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  • Writer's pictureMichael McClanahan

Maximizing Digital Presence

Digital presence is a critical part of the thriving business in today’s society. Digitization is about the connectivity of the business to the consumer through a myriad of channels. Cell phones, computers, voice assistants, smart TVs, and other instruments are prime examples of digital presence. In light of recent events with the pandemic, digital presence is even more important to be able to conduct business with existing and future customers safely and virtually in a holistic and meaningful fashion.

Establishing digital presence is not about simply putting up a website and open the doors for business. It includes detailed preparation and planning around the business and then linking design attributes to it to maximize impact and appeal. In a previous blog, I talk about the five critical design attributes:

  • Keep it Simple – Build a foundation on a rock and not sand!

  • Focus on the Message – Leave the abstract art to Andy Warhol!

  • Little Things do Matter – Do not get arrested by the grammar police!

  • Balance the Content – The home page is the trunk and supporting pages are the branches!

  • Tie it Together – Create a story and theme with a solid beginning and end

Simply put if we stick to the message, create a compelling story line and focus on what matters it will attract and keep customers. The problem is how do I make that happen? What allows me apply those design attributes to my website if I do not even know what kind of digital presence I am going to have?

Digital presence at PCBDreamer is an opportunistic channel designed to obtain focus on the internal and external stakeholders that yields ongoing success. In fact, we call it the “Customer Centric Creativity Channel (C4)”.

C4 builds on the design thinking school’s concept of placing the customer in the center of its outcome and the adaptive learning organization model pioneered by Peter Senge. C4 is not linear, nor is it cause and effect, it is a dynamic orchestra of elements in tune with the customer and improves over time based on the customer’s input. The whole model is iterative. The intent is to not focus on the needs of the customer, but build and construct digital presence in an appealing fashion which delivers satisfaction to each customer in their own unique and special way. It is also holistic and adapts through continual learning via data analytics, trends, and footprints left behind by the customer to serve as opportunities for improvement.

C4 is made up of three phases with five stages:

Phase 1 – Understand

The Understand phase is focused on the customer’s desires and needs. The overarching theme during this phase is to attempt to gain deep insights on the customer’s ambition and start to shape a meaningful resolution on common attributes. This is done through the use of two of the five stages and creates the vision for the digital presence.

Stage 1 - Empathy

The first stage is focused on studying and customer engagement. Empathy is all about seeking out what the customer wants or expects. This comes from studying habits, understanding demographics, and literally immersing oneself in the physical environments to gain insights as well as using ways that penetrate the user’s mind in understanding what drives them emotionally. The time and effort have to be closely bound in this stage due to the amount and degree of information captured and it is also beneficial to use and apply analytics on the findings to determine and identify emergent trends to explore.

Stage 2 - Define

The final stage in the understanding phase is about defining the opportunities. This stage is about gathering all of the information and shaping it into a meaningful opportunity statement in a customer-centric manner. It is not about applying the ambition of the business like suggesting that the outcome will yield 10% more revenue, but focus on how the customer will benefit from it. For example, the opportunity statement of the website for a shoe company might be people in their 20s will be motivated to purchase tennis shoes to become more physically fit that suits their individual personality in an affordable fashion. The idea is to create the overarching statement built on people’s needs.

Phase 2 – Develop

The Develop phase wraps understanding into a meaningful outcome. This is where we begin to all of the understanding of the needs of the customer and harmonized customer-centric information and start to think of meaningful ways to convert it into the digital platform. This process consists of two of the five stages and creates the vision into a final draft of establishing a digital presence.

Stage 3 - Ideate

It is now time to get the creative juices flowing and start to think inside, outside, and all around the box for ideas that might stick. This should be a no holds barred analysis and think of different and innovative ways to make the desires of the customer become a reality. There are many methods to use and I outline an approach called neural planning that is very useful during this stage. The secret is doing something that stimulates free thinking and provides a lot of interaction and input from multiple stakeholders to get a sense of creativity and funkiness to the process that can be created digitally.

Stage 4 - Prototype

The final stage in the develop phase is to create and roll out scaled versions of the graphics and website to “test drive” and bring the ideas to life. The goal here is to understand both at a top down and bottom up approach to determine and identify those ideas that stick and those ideas that dissolve. Prototype and Ideate commonly feed one another and are used to build the necessary validation models when needed. This is a very critical stage because it helps to set the format and layout of the foundation of things to come. It also exposes the constraints and limitations before going to the final phase.

Phase 3 – Shape

The Shape phase takes a meaningful outcome and makes it into reality. This phase is where the actual production is thoroughly tested and ready for publishing to the digital environment. The ultimate goal of this stage is the creation of the final outcome, but also recognizing the iterative nature of the model that augments and builds on ongoing learning and new and innovative feedback from the internal and external stakeholders.

Stage 5 - Test

The word test may sound misleading, but the intent is to “test” out and adopt changes when required based on feedback from the stakeholders. The principle goes that C4 is an iterative model and really the journey is never over, but by showcasing it to the customers the primary work that went into creating the site is done and now it is fine tuning to meet the ongoing changes and demands in consumer behavior. As I suggest in my previous blog consumer behavior is a critical factor in shaping and morphing business to meet the changing demands of the consumer and the environment they live in.

C4 is made of three critical phases with five integrated stages. The cyclical nature of the business process enables to capture direct insights from stakeholders and is continually providing the necessary feedback and objective information to adjust and align to the overall preferences and desire of the customer in a subtle and meaningful fashion. C4 is the channel to deliver creativity and customer-centric results in the digital ecosphere and deliver profitable and meaningful results for the business. If you want to fanatically empower your business contact @PCBDreamer. I can promise the result will be a compelling and innovative enterprise website that firmly establishes the business with a digital presence at the heart of the customer’s expectation.

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