Category Archives: Featured

Content is king

Let’s sit back and enjoy a few words of wisdom from Uncle Bill (Gates):

“Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting…But the broad opportunities for most companies involve supplying information or entertainment. No company is too small to participate.”

In 1996, when Bill Gates first offered this opinion, he was considered quite bold and most people – especially members of traditional media like newspapers, television and radio – thought he was wrong. Fast forward 23 years and Gates’ words from so long ago are like a prophecy.

At the time Gates even acknowledged that audio and video (in their online infancy in 1996) might be part of the content revolution. He guessed that to fully engage a customer, audio and video had to be part of the content offered.

What Gates didn’t predict in 1996 was that all businesses needed to 1) have an online presence and 2) offer worthy content. In 1996, with an internet so basic that Atari’s Pong (Google it) looked high tech in comparison, Gates called that year’s online advertising revenue of $30 million “zero.” Here’s why $30 million might seem like zero: 2018 paid online advertising revenue for just the United States was $100 billion (with a B). And that’s just counting paid revenue. Earned revenue – attention through unpaid posts on social media – is estimated to be at least four times paid revenue.

What am I always saying? You need to get digital. You have to be part of what’s happening now. I know there are more digital choices than a plastic pumpkin full of Halloween candy; so many options and conflicting opinions on which one is the best. My best advice is to go with the truth that content is king and just start.

The first step is always the hardest, right? You’re probably making it even more difficult by overthinking. Let go of “I’ll do it after I [fill in the blank],” and just do it. Progress is always better than perfection. You can’t improve or fix something that doesn’t exist yet. There will never be a perfect time. The time is now.

Just start and be consistent. What is your message? Imagine you’re in room with a hundred people who want what you’re selling and you have all the confidence in the world. What would you say to that group? What are the information points that you can fall back on every time?

  • I’m selling X.
  • X is the best because…
  • X can solve your problem in this way…
  • X makes your life better by…

It doesn’t matter if you’re selling time in your recording studio, engineering know-how, installation of a commercial dishwasher or the next fidget spinner. Develop your message, stick to the message and jump into the digital world. Use all your energy for just that and stop wasting it on overthinking.

Nobody’s ever 100% ready. If you don’t have opening night or wedding day or grand opening or product launch jitters, then you’re not fully engaged. Embrace all of it – King Content, the digital kingdom, your place in it and the success that’s waiting for you.

It’s not selling out, it’s buying in

Like the founders of Silicon Valley’s Intuit, my dad started Malachy Parts and Service in a kitchen. In our case it was the kitchen of our little New Jersey apartment that also served as our office. My mom would play “office sounds” on a tape recorder in the background when she answered the phone with, “Malachy Mechanical,” to create the perception of a busy office. And we all know that a busy office is a successful office, right?

The paradox of business is that you must work hard every day even though it’s often customer perception that determines success. Too many businesses are knocked to their feet with an online review that says something like, “I didn’t feel like she cared if she got my business or not,” or “He didn’t seem to take my questions seriously.”

Yeah, in addition to investing in the best employees, state-of-the-art equipment, focused marketing and excellent customer service, you have to attempt to control customer perception. And remember, your perception of excellent customer service might not be your customer’s perception of excellent customer service.

Managing perception is no easy task. A single person’s perception is based on his or her individual experiences. Fortunately, no business has “everyone” as a customer. If you haven’t realized that yet, I’m sorry to be the one who broke your heart. The sooner you embrace that truth, though, the sooner you can hyper focus your perception management efforts on the people who are your customers.

Even more good news: the people who are your customers generally have shared experiences. Let’s say that, in general, your customers’ favorite boy band was N’Sync, they’d rather eat fast food than anything off the menu of a four-star restaurant and they’re happy with digital – they don’t need paper checks or confirmations and they’ve never purchased a vinyl record, 8-track tape or CD. Not the easiest base to work from, but stick with me as you create a perception that could win them over.

Fortunately, you won’t need to play busy office sounds when your phones are answered. But if you were given choices for on-hold music, choose music from an era that reminds your customer of happy times. You will also want to make sure your customers can access communications on their phone or laptop. When they call to check on an order, they will need to flip through their emails to find the confirmation number. They will not be able to find it on a document you sent to them because I guarantee they don’t know where that document is.

Researching your customer is a first step and I know that wasn’t everybody’s favorite part of sixth grade. But this digital tool called Google (by the way, happy 21st birthday, Google) makes it pretty easy. The payoff for doing your homework is big, though. You can be both the company you think you are and manage your customers’ perceptions to be the company they want you to be.

You’re not selling out if you invest time in managing your customers’ perception of you. Call your efforts branding, use your marketing budget or label it customer service if you need to manage your own perception. But buy in to the idea that perception is reality and managing perception can lead to faster and greater success.