How a Web Design Company Became a "Market Leader" in a Crowded Space
Branding has always been a complex mix of practical steps (you need a website, a slogan, a logo...) and psychological trigger points (you need to elicit emotional responses to carefully crafted messages aimed at a precisely targeted audience) wrapped in a presentation bubble that looked expensive enough to imply solid investment and therefore generate trust.
In the 21st century however it is way more than that. When the very techniques you use to brand yourself are part of the online discussion and the audience you market to is part of the conversation, branding becomes harder to pull off successfully. Trust becomes harder to develop. Reach becomes more difficult to achieve. The tricks of the trade that used to be employed are now common knowledge.
In order to establish yourself you need to break the traditional ROI model of marketing and actually invest time and effort, showcase real expertise without the expectation of any direct, immediate return.
A textbook case of the approach is the Makolab, structured data markup for the automotive industry. This needs a little deconstructing to make more sense so let's take it from the start: Makolab is a publicly traded web design company with offices in Poland, the US and the UK. Structured data markup is a way of classifying the data on a website so that search engine scan understand it better. The approved standard is that of schema.org.
Makolab works with many large automotive clients globally, creating their websites and then helping them with their marketing and branding so when it saw that there was no schema.org approved semantic markup for the automotive industry it was a natural step for it to work to develop one.
This is what it took:
- Detailed knowledge of the automotive industry needs.
- A clear understanding of the consumer market in this sector, including its many stakeholders.
- The ability to work with schema.org (Makolab formed and led the Automotive Ontology Working Group)
Over a year's concentrated effort in creating, testing and then getting approved the new markup language (This required extensive consultation and very forward-looking approach to cover every eventuality)
When the new schema was finally approved the benefits to the automotive industry became obvious:
- Easier way to compare car parts and car makes, across national borders.
- Better internal tracking of car parts.
- Efficiency savings to be made both at production level and retail.
Makolab cemented its reputation as a market leader in its field with a deep understanding of the semantic web and strong in-house capabilities.
Its success can be summarized in a handy recipe that can be applied by any brand (or business) anywhere:
- Identify the knowledge and skills that set you apart from the rest.
- Work to find gaps in the current market which you can help bridge with your expertise.
- Create something that will benefit as many people as possible, not just yourself.
While it sounds simple, it is a 21st century of working that requires an entirely different, cooperative rather than competitive, mindset and it is the latter that provides the strongest competitive advantage a brand can have today.
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