There have been a lot of changes in shopping and consumer habits over the past ten years. We used to depend on billboards, newspaper and magazine ads, sales reps and maybe even television commercials. Now, Google and other search engines have become the choice way to shop and learn about products. When a consumer calls you about a product, you have a higher than 90% chance that they already have learned about you, your product and the pros and cons of your product.
Smart companies are the ones that feed the buyer’s journey with the type of information that will help them to make the decision in their favor. To make it simple, if you are not using online marketing techniques because you believe your business is brick and mortar and you do not need to market online, I can guarantee that you are losing business. Your competition is doing better than you because you are not using the online opportunities that are waiting for you.
Brick and Mortar
I grew up in a very small town outside of Pittsburgh. We were known for stop signs, traffic lights were not necessary, stop signs worked great. We had one grocery store that by today’s standards was more like a stop and go than a grocery store. Everyone knew what you were talking about when you said you were going to the “store”. We had some other businesses in the town and it was always exciting to see a sign or advertisement for a business in your town. There was always a comment afterwards about that ad “probably cost them a pretty penny.”
When we had a problem back then we would look in the yellow pages or ask by word of mouth. Today, we can ask Google anything and the really neat part is that the results of the question asking will also produce results with businesses that solve your problem. We recently had to replace our water heater. When I went to “water heaters” I had massive results and water heater problems gave me some of the same answers as if I wanted to purchase a water heater.
When my son lost his job, it became known on the social media channels and he received not only “I am sorry” and “they are crazy for letting you go” comments, but he also had at least 10 telling him he could be hired within a week at their place of employment and to private message them. I have seen similar things happen when someone would post on Facebook something like “Anyone know a good repairman?” The number of results for that particular neighborhood were astounding.
For example I am not going to search for a plumber unless I need a plumber. This may sound like common sense to some, but remember when someone searches for a plumber in your area, if you are a plumber, you want to stand out not only at the beginning of the search, but as one that is knowledgeable , and most importantly as someone that is likable and more than capable to handle my situation.
Need a great dentist, plumber, car mechanic? I am sure that there are many others that share your problem and are searching for someone as well. I did not search for information about plumbers or water heaters until ours started leaving water on the floor.
How do you search?
I did not and I am sure you do not drive around looking for a mechanic or plumber. I am also willing to bet you do not listen to the radio all day hoping someone put an ad on the radio. I went to Google ad planner and look at the results for plumbers in Concord, NC. Concord is a small city of only 83,506 people, so these are sizable results. So how do you start that business online?
How to Get Your Business Online
Step one: Get a Website
You need something that does the job and does it well. Sure, you can have something that is great and catchy. But what is important is that your website is :
- Mobile or responsive meaning it changes size to fit the screen. This means the site is mobile
- Your site needs to communicate your unique value proposition. This is your product plus what it is that you offer that no one else can. Each of us is unique, what is unique about your business? Make sure that your website communicates that to folks that land on your site
- You also want to have the ability to get those leads. There are many different ways to do that and I actually did an entire training on just this in an inexpensive way. There are also services such as unbounce and LeadPages
- Feature a blog or a learning center. This section helps to show that you are an expert in your field. Marcus Sheridan explains the difference in a traditional blog and a “newer learning center” A traditional blog works for most companies. However, for those who need an extensive lead nurturing and customer education system, a learning center may make more sense.
Step 2 Do a Keyword Search
You want to do a keyword search because you want to know how your ideal customer is doing their research online. This will help you find what it is that they are searching for, what words they are using and then of course ensuring that you are providing the content that they want to see to satisfy that need
Why are they searching for you? What is your customer’s pain point? When I was looking for a plumber, I did not want water on my basement floor any longer and I wanted water hotter than what I had been receiving. Keyword research helps you address that question.
How do you do a Keyword Research?
Of course there are plenty of articles and trainings out there, so I am covering very basics and the basic tools.
- The easiest is to go to google and type in plumber in Concord, NC. Notice how we are able to see in the drop down what others have searched for. These are what are called long-tail keyword phrases, which are easier to rank for
- The second tool is the Keyword Planner which is hidden inside a Google AdWords account. The purpose is for keyword search for paid advertising. This does not stop you from searching for data for keywords and is a great way to find high value keywords to better target your market.
Step 3 Create some type of Lead Generation Content Offer
Again, I have done a series of training on this and show you how to do this for free.
The type of offers that you create can range from an eBook, list of tools, and even something as simple as a checklist. Using the plumber I have been using, an eBook on keeping drains clean and fast running or how to take care of your water heater are two great examples. A tool list could be plumbing tools every house needs to have. A check list example can be things you need to do monthly to prevent plumbing problems. (Trust me, giving information that appears to keep you from getting business will not keep you from getting business. What you are actually doing is showing yourself as willing to give and help and not just focused on yourself. You will also establish yourself as different than others in the field.)
You then take that eBook, tool list or checklist and put it into a PDF format and offer it as a download to everyone that gives their email on your form. You will do this to capture leads and nurture the entire sales process. (Look for next week’s blog on the sales funnel process for online marketing)
Step 4 Provide Great and Interesting Content on Your blog
Over 90% of people that land on your website will not come back. That clearly puts the odds against you, but to combat those odds, there are things you can do.
You want to attract your ideal customer link to your website. Although it may be tempting to write great sales copy, write about things that will interest your customers and make their lives easier in some way.
Probably the best thing that you can do is remember it is not about you, it is about them. Use your blog to solve their problems and answer their questions. Give, give, give and give some more to your potential customers and after you have done that, you have earned the right to ask for that business. If you start out just asking for their business, it comes off as being all about you and you sound like a salesman after the business. You have to answer a need that your customer has.
Step 5 Start using Social Media
Who are your ideal customers and where do they go for content? In my article, Link, I go over in detail factors that help you determine that, but here are a few extra tips:
- If you are B2B (business to business), LinkedIn is probably your best network
- If you are B2C (Business to Customer), Facebook or Pinterest might bring you your best return.
If you are SaaS (software as a Service which means a software licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis or a on demand software), Twitter might be your platform to get engagement
I have written as this before, but do not try to be everywhere. It really is a waste of time. Go where your customers are going to be looking.
Step 6 Measure, Learn, Grow
Marketing online is not a marketing campaign. It is one continuous process of learning, growing, measuring your results, making adjustments, and doing it again. It will become a way of life, pushing forward, and as you build that online reputation, seeing results.
The first 12 months are rough. I am not going to try and fool you and let you think it is an easy climb. It is hard work and frustrating at times. You will come up with what you think is a great idea, only to see that the results were not what you expected. The great part is that those first 12 months will teach you more about your customers and those negative. The key is test, test, and test some more.
Online marketing is not a fad. Online marketing is not a fad. It is the way of business today and will continue in this way for a long time.
In the past, everything was about location, location, location. Where were you advertising? Where were your ads being placed? Were you in the Yellow Pages?
Today, if you are not actively marketing online, you are losing business. Those in your profession that are marketing online will see success because they took the steps to jump out in format and find success. There is no longer an offline business. Don’t lose customers to someone in your niche that is by not being online