Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM

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Photo by Mikita Yo

There’s an old joke about how locals used to say there was no point upgrading the roads in rural Yorkshire because no cars drove on them anyway.

The point of course is that no cars drove on the roads at the time because the roads were not suitable for cars.

I was reminded of this when speaking to a business owner who told me there was little point in improving his website, as it had so few visitors.

“We don’t get any business from it anyway,” he said. “So what’s the point in spending money on it?”

This kind of circular reasoning can be frustrating, but thankfully is quite rare these days.

Even businesses operating in the most niche sectors, where word of mouth recommendations are responsible for most new enquiries, know that they still need a strong presence online.

This is because when someone receives a recommendation they usually still have to find a way to validate it. They usually have to persuade other people within their own organisation that it is the right thing to do.

Expecting someone to advocate for you without providing them with an easy way to do so places too much risk on their shoulders. In many organisations people have more to lose by making a bad decision than they have to gain by making a good one.

This is why the famous phrase “nobody ever got fired for buying IBM” came into being. IBM was the safe bet, the one that no one would question.

This is fantastic if you are IBM. But if you are trying to challenge a bigger, better known competitor, then you have to improve your odds – no matter if your product or service is objectively better. You have to make it easy for people to understand why buying from you is the right decision.

A website provides the opportunity to communicate a clear value proposition. It gives potential customers the chance to see who they will be working with (we are big fans of authentic video, photography and team pages) and what you have accomplished for others (case studies, testimonials and reviews can be extremely powerful). It is where you can demonstrate how and where you can add value.

Business is all about trust and credibility. If a brand is a mental shortcut to enable people to make a smart decision, a website is where you place the evidence.

This entry was posted in Brand Strategy, Development, Digital, Marketing on by .

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