Technology creates opportunities — and complexities as well

It’s a pretty hectic business environment and there’s constant pressure to keep up, even as things move faster every day. It seems like just yesterday people were buzzing about MySpace, AOL and Pets.com on their BlackBerries while organizing their lives on PDAs.

Technology has created all sorts of opportunities, but also made things much more complicated. As intimidating as it might seem, it doesn’t have to be once you understand the basic principles of new media.

Broaden your perspective

In the direct response industry, companies sell to customers who are watching on television and purchase through the telephone.

Consumers are almost always near a television, computer, tablet or smartphone. This affords all sorts of opportunities to reach customers.

In the direct response world, there is definitely a symbiotic relationship between television and the Internet. Beyond making online purchases, 70 percent of consumers who watch infomercials wind up going to the Web for more information. It’s important to be sure that you have an attractive website with easy-to-access content for your visitors.

It’s also extremely important to broaden your perspective on the TV spots you’ve been producing. You might want to tailor specialized spots for your website. Rather than just offering the same spot as you do on television, you can take the opportunity to create exclusive spots that can provide additional information for your customers.

Don’t forget the role of social media — Facebook, Twitter, etc. — to help you gain greater exposure for your video content. In online communities, videos are shared 10 times more often than links or text.

Respond promptly and politely

While technologies have changed, it still all comes down to what you have to sell. Consumers cannot only shop from their mobile devices today, they can also offer instant feedback, posted not only to your own website, but to review sites such as Yelp, TripAdvisor and Citysearch, as well as social media.

If they enjoyed their experience, their positive comments can be used as a powerful tool. On the other hand, negative comments are even more likely to spread, and twice as fast. For those of us working in direct response television, this is something to always keep in mind.

Today, it is imperative that businesses be immediately — and properly — responsive, especially when faced with criticism.

It’s bad enough to receive a complaint. It’s even worse to ignore the problem. And absolutely catastrophic if the response you post to the customer — which can be viewed by anybody on the Web — is perceived as dismissive, defensive or angry.

Customer relations, for the most part, aren’t any different in the online universe than in the years before the Internet.  Remember to always keep your cool and reply promptly and politely. Trust me, it’ll pay dividends.

Take time to understand how the connected world can fit into what you’re doing. There are some amazing opportunities out there to reach customers. The fundamentals of business haven’t changed, and you’ll find that the same common sense that served you all along will carry you on the path to continued success with the help of new technologies.