Listen first, sell second. But do it quickly!

Using IT in business generally – but especially using the Internet – enables us to implement tools and strategies that radically alter the speed at which we do things.
In 1999, Bill Gates termed this ‘Business at the Speed of Thought‘, and wrote a book about it in which he said:

If the 1980s were about quality and the 1990s were about reengineering, then the 2000s will be about velocity. About how quickly the nature of business will change. About how quickly business itself will be transacted.

Looking back we can see that he wasn’t wrong. But many organisations – both public and private – haven’t kept up with the pace of change.

Gaining a competitive edge in any business requires hard work, but the Internet offers endless opportunities to work smart by first taking some time to listen to what the marketplace is saying, and to then use that insight to meet needs.

The barriers to entry in terms of building a website and a social media campaign are extremely low and offer you real-time feedback which you can use to tweak your campaign and perhaps even alter your goals or offering to the market.

With regards to websites themselves rather than the campaigns that draw people to them, it is widely known that attention spans on web sites are low, and bounce rates are high. Building sticky content is not easy and requires a long-term vision.

In a market where both the barriers to entry and attention span of customers are low, and building a website to which people regularly return is no easy task, one of the keys to success is to dramatically reduce the time it takes to connect with and learn from both existing and potential customers.

By combining multiple tools and techniques – such as SEO and statistical analysis, blogging and a Social Media strategy – you will gain deep insight into what it is people want, what they are visiting your website for and which communication tool they prefer. Armed with this knowledge you can focus your energies into those elements of interaction to engage with the marketplace to offer what customers and clients want, in exactly the way they wish to consume it.

Whilst it is spot on to say that business has changed in the last ten years, it is much more important to recognise that business is in a state of ongoing and rapid change in ways in which you will not understand until you first listen to the marketplace rather than try to sell to it.

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