I’m sure most of you have experienced it recently and you may have even practised it; it’s happened to me twice this week.
First someone emailed me a pdf of an invitation to a business event. I opened it and it contained information about a monthly event. No link to a ticketing system or checkout. Just a ‘dumb’ pdf.
Second, someone else asked me if I knew any good videographers they could use to record one of their seminars to put on their website.
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Can you see the common thread with these two occurrences?
Primitive use of digital
The thread is that they are both using digital communications (tick) but in a very primitive way (big cross).
Let’s take the invitation example.
Certainly the notion of using email to send invites to recipients is far faster and more cost effective than ‘snail’ mail, but attaching a link-less pdf is both a waste of time and adds no value at all.
Firstly, if you’re going to use a pdf to display information only, you may as well just add its content to the body of the email itself. This will save a click, download time and the threat of being blocked by spam detectors and the consequent communications failure and time this represents.
Seamless calls to action
Better still is when you can link it to a booking system of some kind. This will make it easier to confirm and manage the booking and make it more convenient and productive to the recipient than the alternative of replying to the email.
Even better still is if the booking system takes payment. That convenience will automate payments, reduce the likelihood of a cancellation and generally provide greater convenience for the attendee.
It also improves your cashflow and reduces the barriers to entry.
High return on investment
But isn’t it expensive to automate this process? Not at all these days. The relatively low setup price quickly pays for itself due to the benefits outlined.
So while the sender is doing the right thing by emailing the invitation, they have a long way to go to fully realise the benefits of a comprehensive digital approach.
The same goes for the video request.
A partial but expensive solution
Yes by videotaping a seminar, you are making it available to more people than would otherwise be able to attend the session in person.
However, it’s also a relatively expensive (certainly to achieve any degree of quality), dated and again a ‘dumb’ way of presenting this information.
Digital education is one of the burgeoning sectors of the online world and its capabilities are amazing as they are effective.
A far more cost effective way of presenting the seminar digitally is to turn it into a ‘webinar’ (not my choice of jargon).
A webinar is many times more effective than a ‘dumb’ video because:
- It can actually be delivered to participants around the globe simultaneously;
- Participants can interact with the presenter in real time;
- Participant attentiveness can be recorded;
- It can be recorded for later playback (i.e a video); and
- It is much more affordable than professional video.
In other words it’s a video with a very high ‘value add’.
And on it goes
But even webinars are limited compared to what’s possible these days. A good instructional designer would use this as a small part of the process, instead of the be all and end all.
They would come up with a program that utilised a range of media to create an effective, self-paced learning experience complete with a marking capability and full online student record of achievement.
There’s no doubt that both of these examples require a little more up-skilling to achieve a good result. However, the effectiveness, productivity and engagement payoff is many times the investment in skilling up.
Every small business has examples of this digital ‘incompleteness’. Can you identify the ones in your organisation?
In addition to being a leading eBusiness educator to the smaller business sector, Craig Reardon is the founder and director of independent web services firm The E Team, which was established to address the special website and web marketing needs of SMEs in Melbourne and beyond.