Innovate or Die! Improve your Product, Technology, and Message

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Business never stands still. If you are in a highly competitive industry you will probably have been forced to constantly reinvent what you do and how you do it to stay one step ahead of the competition. If you are in a more stable business you will need to motivate yourself to change your business practices to make sure you are delivering the best you can to your customers. If you don’t you’ll wake up one morning and find that your competitors have leaped ahead. You can’t afford to just copy the competition, look for areas they might have ignored so that you can differentiate yourself.

If you want to review your current business to identify areas ripe for change then it’s helpful to think about what you do from 3 different angles: Product, Technology, and Message.

Innovation

Product

Even in the most apparently stable product groups innovation is always possible.  Take greenhouses for example; what could you possibly innovate about these glass and metal structures?  Cultivar Greenhouses have totally reengineered the traditional greenhouse by looking closely at the materials used. The process was relatively simple however it has delivered huge benefits both to their production process, product quality and saleable features.  They have combined the machining precision & quality of aluminium framed double glazing with an environmentally sound modified wood to produce incredibly solid greenhouses, with virtually no visible fixings and a beautiful design.  You can find out more about the detailed technical benefits brought by material innovation on their greenhouse features page.  In particular, the identification of Accoya wood was a big step forward for them as they could replace unsightly aluminium panels with a material that their customers associate with quality – wood.

Technology

In 2014 Google announced that they were going to start factoring in website security to their ranking results. Everything else being equal a more secure website would appear higher up in the search results than one that was not as secure.  However, practically no one actually observed this in search results – until recently. Since the end of 2016 this ranking factor does seem to be important so if you want to maximise your search result rankings for Google results you need to pay attention. Security is important even if you don’t process online transactions or capture any personal information because Google wants the entire internet to be secure – so they are using their ranking results to push web owners towards SSL and https.

OK so how do you make your website more secure? You buy an SSL certificate which verifies you are who you say you are and verifies you are using encryption for information exchanges between your site and your customers and/or readers.  Most websites start with the address http:// you will have noticed that some start with https:// and may have a green lock symbol or something similar in the address bar, see example below. The https tells you the site is using SSL technology.

A website using SSL

The video below is only a couple of minutes long and it explains what SSL is, why you need it and how you get it.

It used to be quite difficult and expensive to run a https website but in the last 12 months it has become easier as webhosts have become more competitive and experienced with SSL certificates. Some webhosts are now offering SSL hosting as part of their standard packages i.e. free!

For example, Carreg.co.uk operate in a very competitive industry segment selling UK registrations (personal number plates).  They have always had an online shopping cart which was secured with SSL however the rest of their website was not.  They noticed a fall in their rankings at the end of 2016 which was difficult to attribute to anything else. As a result they decided to convert all their pages to https and they have noticed ranking improvements since the change that they can’t attribute to anything else.

Social Media isn't Static

Message

Finally it is sensible to review your message – are you communicating with the right people in the right way? If you are spending with particular websites or publishers take the time to perform a review. Your customer base and theirs will change over time and there is a risk you will not be changing in the same way resulting in a gap between who reads them and who you want to target. You should also check that they are not losing readers if they are who is the new kid on the block that is taking their readers?

Social media is a very powerful tool but don’t get stuck in a rut and just focus on Facebook. If you want to check you are up to date with current social media platforms then cast you eye down this list. Look at the demographic of your customer base and work out which social media they use and make sure you are targeting your social efforts in the right areas.

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