People-based marketing – what is that? And isn’t that what all marketing should be? Isn’t the entire marketing industry already concentrated on people – their needs, wants and individual behavior characteristics? Well, you’d be surprised! Stick with us to find out!
The simple answer is no – search engine submission isn’t necessary.
The majority of search engines nowadays (most notably Google) crawl and index pages by following links. Using that logic, a single inbound link from any already-indexed page will identify your page to the engine. Subsequently, if that page links to other pages within your site, they will also be indexed and so on.
For this reason, inbound linking is very important. In fact, acquiring back-links may be the most important part of SEO. In theory, though, a website owner shouldn’t have to ’scout’ or ‘hunt’ for links. If the presented content is of interest, use, and/or importance, there is a natural tendency among web users to link to information. This is the basis for the Google PageRank algorithm.
With all due respect, submitting your site to the search engines can’t hurt. Plus, it only entails about 5 minutes of added work assuming you only submit to the big guys. And once is enough. You don’t need to submit your site more than once. It doesn’t help or get your site crawled any quicker or more often if you do.
It should be noted that submitting your site to Google, Yahoo, MSN, and many others doesn’t require a fee. Many SEO companies assert that you need to pay to be indexed. This isn’t the case and I would stay away from these companies. They are money hungry and aren’t looking out for your best interest.
Would you ever consider going on a vacation across the country without bringing a map? It is hard enough to find your way in some places with a map. How hard would it be if you embarked on this adventure without one? Yet, this is exactly what people do every single day in the online world. They tried to build their own businesses online without having a roadmap to success. Then, after months or years of just wandering around online, they gave up in frustration and quit. They walked away saying that the Internet didn’t work for them. The reason it didn’t work is that they didn’t pick up a map and follow it!
You don’t have to end up lost in the online shuffle. I will give you ten steps to help you map out your course and get you started in the right direction. It isn’t everything that you need to know by any stretch of the imagination, but it will give you a foundation to build upon.
Consider it your beginner’s map to Internet marketing profits.
1. Choose a targeted market
The biggest mistake most people make when starting a business is that they choose a product and then try to find people who want to buy it. If that is your starting point of your journey, then you are going in the opposite direction from your destination. Wise businesses operate under a different concept. They pick a market first, and then they pick a product those people are searching for. In other words, instead of trying to find leads to sell their product to, they find targeted leads and then ask them what they want to buy.
Don’t even consider starting a business until you know exactly where you are going to get your leads from. Think targeted customers first. Then, you can come up with a product for those individuals. Would you rather have 1,000 hits a day on your site of general audience OR 10 hits a day of people who are desperate and willing to pay any price to buy your products? If you are smart, you will choose the people who are ready to buy!
2. Develop a Product
Next, you need to develop a product or service for this market. Don’t just jump on the bandwagon of affiliate programs when you come to this step. There are three major ways to selling a product online:
a. You create your own exclusive product
This is the best opportunity you have. If you develop your own product, you can pick its price, sell reprint rights to others, set up an affiliate program, etc. Don’t tell me you can’t do this. Tens of thousands of innovative entrepreneurs have used their own information products to get their careers started. You can, too.
In the course of your life, I am sure there is something you have learned that you can share in a How-To product. Maybe you know someone else who has the right knowledge for a How-To product and you could offer to help them create a product if you both shared the rights to it. Don’t just jump past this opportunity and say it can’t be done.
b. You buy the rights to a product or you JV for an offline product
You can buy the rights to successful products for $500 – $20,000. If someone else has created a product that you know your targeted market is interested in, offer them a large up-front fee for the rights to it. This way you can get your own product and never have to pay a penny in royalties. You can also search through magazines your targeted market reads and look for products people are selling. Then, give them a call and ask for the exclusive Internet rights to their product for a certain percentage of the profits or an up-front fee.
c. You join an affiliate program
If you are just starting out online, this can be a good option for you. However, you do have to keep in mind that it doesn’t offer quite the profit potential which creating your own product or obtaining rights to one does. When choosing an affiliate program, make sure that it is something your targeted market cannot go without. That they absolutely have to have it. Also, pay special attention to the profits you receive from each sale.
If you are only paid 5% commission on the sales of $10 books, you will only be making 50 cents per customer. It would take 2,000 customers just to reach $1,000 in profits. You cannot make money like this online! Look for higher priced products and higher commissions – especially commissions in the 25% or higher range.
3. Create a USP
Create a Unique Selling Position for your product or service. Too many companies are just trying to be “me-too” companies online. You cannot be just like the next guy and expect to make a profit in the global economy. Just going to the next guy’s website to order is too easy for your customers.
You have to create a uniqueness to your product or offer. What can you offer that no one else can? Can you offer better guarantees, better customer service, more technical support, faster shipping, or lower prices? Think of something which will set you apart from all of your online competitors and describe detail what it is.
4. Pick a Domain Name and Hosting Service
The next step is to pick a domain name that describes your company, USP, and offers. Try to keep them as short and as descriptive about your business as possible. Avoid using dashes or misspellings for your product. Both of these things will cause people to leave out part of your domain if they type it in. Someone else will be getting the free traffic you worked hard to obtain.
For hosting, I personally choose to use Virtual since they have the fastest customer service and technical support in the industry. Test them out. They will respond to you within the hour – anytime, 24 hours a day. No other company I have ever been with has even come close!
5. Develop a Customer Friendly Site
The next step in the process is to develop your website and put it up for the world to see. If you are planning to own a full-time Internet business, I recommend you learn how to design the site yourself using one of the dozens of programs which are readily available at any software store.
You will save so much money on just the editing alone if you can do the work yourself as your site grows. If your main business is offline and you are just adding a secondary income, then you may want to consider having a professional do your site for you.
When designing your site, always keep the customer in mind. Provide order forms for online credit card orders. Make all of the links easy to understand. Try to keep your site simple. Think like a customer, not like a business owner.
Your customers are not nearly as interested in your business as you are. Make sure to put the benefits of your site and your USP right on top of the site. More than half of web surfers never drop down past the first screen full of information. So, you have to give them the information they need as quickly as possible. The rules for any type of business are Benefits, Benefits, and more Benefits.
6. Offer a Freebie
One of the major keys to developing traffic and sales at your site is to always offer some type of freebie as a drawing in factor. For example, we offer dozens of free reports, weather reports, news, and more. Our greatest drawing in factor throughout the past 8 months though has been the two free e-books which we offer on our site to people who subscribe to our newsletter.
You need to come up with a freebie no matter what type of business you are in. Create a free report and give it away. Add a message board or some other type of CGI program on your site. Give a free demo of your software. Create something that you can give away for free on your site to draw in the visitors.
7. Start Your Own Opt-In List
Almost every full-time Internet marketer I know has developed their own Opt-in email list of some type. For most of them, it is a weekly newsletter they send out by email. For others, it may be a Tip of the Day. Other people might just have a list that they send out important updates to.
No matter what you choose to do, odds will be on your side if you concentrate on building a list of loyal email subscribers. Very rarely do customers purchase from you the first time they visit your site. Most of them will get on your list, hang out for a few weeks or months, and then they buy from you. They have to get to know you before they are willing to spend their money with you.
I have found that the most effective leads come from offline advertising. For example, you could purchase ads in a popular targeted magazine for your business. You could also purchase a postcard in one of the card decks. Start up a co-op and get 10 other people to advertise with you and run your own ads for free. Offline leads which come to your site often turn out to contain a much higher percentage of buyers than any of the online advertising methods.
Once you put our short 10 step outline together, you have a basic map to creating your own Internet success story. You wouldn’t consider going on a trip without a map. So don’t try to go it alone online without a map.
Terry Dean’s brand new Free eBook, “10 Quick and Easy Ways to Increase Profits to ANY Web Site Overnight!” reveals more time tested proven Internet marketing secrets than 99% of the paid products available, showing you step-by-step how to increase your traffic, drop your expenses, and drive your profits through the roof.
SEO is not an exact science. This becomes apparent when trying to incorporate both SEO and branding into a strategy. This process is finicky, to say the least.
On the one side, SEO deals with the placement of keywords and phrases.
On the other side, branding deals with company loyalty and culture. Incorporating both sides dilutes the prominence of both. But eliminating one or the other may not meet all strategic and marketing goals.
Once again, it should be emphasized that SEO is a series of guidelines rather than an exact science. Having said that, the following recommendation can be used to satisfy both sides of the equation.
In general, keywords and phrases (i.e. SEO) should remain the focus of any early-stage company while the incorporation of company branding should appear later in the evolution.
The reasoning is pretty straightforward. At first, no one knows the name of your company, but perhaps they are searching for your products or services. In other words, you want to target keywords and phrases that focus on your offering rather than your company.
For example, when you first open a restaurant, it is unnecessary focusing on your future customers to know the name of your brand, without familiarizing them with the food and drinks you are actually offering them. Since they haven’t actually heard of you yet, and associate nothing with your “brand”, you must make use of SEO. Your dishes and beverages will be your keywords, pictures and videos of the ingredients and your kitchen and restaurant areas a way to show what you have to offer instead of just telling. Once people are attracted to the bits and pieces of your business that you market to them, you start building loyalty and credibility, and correspondingly branding becomes more important.
It’s at this point that you may want to incorporate corporate messaging to strengthen the relationship with customers and instill trust in your brand. If you strive to be the leading restaurateur in your town, you must have a review section where the customers you have drawn leave comments about the food and drink quality, about the service, about the atmosphere… Brand image will be very important to you, so a comment section will give you valuable feedback on how you are perceived. You can even start a blog on your website page, detailing certain aspects of your workdays. Your workers can write it. You can also develop a close relationship with your customers on social media, since you can inform them about novelties introduced just for them and they will give you their stamp of approval (if you do your job properly).
One final thought about branding: If a searcher types in the name of your company, they are likely to find your website anyway. This is mostly due to anchor text and backlinks. Therefore, optimizing for the company name is rather insignificant in most cases. What you must concentrate on is defining the way people see you, the way they remember your products and services even if they don’t know your website address. Once you build a reputation, your name will come as a search engine result because Google values quality marketing content above all (as you can read in one of our previous blog posts).
If you are unsure of how to do that, call us and we will chat with you about it!
Or: Others Just Sell. You Should Sell By Educating Your Customers
Competition is the scariest word in the business dictionary.
God forbid it were the only one. There’s one more terrifying notion that keeps us up at night. It’s the fact that the ways of this world are rapidly changing.
But instead of trembling at the thought, it’s better to realize that both of these facts are actually healthy for your business. If it doesn’t drown, it will rise stronger than ever.
Following trends and constant education have been fueling business efforts from the beginning of time.
Today it’s a bit more complicated than that. Not only do you need to educate yourself. You need to educate your clients and customers as well. That’s what the most successful businesses do. That’s the exact reason why they became successful in the first place.
An experience everyone has had
A couple of days ago I went to buy a vacuum cleaner. It was one of those days when you need to just buy a goddamn cleaner as soon as possible because you need one. And you don’t want to waste all day cruising the city in the hope of finding the perfect apparatus.
Does it have a bag? Is it easy to empty? Why are other options better or worse than this red one? Can it suck up water from a piece of furniture or a carpet? I tend to spill my drinks… Why is this one more powerful but still cheap comparing to the next one? Are there going to be any new models coming out soon?
Half of this information I could gather by reading the inscriptions on the packaging. The other half was left unavailable to me.
Typically, I prefer salespeople who don’t jump all over me. But I really wouldn’t have minded getting some information here. Also, if I weren’t an easygoing customer, the shop wouldn’t have made a $100 deal that day. If I wasn’t in a hurry and was prepared to wait for delivery, I would have bought the thing online.
And how easy it would have been for them to educate me, sell me the cleaner (which I wanted to buy anyway, so they wouldn’t have to move a finger) AND delight me! A quick presentation of all the functionalities, with a demonstration (spilling a cup of coffee on a cheap carpet and sucking it up for the purpose of demonstration wouldn’t cost too much, I reckon), comparing a few different models on the spot… I would have gotten the feeling that I spent my money well. I would have gotten the impression that I was dealing with professionals who knew their business and their merchandise’s worth well. I would have recommended them to all the people I know.
Which I didn’t. And won’t ever do.
This company probably won’t last long.
But let’s translate this experience into a business that manages the majority of their user engagement online (which is more relevant to today and tomorrow).
I found them by doing a local search, looking for the nearest store that sells vacuum cleaners.
What if I found a nicely visualized blog post on their website about the functioning mechanisms of different types of cleaners? Or a funny video about unexpected ways in which I can use this mundane contraption?
The conclusion is evident. If you are a socks manufacturer, you have to give me the reason to buy your socks. You don’t have to be all scholarly about it. Write me a blog post about the history of socks – maybe I’d be interested in learning when and why people started wearing them. Or make a video advertisement about socks which are so good that my dog doesn’t want to steal them but gently puts them in a drawer instead.
Even if I don’t need socks today, I will need them tomorrow, and I’ll sure as hell remember to buy them from you.
Give away free knowledge
It’s true, knowledge demands an investment of time and money. But once you’ve acquired it, don’t be afraid to give it away – for free.
Sure, many people will just come and devour some of your resources without buying anything from you. If your knowledge base is broad and easily accessible, they are likely to come back for more, inviting some of their friends as well. Who doesn’t like a free feast?
You won’t lose, though. Some people will get hooked on the knowledge and pay for premium access. Others will do it in two or three years. Just listen to that murmur across all of your digital outlets and nurture their needs by feeding them a cookie here, a delicious cake there. Incite their hunger, but never keep them hungry for long.
They will pay you, one way or another. They will pay you with their email address required to attend your webinar or download your free ebook. This email address will become a valuable channel for you to send more knowledge their way – this time in person. Email marketing is one of the most valuable ways for the relationship between a company and a person to flourish.
You’ve got it by now. Education is just another euphemism for marketing. Let’s be real: it’s still selling, although it sounds more elegant.
Nobody likes being marketed or sold to, so marketing by education is a glorious kind of selling by not selling. It’s better than any other form of digital marketing. Even more – it permeates all of them and brings out the best from them.
Education is at the core of what Seth Godin called permission marketing – which derives its tremendous power from customer’s permission. If I don’t know I am being marketed to, you can take advantage of it. If I willingly grant you a permission to market to me, you should be proud of it – and try not to betray my trust.
Your customers are smart
You don’t need uninformed customers who buy randomly. True enough, you won’t repudiate them, but you don’t need them to be your customer base.
Furthermore, you don’t need customers who will believe lies about how good your product is. Lying isn’t bad in children stories only. It’s detrimental in real life, too.
This is because lying to customers means belittling their intelligence. Today they are more informed than ever before. Their purchasing choices are wider than ever. It’s never been easier to turn away from a brand because of a single mistake or a little white lie.
Do yourself a favor and don’t make a product based on lies. Don’t lie in order to sell it. Don’t say it’s good if it isn’t.
Instead, create a product you believe in. If you do, the story of it is going to be believable, too.
But if customers can find all the possible resources online, what is left for you to educate them about?
Educating someone doesn’t mean you are the god of information and knowledge. Chances are Wikipedia knows better than you, and you certainly won’t ever be able to beat Google when it comes to accessibility of information.
But there’s something that can differentiate you in your customer’s eyes. The information that comes from you is genuine, based on your particular experience and expertise, grounded in your specific set of skills and value. It’s not some random encyclopedic knowledge, broad and uniform. It’s knowledge with an identity, expandable, applicable, relevant.
After all, you won’t provide just another ocean of links. It’s going to be carefully chosen knowledge that comes as a result of an interaction and interest, curated in the right moment, put in context for them. After all, who knows more about your industry than you?
According to a 2015 customer engagement report by Rosetta, engaged customers prove to be the best kind of customers. Their value to the brand is three times bigger than the value of unengaged ones.
An engaged customer is the one who has developed a personal relationship with the brand.
Education is a beast with many faces. Show them all
Again, let’s not talk in scholarly terms.
Customers’ reviews are the kind of education which serves other potential customers to inform and improve their decision-making process.
Testimonials and case studies are another way to inform your prospects. Just make sure they are real. “You guys rock” written by someone called John Doe from an anonymous company won’t trick anyone.
A blog is another form of education. Just like we are doing right now, you can write articles on a regular basis about certain topics that are relevant to your audience. Blogs don’t have to be written. They can be spoken or made into a video.
Tutorials, webinars, whitepapers related to your company or industry, carefully targeted email campaigns, conferences, there are tons of things you can do to single yourself out from your competition.
As I mentioned earlier, even a short and funny half-minute video can make a difference. While it doesn’t educate in the traditional sense, it still gives a fresh stamp to your brand.
According to a recently published Walker report about the future of customer experience, in the next couple of years, companies will have to switch from selling solutions to selling insights. This doesn’t just pertain to B2B businesses, but also B2C – that is, businesses that are selling to clients, rather than other businesses.
So, if you want to win the race with your competitors, put education in the center of your business and your brand’s culture. It’s remarkable how great a potential lies in your work – in everybody’s work. All you need to do is transform it into words, dress it into knowledge and communicate it proactively and in diverse ways to all the prospects. Then listen to their response and act accordingly.
It’s a dynamic game, but the rewards are awesome.
So, don’t oversell. Don’t hard sell. Let your customers consume some value first.
Feed them knowledge.
They’ll pay you manyfold.