Creating a Strong Online Presence for Marketing Success

It is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Lucy Godwin – Enjoy!  

Online Presence

According to Google, 97% of consumers use the web to search for local businesses – and if the vast majority of your potential customers are online, you should be, too. Having a strong online presence is a crucial component of your marketing strategy, no matter what size your business is or what industry it belongs to.

An online presence is important for outbound marketing because it reinforces your brand and what you offer to your target market. Once you’ve communicated with your audience, you’ll need to have a web presence that helps portray why your product or service is so great – because that’s the next stop for the majority of your potential customers.

It’s also vital for inbound marketing, because quality online content will help attract customers even if they haven’t heard of your brand.

So here are three of the first things you need to look at when building your online marketing efforts.

1. Your website

All businesses, no matter how small, should have a website. It can be extremely basic, but it should contain the fundamental information customers – both existing and potential – need. For example, one frustration I encounter far too often is restaurants that don’t have a website with a current menu, opening hours, location and contact information. I know I’m not alone in that if I can’t find these details, I’m less likely to visit the restaurant – but there’s no reason a business should lose potential customers over something that’s so easy to remedy and costs very little.

A basic website is pretty easy to set up using an application like WordPress. WordPress is a free blogging tool and content management system that gives users the option to pay a little more for the premium version. If it’s relevant to your business, you can even add an online shop – after all, in 2013, 70 percent of consumers preferred to do their retail shopping online.

If you’re not sure where to start, there’s a great guide to WordPress for small businesses on Social Media today. It’s easy to understand and runs through the factors you need to consider and steps you need to take when setting up your small business website.

If you’re starting from scratch and not sure what your website should include, survey your existing customers. Whether you send out an email asking for their input, or mention it casually while making their coffee, it’s the best way to get the insight you need – people love to be involved and share their opinions.

2. Search engine optimization

Once you have a website, it’s vital that it can actually be found by search engines. After all, 89 percent of consumers use search engines to research a product, service or business before making a decision. To take advantage of this, you need to make sure to look at search engine optimization (SEO) for your website.

In case you’re not completely sure what SEO means, how it works, or why it’s important, here’s a quick rundown:

  • What: The purpose of SEO is to make it easy for search engines to find your website and list it in their ‘organic’ (as opposed to ‘paid’) results.
  • Why: People tend to trust search engines, so websites that appear high in results pages are more likely to receive traffic.
  • How: Using search-engine friendly methods to improve your website.
  • Who: Everyone – anyone who has information that people want to find on the internet should be using SEO techniques.
  • When: All the time – SEO is an ongoing process. It’s important to monitor the information on your website and make sure it’s current and correct. Search engines also love new content, which is why starting a blog can do wonders for your SEO.
  • Where: Major search engines include Google, Yahoo and Bing. They connect people all over the world to the content they desire, from products to services to information.

The Beginner’s Guide to SEO by Moz and Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide both give a fantastic overview of the basics and will help you optimize your website.

3. Social media

Social media is an important part of your online presence that improves your chances of generating additional revenue and building customer loyalty. It allows customers, potential customers and other interested parties to engage easily via a channel that plays an important role in their everyday lives.

Although not every social media channel will be relevant to each business, it’s definitely worth looking into your options. For example, Facebook and Twitter will serve a purpose for almost any business – it’s a great place to post news, tips, photos and videos and ask and answer questions.

In addition to Facebook and Twitter, you might find Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, Tumblr, FourSquare helpful. Make sure to research available channels and find out if they will work for you. Instagram, for example, is a photo-sharing network, so it works wonderfully for businesses selling ‘beautiful’ products such as jewelry, food or housewares. It’s important to consider your target demographic – Instagram has around 130–150 million users, over two-thirds of which are women between the ages of 18 and 35. With Instagram, you’ll also need to keep a smartphone handy to properly access your account and engage with your audience.

Once you’ve decided which social media channels to use, get a clear idea of the kind of content you can share. The more compelling and engaging your material is, the more likely your followers will like, comment and share your posts. Engagement is key to promoting your brand – not only will it make you more appealing to existing customers, the more positive social activity that goes on, the higher the chance is that their friends will be exposed to your brand and intrigued by what you have to offer.

When they do this, they’re engaging with your brand and their networks (friends, family, colleagues) are seeing that engagement and may be prompted to check you out for their own needs.

 

lucy-godwinAuthor bio: Lucy Godwin lives in Wellington, New Zealand and is an outreach writer at Xero accounting software. Her role exposes her to the small business, startup and entrepreneur community, and she blogs for them about everything from marketing to cloud computing to finance. Connect with her on Twitter @LucyJaneGodwin.

3 Steps to Double Inbound Leads in 60 Days

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Erik Luhrs – Enjoy!

3 Steps to Double Inbound Leads in 60 Days

photo credit: shutterstock

I love talking to new prospects! They are ALWAYS convinced that they’ve already tried “everything.” They are convinced that the only way to get more leads is to increase the amount of people who see their messages. They are convinced that rapidly multiplying leads and sales is just a fantasy.

And they are always wrong.

Now you’re probably thinking “Oh BS, Erik! What could you possibly know that is so much better than all the other experts we’ve asked for help?

The short answer is that it’s not about what I know. It’s about what your prospects know…that you ignore! We’ll get to that in a moment.

First, let’s sum up the problem of “not enough leads.”

The cause of this situation is 3 factors:

  1. You blend in with your competition because you are a “me too” business (“Oh they sell widgets? Me too!”) .
  2. You define yourself / your business the same as your competition (“We are the #1 Widget producer in North America”…same thing everybody else says).
  3. You think quality/service/price/experience/caring about our clients/etc means something to the prospect (“With our 50 years of experience we have created a quality team that can deliver the service you need at a price you can afford. And remember we really care about our customers”…SNORE!!!)

What happens with all of this type of communication is that you are trying to be logical and trying to communicate with the conscious mind of your prospect.

The problem is that humans live their lives 99% SUBCONSCIOUSLY, so the subconscious is in control. The 1% of conscious awareness humans have is not in control, but that is the part of the mind EVERYBODY tries to talk to. It makes no sense!!!

So the simple secret to rapidly increasing leads is to start talking to the 99% of the mind that is in control!

How? Well, there is a lot to it, but here are 3 steps to get you moving in the right direction (and if you actually use them you will be ahead of 95% of your market).

  1. RE-POSITION: Instead of trying to solve every problem your audience has ask your target what their real, immediate problems are. Go deeper than “we need more sales,” “we need more staff,” “we need faster processors.” Find a single problem BEHIND their general problem, and solve that. Hint: When you can hear someone’s voice change or you see them start to look uncomfortable you will know you have touched one of their subconscious issues.
  2. RE-PRESENT: Once you have chosen that one deep, real problem that you will solve become the go to experts for that aspect of that problem. Basically, focus and stay focused.
  3. RE-PACKAGE: Connect your offerings to that one aspect of that one problem you now solve and describe what you do in that context in all of your messages.
  4. (bonus step) RE-DISTRIBUTE: Use every channel (online and offline) that you can access and spread the word of your new “Position” to the world. Own this new space!

Once you are talking to the subconscious mind of your target audience they will have no choice but to pay attention. More attention means more people looking at your messages, which means more responses, which means more leads.

Or you can just go back to doing and saying what everybody else does and says. The choice is yours.

Choose wisely!

 

Erik LuhrsErik Luhrs is known as The Bruce Lee of Sales and Lead Generation. He is the creator of The GURUS Selling System and Front-Loaded Lead Generation. He is the author of the book BE DO SALE and the ONLY expert in the world on Subconscious Lead Generation!

On April 30th Erik will be hosting the FREE webinar ‘3 Steps to get Prospects to Contact You Ready to Say YES!’ In the webinar Erik shows how to apply Subconscious Lead Generation tactics to your Lead Generation and Marketing messages to immediately double or triple open, read and conversion rates. To register go here now: http://bit.ly/JantschLuhrs

 

 

4 Realities of Inbound Marketing You Can’t Afford to Neglect

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Rohan Ayyar – Enjoy!

Inbound marketing and social media participation for brands are one of the most effective promotion tactics today. The whole world of marketing is now skewed towards “earning customers” instead of “buy, beg, or buy your way in” that outbound marketers follow, if this Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing infographic on Mashable is to be believed.

The fundamental shift in consumer behavior is certain now: individuals are in control of what information they choose to receive. Not only do they have options when it comes to brands while buying, but they can also choose who they want to hear from.

According to Mashable’s infographic, more than 84% of 25-34 year olds have abandoned their favorite website because of intrusive or irrelevant advertising. More than a whopping 86% of people skip television ads. At least 200 million Americans have registered for FTC’s “Do Not Call” list. Over 91% of email subscribers have unsubscribed from an email list they previously opted into.

Clearly, outbound marketing is having a hard time. On the other hand, inbound marketing works, but only when you go at it the right way.

Here are a few inbound marketing realities you can’t afford to neglect:

1. No one gives two hoots about your brand, product, service or whatever

This one’s hard. In fact, it’s the hardest truism about being in business today. Contrary to whatever you might think about your business, your prospective customers don’t really give a damn about you. It’s a hard pill to swallow. Does it mean all that passion, sweat, blood, and tears you put into running your business are for naught?

Customers aren’t overly concerned about you, and won’t be either, for as long as you beat your big corporate chest with your “campaigns,” you are just carrying out interruption marketing.

What the world does care about is solutions to problems. Your prospective customers are looking for solutions that can make their life better somehow, in some way. Whatever fits the bill – with respect to products and services – takes the cake.

2. Competition has no face

Once upon a time, all that a company would have to worry about – apart from producing goods and delivering services – was competition from similar companies selling similar products. Today, competition comes in new garbs everyday.

First, there’s the information overload that customers are slowly getting immune to (which means that they mastered the art of ignoring what you have to say). Second, the competition comes from smarter and leaner companies that have learnt the art of keeping customers engaged (with inbound marketing practices, of course).

If you’ve ever wondered why all that money being spent on campaigns never managed to bring in a dollar, it’s because of this competition overload. You just have a lot more to do today.

Are you ready to deal with it?

3. Marketing is the new way of giving

Capitalism was almost a result of selfishness. Ayn Rand was a staunch advocate of “self-worth” and “self-preservation.” She wrote whole tomes like Atlas Shrugged to get that point across. That was then.

Capitalism is still about making a profit. It’s just the way profits are made has changed with inbound marketing. This new line of marketing calls for “selflessness.” It calls for giving away more than you ask for. It calls for altruism, generosity, and spreading buckets of value through content, information dissemination, and relationship-building on social media.

Take whatever route you like, just make sure you give.

4. Inbound is harder than outbound

Most rookie entrepreneurs believe that since inbound marketing is relatively cheaper than traditional marketing, it ought to be easier. As they say, “Talk is cheap.” However, it’s easy to forget that work comes at a premium.

Inbound marketing is harder than traditional marketing. As a matter of fact, marketing is always hard as Drew Williams of HubSpot candidly explained. There are a whole lot of things to get used to. Businesses have to produce an unimaginable amount of content. There’s social media, there’s content (which itself stretches into blog posts, videos, podcasts, slide decks, infographics, curated content, and a whole lot more), which companies have to produce at an alarming rate.

Then there are multiple channels to tap into. Marketing itself is now a hodge-podge of tasks, departments and functions. Teams need to put their heart into all of these. They need to learn and use sophisticated tools for manifold tasks ranging from project collaboration to publishing, from web analytics to video conferencing. What’s more, they need to be effective at that, produce results and justify ROI.

How do you go about inbound marketing? What are the biggest challenges you’re facing in getting inbound leads? How do you convert these to sales? Do you have any new tactics or strategies to share?

Rohan Ayyar bio photoRohan works at E2M solutions, a premium digital marketing firm specializing in creative content strategy, web analytics and conversion rate optimization for startups. He is an avid blogger, with posts on Search Engine Journal, Social Media Today and Moz, among other places. Rohan hangs out round the clock on Twitter @searchrook – hit him up any time for a quick Q&A.

Involve Your Prospect In Their Story to Ignite Inbound Selling

Today is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Mike Hanski – Enjoy! 

wiifm

photo credit: flickr

In certain ways, inbound selling is a lot like inbound marketing.  At the very least, they have one very important concept in common – content is king.

The success of any inbound technique – letting potential leads come to you rather than go hunting for them – is quality content.  And the driving force behind quality content is the idea of letting the reader understand “What’s In It For Me” (WIIFM).

Understanding WIIFM

Any business professional will tell you the most important concept of business writing is answering the question, “what’s in it for me?”

Prospects don’t care about how many products you sold last year, the size of your company, the awards you’ve received or anything else that is wholly unrelated to them.  All they care about is what they can get from the deal.

Fortunately, this idea plays right into the hands of inbound sales specialists.  Check out the ways you can use WIIFM writing to enhance the success of your inbound selling strategy.

Using WIIFM Writing to Create Problems

Last year, John wrote a post outlining the anatomy of inbound selling.  He mentioned the following:

“Inbound sales professionals build and sell problems that prospects don’t even know exist.”

If done properly, WIIFM writing creates problems and initiates questions.  You want your content to answer some of the questions the reader might have, but not all of them.  This draws attention to specific areas of need.

For example, you might write…

We can help with your search engine optimization, social media marketing, and other marketing techniques.

The reader would wonder…”what ‘other marketing techniques?’  Can you do my offline/print marketing too?

To get the answer to that question, the prospect will seek you out.  In the meantime, he might realize he does, in fact, need online marketing techniques in addition to the offline marketing he intended to implement.  You’ve created a problem he didn’t know he had.

WIIFM is All about Providing Education

In another post about the correlation between marketing and selling, John mentioned the following:

“Today’s salesperson must be ready to teach, publish and demonstrate expertise.  Every sales person should answer questions via blog posts, engage in social media conversations, and conduct online and offline seminars.”

Again, this idea plays right into the hands of WIIFM business writing.  The best education tactics are centered on how the reader will benefit.

Do you need some ideas for educational blog posts with WIIFM principles?  Try writing about…

  • Industry secrets.  Is there some insider information you can provide?  Are there questions people are dying to know the answer to?  Give away the recipe to the secret sauce and prospects will love you forever.
  • Controversial topics.  Is there something taboo about your industry?  Are there things no one wants to talk about?  Expose those issues.  Educate prospects about topics they didn’t even know they needed to know.
  • Other areas of expertise.  Demonstrations and tutorials are golden.  Teach something and prospects will be hooked.  Consider making a video of your efforts.

Social media is another arena that offers prime learning opportunities.  When you think about providing educational information with your social media account, remember…WIIFM.

That means, less self-promotion and more client-centered content.  A general rule of thumb for any social media marketing effort is 80/20 – 80% of your content should be links and shares of other people’s content and only 20% should be about you and your brand.  If you are going for a true WIIFM approach with the goal of inbound selling, you might want to change the ratio to something even more drastic – maybe 90/10.

Just focus on providing genuinely helpful content.  Link to other leaders in your industry.  Share significant news pieces.  Be helpful.

Writing Stories about Them

Another concept of inbound selling is the idea of switching from lead nurturing to storybuilding.

“Salespeople must be able to relate the organization’s core stories to the world of their customer and they must help the customer build a new story that stars them in the leading role.”

This strategy is the one most likely to cause a WIIFM stumbling block.  While creating the organization’s stories, it can be easy to slip from them-oriented tales to us-oriented success stories.  When you write, remember to make sure your stories are problem creating (them) rather than problem solving (us).

Other WIIFM Web Content

The driving concept behind inbound selling is letting the prospect come to you.  Therefore, you need to make that task as easy as possible.  Again, think about them and what they need to reach you.

  • Make your “Contact Us” page easy to find.  Clearly link to it from the homepage – and each internal page.
  • Provide as much information as possible on your “Contact Us” page – physical address, email addresses, phone number, fax number, GPS coordinates…everything.  You can’t possibly go overboard here.
  • When applicable, give specific contact information.  Do you have different departments to handle different issues?  List all those out with the appropriate contact person and information.  Try to avoid the ambiguous [email protected] email address.
  • List basic information – like your phone number and email address – on each page of your website.  Don’t make visitors go to your “Contact Us” page if they don’t want to.
  • Share customer testimonials.  Let other people be your sales rep.  They might connect with the reader in a way you can’t.

When it comes to inbound selling, your website is one of your most powerful tools.  Be sure to keep the content focused on the reader.  Tell them exactly what’s in it for them.  Write with your prospect’s interest at heart and you can’t lose.

 

Mike HanskiArticle by Mike Hanski – content strategist and a blog writer at Bid4papers.com. When not writing about education technology and business, he enjoys American literature and traveling in far countries.  Learn more about Mike at Google+.