Let's evaluate each parameter of eCommunication separately. We can then compare how well a typical website or CD will perform compared your existing salesperson or trainer.
a) Most websites don't speak but only display pictures and text. Communication will always be limited without sound. Typically you may see conversion rates for websites of 1000:1, as compared to mail shots at 100:1 and telesales 10:1.
b) Computer screens are not as nice to read as paper. 5-10 seconds is a long time for someone to look at a web page. Therefore the most important part of any software is the ease of use and not loosing visitors at every click.
c) The layouts of newspapers, as with the routine of social interactions always follows known rules. The key to website usability is a navigation structure that people already understand. Therefore make sure your website works the same way as others because very few situations can justify a new or novel designs.
d) With the modern content management it can be quicker and easier to publish a web page than write and send a letter. With modern content syndication press releases can reach millions within seconds. No traditional technology can perform anywhere new this effectively.
e) Beware of over designing websites as it distracts people from reading the content. Imagine making your sales people put on fancy dress to get them noticed. Keep the site plain so that the content stand outs and visitors' eyes are not distracted by pretty designs. In most cases websites should be more like newspapers than magazines.
f) Content is king. The content is the value of your site and the reason people visit. Make as much information available as possible but ensure it is easy to find.
g) Imagine making a 60 second sales pitch in 10 seconds and without speaking. That's what websites must do and why they are only capable of delivering one or two clear messages per page. So make the one thing that moves on a page the call to action that makes you money.
h) To improve the way you get you message across add sound or video, move the things to highlight them and make the user interact with the software so that they have to think about what they are doing. Make a video or working model of what people do in real life.
i) Flash intros are another classic mistake; equivalent to making the salesperson perform a song and dance routine every time they meet someone.
j) In most situations websites are about performance rather than looks. Imagine turning up at a car rally in a new Rolls Royce. People might be impressed but you'd finish last behind a kid in an old mini.
k) Timeline presentations can be expensive, difficult to change and often don't work as one to one software. The speed will be either too fast or too slow and unlike using PowerPoint in a presentation, people can easily get up and leave a computer. Make information easy to navigate so people can quickly find small presentations on what they want.
l) Good communication needs to be two way. Websites are often only static, one way tools that don't facilitate good conversation, but they don't have to be.
m) Websites are a 'push' technology which means you must constantly direct people to visit them. You would never expect clients to visit your salesperson so in the same way the best eMarketing technologies leave the website and send people back.
n) Save money by giving electronic documents instead of paper. You can usually include additional information or free training to justify why the client should prefer a cheaper CD to the more expensive catalogues.
o) Measure your staff's current information flow and bottlenecks. Your eCommunication should replicate this and focus on any problem areas. Put the information people ask for, or use every day, online and get them to use that instead.
p) The sales process can be defined as 'attention - interest - desire - action'. All stages are important so make sure you understand what your eCommunication channels can achieve.
q) Integrate eCommunication into your business information flow, don't just use it as an afterthought.
r) Spoken information is much better than text and easy to produce digitally. Make sure you have computers with speakers so that you can listen to suppliers training programs as well.
s) People learn by experimentation so let them experiment with product simulations or business games etc. For learning the teachers mantra is :-
You see - you forget
You hear - you remember
You do and you understand