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New ways to make Jan happy

Ray WellingMost of you would remember the Yellow Pages “Not happy, Jan” ads from a few years ago, where an assistant was avoiding her boss because the Yellow Pages had just come out and she had forgotten to book the company’s ad. As she scurries down the street, the boss spies her and shouts out the window, “Not happy, Jan!”

It was a really memorable campaign (I still hear that phrase in common use), and it highlighted how critical it was to have your business listed in the one directory that was in every home and every business. And what a money-spinner for Telstra; they charged like a wounded bull for Yellow Pages listings, and you grumbled but shelled out the money because it was the only game in town.

How the mighty have fallen! If you want to find out not only a company’s address and phone number, but opening hours, complete product line and ways to buy, you now jump on the Web. Meanwhile, Yellow Pages are used as doorstops or are ending up in recycling bins as soon as they’re delivered, while Telstra is resorting to buying Chinese companies and doing deals with the government on the national broadband roll-out to keep its shares out of the basement (yes, I bought shares in T2 at several times their current value and no, I’m not bitter about it).

So you no doubt have a website and, if you’re a keen reader of this esteemed publication, you have optimized your site to make sure those customers who formerly relied on the Yellow Pages can still easily find your business. But are you prepared for the mobile web?

Take this test: grab a smart phone (if you don’t have one, borrow one from one of your children) and type in your web address. What do you see? Chances are, you won’t like it – particularly if you use Flash on your website.

Unless you’ve redesigned your website in the past year or so, it’s probably not optimized for mobile browsing. Even if it renders exactly the same as your website, your customers will need a microscope to see it. Even with a touchscreen to expand the view, they’ll be scrolling like mad just to read your phone number – not a good look.

Why does this matter? Because nearly half of all phones sold in Australia today are smart phones, and globally the number of users is in the billions and rising rapidly. Predictions are that by the middle of this decade more people will be accessing the internet through mobile devices than through computers.

In other words, your customers are going to be searching for you on phones and tablets more and more, so you need to be giving them a good experience. You need to:

  • Grab your location on services such as Foursquare and Google Places
  • Develop a specific mobile version of your website
  • Be even more concise with your content than on your website – look at your site from your customer’s point of view and focus on giving them only the info they need in order to do business with you
  • Avoid fancy stuff like Flash which either won’t display at all (on iPhones and iPads) or looks lousy on a small screen
  • Find out what sort of apps contain location-based directories that cover your subject area and makes sure you’re listed and up-to-date

The good news these days is that there is no deadline to miss; it’s easier for Jan to make the boss happy by getting out there where your customers are looking for you.

Dr. Ray Welling is Director of Digital Strategy & Communications for healthcare communications consultancy Vivacity Health. He also manages a small digital content agency and strategic consultancy, and lectures in marketing at Macquarie University.

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