The numbers are out, and the predictions are everywhere: 2004 is going to be a spectacular year for business.
The Conference Board is predicting a huge growth in Gross Domestic Product making 2004 the best year economically in 20 years. Leading Economic Indicators, the Consumer Confidence Index, Consumer Spending, Real Capital Spending and Corporate Profits are expected to create an economic climate that analysts and experts are all likening to a tidal wave.
The 2004 economic growth will represent tremendous opportunity to those who are prepared, and missed opportunity to those who aren't.
They say there are three kinds of people: Those that make things happen, those that allow things to happen, and those who ask "Holy Cow... What just happened?" The same is true of businesses.
Here is a short list of items you can use to help you determine which of those businesses you'll be in 2004.
Is your Web presence ready to attract and keep its share of visitors?
To be taken seriously by site visitors, professional design, intuitive navigation and ubiquitous interactivity are now prerequisites. The short-attention span generation that now makes up the vast majority of the traffic on the Web has no tolerance for a poorly designed site that doesn't immediately and easily give them what they want, how they want it.
The businesses that make things happen will conduct online market research projects to make sure that their site appeals to the sensibilities and meets the needs of their audience. The ones that let things to happen will at least turn to a professional Web development firm and allow them to use their vast experience to bring their site up to snuff. The rest will simply schlep through another year with the same tired Web presence that they had last year...and the year before that. Are you doing everything you can to use the Web to reinforce all your brand relationships?
Successful businesses rely on Internet technology as a powerful tool to reinforce all their relationships: commerce relationships with customers; sales relationships with prospects; information relationships with distributors, reps and salespeople; communication and goodwill relationships with its communities; transactional relationships with vendors; digital asset and information management relationships with partners and media; human resource relationships with employees, and more.
The businesses that make things happen will view the above list as the bare minimum necessary to be positioned for success, and will look for even more. The ones that let things happen will implement at least a few of these. The rest will take advantage of a TV offer to "put your company on the Web for $4.95 per month" and believe they're "all set."
Are you doing everything you can to drive people to your Web presence?
Smart Web site operators know that, unlike "Field of Dreams," if you build it, they may NOT come. Just like the blind squirrel that finds the occasional nut, a few people may stumble upon a Web site. Successful companies know that driving truly meaningful (i.e. profitable) traffic requires a strategy that regards each individual browser as an objective that needs to be captured. Your business' physical location has multiple contact points... street address, phone number, fax. Think of how hard you promote those contact points to drive people there...business cards, stationery, direct mail, yellow and white pages, TV, radio, newspaper, magazines, billboards, buses (inside and outside), coupons, grocery carts, telemarketing, logo merchandise, bumper stickers, signs in airports, terminals and rest rooms...the list is endless. Your business' virtual location can be promoted in all these ways, plus email, banners, pop-ups, pay-per-click, screen savers, kiosks, CD Rom, wireless/AvantGo... another endless list.
The businesses that make things happen look at the above list and feel like mosquitoes in a nudist colony... so many opportunities that they just don't know where to start. The ones that let things happen will at least implement a handful of the above. The rest will just click on an email come-on to get their site "submitted to over a thousand search engines and indexes for just thirty dollars" and consider their job done. Pop Quiz time
The US economy will generate ONE TRILLION DOLLARS in pre tax corporate operating PROFITS next year. The Web will not only be the conduit responsible for generating much of the revenue necessary to produce those profits, but will also play a huge part in the improved processes, increased efficiency and cost savings that will make those profit margins even larger.
That trillion dollars will flow through the country next year like a river on its way to corporate bank accounts. One type of business will stand on the bank of that river, unwilling to spend money on a bucket or afraid to even dip in for fear of falling in or even getting their hands wet. Another type of business will dip into that stream with the biggest buckets they can to grab what they can.
And what both those businesses miss will all flow into the waiting reservoirs built by the third type of business.
Which type of business will you be in 2004?
- Tom Snyder, President and CEO, Trivera Interactive