I interviewed Jay Suri co-founder of Creative Cranes, a successful Indian-based web development company located in the city of Chandigarh. The company was launched in 2007 and began with the same challenges that affect all small businesses around the world.
But Creative Cranes illustrates an inspiring story of remarkable growth that transcended its original vision and geographical territory!
Patricia: Jay, yours is such a compelling story and truly every small business- owner’s dream. Tell us the story behind Creative Cranes.
Jay: Creative Cranes started as a two-man show in 2007 – ’RD’ and I had a simple passion to create beautiful things on the web. We wanted to focus on elegant websites for small to medium sized companies.
But before that – even while we were in college – we kept noticing how all kinds of businesses could do so much better with a little push in the right direction.
Once we graduated, there was no doubt about what either of us wanted to do. All we needed was an opportunity. That opportunity presented itself when a friend asked us to help him create his business website. We haven’t looked back since!
Patricia: Where did you find prospects?
Jay: We began searching for online jobs – we were bidding, emailing and cold calling just like everyone else! But once we gained the momentum to move forward, we stopped searching frantically. By then, we knew exactly what we needed to do.
Our strategy has since shifted. Yes, we’re consistently looking for growth, but we are no longer focused on single projects.
We want to provide a range of services that will address all of the client’s problems so that they don’t have to go somewhere else for the other piece of the puzzle. We’ll work with their budget and their goals.
Patricia: How do you find out what your prospects need?
Jay: Simple, we talk to them – wherever they are in the world. Creative Cranes has had a lot of success with social media, including Facebook and Twitter – so I can say from my personal experience that connecting with people does help.
It may seem a little slow in the beginning, but it does pay off once you start building that value factor with your potential customers. Email marketing on the other hand has not been as successful as we would’ve hoped for.
So again, it’s important to try different things to fully understand what works for your business and then really dig into that.
Patricia: Are you amazed at the pace at which Creative Cranes has grown?
Jay: Yes, it looks like we must be doing something right. Since we started in 2007, we’ve grown into a complete brand development network, from expert consultations, websites and social media branding to search engine optimization, long term online marketing and maintenance services.
One of the awesome benefits of working in a service industry in the 21st century is that you’re not tied to a single geographical location. That has made a huge difference for us.
Patricia: How can business owners benefit from a well-branded and optimized website?
Jay: The rules of running a business are changing. The platform for informing, advertising and selling has shifted to new heights.
More and more shoppers and customers are turning to the Internet to research products and services, gather information and make purchases.
With the advent of social media the potential market has grown tremendously.
A well branded and optimized website has the ability to tap into all of these resources, advertise its presence using a plethora of media, engage with customers in conversations, offer solutions and create value which couldn’t have been possible without an online presence.
Patricia: Many professionals/business owners are confused about SEO. How would you explain it to them and in particular the business benefits of SEO?
Jay: SEO determines how easily your website is available on search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo when someone searches for keywords associated with your business.
If you’re not high up in the rankings for those keywords, then it’ll be your competitors who win.
Simply having a website is not enough to secure online success. Millions of websites on the Internet don’t bring in any returns. And a website that just sits pretty doesn’t do you any good.
With a long-term SEO strategy, your website becomes more visible, allowing you to attract highly targeted traffic. Every keyword related to your business gives you an opportunity to bring in more of that traffic, and more of those potential customers.
Patricia: For businesses who have not considered website optimization or SEO, what are the first steps they should take to begin developing this area?
Jay: SEO takes on a lot of different forms, so it can start by simply understanding the minor concepts that don’t require a lot of professional input.
As an example: try wording your content so that it makes sense to search engines as well as your audience. You want to write content that people will love to read and at the same time use relevant key words that Google will capture. Also try to insert sub-headings within your content to add depth to your text, avoid animations and videos to convey important details since search engines completely ignore them. If you need to, go ahead and hire a copywriter to help you with key word research skills.
It is also important to identify and understand your audience. Make sure your website design, features, content and keywords appeal to your potential customers.
If your business can benefit from a blog or a members forum, look into that as well. Nothing helps SEO like an overflow of fresh content every now and again.
Patricia: Apart from SEO, what other techniques should businesses look at to gain a stronger web presence?
Jay: It’s important to look beyond your website as the only platform to build your online presence.
Social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin have millions of users and the potential that you have to connect with them is huge!
Your organization could use these networks to make the kind of impact that adds value to your brand and which in turn brings people back to your own website.
Another benefit of using social networks is that you can focus on listening to what your prospects are asking for; complaining about, and use that information to drive your customer-service function forward.
So go ahead and talk to people, find out what they want; what their likes and dislikes are. They’re not going to give you all that information on your website!
Patrica: What’s next for Creative Cranes?
Jay: Oh my! We have so much in store for 2011.
We’re looking to introduce some exciting development and branding packages, we’re launching a series of workshops and how-to-guides for the ‘not-so-technical’ business-person, and a mystery service which will be revealed next year…you’ll just have to wait and see!
Patricia: Where can folks go to learn more about you and your services?
Jay: You can contact us online at www.creativecranes.com to schedule a time to discuss your questions and requirements. We can go over your particular needs, future plans and see what steps you should be taking to promote your web presence.