It was the fall of 1993 when an acquaintance approached me about the possibility of joining him in a start-up. His plan was to create sales campaigns for businesses, complete with text and images. He uploaded them onto CD’s that the companies could then send to sales prospects. It was only a short time later that we became aware of the World Wide Web, that portion of the Internet where graphics could be used to enhance text, where images could be included, and where addresses were given names instead of a series of numerals separated by dots.
Websites had to be built to 640 x 480 resolution in order to fit the tiny monitors of the time. A balance between appearance and speed was necessary because 9600 baud phone modems were the standard. Access to the World Wide Web could only be gained through providers like Prodigy and CompuServe and America OnLine.
Twenty years later, a close friend and business customer called to announce that he had just landed the largest service contract in the history of his company. The company had researched potential suppliers on the Internet, read the reviews, and studied their websites. Upon completion of the research, the company called and offered a contract.
“Walter, I never would have done this if it wasn’t for you,” he said. “I’ve always believed that the success stories were all smoke and mirrors. I trust you. That’s the only reason why I moved forward with ‘the plan.’ Now, I see for myself what can happen.”
“The plan” is a sophisticated digital marketing campaign that presents the business’ impeccable reputation to the public through a variety of channels with emphasis upon the quality products provided, the experience of service personnel, the geographic area the business covers, and the level of customer satisfaction the business has earned.
Buyers have become very sophisticated over the past 20 years as they have grown more comfortable with online shopping. There was a time when the largest Yellow Pages ad garnered the most business. Most of the population eventually saw through that ruse. Flashy, animated, hi-tech websites with bold colors and striking images are slowly being passed by for websites with meaningful, relevant (not boiler plate) content.