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Five Ways To Do Better Business In A
Digital Age

by Jon Leland

This article originally appeared in ../../html/nowmedia/views/Kinko's Magazine

1. Open All Channels of Communication
This is the high-tech extension of "The customer is always right." If they use e-mail, you need to use e-mail. If they like fax, be user-friendly, and use fax too. To do better business and make more customers happy , we need to be able to respond to customers throught whichever medium they prefer, regardless of how we may feel personally about any particular "channel" or means of communication.

2. Create the Color Advantage
As computers continue to increase in power exponentially--doubling every 18 months for the last ten years--one of the most observable benefits of all this power is the ability to handle color , both on the desktop and with lower cost printers. Those who learn to use these tools to enhance their messages can create a colorful competitive advantage for themselves. Remember black & white TV, or have you already forgotten about it?

3. Build a Network of Resources
The "virtual company" and "outsourcing" are buzzwords de jour for a reason. Digital technology requires a wider range of expertise than ever before. We used to get by with the plumber, the electrician and the copier repairman. Now, we need network administrators, web site programmers, presentation and design consultants, and more. Doing business in the digital age is most effective when you engage a community of collaborators, and virtual resources are also much lower in overhead costs. Think of digital communications as a "team sport."

4. Leverage the Net
Metcalfe's Law observes that "The value of the Net goes up as the square of the number of people on the Net." By all counts, the Internet has much too viable and valuable a vehicle to be ignored, not only in terms of the potential audience that can be reached, but also in terms of time saving benefits. From e-mailing or posting a color proof on your web site for client approval to using newsgroups, electronic Public Relations services, on-line alliances and associations as new low-cost marketing tools, the Net provides exciting new alternatives. If you aren't actively on-line yet, learn now or risk being left behind.

5. Put People Before Technology
Don't get caught using technology for technology's sake. To be effective, digital communications are like any other form of communication. They must touch the people who are the intended audience. The more we learn to depend on technological innovation, the more we need to connect with our own and each other's humanity. Otherwise, there will be no lasting success. 

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Jon welcomes feedback and suggestions via e-mail at jon@combridges.com

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