Today marks the 10th anniversary of the original conception of 33 Dimensions on March 3, 2009. In this decade, 33 Dimensions has grown from a simple concept of how to provide affordable websites for fellow musicians into a thriving enterprise with a worldwide reach and an ever-evolving set of practices that strike the vital balance of providing both the latest in technological efficiency and the old-fashioned notion of personal service.
Beyond our core capabilities of web design, multi-media production, social media, and search engine optimization, 33 Dimensions has spawned a worldwide music network, customized marketing techniques and published nearly a thousand articles of original material.
It is hard to express how grateful I am for all the support for 33 Dimensions and our related initiatives over this past decade and we look forward to even bigger and better things over the next.
Lately I’ve come across a lot of situations with new clients where they are having trouble getting access to their existing source files or getting their current providers to cooperate in many ways. So today I’m going to talk about three business fundamentals that should be established when starting a website.
1. Establish Ownership. The first and most important one of these principals is to own everything – your domain name and all of your content (words, pictures, logos, graphics, videos, etc.). There are many, many companies who will offer you great deals up front (such as a “free” website for a year) but then retain ownership of your site, so you are left with little options or flexibility. Although the initial cost may be higher, establishing ownership will pay dividends throughout the lifespan of your website by assuring that certain barriers to progress will not be imposed.
2. Have Complete Access to Your Content. In many (if not most) cases, there is one major exception to the “establish ownership” rule and that is in regards to hosting. Most small businesses just do not have the time, resources, or know-how to manage their own hosting servers so it makes sense find an established hosting company to handle these tasks. However, when you employ a hosting company, it is important that you have direct access to all your files via FTP. Many small business owners don’t understand the process or the importance of this ability, but by having full access a professional developer can instantly add, modify, or delete any website item on your behalf.
3. Adaptability and/or Agility. This is the only one of the three which actually deals with website design (my specialty). The basic point here is that the online universe is rapidly evolving and it is important that your website’s design has the ability to integrate newer features, technologies, and design features. Of course, this is much more of an art than a science because none of us know which innovations are on the horizon. But by keeping your site agile and not “painting yourself into a corner” with too many static features and dependencies, you and your developer will maximize the possibilities for the future.
Sometimes it is not enough to provide an outstanding product or service. More often, your personal approach is just as important. Some of the most successful business owners create a unique connection with their customers and prospects by providing their own custom touch to the marketing process.
Below are seven tips on salesmanship that may help you develop a special relationship with potential customers.
Tease Out any “Red Flags”. It may seem counter-intuitive, but an early step may be to look for reasons NOT to do business. Before you give your sales pitch, take time to research your prospective client and forge an honest assessment. Here, any serious “red flags” may immediately come to the surface, giving you the option to walk away before you invest a lot of energy, time and money. In order to accomplish this, have to ask the right questions in an initial survey or meeting and don’t be afraid to dig deep into the answers with follow-ups. Here, you may discover that the customer’s needs and expectations are not a good match for the services you provide or, more importantly, you may set a solid foundation for the legitimate goals that you want to collectively achieve.
Be Responsive. When a customer or potential client reaches out to you be sure to respond, even if the subject seems frivolous or you can’t provide an immediate solution to a problem. Responding in a timely and consistent manner demonstrates your undeniable commitment to a customer’s needs.
Court Your Clients. In order to spark the interest of a potential customer, you may have to develop a way to hook them somehow. This may be by sending them an interesting article that’s related to their business or highlighting a positive customer testimonial and suggesting ways to maximize its effect. In any case, it is also important to give them the time and space to respond and be respectful of their busy schedule.
Make Your Business as “Close to Home” as Possible. The best way to connect with a new client is to use the “corner store” approach, by remembering the little things and shared references to create an maintain a bond. Use casual conversation and genuine interest to discover common missions, places, values, or passions and make the customer feel that she is seen as more than just a potentialdollar sign.
Communicate on Multiple Levels. While it’s often much quicker and less stressful to email, phone conversations and face-to-face meetings can be far more effective in creating and maintaining meaningful connections. Further, it is important to use other means of communication like social media or online customer sites to lend your support and/or help spread the word on your customer’s business.
Focus on the Big Picture and Look Long Term. Sometimes it’s easy to go on a tangent and get lost in a particular small detail, while losing sight of the real goals of a business arrangement. The longer arc of developing a vision for the future is just as essential as the pressing daily tasks which may require immediate attention. Like many things in life, it takes patience to develop fruitful and lasting customer relationships. Resist the temptation to rush the process and bring the relationship to a level it has not naturally matured into. Take the time to explain how your service benefits the prospect over time and exhibit patience in cultivating a business relationship which slowly works towards achieving those goals.
Be Especially Loyal to Your Most Loyal Customers. This is something that is of particular importance here at 33 Dimensions. We see big companies make fantastic offers to “new” customers while excluding those who have been loyal and true over time and this method baffles us. We do the complete opposite and have always had an unwritten policy to offer the absolute best rates to those who have been in good standing for the longest amount of time. While both are important to growing a business, we place a higher stock in maintaining the business relationship with those who have built a positive bond of longevity than be preferential to the “shiny new” prospect.
As a mission-driven business, we’ve always been more motivated by a greater purpose than simple dollars and cents. The following TED speech by career analyst Dan Pink adds a nice twist on the balance of creativity and motivation.
Saturday, March 3rd marks the 9th anniversary of the conception of 33 Dimensions. While some may be looking forward to the more celebrated 10th anniversary, the number 9 is something special to me.
I’m kind of a freak about numbers and tend to assign both good and bad vibes to certain values – but there’s one that tops them all, the number 9. In fact, the “33” in 33 Dimensions comes from square root of 9 as well as the date this company was founded (03/03/09) which also happens to be an equation (3×3=9).
The number ‘9’ was also present in other endeavors which I’ve undertaken through the years. My first professional music recording in 2005 was for an album which had 9 songs and was packaged with an album cover design that depicted 9 roads leading to 9 mountain peaks. Later on, my first international release was on 09/09/09 with Imaginary Lines 33 and current plans for an updated compilation of some of that material will be released on the 9th anniversary of that album, this coming September.
The number 9 is also my mother’s favorite number. A former Catholic nun, she was #9 in her convent in North Carolina and she has always been fascinated by the nine choirs of angels. On Mother’s Day in 2014, we launched a marketing initiative (partially in her honor) called Top 9 Lists which by the way is 10% more exclusive than your garden variety Top 10 List.
In any case, I guess this is sort of a long-winded way of offering my sincere gratitude for helping us reach the 9 year mark in our business endeavor.
In competition for content relevance, companies and organizations are using images, graphics, and short videos as an extremely effective way to get their message out. 33 Dimensions produces original graphics and video montages which are attractive and interesting.
Marketing & Analytics
For some time now, smart marketers have been using a new set of tools to monitor their markets, with the real potential being the ability to dynamically respond to analytics. Businesses can now instantly meet customer needs and explore new market opportunities.