Publishers are slowly waking up to the fact that their “greatest challenge” “in the digital age” is discoverability, notes Laura Hazard Owen. Yet what she writes is increasingly true for almost any kind of business or other organization, whether it yet sells online or not.
To be more easily discovered, hone these seven traits:
1. Be the easiest to find on any screen, from online to mobile apps — created by others or by your business. Increasingly those are the first two places we look for something. Then involve others in your story so they can become part of it, remix it and tell others, as Peter Gruber suggests. That makes it more discoverable.
That’s why Bertlesman-owned Random House bought interactive, Smashing Ideas – to involve people more deeply in their content so they would share it and learn and make happy memories – with others.
And that’s why the collaborative video editing community, Stroome is rapidly growing. It enable people to share and remix video, often turning it into something greater they want to share. Imagine partnering with one or more people there to co-create a video related to your content. TEDxUSC, for example, partnered with Stroome to create a video scavenger hunt for their event.
2. Be the most recommended online. What specific kinds bragging rights and other benefits accrue to those who tout your organization? Keep finding more ways to reward authentic, high-quality testimonials.
3. Host the most popular online community for people to share and compare ideas on why and how to use the products or services they can get from you. This isn’t relevant to some businesses yet it is to any that sell a variety of products or services from multiple vendors. Plus any member-based group from clubs to civic groups and professional associations.
4. Offer a Netflix-like feature that also allows buyers, renters or members to make recommendations and to easily see what is most popular with those who share your tastes. Enable recommenders to make their name visible, if they wish, so they can build reputation as they can at GoodReads or, more simply, via a “Like” feature. Such social features generate value for the host of the online community as well as for the most popular contributors.
According to Paid Content, Google eBookstore appears to be planning a Netfix-like e-book rental service. Your business, too, can become more discoverable and can keep people involved using a recommendation system that builds participants’ reputations.
Recommendation systems that build reputations also makes clubs and other non-profits and causes more discoverable and valuable. Use it to attract more kinds of support, and to hone your mission and model of service in ways that supporters show they most value.
5. Sell More Digital Content
If you sell content of any kind, turn it digital, if you haven’t yet done so. If you sell a physical product, sell and/or give away related guides, games, situation-specific advice and sponsor online contests to pull the best advice out experts who sell to the same kind of people, your current or prospective customers or suppliers.
Offer prizes, from your business and from others who want to reach your kind of customer. Make the names of winners highly visible on your site, not just when they win but forever. Shine a spotlight on them in other parts of their lives and reflect in the glow of expanded exposure for everyone. Do this by asking participants, “ What other organizations and individuals shall we notify when you win?”
6. Adopt the Easiest Way to Sell the Same Content to More People
Translate your content (guide, reference, course, etc.) into other languages. That may appear obvious yet here’s the facts that may spur you to act sooner, if you have not already: Barnes & Noble’s foreign-language e-books are now growing faster than their sales of English e-books—increasing over 100 percent each month, according to Patricia Arancibia who manages international content for the bookseller. That’s a strong indication there may be pent-up demand for other kinds of content, from vocation-specific learning course material to product ordering catalogues.
For starters, try Spanish. 50.5 million Hispanics live in the United States, according to the 2010 census. That’s 16.3% of the population and more than half of our nation’s growth in past decade.
7. Provide the Best Value and Price in Real Time
Establish the capacity to swiftly change prices. Writes Owen, “When Perseus Books Group set out to learn more about pricing, Joe Mangan, COO, said they realized how little they knew about it: ‘Online retailers were repricing books every two or four hours.’”
8. Enable People to Get Something Done Better, Faster and Easier — so More People Choose to Do it
Join forces with other businesses and organizations that serve the same situation. For example many people would enjoy a flower garden or other landscaping around their home or on their condo balcony. Yet more people might get one if the service was seamless. That is, they could go online, guided by experts and other user recommendations to buy the native plants that work best in their area.
Some might also want to have a landscape plan drawn up, one that includes a checklist of what to buy. Clicking to another part of the online community buyers might select the nursery, delivery options and gardeners to plant and/or maintain the garden – plus related professionals, from fence and patio makers to arborists. Such an online community enables buyers to make smarter decisions faster.
Happy buyers — and the vendors that serve them – may proudly post online their dramatic “before and after” photos. Most active recommenders and/or biggest spenders may get bonus gifts from one or more of the participating suppliers that gain visibility by making offers that cite those gifts.
Such a local online community might be hosted by a national firm that makes, say, plant food. That corporation might have a templated online community design built that can be modified for different locales. The corporation hosts the online community for local nurseries, landscapers and gardeners to join, as well as for the individuals they seek to serve. The company gains visibility as the major underwriter and manager of the online community. It could post legal language to prevent liability from the members’ information or service provided. It would provide, multiple online ways for buyers and providers to offer ideas and recommendations.
What are other online methods to make an organization more discoverable? I’d love to hear your real life examples and your “what-if” dream scenarios.