Archive for January, 2009
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Does Your Online Message Matter? It Sure Does …

 

The Web is the preferred channel where manufacturers, prospects and purchasers go to research sources and partners to build and develop their products. If you think it ain’t, you’re smokin’ rope.

But many manufacturers miss opportunities for new business because they present incomplete or insufficient information on their Web sites. Let me explain.

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Hey, Manufacturers – Write For Informavores

There’s been a lot written about how to write for the prospects that visit your Web site. Which is a little odd, when you think about it … writing more about writing less.

You’re supposed to keep it short. Informative. Written specifically for the people you want to attract, for the moment they’re most likely to be interested in you.

There’s a really good (albeit generalized) article from last summer called “Lazy Eyes – How We Read Online.” Manufacturers would do well to start with this piece to get right with what your site should say and how it should say it. It was written by Michael Agger over at Slate. In it, he references the good works of Jakob Nielsen that finds online “readers” aren’t really readers at all – they’re “… selfish, lazy and ruthless.”

They’re on a mission. They want answers, they want them now, and they don’t want to see or hear more than that.

They’re like animals looking for food – information foraging, it’s called – and you must consider this before all else when writing for or designing your site.

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Why 90-9-1 Should Matter To Manufacturers

I’m a big fan of Jakob Nielsen. He’s a Web usability cat with his head screwed on straight. Why? Because he focuses on what’s important on the Web, especially for manufacturing – that is, what a site says and does for a business, not what it looks like like or SEO as an end-game. Much of what Jakob has discovered and brought to the fore as a first-tier Web advocate is perfectly applicable to manufacturers and their Web initiatives, and the 90-9-1 rule is no exception.

The 90-9-1 rule is about “participation inequality” on the Web, particularly as it applies to its social qualities (forums, comments and other facets that depend on community contributions). Jakob observed through data and observation that online, 90% of visitors to sites are “lurkers” (viewers and researchers that never contribute), 9% are “viewers” that may contribute a little every now and then, and 1% are serial participants that contribute the lion’s share of content. (graphic hat-tip: www.useit.com)

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MTConnect Adds Great Value, Potential

To say MTConnect is revolutionary is a gross understatement. Connecting machines and collecting data using the same protocol not only gives in-plant management far greater agility and control; it also allows for a level of communications between suppliers, customers, OEMs, sales and international partners that could easily be the greatest achievement for manufacturing since CNC. Or even the Internet itself.

MTConnect is the fledgling, open-source communications standard developed by AMT – The Association for Manufacturing Technology and Sun Microsystems. Its purpose is to create a consistent communications protocol that connects machines, controls and software in a manufacturing environment to each other, allowing for the management, observation and control of varied and often disparate units and methods.

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Small Manufacturers: Your Web Site Takes Work, But Not That Much

If you’re a small to medium sized manufacturer, don’t have a Web site of your own, and you want to grow your business, then you have a problem. It’s 2009, and if you still need convincing that the Web is where the people you want to talk to are going to find businesses like yours, then just move along. Nothing to see here, I’m afraid.

But if you do have a site and you want to get more out of it – or if it seems like it’s doing little or no good – then you should seriously consider trying these suggestions to beef up your exposure and get what you deserve from it.

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