I was with a prospect the other day making small talk at the beginning of the conversation and we were discussing his new, high end, BMW.
The conversation covered the detail of the Dynamic Performance Control, XDrive All Wheel Adaptive Drive System, M Sport Automatic Transmission and how this incredible piece of machinery was able to whisk him effortlessly around his 'patch' allowing him to make efficient use of his time with quicker and quieter travel, while he spoke with his clients from his virtually silent club class seat. Very impressive indeed.
We then started to discuss his aspirations for his website and he began with a phrase that unfortunately I hear all too often from business owners past the age of 45 or so: -
"I'm not very technically minded"
This was said in a way that was almost dismissing the possibility of getting to grips with 'the Web' as being the preserve of the young, the nerds and certainly not him because he is too old or mature to claim he 'gets it'.
I admit I got a little irritated at this point and reminded him that he had learned almost every detail about his car and what it can do for him and for his business - and of course learned how to drive it.
As the guy his employees depend upon succeeding, and his clients rely upon achieving, I told him I felt he has to learn exactly what web technology can do for his business.
It's not valid any more as a business owner to refuse to either become personally digitally adept or to make your business, and its people, digitally adept.
There is a simple reason for this. The demographic of your competition has overtaken you.
The web is not a new thing anymore. It was invented in 1990. In the intervening 23 years it has gone through a massive acceleration of capabilities and delivery methods and is now one of the most potent tools you have at your disposal.
Now here's the sting. The new generation of thirty-something managers and owners of agencies have grown up in a world where the web was always there. Social media has always been a part of most of their grown-up lives and they are not only not afraid of it, but they know how to use it, they understand it and they know exactly what it can do for them.
However, in the same way as my BMW driving friend didn't have to become a mechanic to learn what his car could do for him and his business, no business owner has to become a web developer to learn what the Web can do for them.
Becoming digitally adept simply means understanding what the features and benefits of technology are, and what the key things are to base buying decisions on.
Being digitally adept as a modern business owner means understanding total cost of ownership, running costs, expected performance measures, key features, ROI. In fact almost the same things you have to think about when choosing a car.
When you have a grasp of the difference that it can make to your business, and how to buy it and control it, you can use it to be effectively offensive and defensive in your market. In the hands of someone who knows how to use it unfair market share is there to be taken.
Because we have reached the evolutionary time when the demographic group of web savvy achievers is the new generation of owners and managers I suspect I won't get to see many "not very technically minded" agents in the future because the next generation will have eaten their lunch - and will probably be driving a higher spec BMW.