Last week’s column must have touched a nerve with some readers – as I got plenty of email telling me about it. Some unsubscribed even, which is a natural part of speaking to a broad community of business owners about sometimes challenging topics.
I also received a few notes of thanks for my honesty and for not coating the topic in sugar or making online business seem easier than it actually is.
You already know that running a business isn’t easy – if it was, then everyone would do it, right? No, business owners are a little tougher and much smarter than those who don’t take those risks of success and failure every day.
In all the companies I’ve helped to ‘go online’ – the one thing that I see missing upon my arrival there, more than any other, is an online marketing strategy.
Without it – its sort of like trying to operate a boat without a rudder. It rarely goes in the direction you want and can easily end up running aground.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been approached and asked ‘do you build websites?’
My answer is typically ‘yes’, followed by ‘and then what?’ I’m referring to the strategy.
Building a website is easy. Having one that meets the need of an identified audience is much more difficult. Yet its essential if you plan to generate business from your website.
One recent email inquired about whether or not we could make an attractive HTML email for them or not. About 1/2 dozen questions later they left to go back to consider their strategy again.
What are you trying to accomplish?
I think it usually comes down to one thing – selling your products and services to more people in more places than you can from just serving those who walk into your business.
But, while that’s a worthy goal, its NOT a strategy.
If you consider that most people are online seeking to learn stuff and solve problems and not to buy stuff, it sort of changes the way you might decide to approach your project.
It’s very common to use a business website as an information hub, so that you are positioned as a resource for those who need what you do.
This gives you an excellent opportunity to help people to know you better. When they know you, some will like you and some will trust you.
And since people do business with people they know, like and trust, you have an excellent opportunity to earn more business.
So building a website to provide information, then focus on generating traffic to your site, and working to convert those visitors into leads is a strategy you can drive to the finish line.
Focusing your efforts on building an email list and publishing a regular email newsletter is another fine strategy for creating relationship with a targeted audience.
Getting lots of fans to engage with your social media and inviting them to join your email list is another way to accomplish the same thing.
Writing guest posts for niche blogs and offering readers of those sites a reason to visit your site, (say to claim a free report you’ve written) is yet another proven approach.
But I get it – many of you don’t know how this stuff works. However, its no different than anything else we do regularly; there was once a time when we’d never done it and were not sure we could. Then we tried and it worked to some degree, so we made adjustments and tried again.
Just like me and a friend trying to paddle board this past weekend. Challenging? Considering that I was not able to stand without falling, you bet – but will I continue to try until I can do it successfully? Yes, I will…
So what is your online marketing strategy? And how can I help you get there? People are looking for what you offer on the Internet. That’s not in dispute.
What is perhaps unclear is if they can find YOUR BUSINESS when they look for solutions to the problems they face.
UPDATE: I am working on some new projects so that I can better serve the business owners in Tampa Bay, I could really use YOUR help.
So please take a moment and hit the reply button and answer these two questions for me:
1) What are your top three most important goals with your business for the next 6 months?
2) What are your top three challenges stopping you from reaching them?
Help me to better help you and together we’ll grow our businesses and accomplish more of our goals! Also, do me a favor and forward this email to a friend or two. We’ll both appreciate you for sharing.