What is the right communication medium?

In a follow up to my previous blog on “Small business and the web” or why can’t I find you on the web, I want to look at how we connect with this large group of non web savvy small business considering that many of us have turned our backs on traditional forms of advertising and marketing?

When I talk about non web savvy, an interesting story comes to mind. Debra Templar of the Templar Group, in one of our recent Coffee Shop Chats mentioned that one of her retail clients just got their first fax… yes you read that right 2012 and they just got a fax. It makes you think about all the missed opportunities whilst they were using an old hand written book based system.

What this means to many of us who have embraced the internet as a productivity tool for fast communication and for social and community engagement is that we need to carefully consider our communication strategy as we also may be missing out on many opportunities.

Opportunities are missed because we may not be using the right communication medium to connect with our intended audience as there is a technology and knowledge gap and there are many people we are not connecting with as they are still on what was mainstream media a number of years ago. Many of us have taken to the new medium like fish to water, but many more have not.

Another real world example of this is the time it has taken to for me to get all our suppliers receiving payment via direct deposit to their accounts and remittance advice via email. In early 2005 we decided to transition all our suppliers to electronic payments and paperless remittances as a start, with planned expansion to web and email based orders from there.

Well from what we thought was going to be a simple exercise that at worst case would be completed by end of 2005 stating the new year with paperless payment and ordering process systems ended up dragging on and on. Now in July 2012, we still have a small number (less than 5) of suppliers who insist on payment by cheque and have their payment remittances faxed. Yes it is only a minority, but to get a full productivity improvement you need everyone on board and on the same page.

We did not expect or anticipate the lack of knowledge and the fear of change and technology that we encountered. For someone who has been exposed to technology and computers from a very early age, like the kids growing up now, it was easy not to see that there are many others who were not as tech savvy.

That isn’t the end of it, the other part of the paper minimization project is still struggling to get almost half of our suppliers accepting goods orders via email. It will take some more time to educate all about the benefits of utilizing the Internet for business. However, now we understand the reasons for the anxieties. The project will eventually come to an end as younger people who have been exposed to the web more take on the roles as our suppliers.

So the message here is that you need to be aware of the appropriate medium for communication with all people that interact with your business and not limit yourself by leaving out a large chunk of your intended audience.

If you have any specific topics you would like me to address…. let me know.


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