- THE MAGAZINE
Back in the prehistoric days of the web (circa 1995), I convinced my family that our business needed a website. Back then it took a bunch of money to create a website and have it hosted by a company.
My two primary purposes for wanting our company to have a web presence was 1) I wanted to put the web address on our trucks and all our marketing and 2) I wanted to use it as brochureware.
Let me explain: I wanted my existing customers and my soon-to-be-new customers to see us as a state-of-the art company, modern and tech-savvy. In all my newsletters to customers I worked hard to always point out how we were using emerging technologies to better serve them.
I also wanted a website to use it to attract new visitors in order for them to learn more about me. I knew I had a great story to tell about our company and that the emerging Internet could do a better job than many other forms of marketing. I wanted to let people know about the way we trained, did cutting-edge work and our industry acceptance as a leader. Basically, I was looking to put my brochures, which worked so well in print, online. The term is “brochureware,” and it means websites that basically take their company’s printed brochures and posts them directly to their site.
I realized there were few if any traditional ways of marketing that could better bring this message to life. That’s why I immersed myself in learning how the web could make this a reality.
But back then, there were issues like speed of loading pages (anybody still using a dial-up connection?) and the size of the site itself. Today, these are becoming non-issues, with lower-cost providers of web hosting and the widespread availability of high-speed connectivity that makes it easy for visitors to a website to view photos, listen to audio and even watch videos.
Your potential customers expect you’ll have an informative website. And if you don’t, they’ll immediately make negative judgments about you and your company as they click away. People want to learn more about you before they click through or pick up the phone, and that’s why a great-looking website is just a starting point. The days of having a website be nothing more than a way to deliver “brochureware” is gone, because it falls way short of what the Internet can deliver and what potential customers are looking for.
As with all marketing, it takes knowledge and skill to avoid wasting your precious dollars. Money spent wisely is a must. In this recessionary economy, Internet marketing must be one of your three primary marketing drivers. What I mean by market driver is, you select three primary ways to attract new business and plow the bulk of your marketing dollars into these three vehicles. Many are finding it to be a proven winner at generating call count (making the phone ring).
The good news about Internet marketing is, you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a lot of exposure. The bad news is, if you don’t know how to harness its power, you’ll be attracting an audience that is of no use to you and your company, while missing the audience that’s trying to find you.
Great marketers know that whether they’re communicating online or offline, it all begins and ends with a clear message written in plain English aimed at their target audience. You must have a solution to their problem that helps them take the next step, which is their response to your call to action.
Seven Ways to Improve Your Internet Marketing
- Make sure every ad you place online or offline (including your Yellow Pages and newspaper ads) has your website clearly listed
- Make sure your homepage is geared to service first-time visitors, meaning you need to focus on what the needs of people looking for your services are, e.g. emergencies, troubleshooting calls or specialty work.
- Make a clear-cut call to action on your homepage for visitors to respond to, whether it’s filling out a form or calling your toll-free number. Anytime you can offer a gift or incentive to take action, do it. Things such as coupons for first-time visits or other free gifts work well.
- You will increase your inbound new customer calls from the Internet by prominently placing your toll-free number on the page and giving them a reason (and a promise) to call. If you call back within 60 minutes, tell them that. If you answer the phone 24 hours a day and on weekends, tell them that. If you have same-day service, tell them that. Anything that gets them to call.
- Be sure your website is listed on Google Local - www.google.com/local. If not, add it free of charge.
- If you spend money on advertising already, consider placing a geographically targeted ad on Google Adwords. By placing an ad locally, you get really cheap, but effective, advertising that is equal to, if not greater than, a simple Google Local listing.
- Remember the “3 Ps.” Make your website Personal – let them know you are a real, caring person. Customers do business with people. Make your site Professional – don’t have a website that looks cheap and slapped together that makes finding things difficult for your visitors. Lastly, provide Proof that you can do the job by offering up testimonials from satisfied clients, pictures of jobs completed, and logos and certifications you’ve earned. Remember that, to a customer, what you say about yourself is interesting, but what they really want to read (or hear) is what customers just like them say about you! For a good example on how to use the power of testimonials, go to www.appleseedbusiness.com.