Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Dealing with SCATs (Still Clueless About Technology)

My father refused to buy our family a color television “until they get the bugs worked out.” It was the mid-1970s before I saw Disney’s “Wonderful World of Color” in color.

For a year after I got my first answering machine my mother would not leave a message. She did not want to talk to “some machine.” She wanted to talk to me.

Some (not many) of my clients did not invest in a website until well after Y2K. They wanted to see if the “fad” would pass before spending the money.

These are examples of people who I call SCATs – “Still Clueless About Technology.” Some are genuine Luddites who stoically resist all attempts to modernize their lives. But most are simply overly cautious about adapting anything new and difficult to understand.

You know at least one SCAT. Still on dial-up access with an AOL email address. Grabs the Yellow Pages when he needs to look up a phone number. Doesn’t need an iPod because her Sony Walkman is still working just fine, thank you.

With more and more of our marketing being built around using technology to reach potential customers, SCATs present a problem. The more “traditional” methods of marketing are being replaced by email campaigns, Facebook and Twitter, and web-based promotion. But how do we reach someone who does not check email, live on Bluetooth or surf the web on a regular basis?

One solution is to ignore them. SCATs are a shrinking audience as technology becomes simpler and more accessible to more people. Spend the money where it will do the most good and reach those prospects who are more likely to see and respond to a “modern” pitch.

The problem with this approach is that SCATs tend to be older and (bless their Baby Boomer hearts!) more affluent. Just because someone does not run out and purchase and iPad does not mean they can’t afford one. Or two. So leaving SCATs out of the mix risks leaving a lot of money on the table.

A better approach is to incorporate some of those “old fashioned” marketing techniques into your planning. Carve out a portion of the next email campaign and devote it toward a print mail effort targeted at the older end of your demographic. Give customers an option of receiving your company newsletter via email or in paper format. Keep spending money on AdWords, but throw some (carefully, of course) into newspaper and radio ads.

Eventually everybody will be comfortable communicating electronically, and the on-line marketing infrastructure you are building today will reach a full and receptive audience. But until that time, find space in your effort and budget to accommodate the SCATs among us.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Giving Away Knowledge Can Pay Off

You know stuff. And I think you should give it away.

Knowing stuff is how you got where you are, by possessing knowledge and skills that are valuable to your company and your customers. The information you posses and how you use it is your "inventory." This is especially true if you are in a service business like law or accounting, but also applies to trades and retail.

So why give it away?

Because that is the only way potential customers will come to believe that you know what you are talking about. By "showing what you know" your customers will have the opportunity to sell themselves on your value. When they do pick up the phone to call you they will already be ready to do business with you. Half the sales job will be done in advance.

How can you give away your knowledge? It is easier than ever. Publish a blog and add content regularly. Write articles for trade journals. Publish a newsletter for clients and send it to prospects, too. Look for speaking engagements. Any chance you can find to demonstrate how good you are at what you do.

Giving away information that normally costs money may seem counterintuitive. Many people fear they will share too much and thereby negate the need for a customer to call. Trust me. Those who will contact you are the ones who recognize talent and skill and are willing to pay for it.

Monday, May 3, 2010

"Website" is Officially One Word

For years I have written "web site" out as two words. Grammatically it makes sense. But it appears I am on the losing end of this battle.

The latest edition of the Associated Press Style Book -- the "bible" of spelling and grammar for journalists -- has decreed that "website" should be written as a single word. Harrumph!

Oh well, you can't win 'em all.

Now if AP can only guide us on the usage of "e-mail" vs. "email."