Is marketing the solution to a sagging business?
Everything seemed to be going so well.
The phone was ringing off the hook. Business was booming. You were destined to beat the statistics for a new startup.
But then something happened. The calls started to fade. Business slipped a little. Determine, I’m sure you checked out every way to increase sales. You’re active on every digital channel; Facebook, Twitter, Google.
SEO must have seemed like a Godsend. You pay a company x amount of dollars and you’re phone number comes up first. Who wouldn’t want that.
Of course you want to check their progress. Who wouldn’t?
So what did you do? You checked your ranking, right? They’ve been working on your SEO for months so you must be top of the pile by now. So what do you see? Second page? Or worse, third page. THIRD PAGE!
Whether you have someone else doing the work or you’re doing it yourself, there is no mistaking that frustration. There’s a lot of work that goes into search engine optimization; link building, tag editing, blogging, monitoring. The list can and does go on.
What does your SEO progress look like?
Only recently I had a friend express his frustration about his own efforts. He’d purchased a business about a year ago and changed the name so he had to go through the long process of building his online presence so he chose SEO. It was a good play. I had suggested it at the time.
But just for curiosity I looked up his business using the keywords he was using. It’s kind of like saying, it’s not you, it’s me, or rather my browser. I don’t have a magical browser that makes your position look better than it really is. It isn’t even luck that things look different on my computer.
No, the reality is something a little more mundane.
I’m a ninja. I work in the dead of night and leave no trace of my passing.
Well, I’m not really, but when I’m verifying SEO terms, I do act like one.
I realize you’re obviously asking what I’m talking about so at the risk of doing away with a bit of the mystery, I’m going to tell you my little secret. I use private mode. That’s it. I search for companies using incognito mode.
Imagine it like this. Think of your search like a physical path. You’re walking through the tall grass in search of something. Now, if you search today and tomorrow and the day after then you’re tramping the grass down, creating a well-worn path towards your destination.
When it comes to your SEO work, your well-worn path leads you to the destination you’ve already explored. Every time you search again, you’re only taking that same path.
When you use private mode, Google or Bing don’t take that previous path into consideration.
Suddenly, my friend wasn’t on third page, but on first and half way up the page. His new perspective made his eyes light up like a Christmas tree. FIRST PAGE. The holy grail.
There was a time when the only way you could do the private search was by erasing your entire browser history, something that I’m sure some people revel in, but just the same, I’ll pass. I like the path I’ve taken for many things, just not for monitoring my clients progress.
Of course, there is another way to show off your ninja-like skills however. You can just borrow someone else’s phone who hasn’t been searching your terms every day for the last six months. Voila, a fresh look.
SEO isn’t easy and it can become very tedious and frustrating when you don’t see a marked difference in your rankings. Rather than rail at the heavens however, make sure you aren’t leaving a trail.
Now that said, if you’re the kind of person who wants to see what’s making the difference, then there are a few things you should have.
Hint, you should always be the kind of person who wants to know your SEO progress.
If you are trying to do SEO without measuring where your audience comes from then you’re only doing have the job. You need an Analytics plug in for your site and then you or your SEO company can delve into the metrics that are derived. Once you know how people are coming through the door, you can double down on that marketing avenue to invite more people in.
The next time you’re talking to your SEO company ask them where you stand, better yet, ask them to show you. Progress takes time, but if they can’t show you any improvement, then they aren’t working for your best interest.
What is your value?
By now, you understand that selling on price will eventually make you go bankrupt if you have any competition. You drop, they drop, eventually sales drop, or they don’t, and you’re employees drop because you can’t afford to pay them. Value is your best option.
Selling on value is a long term play for your company. You establish a value and then you don’t worry about whether the competition is five cents cheaper. In a world that talks about price, no one wins except Walmart and Amazon.
But how do you show value?
When you are face to face with a client, they see value in your time, or in the product when they use it, but in a digital world, we don’t always have the luxury of time or being in front of your audience. That’s why you want to emulate those efforts in the ether.
5 way to show value in a digital world.
- At this very second, you are reading a blog. You may or may not be one of our clients who get our content writing, SEO, or website hosting services. What matters is that we are offering information to you without trying to sell anything. You can learn things from our blogs that you can incorporate into your own marketing or business development.
- Like the blog, you can’t just throw up coupons with every post. You need to give a variety of things, sometimes tips, sometimes funny anecdotes, sometimes full on how to’s. The value is the conversation you have, whether it’s through Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. Each platform has its own intrinsic value so you know what type of posts should be seen on each of them. If you are out there hocking your wares with every post though then you are back to talking price.
Digital customer service
- You know the feeling you get when you message a company and they don’t respond? Whether it’s through Google, Twitter, email, or even Google’s business page, communicating with a company is supposed to be easy. If you aren’t answering, someone else is. There is a new trend to make this response an AI, which has many downfalls, but for some it might work. What matters is that you are available or if you aren’t, then you have an automatic response to tell them when you will be available.
- Try before you buy is simple when it’s a car or nail-gun. What about a farm or a digital marketing agency? One way is to offer downloads when someone visits your website. Those downloads could be a large blog post, or recipes, or a full review of certain products you sell with how to’s to use them in unique ways. When it comes to digital downloads, your imagination is the only thing holding you back.
- Today’s consumer is smart. They look for social proof that what you say is what you do. Reviews are that proof. Having one or two reviews is okay, but with every new review that someone adds to your Facebook, Google, Houzz, etc. etc. page, the more people will see that your services are worthwhile.
Showing value in a digital world may seem complex, but it all boils down to one simple concept. If you truly put the customer first and do what’s right for them, then you will be showing value. Stop worrying about the next sale and embrace a system of serving – not servitude mind you – but serving. You still set your price, you just don’t focus your marketing efforts on it or strive to be the lowest.
Once you embody a system of value, your clients will love you for it and reviews will come easily with nothing but a request. An email to your client after you serve them and they will happily give you the rating you deserve.
Excuse me, but I don’t want your business.
Those are odd words to hear and to be honest, most of us think they’d only be spoken if some travesty had been committed. Why wouldn’t you want someone’s business?
All that matters is to make money isn’t it?
As a business owner, we operate for many reasons, but at the end of the day, our goal is to make money; to earn a living so we can put our children through school and take our wives or husbands out for dinner on Friday night. Many of us, especially in the beginning, can’t afford to turn business away, even if we wanted to.
But there is one avenue of thinking that can become very destructive to a business that isn’t Amazon or Walmart. To be fair, there is much a potential client can learn online before making the first phone call, but without fail, the heart wrenching, gut sinking feeling that always comes when the only question someone asks is, “what will it cost?”.
There’s no question that it will cost. It could be a little, or a lot. Some business owners know what their fees are and even a good portion of the fees their competition charges.
That type of thinking can ruin your business however. As entrepreneurs, we have to stop thinking about cost and start thinking about value. To some, that’s a conversation of semantics, a change of words, but to those who understand the meaning, value can be very powerful.
Why do you have to show value?
Value is the differentiation that sets you apart from your competition. Imagine two businesses that are exactly the same. The employees are the same, the prices are the same, even the decorations on the wall are the same. How do you choose between them if not random?
Now, imagine yourself one of those companies. How do you show potential customers that they should choose you? Unfortunately if you and your competition only talk price, you’ll soon be in a race to becoming a non-profit industry. No one can afford to withstand a price war.
That’s why to truly encapsulate what sets you apart from the competition, you have to show value. I want to know that the four tires I just bought for my car are going to give me something else above that other set I was going to choose. They were the same price. I had to choose. But my advisor suggested them because they last an extra 20,000 km’s: Value.
As salespeople, we show value when we have the opportunity to sit with our prospects. Car salespeople, insurance agents, even grocery clerks. We communicate our value.
With the internet however, the world has simultaneously become larger and smaller. Our mindset has to change so we aren’t complaining about tire kickers or bemoaning the last two customers who were only looking for a price.
No, we have to embody the concept of value. We live that value. We are the best because we offer the best value.
When you show value:
To clients – they give us reviews
To an audience – they like and share our content
To employees – They work harder
And when all of these elements come together, you don’t worry about the price and whether you have the competitive advantage to compete with Walmart. No, you show more value until your customers stop thinking about price and realize the value. You know it’s true.
Want proof? Take an inventory of the companies you buy stuff from without looking for a second opinion.
Perhaps it’s your dentist, grocery store, or hair stylist. You really don’t care what the price is, because they get you. They understand what you want so you don’t have to go out of your way to explain it to them. You value their time.
Wait though, because there is a dark side to the conversation. You must always be showing that value. And you will know the signs when your current people start reverting to a conversation about price or worse, your Facebook or Google Reviews start coming in less often or slip from 5-stars to 4-stars and lower. Asking the price is one thing, focusing on it is another. You want to offer a service such that people don’t care about the price.
Then the next time they need something, it won’t be a conversation, it will be a purchase order.
Start today. Do that inventory of people you work with and observe their services. Then think about the things you can do to add value. New week we will show you 5 ways you can show value through the digital world.
Do you know where your clients come from?
Not the specific locations, but the marketing channels.
We’ve spoken before about channels, but in brief, a channel is a stream by which a client comes to your door. Facebook is a channel, as is Google.
To properly determine which channel is working the hardest to bring you clients, you have to ask. By getting into a habit of asking how your clients heard of you, then you learn how to make your marketing stronger.
When it comes to your website however, you personally can’t ask everyone that comes your way. You can however load a program from Google. Google Analytics is a versatile program that can tell you many things about your audience. Not only can they tell you where they come from in the world, but how they found you.
The benefits of this Google app don’t end there however.
3 Benefits of Google Analytics
- Integration with Adwords
- Want to make your adwords stronger? Integrate it with the knowledge gained from your website.
- Internal navigation
- It’s one thing to know where they come from, but understanding the behaviour once they get to your website can tell you what works. For instance, if you blog, knowing what articles do well will point you towards more articles.
- It’s easy to show the data
- Knowing data and being able to share it are two different concepts. With Google Analytics, you can share your data easily with any stakeholder in your organization. In minutes you can download the data and starting dissecting the math. The program will even let you add your own annotations so everyone can gain an understanding.
If anyone ever tells you that SEO is a one and done situation then they don’t understand SEO. With Google Analytics you will gain a new level of comprehension about your website and be able to craft your message more easily and effectively.
You should get into a habit of reviewing your data monthly to see the trends and determine what is working and what isn’t. Who knows, it may tell you that everything is coming from Facebook or some other Social Media platform. What matters however is that you take advantage of the information you learn.
Don’t stop. Always be learning.
I know it happens, but I’m a writer so it shouldn’t. I should be able to sit down and come up with a new blog article in a few minutes. Well, at least it shouldn’t take days. As days pass by with nothing written, I realize I have the dreaded writer’s block.
I understand it doesn’t have the resounding drumming sound as thunder and lightning crash above, but imagine you sit down to work with a client and nothing comes. You can’t work with them because everything you know is gone. That’s what it’s like when writer’s block hits.
But then again, that’s not the reason for this article. This article is to help when you sit down to write an blog post and nothing comes. Everyone knows your time is better spent getting out to speak to your clients instead of writing articles.
Short of hiring a freelancer, here are three things you can do to combat writer’s block.
Carry a notebook – Writer’s block is typically a problem with starting. Once you get your article started then the rest of it flows. Having notes will give you blog ideas. Then all you have to do is educate your audience about the topic at hand.
Watch your time – Set a time that you can write, whether it’s every day or once a week. Make sure it’s consistent.
Clear your desk – Phone’s have games. When you are having difficulty focusing, then playing a video game or trolling through the internet isn’t going to help. It’s going to take you further from your goal.
Clear your mind -Writer’s block usually comes from your mind being filled with too much else to focus on your immediate task. Whether you do exercises to clear your mind or you use the time to write everything that’s upstairs down on paper, get it out of there.
Ask a customer to ask a question – You don’t usually have an actual problem explaining your services to a client and your blog is about education. Ask a client what they would like to learn and then write about it as if you were speaking to them directly.
Writer’s block to a writer can be devastating. It’s an inability to access your money making skills. To an entrepreneur however, it’s an inconvenience that can waste your time. By recognizing the signs of writer’s block you can immediately take these steps to combat it so you can get back to work.