Why Businesses Need Professional Help

Milgram experiment

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While the media is all doom and gloom, for some there is boundless optimism.

I have been asked to do several pitches in the last two weeks, two to companies that are expanding into new areas and want to make sure that they capture all the market potential that they see, and one to a new enterprise with several very successful people involved in it.

All the people involved think that they are technology and communications savvy. Unfortunately recognizing that you need a web site is only a beginning.

Here is a case study of one of these businesses:

They realized that they needed a web site because their target customers have indicated to them that when they discuss the concepts presented internally, people not directly exposed to the pitch will want to check them out online. So they hired a web developer to build a site and provided a broad idea of what they wanted and then delivered copy. The developer convinced them that they should use his proprietary platform which is a rather limited CMS system. Since the enterprise doesn’t have any idea of what various CMS systems can do or what they cost, they got talked into using the developer’s system instead of using WordPress where the options are almost infinite and the costs extremely low.

At the time I was brought in the site was substantially developed and looked like a rather pedestrian blog circa 2006. Serif fonts, off the shelf gifs and a totally out of context image of a fish on the site – and their plan was to introduce a complicated registration system in order to capture information on visitors. The site is not optimized for mobile. The copy is tortuously lengthy. It was and is almost a text book case of how many things can you do wrong in a web site. I suggested that they should start over. That of course went down like a lead balloon because they had invested a fair amount of time and money in getting to where they were.

One thing you find about dealing with people who have been successful in life – a lot of them think that they got successful because of how smart they are, rather than understanding that luck may have also had something to do with it!Don’t get me wrong – some of them are also incredibly smart…

These are people who really need professional help – and their develop hasn’t done them any favours.

Mind you they haven’t helped themselves either. When I suggested that they should use an API to enable people to register on their site via FaceBook and LinkeIn, they asked me to write a note to them to give to the developer, which I did. When they continued down the path that they were on, I asked them why they hadn’t followed up on my advice, and they said I hadn’t sent any information to them. The problem as it turned out was that they didn’t have a clue what an API is, but hadn’t wanted to look ignorant by asking me to explain.

Can you imagine what happens when you talk to a fly by night developer who only cares about getting a fast buck and he comes to the realization that you don’t have a clue what you are doing? He just takes you to the cleaners – gives you a crappy site and sends you the bill. He knows you have no idea and charges you accordingly.

As I had more conversations with this business I came to the realization that they are so out of touch with the reality of communications that they actually can’t move past “Go”.

As our communications and technology world become ever more complex, understanding how brands work, how social networks work, and how communications functions is going to be more and more important. And just as important for people to understand is that good design doesn’t actually cost much more than bad. And even more important – research.

In a world where so much is so instantaneous undertaking research into consumer response to design, to interface, functionality are absolutely imperative. You always have only had one opportunity to make a first impression. When first impressions are best impressions that can be seen by millions you want to make sure that you are creating a positive response that people will want to share and recommend, not something that people will want to excise from their lives as rapidly as possible.

That is why you need to get professional help early, and in particular, for that professional help to provide a point of view that may be quite contrary to all that you would like to believe about what you are doing…

By the way: last week was the 50th anniversary of the famous psychological experiments that were undertaken by Stanley Milgram that shocked so many people at the time. These were the experiments that proved that people would do things that were quite against all they stood for if they were persuaded by an authority figure. Remember that you are probably an authority figure for many, and that if they sense that you want to do things a certain way, they will probably agree with you if they think that it will make you happy. You don’t want to be taking advice from these people. You need people to provide you with strategic marketing advice who will tell you the truth, even if it hurts.





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