Let’s begin with two basic assumptions:
- There are people and organizations out there that want to do business with you.
- The purpose of a website is to generate more business.
All too often, new business owners and small to midsize businesses will put up a website but they put off developing a comprehensive digital strategy. Consequently, the website is an online brochure and people are only going to find it because you gave them a business card, read your LinkedIn profile or printed it in an advertisement. Sounds pretty old fashioned?
Here’s the central problem. Without a comprehensive and right-sized digital strategy, the world will not see you nor will people find you. In fact, your ideal customer will often patronize a far less qualified resource because it took only a few swipes of the mouse to find them. Let’s begin with common ground. The purpose of having a strong digital strategy is to get more business.
It isn’t about having an online brochure or a profile on LinkedIn. But, gaining traction on the Internet is a bit like jumping into the rapids at Niagara Falls and hoping someone finds you in the mist.
Without a well thought out platform and strategy, even the people and organizations that want what you have will not be able to find you.
New businesses often count every single penny. I know this because I did it myself. But, let’s be clear. When you are new and wanting to gain traction, work with a modest and yet comprehensive plan that can grow with the business. If you have any doubts, go visit a mall! The digital world is blowing right past businesses that didn’t pay any attention.
Many times, I have been approached by clients having trouble with successfully selling online. Many have fragmented approaches to their digital strategy and missing vital parts to make this work. Effective digital marketing is based on developing several collaborative layers. Put all of them in place. Start small and grow them as your revenue grows. All of these are important and have to be consistent for this to work. Let’s start with the basics:
Know Your Brand
What is the purpose of any brand? It is to create faith. Understand how to present your brand with such consistency and with such interest that it sticks in the minds of your viewers. When we work with a start-up business, we usually tell the owner(s) to not try and sell the business to everyone. It is common for the new business owner to be frightened of getting too specific about their value or unique selling proposition. God forbid we turn someone away! But, gaining traction in the marketplace requires consistency and every time we add another market, the time and financial investment doubles. A right-sized approach often begins with identifying your best clients and mastering that market segment before progressing to new markets.
Potential clients usually shut down just a few seconds after someone starts making a pitch. So, narrate the value of your business but translate it into meeting the customer’s typical needs and expectations.
Know Your Audience
Working with an effective digital marketing resource often begins here. Who is your best client? Where are they? What do they need and want? How much money do you have to spend and how much time do you have to invest? Usually, it is far better to target 100 businesses in your area that need exactly what you have rather than pursuing 100,000 random contacts. The best craftsmanship comes out of understanding the desired customer so very well that we can craft the words, the imagery, and the feel to perfectly meet their needs and expectations.
Finally, understand how your ideal audience uses the Internet. We constantly study audience behavior with search engines, social media, online forums, and emerging new platforms. A strategy like this ought to be in place on the first day of launching a business. We simply “right-size” the strategy so that as your business grows, your investment in digital marketing grows with it.
A Killer Content Strategy
The most common breakdown with new businesses or businesses that are not generating online business is either a missing or ineffective content strategy.
Content strategies can take the following forms:
- Engaging social media content with a consistent message around the brand
- Keyword research for search engine optimization (SEO) and/or paid advertising
- Article writing for social media, online forums, and website posting
- Creating an effective email campaign
Content strategies have to fit the skills and behavior of the client. Some of our clients prefer to create extensive original content. Others produce no original content but they get just as much traction. Once again, the strategy needs to be right-sized and fit the client’s interests and needs.
An Engaging Website That Converts Visitors to Clients
Online brochures rarely create converts. Engagement produces new clients and customers. Your website ought to be a 24/7 digital marketing machine. That machine meets the needs and expectations of your desired customers and it speaks in their language. Even better, a great website offers such a positive experience that people stay much longer. We can actually determine the portions of a site that is generating the greatest interest and make adjustments to eliminate distractions or boost the stickiness of other segments of a site.
A great website is equal doses of science and art. Websites should also automate routine time-consuming tasks from their owners. For example, a website that automatically takes email subscriptions, creates an email list, and notifies is subscribers of when new articles are posted from the website. Removing routine marketing tasks frees up time for more valuable efforts.
Measuring the Results
No effective digital marketing strategy would be complete without measurements on the results. This provides instant important feedback on what strategies are working and what areas might need improving. Analytic reports can also provide valuable demographic information used to target future marketing efforts.