Thursday, September 06, 2007

5 Rules for Better Communication in a Web 2.0 World -- Part II

Earlier I posted about my speech in Burlington, Ont. on Sept. 4 on “Communicating in a Web 2.0 World.” Here’s the takeaway from that session: five tips for getting noticed and communicating more effectively in a world where everyone is talking at once.

1. Know your customer. If you're going to reach the greatest number of customers and prospects, you have to know who they are and what their media habits are.

We know that more than 70% of car buyers do research on the Internet before they visit a dealership. How do your customers seek out information? Are they reading ads in the paper, searching on Google, or reading blogs? Are they talking with friends on FaceBook, or over the back fence? Would they read your blog, would they subscribe to an email newsletter, would they respond to a contest for the best home-made video of someone trying out your product?

2. Get people’s attention! When you know what you want to say, say it well. Stand out. Be lively, be interesting, be fun. Don't hold back. And never, ever be boring.

Most ads, most brochures, most website copy is dull. Boring. Written by people who didn't understand people’s needs to be entertained, amused, teased and intrigued. Take a chance, hire a marketer, and find a way to be dazzling, fascinating, habit-forming.

3. Make it easy for your audience to find you. Archive all your ads, your press releases, your product specs or announcements, your newsletters. Get an SEO specialist to give your site more Google juice (i.e., a higher ranking on the search engines). Trade links with other businesses. Put your URL in your ads and n your business cards, let people know where to find your blogs, newsletters or limited-time coupons. If your market can't find you, it doesn't matter what you're saying.

4. Overuse the word “You.” Have your customers and their needs in mind at all times. Don't talk about your products or services – talk about how your products and services solve their problems. Get over yourself and put the customer and his or her needs at the centre of all you do.

5. Experiment. There is no one fix for every business. If blogging isn’t for you, maybe you'll make a splash with YouTube videos or pay-per-click advertising. If newspaper ads work for you, stick with them, but experiment with interactive elements that help you build your database and communicate with more customers directly.

Above all, ask your customers what they're listening to, what they're reading, how they're using the net. That's how you can focus on the best opportunities for your business to stand out, be heard, and serve its customers better.

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