This is not an article about technology. This is an article about how to properly use technology, or at least how to not use it. Wise words I learned from a wise man.
So, to be honest the guy was not a cheese curd maker. He sold equipment used for that purpose. But thats not an interesting title, is it? Used Dairy Equipment. Google it, and they are number one in the rankings, and had been for a long time. So when they approached me about updating their site, I went full bore.
I developed a prototype website that kept all their existing keywords and metadata, and all the front page text and verbiage, but cleaned it up and modernized it. And (and this is the salient part) I added a lot of new features by integrating their internal equipment database with their website so that visitors could search their inventory and find anything they had to offer. A complete search engine, with keyword querying, sorting, filtering… everything.
I went back to them with my prototype. It was beautiful. It was functional. It was exhaustive.
It was a disaster.
What I had done was technically cool. It would allow anyone to determine if the company had in stock ANY item that they wanted. But it was business savvy lacking. Why?
Let his words explain. “I don’t want them to find out that I have what they need. Because they could also find out that I do NOT have what they need. I want to give them just enough information that they will think, ‘They have a lot of stuff’. But not so much that they think ‘They don’t have what I need.’ If they think that, they won’t CALL ME. And what I want is for them to call me. If they don’t call me, I can’t sell them what they DO need if they don’t know what they need. A lot of times, they think they need one thing when what they need is another. I can’t help them if they don’t call.”
The goal with technology, in this guy’s case, was to give them just enough reason to CALL, not to BUY online. Too much technology in this case works against him being able to actually help people.
I learned a lot about business from that guy. In fact, I altered my own website taking into account what I had learned from him. Ultimately, we did not implement my new site and they kept their existing site. They did the right thing.
Sometimes, the coolest technology and the best “features” are not what’s really needed. It takes a good bit of business sense to know not if technology is worthwhile, but which technology, and specifically how much is worth while.
I think we could all learn a good bit from a guy named Gary Schier. And hey, if you wanna learn how to make 500 gallons of cheese, visit www.schiercompany.com. And no, I did not develop that site. And a good thing, too.