Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Want outstanding online results?

So here it is, the end of another year and I've been asking myself is there one thing above all else that stands out as a must do for business to thrive in the evolving online world? Great news, I think I've got it, by George, I think I've got it! We must recognize that the dynamics of the fundamental relationship between buyer and seller have changed and act accordingly.

If you have not seen "Did You Know" follow this link, this video of about 8 minutes may dramatically alter your perspective on what is taking place in our world:

When is the last time that you 'googled' for information on something you were considering purchasing? There are about 3 billion google searches monthly, obviously not all purchase related, but out of that huge number it is safe to say that millions of buyers monthly, go online to begin seeking information that will begin a relationship that ends in a transaction. As providers, you must now find ways to engage and cultivate that relationship. The era of intrusive outbound marketing is less and less effective in creating new relationships, the age of appropriate and targeted information to a permission based audience is quickly emerging as the way forward. What is inaction costing your organization? Take action now.

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Monday, December 22, 2008

Is a blog an important tool for your business?

We hear a lot about blogs, in fact it's hard not to hear about them. Should you be blogging? Is it worth the time and energy you'll have to put into it? The answer in my opinion, absolutely! Let me explain.

Have you gone online recently to google for information on something? Maybe given the time of year, you've done a little research into a gift you were considering for someone, or maybe you were looking for information to help solve a business issue within your organization. The point is, powerful information is now at your fingertips. You can now access much of the information that you need in order to make your buying decisions online...and you are no different than all the rest of us. So, how does this affect the way business is being done? You need to be noticed so that people will come to YOU for the information and ultimately for the solution to their need. Blogging helps. How?

1-Blogging is part of an inbound marketing program that will help direct inquiries to you;
2-It improves your SEO to help prospects find you;
3-It's an effective method to participate in social networking;
4-It is a permission based form of marketing that can allow you to begin a relationship with a new prospect.

Check out I think they're a well organized internet marketing company that has great ideas for the small and medium sized business.

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Thursday, December 18, 2008

W3C compliance, does it matter?

W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) is comprised of over 400 members including all the major search engines and global corporations such as AT&T, HP and Toshiba among others, that develops standards for the internet so that communications online perform consistently.

In the last few years, the discussion over compliance has become more intense and there is an increasing awareness of problems arising from non-compliance. For you the small and medium size business, here are three significant concerns:

1-Some browsers like Firefox, Opera and Lynx (among others) won't display your pages correctly.
2-Search engines will not be able to efficiently and precisely indexing your site.
3-Site and hearing impaired internet users won't be able to use your site.

So...does W3C compliance matter? Of course! The outcome of the above problems mean that you may not be found, that SEO actions may be less effective, that applications on your website may not operate properly and all of this leads to a loss of engagement by your visitors which in turn leads to lost opportunities. How much is this costing you?

Check your compliance at

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Do you want a website or a WEB PRESENCE?

5 questions to consider...

1- Your competition is probably on the web. Are they attracting your potential customers?

2- All of us are using the internet to meet more and more of our needs. Do you have effective SEO web presence development to drive prospects to your business?

3- A professionally developed web presence works for you 24/7, how better can you leverage your time?

4- E commerce allows clients to purchase your goods and services while sitting at their computer and it is estimated that this transaction is up to 8 times less expensive than a conventional business transaction. How much better would this be for your bottom line profitability?

5- A professional web presence is an investment that has a greater ROI than any other form of promotion since pages and pages of information can be developed at a fraction of the cost of conventional advertising. Can you afford not to develop an effective web presence?

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Friday, December 12, 2008

Website Service Companies...How do you pick one?

There are many ways to find a website service company and soooo many to choose from, is there a valid process for your selection? I want to speak to this today as it came up recently with a prospective client who was feeling a little overwhelmed with the task of simply choosing a company to work with let alone determining what exactly was to be done. If you don't already have a method in place for making this kind of decision here are a few key points for your consideration and when you follow them you'll establish a relationship with a company that will last for years and ensure that your online presence is effective at achieving your organizations goals.

1- First off, is the prospective company stable with a track record of client satisfaction? Web development is not a 'mature' industry and there are many 'off hour' suppliers, more and more each day. Any company that has been in business over 5 years and has a number of clients who will act as references is probably a good prospect, you should be free to contact some supplied references.
2- Does the prospective company have a well defined process for completing the work related to your needs? This sounds obvious, but there are a huge and growing number of 'basement' (off hour) web service operations (I use the term loosely) that will promise you the world but really have no procedures in place to make certain that they'll achieve what you want in any sort of reasonable timeline if at all. Look for a company that can speak intelligently to a plan. For example at MEDIAFORCE we work with a five point process as appropriate to the work to be completed: Discovery and Planning, Creative Concept Development, Technical Production, Deployment and finally, The New Beginning. This process has allowed us to maintain long-term relationships with our clients some of them since our beginning over 12 years ago. In most cases we effectively become a partner with our clients, and their success is ours.
3- How does the company propose to work within your budget? First I'd like to say that if you're looking for cheap there is lots out there, just remember that when you go to find them can't, you'll have a good understanding of why. However, a good company will have ways to first get you started and then develop a plan with you going forward that will allow you to achieve all of the needs that you have. Often we talk with clients about the one, two, three year scenario so that we can spread the development cost over an extended period that fits with our clients budget considerations. One word of caution, remember that your online presence is increasingly a first point of contact for you with your prospective clients and as a result very important. Whatever you do should be well thought out so that it reflects what you want a prospect to know and understand about your organization, so ensure (as much as possible) that it gets done right. This investment is one of the most important investments that you can make for the growth of your organizations activities.
4- Ongoing service. Once you have your new or renovated presence, what then? This is what MEDIAFORCE refers to as Stage 5- The New Beginning, because this is where our work continues with you. We are constantly looking for new possibilities for our clients, whether it's a technical innovation or a new marketing option we are working to make certain that our clients have the latest tools available to them so that they are current, relevant and achieve their online presence goals and objectives.

Well, there's some food for thought, I hope it helps you with your decision because this is one of those decisions that truly has the potential to significantly impact your business. As always, wrong decisions for the wrong reasons will waste your time and resources, how much will that cost you?

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Thursday, December 4, 2008

I can't get no...Satisfaction!

As the Rolling Stones belted it out, so too, unfortunately many organizations are not satisfied with their current website services provider. Whether it's the speed with which your service company answers your need, the results of what is provided as a solution or many other potential irritants, there are ways to avoid this problem. Most of us have enough challenges in our work, adding frustration with the development of services online doesn't need to be another added burden if we undertake a little due diligence.

Here's another real situation that happened recently (two weeks ago) at our firm Mediaforce. A business owner in western Canada calls us and is very frustrated. They have tried to contact their services provider repeatedly for some time (I believe the period was about three weeks, incredible.) to create a change on the company website, and they wonder if there is something we might be able to do to help. To make a long story short, 10 minutes later the change is made for this company while they are still on the phone and we have a new client. So what's my point? Pretty clear I think.

As our relationship with this new client is unfolding we have learned some of the reasons for their frustrations, as there had been many similar events with he former "website service" (and yes, I do use the term loosely here) company. When our new client began working with the former company, they really didn't know what to expect as it was new to them and they had no point of reference...and they didn't seek other points of reference as part of their vetting process. Since your online presence is an increasingly important part of your business plan (or should be) it's really important that you check out who you're going to work with and it doesn't have to be a difficult or long process. As I said recently in another post, it comes down to planning, and if you've have a plan, you will most likely avoid much of this aggravation.

You may already have a process in place for scrutinizing service companies that you will be working with, great. If not just a couple of suggestions regarding your choice of online services provider:
1- How promptly did they respond to your initial inquiry? Quickly, average, slow...remember, once is noteworthy, twice is a pattern, three times a sure thing.
2- Do they have testimonials on their site? Of course this is subject to manipulation but it is a good starting point. If there are names and companies, most likely the testimonial is real and verifiable.
3- How mature are they as a company? If you find a company that is over ten years old, this company must be satisfying thier clients because in the web services business this is a VERY old company.

With that as a starting point, I'll leave you with this thought. Our new client is very happy with the service they are now receiving although it is a little more expensive than the previous supplier. A little more expensive. The results of the small change and others that we ( have made for them so far, have had a positive impact on their business by creating a better website visitor experiece, which has generated new business for them, business that they otherwise may not have had the opportunity to win. What are your decisions regarding your online presence costing your organization? Call me!

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Hello, hello? Where are you?

I had an interesting experience the other day that I want to share with you because it happens far too often.

A colleague had heard about a great place to buy snow tires and went online to try and find them so he could get some information about the company etc. He couldn’t remember the company name, it was on the tip of his tongue and knew that as soon as he saw it he’d recognize it, so like most of us he ‘googled’. He googled for ‘snow tires ottawa’. (yes, here in Ottawa snow tires are a good idea, snow and bad drivers are not a good mix!) This seemed like a pretty logical search to him. You know what I’m about to tell you, they were nowhere to be found, not near the top, not in the middle, not on the first page, or the second or the third! Who cares, the likelihood of being visited if you’re not on the first page is very low. Here is information you might not have been expecting, on that first page in the organic results, there was only ONE direct listing to a company who sells tires, the rest were indirect links to directories and lists and…stuff. Do you want to be in the ‘stuff’ or do you want to be there in the top links?

Call me, email me, and tell me what people are searching for when they are trying to find you and we’ll get you to the top, that’s part of what website maintenance is all about. What does it cost your operation when potential site visitors can’t find you?

We live at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Let's get started...

OK, first blog entry so I'd like to start at the beginning...a plan!

Too often I come across companies and organizations that really haven't thought about what they want their web presence to accomplish. You may have heard terms like web analytics, email marketing, CMS, CRM, traffic conversion, lift and many others, WHHHAAAAA!!! For many of us small and medium sized organizations, we are focused on our core activities and busy executing on our business plans to improve our desired outcomes and we can feel really confused about all this jargon we don't really understand. At the same time, there is this niggling feeling we have in the back of our minds that there is something there for us, we just don't know what that might be. This is where the plan comes in.

The first thing I'd like you to consider, whether you have a website or not is what you want your website to do for your company/organization. One way to think this through is to answer the question what do you want visitors to your site to accomplish? Is it only for information? If so to what end? Do you want them to contact you? If so what information would you like in preparation for your follow-up?

Let me finish this first entry with an example. Recently, I was in discussion with a business owner who's business is a very successful small operation and they didn't have a website. The owner felt that it was time for a website because they felt that it would add value to the business and there is the possibility that the business will be sold in 5-15 years, but they really didn't have a clear idea what the site should accomplish and so I asked a question based on my personal experience: "Do you spend any time talking with prospective customers about the same things over and over again and if so, how much time?" Bingo! The first purpose of the website was clear, implement an FAQ. Frequently Asked Questions are just that, questions that are asked over and over again and that someone in your organization spends valuable time answering instead of being focused on business deliverables. Don't misunderstand me, of course answering these questions is an important part of establishing your relationship with a prospective client, but if your real conversation starts after the FAQ is addressed, you have saved valuable time and resources and can re-allocate those same resources to other business activities. You've automated an important part of your business process, and you've just scratched the surface of what is possible. By the way, in the real example above, the owner estimates that, based on results to date, this will save them about two weeks on an annual basis, what's that worth to you?

We live at the edge of the future...

Andy Xhignesse