Best Marketing Strategies
This blog explores 50+ best marketing strategies for online lead generation and boosts sales in 2019. And also explores how to rank your business and website in Google ranking. I revealed the irreplaceable “Three Ms” you need to apply for lead generation success.
Meet the “Three Ms” of marketing
This key is so powerful, many marketers refer to it as a “secret.” It’s referred to as the “Three Ms.”
The Three Ms are:
Your market (your clearly identified ideal client)
Your message (communicating your USP to your ideal client)
Your chosen form of media (the way you communicate that message)
When you have mastery over the market, message, and media, you’ll be able to drive action on the part of your ideal clients/customers in increasing numbers.
The biggest challenge with the 3Ms for most businesses is often choosing the correct form of media. Yes, there are dozens, hundreds, maybe even thousands of forms of media available today – but only a few will work in any given situation.
The truth is, for all of the wonderful things it’s made possible, the Internet’s still little more than another form of media. As a form of media, the Internet is a wonderfully rich source of information and – because of search engines – it’s also reasonably well organized. Certainly more so than almost any other media.
Understanding what your potential customers are looking for on the Internet is key to helping them find you for the answers. It will enable you to place yourself in the path they’re following, to the answers they seek.
When you do this, you don’t have to be found at the top of the search results for keywords related to the problems you can solve to still get all the business you need.
In almost every conversation I have with business leaders, they tell me what they want most from their advertising and marketing is to make the phone ring more often – to get calls from prospects interested in the products and services that they’re selling.
Like it or not, effective optimization (SEO) and the visibility in search engines that results is the backbone of the online business lead generation today.
Marketing Strategy 1:
You want to hire the best person you can who understands your industry and your specialty within that industry. For this reason, it’s always best to work with someone who is easy to understand and, if at all possible, who works similar hours to yours. This is usually difficult when you work with someone who is located in another country.
Also, when you hire someone to do SEO work on your site, keep in mind they’ll need to have administrative rights over your website. This gives them enough power to wreak serious havoc on your business – inadvertently or otherwise. I’m not suggesting this happens regularly but, if that access isn’t secured, it could fall into the wrong hands.
When it comes to hiring someone to help you improve the marketing you’re doing online, you want to first fully vet the company you’re considering before you hire them. The number one way to evaluate the work they’ll do for you is to look at the last six projects they’ve done for other clients and speak to the people they worked for.
Marketing Strategy 2:
Internet Business Lead Generation is a Lot More than SEO
Anyone who ever told you marketing is an expense that must be paid – like the utilities or the stockroom staff payroll – was wrong. Marketing – all marketing – is an investment that deserves a reasonable ROI.
You wouldn’t knowingly add a product or service to your business that returned less than it cost you to provide. Still, countless businesses do this, day in and day out, when it comes to the marketing they do to bring in new business.
This kind of thinking has also led literally thousands of businesses to spend more than they had to try to build a brand – when they should have been focused on attracting more paying clients.
Branding is the form of marketing that drives advertising agencies like the ones you’ve seen on TV…from Bewitched to Mad Men…precisely because it is so expensive and unpredictable. This is because the results, by and large, are essentially untrackable.
These agencies make their money as a percentage of what they can convince their clients they should spend running the ads the agencies create. The branding approach makes total sense…for the agencies.
For this reason, after studying every form of marketing there is for a lot of years, I’ve concluded that “branding” is almost always a nearly complete waste of time and money for most businesses today. If you’re doing it, you should stop. Now.
Consider direct response advertising, instead. With direct response, you’re investing in the acquisition of ideal clients and customers. With direct response marketing, you’re not at all concerned about the nebulous activity is known as “branding your business.” Instead, you’re either going for qualified leads or a low-cost direct sale from everything you do.
When it comes to generating small business leads online, direct response marketing makes it happen. It’s what everything I do for my clients is all about – online or offline.
Regardless of which form of marketing you use, you always want to ask for a response, tell people exactly how to respond, then make it easy and worth their time to do so. When your request is clear, they’ll do what you’ve asked a reliable, measurable percentage of the time.
As I said earlier, SEO is an integral part of an Internet business lead generation – of making your phone ring more often – but there are several related steps involved, to get it right.
Here are the pieces you’ll need to put into play, to benefit from an effective online lead generation campaign:
Clarity on who your ideal client is
Your business USP (Unique Selling Proposition)
A process for effective keyword generation/targeting
Professional landing pages for PPC lead generation
A well-designed website, built for lead conversion/generation
Great content, properly optimized for search (one part of SEO)
Professional back-link campaigns (the other part of SEO)
We’ll go through each of these steps in more detail throughout the rest of this blog. First, it’s important that you understand the marketing principles behind each of these steps.
Marketing Strategy 3:
Free your mind – and increased sales will follow
Hopefully, you’ve cleared your head of the notion that all forms of marketing and advertising are good because they “get your name out there.”
There are many forms of advertising and marketing to choose from today, but only a few of them will actually generate the response you want and need, making it worth the money you’re investing in them.
Whatever advertising you choose to invest in must, for example, be able to generate leads or customers. The ROI must also be in line with other measurable and effective forms of marketing/advertising – or don’t write the check!
When it comes to marketing your business, your decision process begins when you know who your ideal client or customer is and what their lifetime value is to your business.
Then, measure every form of advertising you’re doing or plan to do against the job it’s doing attracting those customers and apply the 80/20 Rule to those results.
Marketing Strategy 4:
Defining Your USP
When I work with clients, helping them identify their Unique Selling Proposition (USP), that song runs constantly through my head.
Who are you? It’s what your USP is all about. This desire for the product – and the fear they can’t have it – provides a business with all the leverage.
Marketing Strategy 5:
Your USP and the competition
Understand that, unless you operate in a vacuum, you have competition. It might not be someone in your area selling exactly what you sell.
It could just as easily be someone on the Internet or in the next town over. It could even be another, totally unrelated business that’s pulling revenue your ideal customer used to spend with you.
I talked to a retailer of antiques and gifts in Kansas who once told me, “I have over a million dollars in inventory. I own a store filled with things no one needs. Everything in here is a discretionary purchase.” His problem?
His sales had dropped dramatically ever since a new Indian casino had opened just outside of town and he was convinced there simply wasn’t any more discretionary money left to come to him.
That antique and gift shop owner changed his positioning, adding the message to his marketing that you should have a treat now and then because you deserve it – and when you buy yourself something nice from his store, it can actually be an investment.
He got that message into the media where he knew casino fans were paying attention.
Sales went back up. Because his was one of the prime antique retailers in the area, with the most luxurious and expensive collection of goodies for miles around, he started making a lot of sales to people who had gone out to the casino and won, probably along with some sales to people with money still in hand they decided they’d rather spend elsewhere.
The rest wished they could become a member of that “inner circle” who could buy something there for themselves.
Your USP is that special something that makes your business and what you do for your customers and clients truly different. It should be easy to communicate in your marketing and appeal to the ideal customer or client you’re seeking.
It should never, ever, be price alone. Instead, you should focus on what it is about you that you uniquely bring to your business. Something special that your business does differently. Your positioning in the market is subject to evolution over time but, for the most part, it should remain fairly consistent.
As you’ve learned by now, I work with entrepreneurial business leaders who want and need to get more leads and sales from the Internet.
Occasionally, I’ll add that I focus on roofing contractors, attorneys, cosmetic dentists, and chiropractors – but my emphasis is always on helping the owners of businesses improve revenue and profits.
If people don’t know you but find themselves in need of your products and services when they come to your website and they still don’t clearly understand what you do – you’ll lose that sale.
If your positioning isn’t clear and someone asks your competitor about you, it’s possible the competitor will be able to honestly say, “I’m not really sure if they even offer this service.”
Marketing Strategy 6:
So – if you haven’t already done so, grab that sheet of paper and write down at least five (preferably ten) problems that you solve or results in your customers/clients get when they buy your products and services.
Then, take a few minutes and research your top competitors’ sites, to see how many of them do the same things. When you do this, you’ll find a few they either don’t do or some they don’t promote in their marketing.
Develop your marketing messages and the content on your site to speak directly to their issues and about the problems that your company can solve that no one else offers. We’ll go into this a bit more in-depth soon.
You’ll be glad you did this – especially because it will help you stop playing Twister in your marketing and get more ideal clients calling and seeking you out for the unique programs you have.
Now you know the makings of the best possible USP for your business – complete with examples from major rock stars, a sitcom, and a pair of khakis. This will provide you with the ammunition you need to make your business and the value you bring to the table so desirable people will literally ignore the competition and work with you instead – on your terms.
Combined with an intimate understanding of precisely who your ideal customers are, you should now be prepared to develop the perfect keywords to help those customers find you. We’ll get into that next.
Marketing Strategy 7:
Generating Effective, Targeted Keywords
No matter what product or service you sell, there are potential buyers waiting for it. It doesn’t matter how specialized whatever you sell happens to be, you can now reach out with your message, directed only to those people most likely interested in buying, and generate more sales.
This is the essence of niche marketing. It’s what the Internet lead generation is all about. Would you drive to the local department store and start searching the shelves?
Maybe…if you’re lucky…there’s a large specialty sports store in your area. You might head over there and hope they stock something.
You never know. They might still make ping pong paddles like the one you just broke – or they might not. You could wind up searching store shelves in your town and the three closest to you without success. Or…would it makes more sense to search the Internet and see what’s available?
After all – there actually might be a very similar paddle three towns over from you. If you checked the Internet first, you could call and ask them about it, see if there are any in stock, and then drive directly there to get it.
There could be someone selling those very paddles online, shipped to your door.
Yes – this imaginary example’s a bit extreme. But not as much as you might think. I’ve often joked that you could probably make a living selling pet tarantula leashes online, with the right Internet marketing in place. Do you think I’m kidding? I just did a search on Google for “pet tarantula supplies” and got roughly 171,000 results!
In the end, you might not actually be able to make a living selling leash to fans of these hairy creatures, but it’s clear there’s a market for them among people who keep them as pets. Who knows? Maybe now you’re pumped to try selling some. Consider it a free business idea from me – just let me know how it works out.
This plays directly to the heart of what Internet search is all about and why so many people today look online first for whatever it is they feel will solve their current problem. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a need for a championship ping pong paddle, everything needed to keep a pet tarantula happy – or whatever it is you sell.
Keep in mind – of those people who have an interest in what you do, almost all of them (+/- 90%) will start their search on the Internet when they consider buying your “thing.”
More interesting; most sales are triggered by a problem consumers want to solve. This leads them to start looking for solutions (not necessarily solutions to buy – not right away, anyway).
They go online to look for those solutions and they search for them with “keywords” – the “hook” upon which SEO hangs its hat. These keywords are the specific words and phrases people tend to enter into a search engine when they’re looking for the right solution to their needs.
To maximize sales and lead generation online, you want to identify the precise words or phrases the type of people you most want to attract to your business would enter into a search engine when they’re searching for a solution to the specific problems you can help them solve.
Marketing Strategy 9:
Google Keyword Planner
This is provided by Google for use with Google’s AdWords PPC programs (their paid advertising platform), but it provides valuable keyword usage information for your SEO, too. It’s also free to use and very useful.
With this free tool, you can see how many people search each month for keywords that match what you’re doing. It will also show you how many companies are competing for each term.
2. Market Samurai – I’ve used this fairly low-cost tool for keyword research for several years now and I find it to be incredibly valuable.
The name of the game is to decide on just five keywords – ten at most – that a reasonable number of people are searching for, but with low enough competition that you’ve got a decent chance to rank highly for them.
For my own clients, I tend to work mostly with keywords that get 30-50 “exact” searches per day. This means the searcher typed that word or phrase into the search engine exactly as you’re using it.
For example, you’ll see different results for “furniture moving” vs “moving furniture.” You want to optimize for the exact term, as opposed to a “broad” match, which can include misspellings, synonyms, related searches, and other possibly (but not always) relevant variations.
It’s not uncommon to eventually add dozens of SEO landing pages to your site to attract prospects, if not more, but I always focus my efforts on exact match keywords.
Marketing Strategy 10:
Optimize the campaign
As the traffic comes in, you’ll also see all kinds of opportunities to optimize the campaign. Many, many advertisers on Google set it up and forget about it.
They either don’t have the skills or they’re lazy and don’t take the time to monitor the campaign, to look for ways to improve it. These are generally the same people who will, in the end, tell you that AdWords doesn’t work after they’ve given it a try.
Instead, we monitor the campaigns on a weekly basis. We split test, to improve the ads themselves, also improving the click-thru rates on the ads, and we improve the landing page, based on the traffic coming in. All along the way, we also apply the 80/20 Rule to our analysis, to show us what gets tossed and what should receive more attention.
One of my clients was advertising on his own. Every time someone clicked on his ad, it was costing him about $40. It was clearly hurting him because he couldn’t get enough opportunities out of that to get his money off the table. We took over and started monitoring and optimizing the campaign by increasing his click-thru rate.
His cost per click fell thru the floor, dropping his costs drastically. What he was spending $40 on before was now costing him $12 – and providing him with three and a half to four times as many opportunities to close a sale for the same money.
The combination of the right keywords, sent to a professionally-developed landing page, generates traffic from AdWords. By optimizing those campaigns on a regular basis and refining the landing page and call to action itself, we begin to see steady growth in the lead flow.
WordPress development/content development/clear call to action…
This was what came to be referred to – after Web 2.0 was established – like Web 1.0. Before that, …it was just “The web.”
Web 2.0 was established as websites evolved into tools to be used for conducting conversations with people. This is when sites were designed to attract people to our own spot on the web, to have a dialog with them, to talk with them, to answer their questions, and so forth. This brought on the “social media” phase we have today.
Although we don’t really need to go into the social media scene here, the mindset that the web is a living thing that we can use as a tool for communication is very prevalent in what I’m about to explain: it’s my philosophy behind using the web.
The idea is to build a customized, attractive website but, more important to generate leads.
For a whole lot of reasons, we no longer build websites with HTML – the “coding” language of the Internet. There are some people who still do, but it’s the most complicated way to go these days.
It’s now far better to build websites on a dynamic platform, rather than a static, straight-up “HTML” format that comes close to producing those web “billboards” of old.
Marketing Strategy 11:
Build the Best Wordpress website
WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems.
The beauty of this arrangement is that we can update the theme from time to time, completely changing the site’s look very quickly. We can also easily change the content on the site, without having to rebuild it when we do. Everything’s in the database. The site is only actually generated whenever someone visits the web address.
Each visitor sees the latest version of the site that’s generated for them from the database when they arrive, including any of the changes you’ve made when they do. You only update what you want to.
The biggest advantage to a WordPress site, then, is flexibility. It’s also an extremely inexpensive platform that provides a fast turnaround to implementation. Sites can be built quickly, then easily optimized for better search engine visibility and you don’t have to learn a bunch of complicated code to do it. We’re going to take advantage of all of that with the process I’m laying out for you here.
With the keywords we’ve developed, we then engage in this process of WordPress development/content development/on-page optimization/call to action. Those are all the components, or ingredients, of a lead generation website.
With the right foundational preparation – creating a solid USP, keywords, and branding – you can then use a formula to develop a very straightforward website that speaks to the ideal client or customer, communicates your USP, and asks them to take action on that USP, to choose you or to take the first step, whatever you determine that should be.
With WordPress, getting the framework up and running usually takes just a few days. After a bit of customization of the look of the site and fine-tuning some stuff along the way, you move to the next step: developing the content.
An ideal landing page for PPC should include, then, only information directly related to the search term or terms you’re using to attract clicks that send people to that particular page. This information doesn’t necessarily have to be revealed on the landing page itself.
Your landing page can be a link to the specific information being sought – and the “answer” could be filling out a brief subscription form to join your email list, after which you’ll send the information they wanted to see.
Overall, PPC marketing is two-step direct marketing, in its purest form, directed at a precisely targeted audience seeking an answer to a specific question.
You might, for example, offer one solution directly related to the search term or terms…and an invitation to the visitor to sign up for your list for similar, even better tips. You could also then include a teaser or two as to what additional answers the visitor can expect after opting in.
Then, in the emails you send to list members, fulfilling the promise you made when they signed up, keep mentioning that you can save them a tremendous amount of time and – surprisingly – money when they choose to have you do it all for them instead.
If you provide services performed for clients, you can also do well with a landing page that shows people step-by-step how to do what you do for them on their own.
Point out how much less time-consuming this same process can be when the visitor enlists some affordable help…then invite the visitor to join your list to find out how they can make this process happen with the best results possible – by hiring you.
The key to a great PPC landing page is keeping it short and simple, directly on-point with answers to the specific question or questions a visitor had in mind when he or she typed in the search term that brought them to your ad.
By “simple,” I mean you should maintain a steady focus on a “less is good” approach.
One powerful way to tie your PPC ads directly to a landing page, for example, would be to create an ad that asks a question or that starts a statement directly related to the targeted search term – and the answer or the rest of the statement is on the landing page people see when they click – perhaps in the headline they see the moment the page opens.
The ad itself might say, “An easy garment waterproofing solution,” for example. The landing page, then, could lead right into one powerfully quick way the visitor can waterproof their own garments, along with an invitation to get even more tips by signing up to join your list.
I often use professional writers who work with all the keywords I’m trying to optimize the site around, along with the framework of what the story needs to say. The writer then creates the articles or content for placement on the site.
You want your writers, whoever you use, to create the highest quality content because Google has made it very clear they want to present the highest quality results to people who are searching.
To the degree that you can, if your desire is to be the number one Website in the world for a keyword, you should come as close as you can to present the world with the best page with the best information related to that keyword that you can.
You might be thinking, “How do I do that?” It’s not as hard as it might sound. You simply look at who’s ahead of you in the rankings for that keyword now, see what type of content they’re putting out, and present better information than they are, relating to that keyword.
This is well worth whatever extra effort might be required. It can be the “make or break” element for any PPC campaign.
Google developed a formula as an update to their existing algorithm, so it’s “just an update” – but it was a huge shift in how Google ranked pages before. They called this update “Panda.” In literal terms, it’s a filter and its job is to filter out poor quality content.
For this reason, when Google sends their virtual “spiders” to crawl your content on your site, we want them to say, “That content is extremely relevant to the keyword and is worthy of being indexed and presented.”
By itself, this isn’t enough – but it does form the basis of where you want to start. It’s why you want to do what’s necessary to create great content for these pages.
A magazine publisher I know once told me, sighing deeply, with the kind of look in his eyes usually reserved for losing a loved one, “I wish I had all the checks possible subscribers have stuck on their fridges with magnets, but never got around to putting in an envelope and mailing to me.”
When the work identifying the precise keywords to attract your ideal clients is done, and you’ve designed your campaign to drive those people you most desire to reach to your landing page, you want nothing to get in the way of the action you want people to take after clicking on that ad. You don’t want them to wind up stuck up on the fridge.
As for the design of your page itself, a solidly-converting landing page is specifically designed using a proven template to get your prospects to do one thing. What that one thing is might vary.
You might want visitors to pick up the phone and call you, you may want them to set an appointment on an online calendar so you can call them, or you might want them to fill out a form to receive a free newsletter or to sign up for special “members-only style” discounts, a special report, or a free ebooks.
It’s up to you and your audience what works best here. Split-testing different enticements will show you which items your ideal clients respond to best. The ever-powerful 80/20 Rule will help you determine the winners and losers.
Plan to set up more than one landing page and more than one ad going to each of those pages. Google lets you set up multiple ads and automatically rotate them, so split-testing becomes automatic, once you have this set up the way you want and turn it on.
The key, again, is designing your ads so they attract the right kind of targeted lead to a specific page that’s only designed to capture the lead you’d most like to see come in.
Because you have only a limited number of words in an AdWords ad and you want to also “close the deal” on your landing page with the fewest words possible, you’ll find that the use of multiple landing pages, to rotate in and out with multiple ads, will help you quickly “dial in” and find the right combination for maximum click-through rate (CTR).
This takes some effort and then some trial-and-error after you start getting traffic…but it’s required effort that will help you generate results you can quickly see.
We’ve now covered the elements of a solid PPC landing page and I’ve shown you how to avoid the dreaded Google “stupid tax,” keeping the cost of clicks you buy at their lowest.
I’ve also pointed out why one PPC landing page is not like the others, so you need multiple pages for maximum results – and how to send the right prospects to the best page for them.
I also showed you how you could be sending people away with what you say – and how to know when enough is enough. Next: I’ll walk you through turning your main website into the best possible SEO magnet it can be.
Marketing Strategy 12:
Designing Your Website to Generate and Convert Leads
Showing, not selling
We’ve already discussed why you don’t want to send AdWords clicks to your company website. Any page to which you send AdWords PPC clicks should be specifically designed to match the ad that sent the click and, in the process, to capture a lead – clean and simple.
It’s always a good idea to enlist the aid of a competent online business lead and conversion specialist with this process, if at all possible.
Don’t panic. Your main business website is still valuable. After all – it’s your online “company store.” Even better, this is also where you can put SEO into action, for longer-term results. This way, you can make certain your company website generates and converts leads, in addition to your PPC landing pages. More of a good thing is always better, right?
Although you don’t send AdWords clicks directly to this main site, people will visit it as a result of your SEO and other marketing efforts. After people click on your PPC ad, then visit your opt-in page.
For example, they could also visit your main site – whether they’ve opted in or not – to find out more about you. This can present you with another excellent opportunity to turn those visitors into additional leads for your business.
Pretty has its place…
To get this right, you don’t really want to involve your web designer. I’m sure you were taught growing up to always include everyone. However, website designers – regardless of what they might tell you – are primarily focused on making your site pretty.
While pretty might get a lady more dates, it won’t get you more leads. This is why an online lead generation and conversion specialist can best help you take these vital next steps and turn your company site into the best lead generation and conversion machine it can be.
I’m not saying you can’t do this yourself. You do, however, need to understand what you’re doing and what’s required, to meet or exceed your goals. Most of my clients would rather leave this part of the equation up to a specialist. The choice, of course, is yours.
You want to start by making certain your main website navigation is structured properly. This is the first step in turning your main site into something more than simply another static billboard on the wide open information superhighway.
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Marketing Strategy 14:
Optimizing the Right Content
The truth is that effective SEO is pretty easy. A few things done in the right order with consistency can make a huge difference. Truly listening to what you’re telling your best customers and clients, again and again, can provide countless clues to the best SEO approach for you.
My clients can testify to this.
However, most business owners (probably including you) are experts at their craft and much too busy doing what they do best to learn how to do their own search engine optimization, too.
This is most likely not something you normally do or have ever done before. Even if you’ve actually optimized your pages for SEO before – more than once – it’s likely you still need to “listen to the tapes” several times, going back over everything again and again, to make sure you’re getting it right.
Keep this in mind as I run you through this. If it sounds like too much to take on yourself, I understand. If you don’t feel compelled to put in the time to learn how this part of lead generation works, there’s no shame in admitting you need help with something along the road to success.
Self-made successes are far rarer than you might think. Still, it’s important that you understand the process – even if you decide to hire outside help to handle your SEO work. This will help you see the scams and schemes when they appear at your door and know when to keep looking for someone who really knows what they’re doing.
Marketing Strategy 15:
Optimizing for maximum results
If, after checking, you find that some of your money pages aren’t getting indexed by the search engines, this is a sign. It’s telling you that you still need to optimize your pages. It’s an indication there’s some confusion, in the eyes of the search engines, as to what the page is about.
This is when you’re going to want to understand and apply the principles of on-page SEO to the pages and posts on your site.
Most of what you’ll read about this topic is wrong. Contrary to popular opinion, search engines like Google have gotten very good at understanding what your page is about. Still, there’s no downside to giving them a little help. The right level of optimization will help ensure your pages are indexed and that the listings you earn as a result say what you hoped they would.
You have to exercise some care here because there’s also a way you can overdo optimization. This can wind up getting you penalized. In almost every case, you’ll want to focus on each post or page around only one primary keyword. It’s also fairly common to optimize for a secondary keyword – on some pages, but not necessarily on all of them.
One common mistake is forgetting that you still want to engage people with your site content. The best way to do that is to start out with a powerful headline. Headlines ensure that people will read your pages and it’s often a reason that content gets shared with others. Sharing helps your SEO rankings, too.
We know, for example, that Google’s number one most important element on any page is what’s called the “Meta Title Tag,” or just the title tag, for short. They look at the title tag and compare it to other elements within the page.
It tells their computerized arachnids crawling your site what the page is about, without actually having a human look at it. This helps them index the page properly and put it in the right place in their search results.
If you think about it, a typical Google search starts when somebody types in a word or phrase. In a few microseconds, Google’s ability to figure out the 1,000 best pages that are the most accurate results for that search, then sort them and present them to you on your screen, in order of their relevance, from number 1 to 1,000.
The reality of it is that the number of people who go beyond the first 10 results Google shows to them are few. Almost all the interest goes to the people located in the top three positions. There’s a lot of complexity that goes along with that, but we aren’t going to deal with that here. Google’s ranking formulas are, after all, changing constantly.
It doesn’t make sense to immortalize what’s going on right now in a blog as it will likely be outdated by the time this sees publication. Still, the general principles of what Google is looking for haven’t changed much and it’s doubtful they will. They’re just getting better and better at honing down to exactly that and nothing more.
The point is this: we’re going to give them great content. We’re going to optimize it properly with the correct title tags – a very compelling title tag – and we’re going to have professionally written Meta descriptions.
When you hear the words “Meta description,” I want you to think in word pictures of a Google search. See the different listings on the search results page for the word representing whatever you were looking for. There’s a bold blue link at the top that you click on to get to the page.
That’s your title tag. The words underneath that link are the Meta description you provided. This isn’t a big part of what Google is using to rank the website, but it does have a valuable role: it’s the “ad” you’re actually presenting to the public when they find your listing with their search.
You’re trying to sell the public, to get them to click on your link, instead of the one above or below it. This “ad” should be designed to help do that.
If possible, include your primary target keyword for the page in your headline. When it comes to on-page SEO, the most important place for you to include your primary keyword is in the HTML “title” tag. To view this tag, you need to look in the page’s HTML source code. The tag looks something like this: <title>your keyword phrase</title>.
Marketing Strategy 16:
Financial freedom for SEO
Most entrepreneurs I talk to come to me in love with the idea of SEO. They’ve heard it’s “free.” I guess this has become a widespread notion because, unlike advertising on TV, radio, or in the paper, you usually don’t have to write checks directly for the links themselves.
If you have the requisite skills to do SEO yourself and you don’t count the cost of your time in doing so, then you might be able to make a case that SEO’s free.
Whenever you hear this, however, you’re either dealing with someone who doesn’t understand that every form of marketing has a cost (your time is never free), or they’re simply being dishonest. SEO will cost you – in either time or in money.
Still, most business owners don’t have the skills they need to effectively do SEO, even if they have the time. They need to hire someone to do it for them.
SEO, then, isn’t free, no matter how you look at it. But – if it’s done right if you work with your business’ most important keywords and your site gets ranked near the top of search results – the impact can be dramatic, producing an ROI far in excess of whatever you might see from most other advertising or marketing you could do.
You’ve seen that SEO boils down to just a few things. It’s true. That’s why I’ve split the subject into two separate blogs – one each for the two things you need to focus on. The next step is creating the content I also went over with you, to build your ranking the right way.
Marketing Strategy 17:
Search engines rank content, not websites
When you think about it, people looking online are usually looking for information that provides them with the answers they needed. Especially when they use the search engines.
When you focus your attention on providing valuable, targeted, informative online content that’s properly optimized, you won’t have to spend time or money chasing new customers.
They’ll come to you. Give those people visiting your website a reason to reach out to you for more information and a percentage of them will do exactly that.
Marketing Strategy 18:
Power of direct marketing via the Internet
This focus on valuable information will also generate sincere backlinks – links to your information – from other websites. Other websites like to provide their visitors with valuable information and one of the easiest ways to do this is by pointing to that information from their site.
This information, when you get this part of SEO right, will be yours. So will the new traffic and better rankings that come along with it. When these two elements are combined properly, you’ll never run short of new clients and customers. Game. Set. Match.
This can be more complicated than you might imagine, however. And the rules are constantly in flux.
Clients of mine know that I talk to them about the content they generate and share pretty much all the time. It’s that important. People do business with other people. But the key, as I opened this blog points out, is that they do business with people they know, like, and trust.
If you regularly create and share high-quality, targeted content, people will become familiar with your name. I do this all the time. It’s not uncommon for me to meet someone who will remark, “I see you everywhere!”
This isn’t some happy accident – and, no, it doesn’t mean I’m stalking them!
By getting my content out there, I get known. From there, we focus on the liking and trusting part of the equation. Both of these happen faster when ideal client prospects read what I’ve posted and learned something valuable from it.
Just as it is with almost all aspects of life, if you share or give without thought to what you get in return, you usually receive in abundance. Those who are known as givers are often liked by many, too.
The trust part grows organically. When you share information and ideas with people and do it consistently, people begin to realize that you’re for real – someone they should talk with more about providing the solutions they need.
Understanding this, go back to your initial list of keywords and begin creating content that talks about the problems people have that your products/service solve.
The concept is simple, really: seek to create the “best” piece of content on your topic anywhere on the Internet. Search engines and other sites will then want people to be able to find it.
Excellent written content is usually lengthy, as much as 1000 words or more. An ideal standard, when creating content that drives your SEO – can’t usually be done in 300-500 words.
If writing content isn’t your thing, consider other types of content, including videos, podcasting, or conducting live webinars or teleseminars. Another option would be to hire a qualified writer to help you generate excellent content for your prospects to enjoy. You can find decent writers locally by advertising on Craig’s List.
Just remember – don’t create content that’s intentionally “loaded up” with your keyword repeated all over the place. You want to include your keywords when they apply directly to your content and would naturally fit in the conversation where you place them.
At this point in our journey, I’ve explained to you why it pays to listen to your market. I’ve shown you the power of compelling content and provided the steps you should follow to properly tag your pages for results from your SEO efforts…including how to avoid over-doing it.
Marketing Strategy 19:
Professional Back-Link Campaigns
Once you have quality internal content optimized on your site, you’re ready to share your content with the world. If you’ve created the best article ever on your topic, lots of people will naturally want to link to it and share it with others.
This will create quality back-links to your site, done the right way… something the search engines reward with higher rankings. Still, you should always be on the lookout for other legitimate ways to add links to your site that will boost its authority in the eyes of the search engines.
This isn’t a link-building course. Far from it. In the Google terms of service, we’re not allowed to build links to our own sites. That said, there are legitimate ways of having at least some control when it comes to getting links coming into your site.
Ten of the most popular back-link-building methods include:
Submitting guest blog posts to other blogs
Creating a high-value “lens” on HubPages
Submitting your blog to directories on http://bestoftheweb.org
Finding website directories in your niche and submitting your link for inclusion
Interviewing (and being interviewed by) other bloggers
Getting clients and friends to link to your site
Making sure your social profiles (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) include a link to your site
Adding your blog to different communities on http://blogcarnival.com
Answering questions for people on sites such as http://Quora.com
Starting or participating in forum conversations and linking to your own site in the signature line with your comments
The most powerful ways to naturally attract links to your site include:
Creating “Link Bait” – high-value content that people will naturally want to share
Hiring a programmer to create a simple piece of software you can give away to visitors (again, people love sharing links to valuable freebies)
Developing a “badge” for visitors to add to their sites
Here’s the thing: the number and quality of the sites that link to your site is a solid indication of your authority and value to your community. But, if you try to build a ton of links to your own sites too quickly, Google will catch you.
When they do, they won’t count the links you’ve built and may, in fact, punish you for doing it.
Worst-case: screw this up and it’ll be “No Google for you!”
Marketing Strategy 20:
Watch out for the Google penguins
Marketing Strategy 21:
Good Content is always King
The result? A lot of junk content was created and distributed on a lot of websites, for no other reason than to create more links back to sites they wanted to promote – for themselves or for their clients. This is what we now refer to as “web SPAM.”
Google put a stop to this with their Penguin update. The short, non-technical version of the message this update sent to the marketing world was that all content created only for the purpose of increasing the number of links back to sites they were promoting would no longer be acceptable.
And Google is now very good at finding them. Fortunately, today, we know that it’s not the number of links that play a major role in where Google ranks your site, but the quality of those links.
No longer is more the same as better. Concentrate, then, on creating specific types of high-quality content on your site, something that’s useful to people. Share it everywhere and some people will naturally choose to link to it. These are the kinds of back-links you want.
One example of this kind of information, for me, is the calculators I have on my site. My lifetime value and return on investment in your marketing calculators are tools a lot of people like. They link to them, to share them with others. This gets me quality back-links that help my site’s ranking in the search engines.
In some cases, an infographic can also generate a lot of links. They’ve become an extremely popular way to deliver quality content that’s easy for people to grasp quickly.
Videos, ebooks, and other useful content can all result in quality back-links, but be careful you don’t rely on them too heavily. A lot of web spammers still use them, too. Google could decide, at some point, to discount all of them, to maintain the overall quality of their listings. It’s not imminent, or even necessarily likely, but the possibility’s still there.
I watched a webinar that confirmed the game as we know it has been forever changed. The very smart team at Page One Power revealed the results of three companies’ efforts to build links, in their attempt to rank highly for the keyword “HR Software.”
So – what type of link-building should your teams be doing? Start with research. You want to find the high-value sites that are relevant to your ideal target customer’s interests and see if they’ll link to your site.
Looking closely at the link profile of your competitors might yield some clues to which high-value sites you want to get links from. Again, if your site offers a lot of high-quality useful content, people will be more inclined to link to you naturally.
It’s kind of funny, really. When Google first hit the world with their Penguin update, you could almost hear the roars of frustration from the creators of all that web SPAM, now rendered pretty much useless. The funny thing is how incensed they are that Google caught on to their game and shut them down cold.
They should have been angry with themselves. Instead, many expressed their open displeasure with Google’s decision about how it should run its own service.
Remember – Google and other search engines are a modern form of media. Like any magazine, newspaper, or broadcast, the search listings they deliver are the content they provide to the market.
They want to deliver a very high-quality experience to their users. Help them, and they’ll reward you with leads and business. Work against them, and they’ll destroy your business website’s visibility without warning.
Marketing Strategy 22:
It’s honestly the “secret sauce” to SEO success with your content, so pay close attention.
The search engines are also now able to see how often people engage with your excellent content. The number of “likes,” “shares,” re-tweets, blog comments, etc. that each of your content posts receives translates into social signals that are now factored into where your page appears in search results and where it’s listed when it does.
For this reason, a part of the online lead generation process today involves developing and cultivating a following on one or more of the social media networks and sharing your content with them there.
When I share my articles with readers, I also make it a point to reply to those who take the time to comment, letting them know I want to build a connection with them.
Even if they just “like” a post, I’ll send them a note and thank them for the “vote.” Often, we end up following one another after that and they further engage with my information going forward.
The point: if search engines are measuring who likes your work enough to share it, comment on it, or to engage with you over it in some other way, then you have an excellent opportunity to gain visibility in the listings as you begin building relationships with the visitors.
In today’s socially-connected online world, those relationships turn into leads and new business.
Marketing Strategy 23:
Do they really know their SEO?
Here are three ways to figure out which of the “SEO experts” you’re now working with or talking to don’t know what they’re doing:
1) If they’re talking about the need to build thousands of back-links to your site because the guy who’s listed number one has them. This just shows a limited understanding of what their real job is.
It also makes it clear you need someone else to handle this task for you. If you can get just 10-15 high-quality sites to link to you this month – it’s plenty. Just keep that up and you’ll keep building your visibility as you go. Remember…steady, consistent action gets the right kind of search engine attention.
2) If, when discussing link building, they use article marketing, “content spinning,” or other similar “Google tricks.” This is the epitome of the junk that Google’s trying to remove from their index.
If you or your team contributes to the junk pile, don’t be too surprised if Google decides to punish you for it. This punishment can mean you might find your site listed on page 100 – where no one ever looks – if it’s not banned from the listings altogether. It happens!
3) If they’re still using bulk directory registrations or social media profiles as a way of getting links for your site. This demonstrates they still don’t understand that it’s quality Google is looking for – not quantity. Directory listings and social media profiles are excellent…but go easy and remain natural with it.
Marketing Strategy 24:
How do you choose the best SEO service?
When it comes to knowing who is the “best,” that’s subjective. The best is probably someone you like most and whose credentials check out. The one who is most accessible and available to help you when you need it most. The one who doesn’t see the need to speak in riddles and then tell you its too complicated for you to understand.
Oddly enough, you’ll select the best provider of this service the same way your new leads will decide they want to do business with you – by finding someone you know, like, and trust. Coincidence? I think not!
By now, you’ve seen the power of properly earned back-links and you understand more fully what it is Google really wants – key factors in winning the SEO game.
You also know how to make social SEO sizzle and how to find the best professional SEO help possible, avoiding the worst. Now all you need to do is start tracking your results, to apply the 80/20 Rule and fine-tune everything. We’ll cover that next.
Marketing Strategy 25:
Checking Your Results
A combination of direct marketing with Internet lead generation makes tracking your results in a fairly straightforward matter. Google analytics – a free tool Google provides – will show you all the traffic coming to each of your pages and where it came from. Your PPC campaign will show you the CTR for your paid campaigns.
This tracking makes it possible to know your conversion percentage, adjust your campaigns accordingly, and continually improve your results as you grow. Your main concern, then, is starting with the right goal.
Mapping out where you want to be, once you’ve made the necessary adjustments. This is how you know where you’re currently located along the path to your goal.
Even better, with the power of direct marketing for an online lead generation, your future success moving forward is totally quantifiable. You can hold every piece of the system accountable as you proceed.
Because you can measure the results, you also have the opportunity to improve them, little by little, until you get more of what you want or need, just as a pilot adjusts the flight path of a plane.
Marketing Strategy 26:
Maintain your focus on web traffic and conversions!
There is no trackable benefit to having traffic without converting as much of it to a buyer or subscriber, as quickly as possible. Get your conversions from traffic cooking and you’ll see more traffic from better rankings just because you did. It can become exponential – not to mention addictive!
This is your number one ongoing concern for the foreseeable future.
You don’t really need a crystal ball or extrasensory capabilities to see the future of online lead generation for business, to be honest. As I see it, things will likely escalate down the path they’re currently cascading along.
A reliance on web traffic to cost-effectively generate new business leads will definitely continue. I’m not talking about freeway-level web traffic here, mind you, but real web traffic…people who actually visit your website.
The old “tricks” will continue to fail and new ones will pop up from time to time, only to be squashed and rendered useless, too. If you follow all the rules and are ranking organically – and appear at the top of the search results for an important keyword that people are searching, you can get a lot of ongoing traffic.
Still, if that traffic doesn’t convert in some way, what do you really have?
One thing you might have is a significant bounce rate. I’ve defined this already, but here’s how our friend, Wikipedia, describes it:
“Bounce rate (sometimes confused with exit rate) is an Internet marketing term used in web traffic analysis. It represents the percentage of visitors who enter the site and ‘bounce’ (leave the site) rather than continue viewing other pages within the same site.
Bounce rate is a measure of the effectiveness of a website in encouraging visitors to continue with their visit.”
A high bounce rate is not good. Google (and perhaps other search engines, too) now considers your bounce rate as a signal when deciding where to rank your site.
It makes sense that if your web traffic leaves your site right away, you’re most likely not giving your visitors what they expected to find. If that happens to a great degree, you won’t be ranked at the top for long.
I see this trend continuing, along with other factors that will increasingly play a roll in the overall ranking system and SEO practices.
Marketing Strategy 27:
Quality, Relevant Content Is Key
Considering the growing importance such factors as your bounce rate already has in your success, it’s no wonder perhaps the biggest change in SEO to come along in a long while has been an increased focus by the search engines on quality content directly related to the search listing that brings visitors to the page. This makes quality content now a must.
In the future, you can expect more changes in this area, all designed to make certain that the content being delivered is of the highest possible quality. Also, don’t rule out the addition of human rankings, at some point.
Rather than a computer algorithm determining the position of your listing in the search results, these rankings will come from the human readers of your content themselves, through mechanisms similar to Facebook’s “like” button and Google’s “+”.
I feel so certain of this I don’t even consider it a prediction.
Because of this continued escalating reliance on the quality of the content being delivered for search results, you’re already poised to stay on top of the game if you focus on its importance right now. Make quality content your priority. You won’t be sorry you put in the extra effort or dollars to develop your content to the highest level possible.
One of the content marketing experts at the Content Marketing Institute, Katie McCaskey, recently filed a post stating that content marketing was about to burst the “SEO web writing” bubble that’s been growing for some time.
I completely agree with Katie’s assessment. This is why, since the early part of the new century, I’ve been positioned and working as a content marketing expert.
Content marketing experts – especially the ones with integrity – will tell you that, if your website content has the basic on-page factors met, and the content is good enough to share with others, the SEO will pretty much take care of itself.
Marketing Strategy 28:
Focus on the content
As Katie said in her post, “The search engines are wising up, and so are the people embracing content marketing.” Keep this simple truth in mind as you employ a strategy that will increase your visibility in search results.
My suggestion? Have content marketing experts on your team, develop a content marketing strategy and watch your site grow and prosper.
Will SEO still be important?
Considering all these changes, should you still be focusing on and investing in SEO? Absolutely! It’s just becoming ever-more apparent that tricks won’t cut it. Increasingly, they can get you de-listed or demoted to Google’s “back pages,” where no one who isn’t your own mother will find you.
There were lots of moans and complaints when Google started enforcing their rules against web spam and link manipulation. Unfortunately for the whiners, this game will continue to change because – let’s face it – it’s Google’s game. They can change it in any way they wish.
You probably see your listing on Google as free advertising for your business. Google sees it differently. To Google, your listing is the content they deliver that attracts people to their search engine.
Their search engine is, essentially, their publication. They make their money selling advertising in that publication…but the rates they can charge for that advertising – and the number of advertisers they can attract – are based on the number of visitors Google can attract to their content.
So far, they’ve done a better-than-fair job of attracting a lot of “readers” to their content, primarily because of their relentless focus on providing quality results for the searches those readers perform. Provide Google the content they’re looking for and they’ll feature it for you. Free.
It’s a good deal and it’s one I think we can count on being available to us for a long time to come. However, we also need to be more realistic about what Google’s really up to, what they really want and work harder to give them exactly that. The punishment for not “getting it” will be worse in the future… not better.
Believe it or not, there’s still widespread belief that you can get to the top of search results simply by having more links than your competitor. Even if this were true, it’s short-term thinking.
Google’s total devotion to improving the quality of their search results, their computing power, and their money enables them to eventually stop any link manipulation cold.
If your site is sitting on top of search results because of tricks, consider it a temporary situation. Google will one day – later if not right away – change that.
So – yes, you should definitely continue to focus on SEO moving into the future. This is, however, conditional. There are a couple of caveats:
First – you must have at least a basic understanding of what does and does not work today.
Today, SEO is still largely limited to your “on-page” factors, which are your title tags, meta description tags, header tags, and such. Get these right and you’re way ahead of the game now and going into the future.
Marketing Strategy 30:
The importance of another key web traffic source – paid to advertise
This is big and getting bigger because, finally, people are waking up to the “real” cost of web traffic. With social and organic/SEO traffic, you often pay by investing hours and hours of your time to make it work.
With paid advertising, such as PPC ads on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google, you pay by writing a check and you only invest a small amount of time to see very fast trackable results.
Perhaps the real upside of paid advertising is that there’s no limit to how much traffic you can generate. If you can convert that web traffic into something that leads to income for you, PPC can be the kick-starter to more leads you were looking for. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a huge credit card bill and a massive headache.
Again, the key here is top-notch quality, relevant content to which you drive your PPC traffic, on pages specifically designed to focus on one thing: getting a visitor to convert, either as a buyer or as a subscriber to a list.
What about social media as a source of web traffic?
I know that about half of my current traffic, in some weeks, now comes from the content I share on social media – mostly from LinkedIn. This site continues to gain respect and power in the world of business-to-business social media.
Facebook and Google+ both offer business pages, but they’ve never gained the traction with business “insiders” that LinkedIn has and I believe things will stay this way for at least a while yet.
I’m not saying we won’t see Google+ continue to gain its own relevance on the social media scene, however. Google continues to add new functions and features to its own social platform and it certainly has the means to continue developing more.
Since Google+ is also directly tied to Google in ways no other social media sites outside of YouTube can be, the service certainly should be included in any SEO and lead generation efforts now and into the near future.
Likewise, YouTube has gotten more social. Google has not only connected YouTube to its Google+ social networking platform, it’s also adding features that allow people to connect and share videos more easily on YouTube, among other functions. Given the fact that this site, too, is owned by Google, it’s also most certainly favored by Google search.
I expect to see its capabilities and power for rankings and overall visibility for business grow as time passes. Consider getting some videos on YouTube as part of your strategy now and start building a following.
Somewhere along the way, Google added social interaction to the list of things it considers in search rankings. This is when the concept of “social SEO” was born. I see social SEO becoming increasingly important as we move into the near future.
When trying to score millions of pages, to figure out which ten are the most relevant for any given search term, you’d want to look at the page itself (on-page optimization), the back-links that point to that page (off-page optimization), and how readers engage with the content.
To track this, you would ask, “Do they stick around and read it (making time-on-site and bounce rates a factor) – and do they share it with others?”
Facebook “likes,” Twitter “tweets,” LinkedIn “shares” and, of course, Google’s “+1,” are all being factored into the search results now. These and 190 or so other “signals” are considered in what ranks wherein search engine results pages today.
To say it’s complicated is an understatement. To make it all happen in less than one second is a technological miracle. The only thing stopping Google from taking it to the next unimaginable step right now is the time it takes to develop that next step…and they’re most likely already working on it.
Still, it’s a safe bet to guess that Google’s focus on Social SEO will continue to grow in importance, especially since it’s in social SEO where the seeds of human rankings for content will be found lurking.
This makes it a great idea to master social SEO right now. Doing so requires that you create good – if not great – content. Since the idea of “great” is subjective, at best, there are some things you can do, to help yourself rank better.
Marketing Strategy 32:
Everything is Going Mobile
I mentioned the Who earlier, and how one of their songs rolls through my head every time I start honing in on who exactly a client is, in the eyes of their very best customers. Oddly enough, there’s the second song of theirs I hear almost as often – the lesser-known, “Going Mobile.”
Before you start thinking it must be really weird inside my head (and, honestly, sometimes it can get that way), I’d better get to the point: in personal computing, everything’s going mobile.
Mobile computing has been gradually overtaking desktop and laptop PCs for the past decade and we’re at that sweet spot right now where things have tipped. Mobile computing devices are dominating.
More and more people are looking at your website and pages on smaller screens these days. This is where using WordPress to develop your web pages really comes in handy.
When you select a theme to put your content into on WordPress, make sure that theme is described as “responsive.” Responsive pages automatically notice visitors coming in from a mobile device and adjust the screen and layout of your page to better accommodate them.
You also want to make certain you’re ranking in SEO for local terms if your business is primarily local in nature. Adding your city and state to the terms you rank on makes it far easier to rank on top of terms that might otherwise be over-crowded nationwide.
This also signals your location to mobile users who might just drop by while they’re already out in your area.
Mobile’s influence on everything is rapidly becoming the norm. We can expect this trend to continue for some time yet. Software applications, online and offline – and even computer operating systems – are increasingly moving to “chiclet”-style graphics.
And designed to be easier to see and manipulate on smaller touch-sensitive screens. There will definitely be more of this as mobile’s dominance grows over the next few years.
Adding a “push to call us” button on your site (a simple process with a WordPress plugin to do so) is also recommended, as most mobile devices these days are also phones. If a prospect can easily find you in search, then simply tap a chiclet to call you instantly, you’ll see better results, don’t you think?
The keys to creating a bright future for your business.
If your pattern is to market your business aggressively, targeting those you think would be ideal prospects
If you lead with an understanding of what the prospect’s needs are
If you tie your USP and guarantees to their wants and needs things are probably going to be pretty decent for you, results-wise.
You see, if you aren’t really clear on who an ideal prospect might be, if you’re not speaking to what their wants and needs are, and if you fail to offer anything in your marketing to communicate that you are unique, then many, if not most, of your opportunities will be based on your willingness to sell for less money than your competitor will.
Something to think about, yo?
The future, then, is bright for SEO and online lead generation and it’s bright for you – if you consistently follow and apply what I’ve shown you in this blog.
That’s a forecast that makes me smile.
There you have it. Online lead generation did right. You now know enough to get your own going in the right direction – or to intelligently hire the help you need to get it done.
And you know how important it is. You also have a grasp of what to expect in the near future. Apply what I’ve shared here and it will be a bright future for you. That’s precisely why I do what I do for a living and I would love seeing nothing else.
We’ve gone over setting up your SEO and optimizing your company website for lead generation and acquisition. And we’ve covered the power of PPC, to get your online lead generation on a fast track to results.
I’ve taken you through the steps. You can take them as far as you’re willing to go. But, you need to set that destination, then make a plan that will serve as your roadmap for reaching it. Don’t underestimate the power of a plan.
And don’t feel bad if you’ve failed to plan adequately before now. About a year ago, I started a poll in several of my LinkedIn groups and asked: “Does your business have a detailed, written marketing plan?”
My local Chamber of Commerce had reported that about 75% of their member businesses didn’t have a marketing plan. I was trying to verify (or debunk) those numbers because they sounded far-fetched to me.
You see, having worked with some of these businesses and having a seat on the business education committee, I got to see up close what happens when a business operates without a plan.
It’s rarely pretty. “If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.”
That quote, often repeated in business everywhere, originated with businessman, author, and speaker, Harvey Mackay. It’s as true in this case as it was when he originally said it.
It’s my view that many things can go wrong, whether you have a plan or not. When you don’t have a plan in place to guide your marketing, however, you can’t ever really know if your plan is working or it isn’t. We’ll look at three things that can go wrong in just a bit. You can judge for yourself whether having a plan would help or not from there.
First, you might be interested in what my survey revealed. While only a small sample responded, I feel the numbers would hold up with a larger number of responses. In my poll I found that:
25% DO NOT HAVE a marketing plan
70% DO have a detailed, written marketing plan
5% DON’T KNOW if they have a marketing plan
Obviously, the numbers I got came out quite different from the numbers reported by the local Chamber. Perhaps some of the respondents answered “yes,” but did so out of ego, when they don’t actually have a written plan. Unless you run a huge business, there’s almost no need to do such things as a SWOT analysis.
Still, as encouraging as my own numbers were, you have to ask: “Why don’t all business owners have a marketing plan?”
One of my respondents commented that “I think most small business owners are completely overwhelmed as it is and, when you throw the word ‘marketing plan’ at them, they just freeze up.”
That could be the case. If you don’t have a plan at all, however, then it’s likely that one or more of these three things are currently affecting your business success negatively:
You don’t know who your ideal customer is, therefore you end up attracting any customer – even ones you don’t want.
You don’t know the lifetime value of an ideal customer, so it’s impossible to know how much you should invest to attract one.
You’re subject to buying advertising from the next ad sales rep who walks through your door because you have no strategic filters in place to determine if the advertising you buy will produce a respectable ROI.
First, if you don’t know who your ideal customer is and you end up serving anyone and everyone, you can’t strategically grow. We’ve all served the “wrong” customers before, right?
Most of you would probably admit these type of customers were harder to please and consumed more resources than you budgeted for, which resulted in a low-margin sale, or even one where you lost money.
That’s obviously not a great path to growth.
If you’re strategic in your pursuit of ideal customers/clients, this happens a lot less often. Next, when you don’t know the lifetime value of your ideal customer, it’s impossible to decide what you’ll spend to attract one of them. Look, growing your business is about acquiring customers and then keeping them, hopefully for years to come.
When you plan to acquire customers through marketing, how are you supposed to know what you’d be willing to pay to get one if you don’t know what one is worth to you, long-term after you do?
Excellent marketing changes
One of the secrets I discussed in this blog was using content to get people familiar with your name – so they get to know you. Then, when you share quality content consistently and engage with your readers every chance you get, they begin to like and trust you.
This is when you have the chance – and maybe even the right – to proceed, looking for ways to monetize your relationships by turning followers and fans into serious prospects for your products and services.
And you now understand the power of sending social signals that let search engines know how important your content is. With just these tips and some effort on your part, you can start to increase dramatically the number of people who find your business on search engines. When you implement a process to convert those visitors to leads, you have an opportunity to increase both your sales and profits.
I’ll take the liberty here of assuming you’re ready to do some marketing. Good for you!
I offer these four recommendations as you begin the process…consider it your shorthand bullet list of the steps:
Here are some questions I suggest you ask, to make sure you’re working with someone who deserves your business because they have what it takes to deliver the new leads to your doorstep that you need:
What types of marketing do you have experience with and which do you usually recommend?
Can you give me examples of successes you’ve had in working with other businesses? Why did these campaigns succeed?
Can you give me examples of campaigns you’ve done that failed? Why did they fail?
What type of training do you have in small business marketing? How often do you get continuing education and what type of training?
Recommendation 2: Once you’re satisfied with the responses and feel you’re speaking with an honest, competent professional who can help you, invite them to develop a set of recommendations and provide you with a firm quote for the service they propose, in writing.
A written proposal assures you of what the job will cost and what’s involved. It also eliminates any surprises.
By following these four recommendations, you’ll get all the information you need to make an informed, intelligent decision.
This won’t lead you to the lowest-priced help available. It might even lead you to decide you want to try doing some of this yourself, first. It will lead you to the best value for your dollar possible.
Remember: if all you want is low-budget essentially ineffective marketing, many companies will be happy to take your money.
If, however, you want marketing that positions your small business effectively in front of your ideal prospective client or customer, attracting them into your business in the most cost-effective way – then I invite you to contact me. There are a number of ways you can do that coming right up next!