Back in September of 2013, I was one of many folks who were laid-off from their jobs. Still, not that uncommon. However in my case, this was my third layoff in 6 years! After 25 years of jumping through corporate hoops I decided corporate America was showing me that they just didn’t care enough about hard working, dedicated professionals. So screw those corporate monkeys, I decided to start Gannon Solutions – a digital consulting agency to help small and mid-sized businesses with their digital needs. My focus was everything from strategy, innovation, content marketing to corporate identity, branding and simple web design.
Now how to get started? First things first, you have to have a website with strong SEO to simply be legit and get your name on the web. Seed money was a factor in the beginning and not being a developer myself, I began researching ways to get my site up and running fast and inexpensively. That’s when I came across Strikingly. It wasn’t the first web builder I found. There is just a ton of them out there. In fact, Strikingly was one of the last ones I found. Saving the best for last served my purpose perfectly.
Strikingly has one of the easiest user interfaces I’ve worked with. It is very intuitive to users. The simple interface allows you to test different features without worrying that you’re going public. You can save as you go and publish once your happy with the look. It also has mobile previews that I found very helpful, as I wanted to be sure to have a responsive site that looked great on all devices.
My business is operating well, I’m happy to say. I hire developers to assist me in creating all different kinds of websites from native code to open sourced templates; but I always provide my clients with the option to use Strikingly because of its simplicity and low cost. You’d be surprised how quickly that can make a a trusted bond as a consultant. Too many consultants are in the market charging far too much for web development. I often think of it as how some people profit from the under-privileged during a disaster. Web sites are a single channel for a business, albeit an import channel. As a consultant, one should never take advantage of a business simply because development is a higher skill. Strikingly helps me to provide a simple, inexpensive solution to a single channel opportunity.
So when Strikingly asked me to blog about their service, I was happy to oblige. I love how gannonsolutions.com turned out. I keep it updated and fresh with new content. I also made a resume site at shawngannon.com with Strikingly. Both sites are optimized for SEO and have garnered much attention. I’m a pretty satisfied customer. Thanks Strikingly for helping me out in a pinch!
At Gannon Solutions, we care about vision and strategy first. We research and deliver engaging planning. We design and develop beautifully tailored websites and products cunningly optimized for all devices. We are a full-service digital firm. That means we partner with you from inception thru analytics to help you stay relevant to your current customers and attractive enough to attain new.
Gannon Solutions connects you to customers in meaningful, innovative ways.
The Fourth of July is a time for Americans to celebrate and reflect on how great it is to be an American.
Most of us like to think of ourselves as true patriots, but until you dye your mustache, or turn your dog into Uncle Sam, or wrap your entire truck in a bald eagle, you’re merely just an average American.
Our goal as business people whether you are in marketing, sales, IT or support of a Fortune 500 company or a one-person-shop in a small business, the goal is still the same – deliver a consistent experience across all customer touch points. The siloed nature of big corps and small can make that a difficult feat. Yet we all strive for it.
What to do, what to do? The answer for Gannon Solutions is web content management systems (CMS). Now a CMS all by itself isn’t going to solve the many facets involved with integrated messaging. No sir. But with the proper strategy, it can be the most relevant foundational piece to begin that journey. You see websites aren’t (or shouldn’t be) built as they once were. The idea of IT receiving “requirements” based on a product manager’s explanation of a designers rendering from a senior manager’s vision seems barbaric and inefficient. Not too mention we’ve seen this game of “documentation telephone” often leaves a developer writing native code that offers only a percentage of value expected by the business. And the communication divide often felt by marketing and sales departments as an example generally leaves little room for a development team to know the intricacies of how to execute on say, the appropriate ad serving software, video streaming or sophisticated customer personalization tool.
Now I’m not pointing fingers, because believe you me I have been there. Repeatedly. But what are we to do and how do we sell the right solution into our companies? Here are some considerations you might find useful to those looking for the precise solution to begin the journey of delivering consistent customer value:
Always have vision. Is it obvious? Sure. But do you know what it means? That’s the real question. Vision is meant to place a company’s potential in the realm of the possible, not the impossible. It is long-term and can be achieved through a singular or subsets of missions. Not just mission statement. Think literally mission. A mission has to be attainable based on the way your company is positioned today or the mission being applied to reposition your company for the achievable future.
Find the right strategy. Formulating strategy is not as obvious as just knowing you need one. I once read something that always stuck with me when considering crating an accurate strategy – Keep it simple by considering just two critical factors: predictability (How far into the future and how accurately can you confidently forecast demand, corporate performance, competitive dynamics, and market expectations?) and malleability(To what extent can you or your competitors influence those factors?).
Facilitate a conversation about CMS capabilities. Q: “But we’ve got a great website, why do we need to invest in another technology?” A: Read the first sentence of this blog again. A CMS can be the tie that binds company silos. Ah, but now what to look for:
Easy-to-use-interface. A must-have for tech and non-tech to get on the same page.
Single view to the customer with omnichannel delivery. A CMS should be collecting data for personalization to render to the indented customers cross platform. Conversions, impressions, etc. to achieve company goals.
Automation for all possible content channel messaging. A CMS can scale to translate your content through your current channels and expand to reach new channels that align with your company vision. Customize for scalability.
SEO. Yep, what’s the point of a cool site when no one finds it. Take care when developing content to adhere to titles, meta descriptions and keywords. Leverage the alt attributes and link backs. All this becomes far more manageable in a CMS and is truly important in Google’s rankings.
Support. Every CMS has a support component. Whether it’s an active community online or a 24/7 call-in line, use them. When you add a CMS to your business, you’ve just joined a club. Research the CMS’ support channels to find the right solution for your individual business’ needs.
Integration flexibility. Insists on aligning with a CMS that has simple integration to your current line of business applications. If you begin to see that options become too limited, it’s time to look at your business applications. Don’t stifle your efforts to a scope of work that doesn’t include an internal audit of current technology.
Scalability. Today’s strategy is tomorrow’s learned mistake. That is OK. But be certain you’ve found a CMS that is continually supported and upgraded to allow your company to pivot on demand. This is the riskiest part, I’ll admit. No one knows the future. We all aren’t CEO with ultimate decision-making power. However, a CMS can be the best tool in your arsenal to keep up with an ever-changing environment.
Bring everyone together. Yes communication between the silos. Tap the shoulder of a developer. Invite key stakeholders to a luncheon. Never underestimate the power of informal conversation while you research. It’s just the right thing to do.
This is a high-level list of considerations. Many more exist based on the culture and size of your organization. But big or small, there are ways through technology that can align your efforts to meet company goals. Solutions are out there. Research. Then, research again.
Feel free to ask us for help, too, by the way. We love this stuff!
Quality customer service is one of the most appealing offerings any company can provide to its customers. Often forgotten or difficult to support, when any company makes a gesture of simple human touch, it will always strengthen the brand and it’s value. Basecamp did just that to me recently. I plan to stay a loyal customer to any company that treats me so well.
Forbes’ 4 Principles of Marketing Strategy in the Digital Age repost is not a new article. Rather, it is a reminder as we enter 2014 and beyond that the consumer…well, consumerism in whole…. has changed in our world due to the digital age. As companies plan forward, we must also evolve to face an omnichannel marketplace where behavior and relevancy are primary pillars of our customers’ interest in product and services. Are we messaging them in a way they want; when they want to be reached; and with how they want it delivered? If we aren’t, be assured that someone else is. And if you aren’t moving in that directions folks, pack it in now. Playing catch up is far better than simply standing your ground…no matter how well it has worked in the past. “In the digital age, brands are no longer mere corporate assets to be leveraged, but communities of belief and purpose.” Read on….
2013 seems a blur, doesn’t it? This year proved to be a measured improvement in how companies are presenting their wares relevantly to consumers. More thoughtful, innovative offerings continue to prevail in the marketplace. Consumer-centric companies have been paying attention and have better opportunities than ever before to follow consumers’ end-to-end journey.
Companies today have fortified themselves with terabytes of data to help predict a consumer’s demand, and the consumer-experience leaders are challenging themselves to grow consumer bases in innovative ways. Untouchables like Apple, Lexis and Amazon continue to be leaders with one mouse click and one tap of a tablet screen in their quest to enhance the customer experience to meet consumer relevancy. But this informational highway goes both ways. Now armed with more transparent information than ever before, consumers are trekking wisely online and into retailers righteously seeking lower prices and better products. We are all data scientists now.
As I look through the digital lens, I feel confidant that the landscape will quicken in the upcoming year. But how can such a velocity be sustained? Don’t assume demand will unwittingly drive progress. It’s a nice thought but too easy. Take it from someone who’s been in the business for quite a few years, 2014 is going to take serious work to keep engagement high with meaningful consumer offerings. I predict 2014 to be crowded with optimization and automation in all forms. Keep watching the trends and plan, because you know what happens when we assume. Don’t make me say it.