you ever been to visit the doctor, and experienced the confusion that comes from trying to understand what in the world they are talking about? If they aren’t careful, they start using acronyms you can’t decipher and terminology you’ve never heard of? This is especially bad when they answer questions in that manner. Unless the patient is also in the medical profession, he or she is probably going to get lost in all those big words.

This occurs in just about every field. Professionals can often use technical terms and industry-specific language that is completely unintelligible to regular folks. Confused people do not make the best customers. Communicate in ways that the people who want to hand you their money can understand. It takes conscious effort to form the habit, but you will not regret it. And your clients/customers/patients will thank you.

2) One overriding purpose

At least in the case of my son’s delivery, we were at the hospital for only one reason: to bring him safely into the outside world. Everything that the doctors and nurses did worked toward achieving this goal. Nothing else mattered.

In business, the same principle is true. You have to determine what your purpose is. What is it that you have to offer? Get that one thing right and focus your energy on killing it in that area, and you will be surprised at the results.

P.T. Barnum said, “A constant hammering on one nail will generally drive it home at last, so that it can be clinched. When a man’s undivided attention is centered on one object, his mind will constantly be suggesting improvements of value, which would escape him if his brain was occupied by a dozen different subjects at once.”

Let me clear one thing up: this doesn’t mean only offer one product or service. It means get down to the singular purpose of your business’ existence, and build your efforts on that foundation.You should probably be able to find your business’ purpose in your business plan, if you have one.

3) Exclusivity

This is an extension of the 2nd point. It’s pretty simple. Once you determine exactly what your business’ purpose is, you will have to begin cutting things off. Exclude anything that takes away from your strides to reach your specific, clearly-defined goals.

4) Doing great work really matters

This can’t be overstated. I’ll just make the point about my hospital visit. All 4 of my children have been born at this particular medical facility( sure, I’ll name names: I’m talking about the University of Chicago Hospital). As a matter of fact, my wife and all of her siblings were born there, too. My wife would never dream of giving birth anywhere else.

That’s what happens when a business exceeds expectations. Fierce loyalty, even across generations, and enthusiastic referrals.

5) Specialized knowledge makes a HUGE difference

How many kinds of doctors are there? More than I can count. And every one of the people who came to check my wife and baby had a specialty in some area.I take that to mean that each of these individuals is an expert in his or her field. Obstetricians, anesthesiologists, you name it. Their knowledge in their realms gives them credibility, which gives me confidence. I will listen to them, trust them, and do what they advise me to do.Specialized knowledge and expertise make a major difference in how you deal with your customers/patients. It also impacts the way you bill for your services. Never forget that.

6) Test/measure everything

Heart rates, blood pressure, ad nauseum. Hospitals go to great lengths to measure every possible metric. They also know what every measurement means.

For your business, think about it this way: find out what is working and what’s not working. In the same way you pay attention to the performance of your employees, make sure that your business practices are producing the results you desire. Constantly measure and test to ensure you’re getting the best of the best in every endeavor.

Putting these concepts to into action will bring new life to your business. No one will argue that the medical industry is good at extracting money from American citizens. If you’re interested in exchanging a valuable product or service to people, you would do well by applying the lessons hospitals teach.

twittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailtwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail