A great many changes are taking place online right now. This is particularly true when you are trying to reach and sell to potential customers who are up-to-date with new technologies and ways of using the Web.

I'm thinking of the people who download podcasts to their iPods. And about people who tag and share at del.icio.us, digg.com. and other social-networking sites. And about the people who share video clips at YouTube.com.

There is a profound shift taking place in the way many people like to use the Web.

Meanwhile, too many online marketers are still scratching their heads and wondering whether they can muster the courage to launch a blog.

And what tools and services are you using right now that you didn't use last year?

Do you have a lens at Squidoo?

Have you created a Swicki at Eurekster?

Have you considered a mashup site, where you combine services from two different places in one site—in the way that www.MotorMapUSA.com is a mashup of Google Maps and eBay auto listings?

The point here is not that every company should use every new tool and service that comes along (although some of them are great)—but you should be aware of them.

Why? Because there are always new companies and Web sites entering your market. And they have an advantage because they can build their model and their technologies based on a whole new set of tools and services that weren't around when you got started.

They can also appeal to new audiences simply because they are out there, in new spaces and communities that weren't online when you launched.

What can you do?

Keep in touch with what's happening now. Don't have sleepy chats about blogs. Look at what's new today.

Then think carefully about some of those services.

Could you benefit from using one or more of them? (And the list above is far from exhaustive.) Could your competitors start using some of them? And how much damage could a new company in your market do if it used some of these new services to compete with what you provide—but with more value?

Concluding thoughts...

It is true that some sites can succeed without the need to address any significant changes in technology or communities online. Craigslist.com, the seventh most frequently visited site on the Web, does just fine with a site that is pretty much all text. New technologies and communities may have nothing to offer your business.

But do an assessment, look at what your new competitors are doing, and make decisions based on current knowledge.

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image of Nick Usborne

Nick Usborne has been working as a copywriter and trainer for over 35 years. He is the author of Net Words, as well as several courses for online writers and freelancers. Nick is also an advocate for Conversational Copywriting.

LinkedIn: Nick Usborne

Twitter: @nickusborne