Are you well connected?

Caroline Williams, Chief Executive, Norfolk Chamber of Commerce

I’ve commented before in this column on the subject of technology, and how it’s changed the way in which we communicate.  In short, we can now send messages to each other faster than ever before. Distance is no object. Time is irrelevant. It’s a 24/7 world of constant communication. Which is fine, provided you have people to communicate with.

One thing the digital age hasn’t changed is that businesses need to connect with each other in order to trade. You need to know who is out there, if there is a realistic chance that they will buy from you and how best to meet and talk with them up to, during and after the sale.

How you do that has altered. The online media are now essential to connect with customers.

There’s a phrase in current business circles that’s rapidly becoming something of a mantra. ‘Content is king’ they say. It’s true that using the digital and social media to carry positive information about your company, and developments within your market, is a solid bedrock for your online strategy. But do you know if your audience is actually reading your blogs, or following you on Pinterest, or Google+. Can you be certain that they even look at, let alone appreciate, the content on your website? It’s the never changing conundrum of media and message. Except in today’s world you need to establish that you’re on the same digital platforms as your target audience.

Now, let’s assume, (and why not?) that your online strategy works. With an enhanced digital profile, positioned as a source of expert knowledge through generating high quality content and engaged with web savvy potential customers, you’re out there in the never sleeping world of cyber selling. Liked, favourited and re-tweeted your brand awareness has never been higher. That’s all great, provided you’ve put in place a plan to future proof your customer strategy. You need to have asked yourself if your business will be ready to cope with the growing number of customers looking to Twitter and Facebook for customer service.

Certainly at the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce we embrace the potential of digital marketing. In fact our ‘Click and Connect’ event in Norwich on September 25th (full details on our website ) is aimed specifically at helping businesses use the online media to their best advantage. My point is that even as we hurtle through this current period of technological advancement, some things don’t change. Things like getting your message right; and finding the right media to get that message to the right audience. What has changed is the number and variety of media available, and the unprecedented voraciousness of audiences engaging with your communications and connecting with your brand all the time, across multiple platforms. Not having a strategy to manage that is commercial suicide.

Getting connected has never been easier. Are we making it work for us is the question. Having an online strategy is the answer.

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