Chalk this up to being on vacation in New England. We’re in areas that are used differently by mountain bikers than by families, used differently by Harley riders than trail marathoners, and it occurs to me that because we fit into one track or another, that something happens. I see things from a parents’ perspective faster than I do, say, a Harley rider. I think of hiking differently than the trail marathon types. Because I’m slotted into a few perspectives, I see similar people (Seth would say tribes) easier, and I don’t see things as clearly for other groups.
Now, imagine that I’m the proprietor of a business or two in this region. How should I market? Who do I throw in with? What might I do to attract people from all or many or some of these groups, and which ones matter most to me? If I run a hotel, it’s tricky. I have to cater to families, but I realize that families might be noisy and off-putting to seniors or bikers or sports types. If I cater to the trail marathon crowd, they will most likely only want the most bare-bones services, and won’t necessarily be apt to stay at my place if I’ve built it to be more luxury-minded.
Now, think about this with regards to your web presence.
If you’re building your site for the web savvy, that’s quite a different crowd than the “my kids just got me onto Facebook” set. How do you accommodate both? It’s probably not just as simple as putting a phone number on every web page, but that wouldn’t hurt. But then, is it about your website at all?
What About Email Marketing?
Are you using email marketing as part of your interactions with people? “Email is the most successful protocol on the planet,” said Lars Rasmussen ( quote found here). Are you really ready to throw it out in favor of things like Google Wave or Twitter?
How Flexible Can You Be?
If your primary goal is selling, or building relationships that benefit sales, or building educational and informative content that warms people up to better use your product or service (or buy it), how will you maintain this kind of effort? Add just one additional language (not everyone speaks English – a shocker for my US friends) and things get tricky. How will you promote a Twitter channel as part of your online strategy and not offer a Spanish language option? Example: GM did this very successfully during their live tweeting of their bankruptcy proceedings in tapping Andrea Canabal (@acanabal).
But really think about that. If you’re going to crack open social media and then layer on multi-language support, then you’ve got to think about multi-regional support. Spanish spoken by a Mexican speaker is quite different than a Cuban speaker, for instance. If you’re global, how will you add this dimension into the mix, or will you?
Community vs Sales
What if your web presence is geared towards promoting a community ethic? You spend time and money building to that mindset, but then, that isn’t really the right kind of setting to push sales normally, is it? If we’re talking about products and how we use them, that’s not really the place where we talk about buying, at least not directly or cleanly.
Working, then, with the question of whether your web presence should/could be multi-use, how will you approach the mix of community-mindedness, and the need for sales?
Take Small Bites and Think Big Thoughts
In the end, just thinking about this topic raised more questions than I felt I could answer in a single post. My advice falls into the category of “simple, because otherwise it hurts.” Take small bites.
Starting with your webpage, assess whether or not you are making it easy for people to reach you from at least two different slices of your audience. In my case, I’ve picked the web savvy and the baby boomers who are daring to touch the web. Try looking through their eyes a bit. Pick three or four direct changes you might seek to make to your web presence that will benefit those two groups (3 to 4 each).
Decide if there’s another way to reach out and build online relationships with people that doesn’t require your website. Add to this some offline ways (phone or snail mail, for instance). Determine what (if anything) you want to do about various locations or languages, and make a plan for that, too.
What does this make you think about? How are you approaching this? What advice would you share with folks looking to take a next step?