I spent the better part of the morning researching possible prospects by looking at local web sites. Many of the web sites have been developed by so-called experts in their field. What I see are fancy creative web sites that really are not optimized for Search Engines to find you.
Some of the examples I have seen for companies all based in Omaha, without naming names, are for a major hardware distributor, a "gourmet wine, beer, and liquor delicatessen," an Ear Nose and Throat group of doctors, a distributor of IT electronics, and others. Some of the web sites, like the hardware store or a home improvement company lack any visual appeal and are apparently managed internally. Others are created by "professionals" with good creative and absolutely no problem solving content…BUT they all lack in the following:
How anyone can put up a web site without first understanding who their buyers are, what their needs (i.e., problems that need to be solved) are and then using keywords – that should have been discovered in the initial research phase – in the content of the web site, simply escapes me. It is never about your products and services as you are the only person that cares about what you sell. Buyers (i.e., prospects) want to solve their problems and your web site should be designed around the problems you can solve with your products and services.
As part of your overall marketing strategy and plan…
What you need to do – Create "Buyer Personas"
If you don’t know what a Buyer Persona is, Google or Bing the term "Buyer Persona" and you should get www.PragmaticMarketing.com, www.buyerpersona.com, www.webinknow.com and many others. This is not new nor is it rocket science. Creating a Buyer Persona is nothing more than understanding your prospects, their personalities, demographics and how they solve their problems. Sounds simply and to me it is. It may not be to you and it obviously is not easy for many of the "professional" web site design firms that focus on creative, flash and ignore content.
Build your navigation around the problems that face your prospects. OK, you are asking why not your customers? Well, your customers already know you and where you are. Sure be sensitive to their needs, but if you tap into what your buyers are looking for, chances are your customers face the same issues. Sure you will need to include your products and services, but that is not what buyers are looking for.
Web Site development
Wow, the stuff I saw today, if I could convert even half of them to opportunities, I would be working for over a year. Build the home page with as many keywords to the content of the page. Don’t forget to use Meta tags: Title, Description and Keywords…although the "Keywords" meta tag is not really used by search engine any longer as an indexing tool. Search engines will compare the Keywords meta tag against your content…sometimes.
Build and create as many cross links as possible. Just to touch upon a few, create a wikipedia entry for your company using the same keywords you found in the Buyer Persona research you should have conducted before building your web site. Wikipedia is still one of the high value web sites that will provide a higher ranking for your company’s web site. Participate in industry blogs and discussion groups. Yep, that means social media!
It has been around for 10 years, but it really catching fire with businesses today. How you implement social media into your marketing needs to be included in your plan…and that does mean including traditional marketing as well. Here are some typical high value social media:
facebook, twitter, blogs, LinkedIn; These are the top four Social Media tools in use today according to the "Social Media Marketing Industry Report" published in March 2009. (www.whitepapersource.com/socialmediamarketing) LinkedIn is primarily a networking tool for business professionals and facebook generally is used for personal networking, although you can build business pages in facebook. Twitter the microblogging tool is good, but don;t just send out tweets saying "enjoying a great lunch" at some fancy restaurant. Who cares? No one but you. Use only those tools that will fit into your marketing plan and strategy…and that is highly individualized based on your markets and needs.
People, and that does mean your prospects, are using the web to solve their problems. Understanding your buyers and building a web site that will not only be creative, but also have the content that will "solve" their "problems" will make your web site shine and get higher SEO rankings. That should provide you with more leads, which your web site can help qualify and if not, what a nice problem to have if you start getting a bunch of emails, or phone calls that your sales team will have to qualify?
Fine tuning your marketing needs is what I do. Contact me before your competition does.