Now We Are Eight
The eighth anniversary of Pink Ink Media slipped quietly last week but there’s never a bad time to celebrate. It’s been a rollercoaster ride transitioning from part-time to full-time in the business and evolving over the years from a freelance writing agency to a fully-fledged communications consultancy.
Business and personal communications have changed dramatically over the last eight years to the extent predicted by only cyberpunk writers such as William Gibson. Our interconnection with technology and each other continues to grow and the boundaries between our work and personal lives continue to shrink. Some experts say that we’ve never been so accessible yet so isolated but others celebrate the many ways we can connect with each other. We’re firmly in the latter camp and use technology as a versatile multi-tool but we still treasure our personal connections.
Here are some reflections on how we’ve changed communicating over the last eight years.
Warp speed is the new normal: We now check the post office box sporadically and ditched the fax machine a few years ago. Only one customer noticed. Quotes and project updates can be done quickly by e-mail or by updating shared folders on services like Dropbox. Can’t take a brief and quote within 24 hours? Watch your potential customer go to your competitor.
Technology is smaller and more virtual: Most customers pay by direct deposit and we haven’t seen a cheque for a long time (perhaps we should check the post office box more often). Virtual storage and remote access have worked themselves into our finances, quotes and job delivery and it’s difficult to remember life without the immediacy and availability of the cloud and apps.
Customers are still people: Even with the ever-growing number of customers doing their research and purchasing online, people still want the option to deal with people regardless of the transaction medium.
Consumers have a voice: Sometimes customers appear alarmed when online crisis management strategies are discussed, however, purchasers can share their experiences like never before through social media and online review sites. Business managers have to think about how they’ll manage poor (and even inaccurate) feedback on social media.
The marketing mix is more complex: There’s a lot of pressure, particularly on small businesses with limited resources, to add social media channels to their marketing mixes. The benefits can be substantial but the ‘manage your social media in only 20 minutes a day’ blog articles can offer false hope for time-strapped businesses. Resourcing and measurement require planning and regular work to allow the most appropriate channels to earn their keep. Be selective and attentive.
Offshoring of services is booming: While we’ve become almost hardened to losing manufacturing expertise offshore with lower-priced labour, the trend is repeating with services. Web sites such as oDesk can connect a huge number of freelancers with writing, design and technical assignments anywhere in the world. Finding the right person can save money but factors such as managing information security and privacy need to be considered.
What’s next in communications?
- Integration of computers, smart phones and the growing choice of wearable devices will continue so we can work while running or run while working
- Zaps and If This Then That (IFTTT) will grow and provide more opportunities for smaller developers to bridge the information-sharing gaps between software such as accounting and customer relationship management
- We don’t have a crystal ball to predict the next social media darling but it won’t be Google+ or Ello. Google+ is superior looking to Facebook but many users feel forced to share on G+ because Google’s search algorithm almost demands it. We haven’t finished our trial of Ello yet but at this point we doubt it will maintain the reach it needs to survive
- Internal communications should grow as a valuable tool to keep employees in the loop so everyone can act as company ambassadors. It’s a vastly underappreciated way of sharing information to maintain an informed workforce
- More research into online buyer behaviour will glean insights that create the next wave of digital sales and marketing techniques. This will reward businesses with resources to invest in this research but smaller entities will need to find ways of keeping up with the game
- The pendulum will swing to the human touch. Face-to-face networking, events and tradeshows should encounter growth as we remember that humans like human contact, even in a business context
What have the biggest changes been for your business or personal communication over the last few years? What would you like to see?
Image used under Flickr Creative Commons: Eagle Tom