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Entries Tagged as 'Marketing'

Building a website your users will love

July 14th, 2014 · Customers/Clients, Marketing, Web/Tech

website your users will loveIt seems like a “duh,” doesn’t it?  Of course you want to build a website your users will love.

But remember, not that long ago, many businesses were wondering whether or not they even needed a website.

It seemed so far-fetched that any of their customers would ever do anything but show up at their store or pick up the phone to place an order.

How quickly times change. Now, a business isn’t considered legitimate until they have a web presence.  No matter what it is you sell, odds are your prospects are going to visit your website to decide if you’re even in the running.

I’m hard pressed to think of an industry or business category that doesn’t rely on their website as the main workhorse in their marketing arsenal.

It used to be that you had an opportunity to make the sale when someone walked into your retail location, your salesperson called on the buyer or you answered your phone.  But today, a good portion of the sales process has nothing to do with you actively engaging with the potential buyer.  They’re doing a great deal of their due diligence tire kicking without you being in the room at all.

It’s happening on your website, within social networks and with the help of a Google search.

Which makes what you put out on the web absolutely vital to your business’ success. You must build a website your users will love.

All of that being said – most websites stink.  They’re badly designed, built for the business’ ego rather than the customer’s utility and they’re out of date.

Why?  I think most businesses think of their website like an ever expanding junk drawer.  They just keep tossing more stuff in there and hope that when someone rummages through it – they can find what they need.

If you’d like your website to be the effective workhorse you need it to be, consider these best practices:

It should be an experience: Keep in mind that many people will decide whether or not to do business with you based on their web visit.  So you want them to have a memorable and enjoyable experience.   Get them interacting with you – give them a quiz, help them find answers to their specific questions or offer them something they might want to share with others.

In addition:

  • Let your company’s personality be a part of the site — both in design and voice
  • Simple navigation matters – make it intuitive
  • Remember eye flow – give them plenty of white space and eye rest

Don’t talk about yourself: Talk about their world and how you can improve it.  Everything should be presented from their perspective, not yours. You might need an outside perspective to help you identify what truly matters to your audience.

In addition:

  • Don’t over share – think hors’ oeuvres, not a six course meal
  • Start at the 101 level — not every visitor will already be an expert
  • Leave them wanting more so they call or send an email
  • Keep the content fresh – stale content does not sell
  • Cascade your content – start with a little and then let them choose to drill down for more if they want it

Make it easy, no matter the device: Don’t assume everyone is using a 15-inch screen.  Within the next couple years, the majority of web searches will be conducted on a mobile phone. Check your site on desktops, laptops, tablets and smart phones because if there’s one thing your users will love is being able to access your content no matter where they are.

In addition:

  • Pay attention to page placement — your most important content should be above the fold
  • Give them more than one way to navigate
  • Use landing pages to help diverse audiences get where they want to go

Don’t let a mediocre website discourage prospects from becoming customers before they even shake your hand. If you haven’t already done it — start tomorrow.  Build a website your users will love and share and best of all — buy from.

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Danger! Distraction ahead!

March 14th, 2014 · Marketing, Strategy

Dangersign1_optThere’s a lot of discussion around the notion that our attention spans are shortening. Forbes recently blamed it on social media and the nonstop 24/7 media barrage.

While I think our uber plugged in lives certainly contributes, there’s more to the story. Yes, we are being bombarded with more information than ever before but we also distract ourselves when we don’t keep things in perspective.

For example, one of the greatest dangers to our focus is actually all the attention we afford our competition. Should we keep an eye on them? Sure. But we shouldn’t let them pull us off course.

Have you ever had the experience of driving along, paying attention to something off in the horizon and next thing you know, you’ve driven to that spot?  And it wasn’t where you meant to go?

The same phenomenon can happen in your business.  Most business owners I meet pay a lot of attention to what their competition is doing.  In the good old days, you might watch for a competitor’s ad in the newspaper. But today, you can track tweets, Facebook page updates, their Pinterest boards, blog comments and a whole host of other streams of information. You could literally be monitoring your competition like it was a full-time job. While we definitely need to keep an eye on the competitive landscape, there’s a very fine line.

The danger in keeping track of the other guys is that you lose track of your own path.  We tend to move towards what we pay attention to. (Re-read that last sentence…it really is that important.) You don’t want to let your competitors determine your marketing strategy and that’s exactly what’s going to happen if you spend too much time and energy keeping an eye on their activities.  When you feel it happening your brain needs to broadcast – Danger! Distraction ahead!

Or else, you’re at risk of:

Deplete your resources: You have only so many hours and so many dollars. If you let your competition re-direct your attention and your marketing messages – pretty soon, you’ll run out of opportunities to tell your own story.

Look like you’re playing the “us too” game: No one is impressed with a copycat. Even the coolest idea or product benefit falls flat when someone else has already claimed them as their point of difference. No one’s going to see you as an industry leader if you’re always a follower.

We know that it takes a fair amount of repetition to seed your message. The last thing in the world you want to do is invest time, money and your audience’s attention just to divert it with a completely different message that is in reaction to your competition. It’s like getting to the final mile marker of a marathon and then swerving off course, only to have to go back to the starting blocks when you want to resume your own race.

You want to be the leader in your industry, not follow someone else.  The best way to beat your competition isn’t watching what they do.  It’s doing what you should be doing.

If you have and follow a marketing plan — you can enjoy the best of both worlds.  The marketing plan keeps you on your course and heading in the direction you have determined.  When you know where you’re headed and keep checking the map to see that you’re on course, you can afford to peek at what the competitors are doing.

You should keep an eye on your competitor…but you shouldn’t let them change your game plan. It’s much easier to stay on track if you have a well-defined track to begin with.

Odds are, if you set and follow your own course, your competitors will be the ones following you.

 

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Top 5 books every marketer should read

September 24th, 2013 · Books, Growing & Learning, Marketing, Strategy · 5 Comments

I don’t believe you can be successful if you don’t keep ingesting new ideas, information and stories.  As you know, I’m a big reader and try to get through a book a week to keep my brain’s juices cooking. For a recent presentation, I was asked to provide my all time top 5 books every [Read more...]

4 tips for writing a strong case study

September 20th, 2013 · Copywriting, Customers/Clients, Marketing, Strategy · 26 Comments

Everyone loves a good story.  And there’s a reason why Aesop and others opted to teach their life lessons through stories that have been told and re-told for many years. Case Studies are the marketing version of Aesop’s Fables. Stories told to make a point or teach a lesson that demonstrates the value of your [Read more...]

What does this pricing strategy say to you?

September 9th, 2013 · Marketing, Strategy · 9 Comments

How thoughtful are you about your company’s pricing strategy? Let me give you an example. We use an on-line vendor to provide extranet services for our clients.  We’ve been with them for over five years.  We recently discovered a better, cheaper solution.  It wasn’t the cheaper that sold us.  It was the ease of use [Read more...]

Guilty of the frantic scramble in your marketing?

June 5th, 2013 · Marketing, Strategy · 8 Comments

I grew up in Minnesota in the 70s and I love football which meant that back when I was a kid, my world revolved around the Minnesota Vikings and our incredible quarterback, Fran Tarkenton. At the time of his retirement, Fran owned EVERY major quarterback record out there. Fran was known as The Scrambler because [Read more...]

What do consumers want from brands?

April 24th, 2013 · Customers/Clients, Marketing, Psychology, Trends · 4 Comments

That’s the age-old question, isn’t it? When you think about everything we’ve experienced in the last decade and a half – from the Y2K scare to 9/11, Iraq and then the recession – no wonder that a certain level of insecurity about the future has become a permanent part of our psyche as we ease [Read more...]

Marketing is getting the details right

April 15th, 2013 · Marketing, Strategy · 9 Comments

Marketing is getting the details right.  And its always the simple things that companies mess up.  Lt me give you an example. As you may know, I travel quite a bit. I’m a big believer in maximizing my travel by being a loyal brand consumer…which gains me status, points and makes my travel life easier [Read more...]

What it takes to create a successful email campaign

March 7th, 2013 · Marketing · 3 Comments

Email.  We hate it when our inbox is overflowing but we love the possibilities as marketers.  Email flows freely (sometimes too freely!) and because of that, I think we sometimes take it for granted.  We assume it has magical powers of some kind….and so when we want to reach an audience — we just fire [Read more...]

Actually, it’s isn’t all about you

February 7th, 2013 · Magic of Disney, Marketing · 6 Comments

At a recent jaunt to Disney World*, I found a great marketing reminder for us all.   Right in front of the brand new Gaston’s Tavern in Fantasyland, there’s a huge statue of…no shocker, Gaston. (For those of you unfamiliar with Beauty and the Beast — shame on you!). In front of the statue is [Read more...]