This was an interview done with Mark E. Goodman, SCORE Workshop Chair for BizBroker Journal
Mark, you are an expert in attracting and maintaining customers using new Web 2.0 internet tools, before we talk about how to use the tools, tell me how this creates value for a business.
There is a traditional value and a non traditional value to taking advantage of the new tools. First, let’s talk about the traditional one. Using the tools and the processes below, you can dramatically lower your costs of selling and customer support. Customers and users are looking to get answers on line. Below, you will find a process that allows for the creation of answer bits in multiple media. Lower sales and support costs translate into greater profits.
Now, let’s look at the non traditional value. The size of your social media audience can increase the value of your company. If you were supporting hundreds of users through Twitter or YouTube, that would be part of your valuation. Recently, companies have been hiring individuals based on their internet following. Companies like Twitter are totally valued on number of participants. Being a “recognized” expert for Google or YouTube, creates value beyond the ordinary.
How does a company need to change how they are creating content to attract Web 2.0 customers and users?
The content creation plan for a small business used to be pretty simple. When you rolled out a new product, you did a brochure and maybe a press release. Perhaps you ran a small ad. You trained your sales force, then got going. When it came to customer support, your technical people trained phone support.
What has changed in the last 10 years. First, your brochure went on line. Then, you decided rather than running ads, you would have buyers come to you using pay per click and search engine optimization. More and more, your buyers and customers did not want to see a sales person, but wanted to find the answers to their questions on line.
How has that changed how you create content?
When searching on line, your users want to find the answer to their individual question(s). The typical searcher is typing in four or five words. In a “decision engine” perhaps even asking a question. So rather than a brochure, white paper or FAQ list, you need to create an “answer bit”.
Also, realize that your buyers or users looking for service want to find the content in the media that they are comfortable with. Some buyers want to find it in a blog. Others, are YouTube viewers, some are searchers of Google or Bing. You can maximize the reach of your content by representing it in various media, if you plan for it in advance.
Our content creation process is based on the “interview” model. The content creation starts with a TV show. This is a 25 minute show that runs once a week. We have found that with the interview process, subject matter experts are more engaging, and answer length is more manageable.
The show is posted in its entirety on BLIP.TV. The show is then edited into clips and put on YouTube. The clips are also turned into blog postings. You can also reference the content in an email campaign. Content is then embedded on your website in the appropriate portions of the website.
Isn’t that a pretty complex and expensive process?
The key to keeping the costs down is designing the interview up front. The interview questions are created so that they can easily be cut into segments. Additionally, the dialogue during the interview focuses on topical issues that can be reconfigured into a blog posting. Lastly, we watch the length and complexity of the answers to insure that the clip will play well in the YouTube environment. Each question is its own answer bit. An answer has to be complete enough to answer a question, but not so complex as to lose the viewer.
The weekly show allows for the creation of continual content. Both users and search engines like the creation of continual content. The more users and viewers that you have in you channel or blog, the more Web 2.0 referrers will route people to you. When you reach a volume on a YouTube channel, you start to get more people finding you. It is not a linear increase, more of a quantum leap.
How does someone get started?
The first step is making an inventory of what questions prospects, customers, and users are asking. If you are doing search engine optimization, that’s a good place to start.
You can do a couple of segments to try it out, but, just doing one or two segments, won’t help draw traffic. On the other hand, a regular program can have significant value on your sales, costs and valuation