Just Who Do You Think You Are?

Posted by Frank McGee on October 27, 2009

Lately, I’ve been reminded that business Web sites often come in one of two flavors.  Perhaps you can recognize them:

  1. What we do – These are sites that focus on attracting business.  They devote most of their pages to describing their services, human capital resources, success stories and the like.
  2. Who we are – These are the sites that have chosen to focus on attracting talent.  A significant percentage of the site is devoted to recruiting, so they showcase the work experience, profiles of their office locations and career opportunities.

    These are broad brush-strokes and there’s nothing inherently wrong with either approach.  Of course, some overlap occurs when talking about the work experience (showing a potential client how thorough you are) or describing your services (showing potential recruits the level of impact they can have).  Many sites dedicate space to both services and recruiting.  But they could be so much more.

    The best sites offer a third option, one that combines the flavors above with a way that keeps clients, prospects and potential new hires coming back again and again.

    The knowledge site

    Call it the Neapolitan solution because it’s three flavors in one – services, recruiting and knowledge.

    The difference, of course, is in what knowledge you make available.  The idea is to make the knowledge you share valuable and useful without giving away the store.  Give them just enough new information on a regular basis – or provide access to a database of information if that aligns with what you do – to whet the appetite or keep you top of mind when the time comes to actually purchase your services.

    If you’re a design firm, for example, you could offer case studies on how good designs have made a difference between success and failure in a campaign, or offer tips for how to approach branding, color or layout.

    Professional services firms can present examples of best practices in operational efficiency or performance management.  Publishing companies can offer reviews and insights culled from their latest editions.  Industry news, white papers, articles, summaries of round table events – the opportunities to position your organization as a valuable resource are endless.

    This isn’t a difficult or particularly new concept but for some reason it’s a rare one to see being utilized.  But examples can be found: just look at what Paladin is doing by publishing these blogs.

    What kind of a Web site are you?

    It’s not easy to do this.  It takes imagination, management appetite, resources and, just as important, maintenance.  It takes collaboration over the long haul to create the content and promote its existence on a regular basis.

    It’s long past time when a company could get away with being an electronic brochure.  The war for talent and the fight for business demand that you reach out to clients and prospects – or give them a reason to reach out to you.

    Small businesses are especially vulnerable these days and are looking for ideas to generate revenue.  The good news is that those ideas are right in front of them, in the knowledge gained through the experience of their people, the tools they use, and the services they provide.  The not-so-good news is now that knowledge needs to be transformed into a format where it can be shared.

    But it can be done.

    Do you have any examples of favorite sites that exemplify the Neapolitan approach?  Remember what your mother said about sharing…

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