Here's a little primer on internet marketing. It is built around the idea of you ;generating inbound leads and customers by becoming an authority on solving a problem and sharing out information about it.
This diagram that shows how a website can both support and drive your business. The orangerepresents your business (the orange body), your marketing messaging (the orange arrows), and your website (the orange website icon). Theblackrepresents your prospects/customers (the black bodies), the sites they visit (the black site icons), and their paths of travel (the black arrows, which are hopefully inbound to you).
Let's break this diagram down. Note, we won't be covering the nitty gritty "how to" details in this post. At the bottom, I have linked to a ton of different resources for you to use.
Your Business: An Economic Solution to a Problem
Your business is about solving problems for other people in a way that is economical for them. You may not have opened your business because you specifically identified a problem and created a solution for it -- in my experience, many people, including myself, opened up for business because they are skilled in a particular area -- but, nevertheless, solving their problems is what people are paying you for.
Think about this for yourself: Do you pay people because they have a certain feature that you like OR because that feature benefits you in some way? ;If you have not identified the problem you are solving, you ought to do some market research to figure out what that is. In the words of Perry Marshall, figure out what your customer's itch is and scratch it.
"Prospects don't really care about your company; they care about their problems. If you can solve them, then prospects will care a great deal about your company, and they'll want to buy what you are selling. People do not buy shampoo; they buy clean, great- looking hair. That means selling a benefit."
Jay Levinson Guerrilla Marketing
Your Messaging: Communicating the Benefits of Your Solution
Once you know what the itch is and how to scratch it, you need to communicate this to your market. Let's draw back on what we wrote about in the ; Marketing Lessons from "A Real-Life Horse Whisperer" post in which we discussed how Monty Roberts learned how to "join-up," rather than "break," horses by learning and using their language. ;
"Think of your target customer as the horse. They have an established way of life. They think a certain way. They communicate a certain way. They have needs and desires. They want your help. Your job as a business owner or marketer is not to force changes in your horse's behavior, but to understand it so well that you become as a horse yourself and communicate on its level. ;You don't need to "sell" prospects on the need for a solution to their problem. You simply need to communicate that you have the solution. ... Following nature, if you will, will save you lots of effort, make your marketing much more effective, and be more enjoyable for all involved.
"Just as Monty studied horses, so you need to study your market. As a business owner with a million things in your head, it can be hard to isolate your target keywords or unique value proposition. Don't try to figure this all out yourself based on what you think you know. Researching around online and asking questions can bring you a ton of good information. Look into search trends, browse online conversations, and survey prospects and customers to see what prospects are saying and doing."
Essentially, this comes down to defining your unique selling proposition (USP) and stating it in a way that hits home with your target market. Remember, USPs are not taglines. Taglines are catchy slogans that speak more to who you are or what you do. USPs clearly communicate why you are different.
In addition to your USP, you will also need a clear understanding of the search terms that you want to target. These are the terms that prospects who do not know about you would potentially use to find you. Once you have these figured out, you can use them as the basis of your marketing messaging in all your promotional outlets.
Networking and Word-of-Mouth Marketing
When you first opened your business, you probably kicked off your marketing by just talking to people. Networking is simple and it works. It is easier to build a relationship with someone you can talk to than it is through advertising.
Building a system of word-of-mouth referrals can be huge. The logic is simple: when people refer your business to others, they are doing powerful marketing for you. You have an awesome head start on the sales process with prospects who have received referrals to you from trusted friends and colleagues of theirs.
Doing the work in the previous steps allows you to have much clearer conversations about what you do and makes it much easier for people to recommend you.
Building a Website to Support Your Business
At some point, you have heard the question, "Do you have a website?" You may even know of some specific sales you lost because you did not have one. So you build a website.
The action in the bottom-left corner is what happens when you simply build a site. You start sharing your website within your network and prospects/customers use it to connect with and learn more about you. You will pretty easily establish a web presence around your branding (the less unique your business name is the harder this will be). This allows people who already know about you to find you because they will search on terms like your name (e.g. "John Doe") or your business name (e.g. "Chewy Doe Bakery").
Timeout. Let's Recap.
So far, so good. You have identified a problem, created an economic solution for it, determined how you are unique, and created some targeted messaging that hits home with your prospects. You start spreading the word about your business and take care of some work. Happy customers start promoting your business for you and ;the calls start coming in. You start thinking about building a website and then a couple lost sales drive you to bite the bullet and get it done. You build out a website that supports your marketing strategy and start capturing more sales from the prospects sent your way.Back to the show.
The Prospects Who Do Not Know About You
In the top right corner you see a representation of the prospects who do not know about you. These folks have the same problem as those in your network but have not had the good fortune to hear about you. What they do know, though, are their problems, and what they think of as solutions to that problem, so they search on terms related to that (e.g. "cinnamon twist doughnuts").
They spend their time online searching and browsing, shopping, checking social media sites and their email, and reading the news or looking for entertainment. All of these are opportunity areas for you to get in front of them. Wouldn't it be unfortunate if they never heard about you? These poor prospects go on dealing with their problems not even realizing that you have a solution for them. I mean, you don't even have to convince them, you just need to remove the barriers that are blocking them from knowing about you.
Time to do something about it. You have two options: (1) be in a million places at once to network or (2) reach them all with online marketing. Let's throw Option 1 in the trash and look at Option 2.
Building a Website and Marketing Hub to Drive Inbound Traffic
Marketing is a process, and inbound marketing is no different. It takes time to build the system, develop the marketing material and content, and gather data to make optimizations. We are talking months and years. Do not jump into this looking for quick results. You will just be disappointed. It takes a lot of work to build up a web presence around your non-brand-related target search terms. At this stage of the game you won't have much of a presence, so expect to commit (time and money) to building it up -- and remember not to dump the project right before your work pays off.
The objective here is to push quality content out that brings prospects in. To get started, you need to really hone in on your messaging and target search terms that you developed earlier (John Doe, Chewy Doe Bakery). These are the foundational elements around which you will build your content and promotions. Then you need to identify the products, services, and/or offers you want to campaign around. You will then use search marketing (content, ads, and business listings), social media marketing, and email marketing strategies to attract and nurture prospects for these campaigns.
"Inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product, where they naturally want to be. By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests, you naturally attract inbound traffic that you can then convert, close, and delight over time."
A Word on Analytics and Optimization
Follow the inbound principles and commit to the marketing process and you will see returns. The more you put into your site and online presence, the more you get out of it. However, unless you have a crystal ball, there will be wasted energy and focus. Analytics tools will help you track and measure user behavior so that you can better hone your marketing down to appeal directly to your target market. You will be able to see who comes to your site (demographics), where they come from, how they found you, what they did on your site, and if they became leads or customers. Through this, you can identify which marketing tools are paying off and which ones are not.
"Some traffic sources convert better than others. Some send you tons of traffic which doesn’t convert at all. What you want is to keep doing more of what’s working (more guest posts on blog[s] that send quality traffic, more ads on site[s] that send traffic that converts etc) and stop putting in the effort in traffic sources that don’t convert – either low total conversions or very low conversion rate. Very low conversion rate can be tolerable if the absolute numbers are high."Peep Laja ConversionXL
Tools and Resources
This is a non-exhaustive list of mostly-free tools and resources you can use to get started with building or optimizing.
- Market Research Survey: Livingston Method
- Customer Satisfaction Survey: Net Promoter Score Method (a.k.a. "The Ultimate Question")
- Customer emails and other interactions
- Twitter/Facebook/ LinkedIn/YouTube/Pinterest (and other social media)
- Industry-relevant blogs/forums
- HubSpot's Marketing Grader
- QuickSprout Website Analyzer
- Google Alerts
Marketing Strategy Development
- Google Keyword Planner
- Google Places Reviews (and other listings reviews)
- Bing Ads Intelligence
- WordStream Keyword Suggestion Tool
Unique Selling Proposition Development
- Creating Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
- How to Create a Ferocious Unique Selling Proposition [WordStream]
- 7 Tips for Developing Your USP [EMyth]
- Take 15 Minutes to Find Your Winning Difference [Copyblogger]
- Elevator Pitch Template [Elevator Pitch Essentials]
- Weebly (simple all-in-one platform)
- WordPress (powerful publishing platform) via Copyblogger Platform: Synthesis, StudioPress, and Scribe
- Shopify E-Commerce
- Google Analytics
- Google Webmaster Tools
- Flesch Kincaid Readability Level Test for Copywriters
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