We are living in very challenging times with multiple technical trends converging at the same time.
In the first place, there is a need to be more efficient than ever before. We are at a moment when businesses and organizations are stressed to the limits.
The easy choices have been made, and we've made them. And - by doing so - survived the most challenging times in recent history.
But, for those of us who did survive, there is now the imperative to manage a wide array of interlocking technical challenges.
You need a dynamic web site at the center of a network of email marketing and integrated social-media, presenting your business or church as a viable organization to it's customers or congregation, it's sister organizations, partners and affiliates, it's employees and to the public at large.
There really is no other way.
It's either that, or slowly fade from awareness, and allow someone else to step into your shoes. Spiritually, we are either in expansion, or we are in contraction. There is no middle ground.
To most people, this is a frightening proposition: At the very moment when they need to be marshaling their resources, they are called upon to expand into areas that are not comfortable or familiar.
Real growth does require stepping beyond our comfort zone - but we don't have to do it alone.
Our 8-Point Solution
The reason we are talking to you now, is that we've witnessed the wrong way of doing things too many times. We've watched as organizations made terrible choices in slow motion. And not because it needed to happen, but because of a lack of clarity or a fear of technology.
Let us make this clear right away:
But rather than give you a lot of empty talk, we will tell you exactly what the Visionsound "8-Point Strategy" is, and why we are willing to make this claim.
Here's what we do:
- Provide comprehensive solutions that are dependable and cost-effective.
- Carefully define the minimum needs of the organization.
- Do not pursue an engineering solution for something staff can do better.
- Utilize cloud solutions for security, functional or bandwidth needs.
- Create real value, so you never have to pay for SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
- Use Open Source software where appropriate.
- Create Content Templates™ that are easily learned by the people in your organization.
- Train your people to manage the day-to-day processes, reserving the complicated stuff for us.
Why It Works
1. Comprehensive Solutions - The need is to integrate stable web technology with social media, email marketing, affiliates, hosting, with anything that can improve the relationship you have with your customers, your congregation and your own people. If it isn't comprehensive, you're not firing on all cylinders.
But you just can't do everything. You have to choose the most important elements that are needed for your unique position. What works for one organization may or may not work for yours. That's where we can help.
2. Define the Limits: Probably the easiest way to save money, is not to spend on things you don't actually need, or have a limited benefit. If a few basics address 90% of your organization's needs, don't bother with the other 10%. It's just too costly for too little benefit.
3. Remember an organization is made up of technology AND people. It's vital to find the right balance between them. Visionsound uses a simple measure: If it's cheaper and better to use a person to do it by hand, use the person. Developing engineering solutions for every problem should be reserved for those with engineering staffs - and budgets to match.
4. Cloud Solutions - The easiest way to explain "cloud computing" is to compare it to hiring the best outside firm to manage complex issues you don't want to staff for. If you are running e-commerce, use a cloud solution, because the security challenges and threats change weekly. If you want to manage email lists, newsletters and event registration, use a service that integrates all of those for you. It's safer, better and even cheaper when you calculate in staff time.
5. Creating Value - We have heard more sales raps from companies selling "SEO" or Search Engine Optimization than we care to remember. We accept that there are ways of temporarily optimizing search for your web site - and that it might make a difference - provided you want to keep paying these people to go toe-to-toe with Google on a permanent basis. But the real secret behind getting good search results over the long haul - is by having great content that appeals to your customers, congregation and affiliates. Consider what Google is looking for: accurate, valid, relevant search results for their customers. If you are creating value and making friends, you are just the type of search result they want.
6. Open Source Software - Like most things in life, there are positives and there are negatives. The positive side of Open Source software is that you get capabilities that would cost 100's of thousands of dollars if developed privately. The negative side is that there are potential security risks, because Open Source software is widely distributed, and the source-code public. So, even with regular security patches, a fixed target is easier to hit than a moving one.
We have concluded that there are so many advantages to the Open Source CMS systems - Joomla and Drupal in particular - that these risks are worth taking. But we do opt to load the dice in our favor. By using cloud solutions for the high security needs of the site, we limit the content on the site to essentially public information anyway. Also, we limit the number of addon functions to an absolute minimum, limiting how much you must debug and de-louse after each CMS security update.
7. Content Templating - The great missing piece we have seen over and over again, is not making the people of the organization part of the solution. We now know that we can embed the training materials right into the templates that serve as the basis for your News Stories, Blogs, Twitter feeds, Facebook communications, and more. These are the content items your people will be generating. And as they use the Visionsound templates, they learn and improve - quickly.
8. Staff and the Time-Intensive Stuff - Once you are set up with your integrated Internet presence, the greatest way you can save money is to allocate the majority of the update work to your staff, while leaving only the really complicated stuff to us.
Where This Is Going
In short, we want to give you the car keys. We don't want to be charging you for website "maintenance." We want you to do the maintenance on your site. You're closer to it, and it will make you more effective as an organization. Yes, there will be occasional special needs that you will have, but the day to day, month by month content updating should be up to you.
And yes, we'll take care of the hard part - the updates, the security patches and more. But your people can and should take care of the lion's share. Otherwise, the strength of this model breaks down and you are back to paying a high cost to get what you need, and your people are no better off than before.
While we won't turn your business down, that's not what we're shooting for.