By many predictions 2016 will be a year of continued change.
So far, that's what we're seeing.
Here in Alberta we’re witnessing colossal change on both the provincial and federal level, and soon our neighbour to the south will have a new president—heaven help them.The global economy is in a bizarre state of flux, while marketing and technology are on the cusp of seismic shifts that are transforming everything we do from commuting to acquiring consumer goods. And then there is the climate, and global politics. Interesting, interesting times.Where does your business stand in the midst of all this? What will you do to leverage change in your favour and position your business to make the next 12 months the best ever? Here are some of the best marketing and web design ideas from various experts at Graphos to inspire and focus you:
In the cyber-world, it's possible and sometimes easiest to build a business entirely on anonymity. But that's also a grave weakness, because the relationship and feedback loop are sacrificed. “Put yourself in the customer's shoes at all the different touchpoints,” says our creative director Derek. “What do they want? What causes them pain? What would make their day?” When we create buyer personas in marketing, we put a lot of thought into the challenges and desires of different personalities, and the more realistic and complete, the better. The only way to really please a customer is by understanding the things (plural) that they really want. Talk to customers or prospects to find out what gives them satisfaction, what they fear and where you might find opportunities to delight them.
Being a jack-of-all-trades commoditizes your offering and makes your brand generic. It can also lead to a costly habit of overpromising. “Be honest in how you represent yourself and your services,” says Graphos designer Laura. “If yours is a huge company, play to the strengths of purchasing power and scale; if you’re small, focus on how to provide unbeatable value on a personal level and leverage your nimbleness.” Businesses that focus on a true niche may have fewer customers overall, but are often more profitable than generalists.
One strange trait of businesses here in Alberta is the way many actually cut marketing budgets at the first sight of a slowdown. That makes about as much sense as closing hospitals because of a pandemic outbreak. “We all know that people judge a book by its cover,” says Lori, our director of client services. “That doesn't change with the economic climate. Presenting yourself as a credible market leader is the best way to grow your business, and through crafting a great website, you really can compete with even the big boys.” Top brands like IKEA and Apple never stop marketing even when the market is down. Why on earth would you join those who are cutting their marketing budget? Now is an opportune time to capitalize on your competitors' folly.
You wouldn't believe how many entrepreneurs have asked us if we can create a web app that's like Facebook, Linkedin, Kijiji, and other successful online brands. We probably could, but what would be the point? Even with all its billions, Google has tried multiple times, and failed, to create a successor to Facebook. And many others have tried to knock off the king of search. Those successful websites did not start out trying to copy someone else: they sought to solve a problem in the best way possible, filling a gap. As our senior developer Sheena says: “Think carefully about the gap you want to fill, and let's take it from there.”
Many years ago, we custom built an e-commerce website entirely from scratch, including our then-proprietary Content Management System and a custom coded shopping cart app. The store grew beyond anyone's wildest expectations, and today has thousands of items in it. We're faced with the momentous task of migrating it all to current technology, on an enterprise platform that will evolve with the times supported by a huge, dedicated team. The lesson? “Future-proof everything as much as possible," says Graphos web developer Casey. “Start with a web domain you can use forever and build outward with maximum scalability from there.” This can mean some tough decisions at the outset, but it's important to evaluate the options.
I once gave a Pecha Kucha Night presentation on how to make an idea go viral. It's another one of those little requests we get all the time. The reality is that triggering virality is a little like setting out to win the lottery. Graphos enjoyed viral recognition when our license plate
design exploded from Twitter to become the biggest news story in the province (and even got national attention), but can we replicate it? Definitely not on demand. Much wiser for marketers to focus on SEO to be easily found, while optimizing sharability through channels that are a fit with the audience's interests. In the meantime, work hard on having an offering so exciting and helpful people can't resist sharing. You might just go viral as a by-product, and if not, you'll enjoy sustainable growth (the best kind) over the long haul.
As with most significant changes, creating a strong upward shift in your business fortunes starts with a few really good, focused decisions that guide everything you do.
Stay committed and true to those, and you stand to make this your best business year ever!
For more great advice and to make it your best year for lead generation, click the link below to download our lead generation eBook!
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