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The Medium Is (Still) the Message

Posted By Heather E. McNelis, Friday, February 14, 2014

Written by Sabrena Suite-Mangum


It’s February 14th. The "polls” will close at midnight (or at least close of business) for official entries for NADCO’s Marketing March Madness. Whether you’ve submitted your best pieces, or have been viewing from the sidelines (aka Facebook), we’ll continue our look into best practices for CDC and REAL 504 pieces as NADCO’s special panels convene to determine who the standout marketers were for 2013.


While they’re deliberating, we’ll segue to Marshall McLuhan. You may recognize the late Canadian philosopher of communication theory from his stint in "Annie Hall,” but he also predicted the World Wide Web almost 30 years before its inception. And among other contributions, we can thank him for coining the term "Global Village” and introducing the phrase "the medium is the message.” So when it comes to best practices in communicating in our global (technological) village, we ought to start with the most simple and basic of tools for an online presence -- the website.


The days of "just having a website to have a website” are gone. If your medium is stagnant, dated or hard to use, you’re communicating the same about your organization to the customer. When your website is hard to navigate, the message you’re sending reciprocates: we’re behind the times, we’re not moving forward, and we’re hard to work with. On the flip side, when technology is embraced and used intelligently, it can be a powerful tool for showcasing business values and gaining market share.


For instance, a website that is graphically clean and appealing and (perhaps just as importantly) easy to navigate, is helpful to the user.


Two examples include:


CDC Small Business Finance’s website has customized drop down categories including "small business,” "current borrower,” "lender” and broker” making the website extraordinarily user friendly for different audience segments. User’s don’t need to sort through irrelevant information to find the items that pertain to them.


Another example of an easy-to-use interface is found on Utah CDC’s home page. The user is greeted with a giant green "Get Started” button (juxtaposed to the soft blues and neutral tones on the home page.) There’s no guesswork for those who want to kick off the loan process with UCDC and they’ve even made the site smart phone compatible. #REALGenius


Both CDCs make it easy for users to associate their product (the promotion of the REAL 504 and SBA lending) with a positive and easy to navigate experience -- making customer service part of the medium itself, even before they’ve talked to a CDC employee.

What message is your media sending?

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