One of the nice things about the holiday period is an opportunity to catch up on your reading. Over the weekend, I was reading “The Most Powerful Idea in the World; a story of steam, industry, and inventions” by William Rosen. The book is basically about the invention of the steam engine and steam powered locomotive. Early in the book, Rosen talks about an economic historian named Abbott Payson Usher. Usher wrote a book in 1929 called “The History of Mechanical Inventions”. In this book, Usher documents ways in which humanity has engaged in a continuous process of improving life by inventing.
To Usher, every invention inevitably followed a four-step sequence.
1. Awareness of an unfilled need
2. Recognition of something contradictory or absent in attempts to meet the need, which Usher called an “incomplete pattern”;
3. An all-at-once insight about that pattern; and
4. A process of “critical revision” during which the insight is tested, refined and perfected
Rosen goes on to say “the inventors of the steam engine… created a perpetual innovation machine, in which each new invention sparked the creation of a newer one…”
We live today in the perpetual innovation era. This innovation era is intellectually easy for us to grasp, but still difficult for us to exploit. However, as we implement our innovations, looking at Usher’s 4 steps, can provide some insights and guidance.
Is it better to Ask Forgiveness than Ask Permission?
I was at a SCORE meeting yesterday. One of the members, who is part of the marketing committee, had a great idea that would simplify and enhance the customer acquisition process.
Now the marketing committee has the authorization and the funds to make the change. SCORE is a group of experienced business people who have run successful enterprises. But, making a decision can still be problematic. Instead of being encouraged to execute his improvement, it was suggested that he talk to 4 more different organizations.
While we articulate risk and innovation, in many situations, people just are not sure. While it is important to ask, “what can go wrong?”, a question that should accompany that thought is “what is really the impact, if there is an issue?”
In many cases, the information that comes from the “doing” is more valuable than the time and effort spent on gathering information and asking permission.
What makes an expert?
We did an interview last week Nick Farina Sr. He is a communications expert who has worked in media and in business. Nick Sr. suggests that a small company can create differentiation through thought leadership. By noting issues in your industry, and suggesting solutions, an entrepreneur can establish a presence beyond the size of his company.
We work with many companies who are looking to better utilize the internet to grow their businesses. The discussion about Search Optimized Video (SOV) sometimes creates a broader dialogue around their internet presence.
If you are in the process of updating your website, here are two suggestions:
First, make a list of the top 15 or 20 questions that your customers or prospects are asking you. Additionally, think about 2 or 3 questions that they should be asking you… and are not. We use these questions to create short video segments, but you can use them in developing your web content. Look at these questions in the context of your website. Are the answers on your website? Are the questions on your website?
For example, here is a question and an answer.
Search engines use word match to determine if your website is of value to a searcher. If a searcher is asking a question, and that question is on your website, then your site has a better chance of getting recommended. Also, if your website does not answer some of the key questions your customers are asking; you ought to go back and rethink your content.
For example, suppose you are a professional services company. Your customers are most interested in the services you offer and how you solve their problems. They may not be that interested in your office building. So, if you had a big picture of your office building and a description of your space on your home page, is that the best use of key web real estate?
Second, if you are planning on using video, think about where you might place it, even if you are not ready for internet TV. Work with your web designer to leave some places where you can provide updates. You can fill it with a picture, or a bit of text. But visually, design your pages so that there is a logical strategy for adding a video embed. That way when you are ready to record, the space is available.
Use these reserved areas as places where you can regularly add new content. Identify with your developer sections that you can update with a simple text entry or a “cut and paste”. Some web developers will tell you that they will update the site for a minimal charge, but if you do need to pay $50 or $100 to update your site, you probably will not do it very often. If your web designer says that you can’t update the site on your own, you might want to look at a new designer.
Many companies are updating their websites. At the same time, they are considering using video to drive customer awareness and lower the cost of reaching users and prospects. As we talk to marketing and web folks, there appears to be some uncertainty as to using the public repositories, such asYouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, etc., or keeping videos on the website.
Some web developers feel that videos should be on the website. Their idea is to get users to a website, and keep them there. The risk they see to using a public repository is that you will either not get to the website, or be drawn off of the website to some place else.
On the other hand, if you don’t participate in public repositories, like YouTube, you are running the risk of not being found with search. Plus, YouTube will recommend your videos to other viewers. Not being there means you won’t be visible.
Think about being in both places. John Fairley, a noted web developer, noted that “being on YouTube is like a billboard, while being on a website is having a sign in your store”.
If you design your channel appropriately, you should be able to drive traffic to your website – today’s internet user looks for content in many veues. They will find your website if they are interested in your product. Finally, a well designed channel will be able to keep your viewer with your content, as opposed to recommending someone else’s.