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There’s Something About the Web

Ever since I began working with, and on, the web in 1993, I’ve been intrigued by other people’s reactions to the online world.

It’s a subtle thing really, a shift of the eyes, a twitch of the shoulders, but when I talk with most folks about using the web to achieve business goals, I get the feeling that they’d rather be talking about, or doing, just about anything else.

After years of feeling like a drug dealer selling to reluctant addicts, I’ve figured out that the real reason folks are uncomfortable with the web can be boiled down to three simple reasons:

Technology Gets in the Way

Back in the old days, you used to need many technical skills to get even the most simple thing, such as building a website, done online.  Happily, thanks to the cloud and software-as-a-service (SAAS), getting business done online is nowhere near as complex today. Even so, many folks still see the web as a “tech-skills-needed” zone and therein lays the problem:  When people think about the web, they think about technology and the fact is, technology is something that makes many folks feel uneasy.

It’s Easy to Become Overwhelmed

Many a business begins their exploration of the web with a lot of enthusiasm and hope. They work hard in order to figure out the best ways to use the web to achieve their goals.  And that’s when they learn the hard truth: there are no obvious “best ways”.  From websites to blogs, social media to search engine marketing, marketplaces to e-commerce solutions, there are hundreds if not thousands of “best ways” to achieve your goals online.

In addition, the web is full of very helpful people who are willing to bend your ear free of charge and tell you what they think your business should do online. This leads to a cacophony of online chatter which, when combined with the sheer number of “best ways”, leaves most folks feeling completely overwhelmed.

There’s a Lot of Pressure to Take Action

Often, businesspeople feel pressured into taking actions online that are not tied to their business’ goals. A few of the reasons include:

  1. “Supposed-Tos”: sometimes businesses take action online because they are reacting to a “Supposed-to” (e.g. you’re supposed-to have a website, you’re supposed to use social media). When blindly following “Supposed-Tos”, a business is letting someone else’s advice drive its actions.
  2. “Oooh…Shiny!”: sometimes businesses take action online because the web looks “Shiny”. Using the web sounds cool and fun and, more importantly, the expected results seem to be very positive, something you believe would benefit your business. When a business acts on something simply because it looks cool, fun and hip, it is letting the impressions of others drive its actions.
  3. Fear: one of the great things about the web is that you can see exactly what your competitors are doing online. However, seeing what actions they take can often make you feel pressured to take action too, just so you can keep pace and not fall behind. When a business reacts out of the fear that it will be left behind, it is letting the actions of others drive its own actions

Getting Past the Discomfort

Once I understood the reasons that lay behind people’s discomfort with the web, I was determined to help them move beyond them to see, and get excited about, the opportunities presented online.  In order to do just that, I set out to create a framework that allows businesspeople to:

  1. Learn enough about the ways they CAN use the web that they feel confident when making decisions about taking action online;
  2. Understand what your businesses NEEDS to do in order to achieve its goals; and
  3. Use the knowledge from (1) and the necessities from (2) to determine what their business SHOULD be doing online.

The result was the “What Your Business SHOULD Be Doing Online” formula and I’ll be dishing all the details on this step-by-step approach in the next post in this series.

Matt MansfieldPresident,
Matt helps entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 companies figure out what their business SHOULD be doing online. Since 1993, his career has included product and project management, marketing and PR, software design and development, entrepreneurship and startup experience, public speaking and training for both groups and individuals. | Facebook | @MattSMansfield | More from Matt

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