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Welcome to the internet age

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Is your website just a brochure for your business? Have you heard about companies using the internet to their strategic advantage but know that you’re not doing that?

Do you want to know more about blogging, podcasting and what your customers will want from you via the net? Do you have to create an expensive looking website that dazzles anyone who drops in for a look?

Sam Saltis is the managing director of bwired Group Pty Ltd, a technology company specialising in the design and implementation of innovative solutions to meet business requirements.

Saltis views the internet as a catalyst for future growth, market expansion and cost containment, and not just a sales brochure.

“bwired’s a company that’s really focused on business strategy and achieving returns for business customers. We differentiate ourselves in being consultants understanding what businesses are trying to achieve from their customers, from their suppliers, and internally from their operations.

“It’s not about the technology. We first understand your strategy and then we match technology, we don’t have any internal technology people — we outsource that because we don’t believe that is core to delivering value to our customers,” he says.

On Saltis’ point about technology, Jim Collins in his book Good to Great said technology isn’t all that important in fast growing companies — it is an accelerant to growth. “It’s exactly that,” says Saltis.

“For us, our IP is our knowledge in converting what you do in your business and using the internet to achieve various outcomes. So most people say I just put a brochure up there and it delivers value for my customers because they can learn about me.

“But there’s so much more that you can do. Once they got over this dot-com thing that happened five or six years ago, they’re now saying, ‘this is a channel, we’ve got 11 million people on it now’. There’s movement around the country with large players like Fairfax, NineMSN and at NewsCorp, where they’re now buying up profitable online businesses because they see a change occurring,” he says.

In a sense what the big end of town is doing by buying online businesses is that they are going into various marketplaces like car and employment marketplaces.

“They’re picking up dating sites, trade exchanges and so on because the future of the internet will be personalised to the individual. So you will have specific ideas of what you want to find from the internet. Instead of searching them out, they’ll actually be presented to you at one place.

“Whether you want pod casts on business, the latest radio shows, you’ll actually have everything at your finger tips and be able to download it to your phone, ipod and various other devices where you can engage with it at your own speed rather than have to sit there and engage with it at the time it’s presented to you,” he says.

So what’s happening with podcasting and blogging?

“Blogging, web logging and pod casting are all about personalisation in the market space. People are just discovering websites now and being able to control them themselves. Historically you went to your development company and said I want to change that sentence to something else. Now we’ve discovered these things called CMSs which allow us to change our websites as we please.

“The next thing is this personalisation, so you’ll be able to go to a website and say “I’m interested in hearing this radio presenter and what they say” and it will be delivered to you either on a dashboard or directly to your ipod, and you’ll be able to engage not just about that topic but about that specific area.
“That’s why web logs and pod casts are actually so popular because I’m interested in a specific topic, I’m not interested in a general topic and I’m able to now, through the internet, achieve that specific topic and get that detail for me and I can get it delivered directly to me.”

So, for example, if you were a freelance writer and wanted to know what Neil Michel, Alan Jones and John Laws said about the Australian Wheat Board (AWB), you could get it podcasted and downloaded to your computer?

“By producing podcasts and web logs, they’re engaging with you on an individual level. People say ‘let’s segment the market, let’s pick the top 20 per cent and delivery 80 per cent of the revenue’. What I’m saying to you today is forget the 20 per cent, it’s actually being able to segment each individual of that 20 per cent to their unique ideals and interests.”

And what if you’re setting up or revamping your website?

“The way we see is if you’re setting up a new website today, you not only have to deliver what we term an image for your public, you actually have to deliver personalised information where I can change my preferences at will and get exactly what I want. You’re seeing it now in the US. You click on the personalisation settings and it says how big is your company, what industry are you in and what are you interested in, and once you pick all that stuff, the whole website just changes. So if you’re interested in banking you become the banking guy, if you’re a small business and you’re in banking then it tailors it to the small business customer,” he says.

“You can’t push people nowadays. People don’t want to be sold to, that’s the other thing. You read all these marketing books. They say sell, sell, sell. It’s about creating a long term relationship. If you produce a pod-cast that makes no sense and doesn’t engage you’re segment then it wont be profitable but if you produce something that they’ve told you they want to hear about and they’re interested in then you will engage with them. They will say ‘thanks, give me some more information about this, I’d like to know a bit more’. So we’ve broken out the web into four categories. We see the web in terms of image, and that’s what everyone focuses on today, the bling bling factor.”

That’s what a website brochure is all about isn’t it, I asked.
 
“But they’ve gone overboard, they have the dancing clouds, and they have the jumping kangaroos and they have that stuff — all this flash stuff — and they think if I make it bling then people will think I’m a big business. The reality is if you want them to come back to all the time, less bling is what you should be looking for,” he says.

Which seems to imply less bling and more substance – and hopefully that will prove an advantage for SMEs.

Published on: Saturday, May 30, 2009

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