Amid economic uncertainty, Guilderland Chamber of Commerce members were given some practical, Web-based advice Friday, April 3, when fellow chamber member Lisbeth Calandrino, of Peachtree Communications, presented a one-hour seminar: Tough Strategies for Tough Times What You Can Do To Survive and Thrive.`
Calandrino spoke at length about `Internet 2.0,` a term used to describe interactive Web sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn.
`Networking is not just making friends online,` she said.
Calandrino said the Internet, RSS feeds and `blogging` are tools to keep businesses current and traditional advertising is a thing of the past.
`Your marketing really has to be online and active,` she said. `You need a Facebook. This is faced-paced stuff; you’ve got to keep moving.`
Roger Lipera, a chamber member, Web designer and consultant, said Web-based strategies are useful for monitoring popularity, consumer wishes and information about how often, and for how long, users frequent a company Web site.
`Everything on the Web is countable ` everything,` Lipera said.
Calandrino said she understands the fast-paced nature of the Internet can intimidate some, but it is still growing. She said the myth that seniors are not online is just that ` a myth. They are actually the fastest-growing segment of Internet users to date, she said.
Calandrino advocated for using the Internet as a tool to open a dialogue with customers, and to learn what they want, especially now when they are `scared, mad and confused` about the economy.
She said customers no longer `listen` to messages from advertisements.
`They speak,` she said. `They’re blogging. They want to be part of your business. It’s our connections with humans that make us human.`
Calandrino emphasized societal changes in attitude.
`We live in what’s called an experience economy,` she said.
She likened the changes in consumerism to baking a cake. At one time, people bought the raw materials to make the cake, then they moved on to cake mixes for $3 a box, then to buying whole cakes for $30. Now, she said, people want to spend $300 at Chuck E. Cheese’s for the experience of cake and party.
She also spoke of `Generation G,` who she said ranges in age from 18 to 45, and, as a group, is moving away from the `greed` of corporate America and choosing `generous and green` business practices.
She said community relations and trust are vital.
`Who you are in the community is more important than the brands you sell,` she said.
Kathy Burbank, Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce, said she was pleased to have Calandrino speak to members.
`Member-initiated workshops tend to be the best [because] they know what’s going on out there,` Burbank said.