This column first appeared on RimoftheWorld.net on 9-07-09 at 4:13 p.m.
By Kathy Bowling
I grew up in the 70s. So, in my children’s eyes, that makes me roughly the age of dirt. Considering how much change I’ve witnessed in the field of technology over the past 30 years, I see their point. Consider the evolution of communication.
In the “old days,” if you wanted to contact someone, you had three options. Send a letter, place a call, or get up off of the couch and travel to meet them, in person. As a young girl, I lacked resources like postage stamps and a driver’s license; so I grew up with a rather pathetic dependence on the phone.
So, when my best friend, Lori, found out she was moving to the country, to a town that was a 30-minute drive away from my house, we panicked. How would we stay in touch?
Apparently deficient in our ability to reason, we came up with a sure-fire plan. We would adopt a monkey, which we would share. Our strategy was simple. Joint custody would mandate that our parents drive us to each other’s homes on a weekly basis.
Even then, I was surprised that my mother allowed us to peruse the phone book in our quest. After all, neither of us had any money. And primates are not exactly known for being easy to control.
What my mother knew that I did not was that there were only three pet stores located in the Metro Denver area. And, as Lori and I quickly ascertained, none of them carried simians. So, we had no choice but to abandon the scheme.
Had the situation unfolded today, things would have been much different. A Google Search on “Cheap Monkeys for Sale” returns 33 million hits in .26 seconds. If Lori and I had access to the Internet, the two of us might still be sharing custody of a 145-pound chimpanzee.
Thanks to the World Wide Web, information is instantaneous. Location is moot. Possibilities are endless. If you want to buy a product or service, you will have more trouble narrowing your search than uncovering options. If you want to sell a product or service, the world is your oyster.
In our Lake Arrowhead advertising and public relations agency, Mountain Marketing Group, we encourage our clients to strike while the iron is hot. Whether you want to share a political perspective, recipe, timely message, or a new invention, the best way to do so is by posting it in Cyberspace.
So why doesn’t everyone advertise online? The following are the objections I most often hear:
I don’t have enough money to invest in a website.
If you are waiting until money flows like honey so you can build a state-of-the-art website, you are losing valuable time you could be using to build your brand. While you sit on the bench, your competitors are already in the field, establishing a seasoned Internet presence that you will be hard-pressed to catch.
You don’t have to develop the “be-all-end-all” website on your first attempt. In fact; whatever site you create, you should always consider a work-in-progress. Instead of a static corporate brochure converted to an electronic medium, your online persona should be dynamic, interactive, and constantly evolving.
There are thousands of inexpensive, user-friendly, template-based website hosting-services available, like the one I used to get my feet wet.
If free is the only budget that works for your company or ministry, set up a basic blog using either Blogger or WordPress. And don’t let the word, “blog” scare you away. While a blog is a weblog or journal (which we’ll discuss in future columns), these free blogging programs are really just simple, user-friendly websites.
I think most people still use the phone book.
According to an August 13, 2009 report released by Marketwire, a WhitePages’ survey found that 78.5 percent of US adults prefer using online directories, their inner network of friends and family, search engines, and social networks over the white pages phone book.
Even though ads in the phone book/real estate magazine/newspaper /fill in the blank are ineffective and expensive, it’s the way we have always done it.
I can’t make pot roast without thinking about the well-known parable of a young housewife who cut off both ends of the meat before roasting. When her husband asked her the reason, she didn’t know. So she called her mother to ask.
Her mom told her, “I don’t know. That’s how Grandma used to make it. Let me check with her.”
When the grandmother was asked, she explained, “I had to cut off the ends because our pan was too small for the roast.”
Don’t be satisfied with the status quo. Be intentional with your advertising strategy. If you’d prefer to sit back and wait for the “next big thing,” take notice. Social media IS the next big thing. And you can’t join the conversation until you’ve set up a virtual shop.
Take it from Forrester Research executives and authors, Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, in the social media book I highly recommend, groundswell.
You cannot ignore this trend. You cannot sit this one out. Unless you are retiring in the next six months, it’s too late to quit and let somebody else handle it. The groundswell trend is unstoppable, and your customers are there. You may go a little slower or a little faster, but you have to move forward. There is no going back.
Thirty-eight years later, Lori and I remain friends. Although neither of us owns a pet monkey, we keep in touch, mostly, via the Internet. Until next week, I’ll be Bowling for Business.
This article was first published on RimoftheWorld.net Friday, September 4, 2009 at 4:13 pm.