Companies must embrace new technology

New online technologies integrated with company Web sites can increase brand awareness, provide a return on investment, and help employee training and retention, according to Joe Weaver, President of Global Design Interactive, a Baltimore-based integrated marketing solutions company.

Using interactive Web pages, mobile phone communication and e-learning modules, companies can capture customer data, track sales and trends in real-time and recruit higher quality professionals.

“It’s all about driving customers back to your sixth man,” Weaver told GBC Bridging the Gap members in a presentation on Wednesday, July 25 at the Greater Baltimore Committee office. “Sixth man” is a reference for a company’s Web site.

Bridging the Gap is an initiative of the Greater Baltimore Committee to evolve the business culture by developing and fostering relationships between majority and minority and women-owned businesses in the Baltimore region.

Companies should create an ongoing dialogue with customers to collect and update contact information and to accurately track customer opinions and sales results in real-time, Weaver said. One of the best methods is an e-mail survey in multiple formats (text-based, HTML and interactive).

Another new technology that companies should take advantage of is the merge of mobile phone service, personal digital organizers and e-mail. To increase the visibility of targeted messages, it is important to have Web sites and e-mail communication in multiple versions that can be easily viewed by many different platforms, Weaver said.

However, new technology is not limited to external communication. E-learning modules and interactive Web pages can greatly increase employee training and retention. Include interactive e-learning programs and games, and make sure all brand messaging is consistent, Weaver recommended.

“It takes nine or ten times for [your audience] to make that connection to your company,” Weaver said when discussing brand awareness. So it is very important to have the company send a consistent message every time.

When asked about increasing rankings on Google and other popular Web search engines, Weaver admitted there are some requests even the newest technology can’t guarantee. “Search engine optimization is part mathematics and part luck.”

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