Guest post by Elaine Whitesides – Whitesides Words
Every business person wants their online marketing messages to be effective and profitable. But business owners, especially small business owners, don’t have the time (and often the real inclination) to research all the elements involved and then figure out how to assimilate the information to implement a strategy that works. It’s not a simple do this and that will happen.
The online world is fluid and evolving every moment. It’s complex and just about the time you think you have figured out some part of it, it’s changed. But I like to simplify things and some things will never change. One of those things is that the Internet is used by humans. And one thing all humans want is to understand. That means that content will always be important. So if you concentrate on how to develop content that humans want to consume – no matter the platform, the technology used or the speed of it, you will always be marching in step.
Developing the content in your online marketing message
It’s not often that people, including you, jump into the car without a destination in mind. If you do, you might be looking forward to a leisurely adventure, a carefree few hours anticipating some pleasurable surprises. That may be fun, but it’s not the way you’d run your business, is it?
It’s definitely not the way to keep content and communications fresh online.
If you do not have a plan behind the content you put online, you are just out for a ride. You might collect visitors and have lots of traffic, but is it doing anything besides getting people to visit? Probably not.
You have to think about that when considering what you are putting out on the Web. Yes, freshening content and consistent touches with your fans and followers are absolutely important. But the real fuel for the conversion from prospect to client lies is a purposeful plan.
Make your online message consistent and purposeful
Your plan starts with the end in mind (yes, just like Steven Covey suggested in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People). You have to know what you want those fans, followers and visitors TO DO. You could want them to:
- Click through
No matter what, you have to know what your goal for them is in order to determine what to say and how to say it in every post, publication and tweet. For example, if you want them to download a special report, you have to know the content of the report, have a link or download ready and write copy that engages and persuades them so they are ready to take the next step.
Likewise, for SEO purposes, you need to have the appropriate keywords and keyword phrases that would be used in searches in the copy of the posts, publications and tweets in order for the search engines to find you organically. Again, that requires forethought and planning.
Unless you want hit or miss marketing results, you have to prevent a hit or miss marketing effort. Make a plan. What you need to know before putting pen to paper or digits to the keyboard:
- Goal (what you want the reader TO DO)
- The product or materials to be directed to the reader (what you will GIVE the reader)
- The link, URL or download location (where the product or material will COME FROM)
- Keywords and phrases (what the reader will SAY in searches)
- Which platforms (WHERE and WHEN you will release and publish)
Knowing all these things prepares you to compose clear and targeted pieces that will align and lead to the achievement of the goal. Each piece of writing should be tailored to the message, the goal, the platform and, most importantly, to the target market and ideal client in mind. This includes tweets, Facebook posts, free reports, blogs and even website page copy.
Bear in mind, none of these are SALES pitches. No, social media and your online communications are, more than anything, a means to educate and communicate with your herd, tribe, followers, whatever it is you call the people you want to, and do, touch. Your sales pieces are just that – a sales pitch. But your other pieces are setting the stage, answering questions, meeting needs and developing awareness of need and cultivating want.
Don’t confuse content and sales pieces. If you do and try to sell, sell, sell and sell some more in your communications, you will wear your prospects down – and out. They will go away because it is a rare few who like to be sold to all the time.
Build your community. Develop relationships. Make friends and become a resource. When they come to know, like and trust you, they will convert to customers – if you have what they want and need. The world of online marketing is seldom an overnight blast and sensation. It takes time and, if you do it right, it will be successful.
A marketing strategy and plan involves so many different aspects – technology, the message, timing, purpose and goals, tools, editorial schedule, just so many things that have to be coordinated and implemented, monitored, measured, analyzed and then you start all over again. The process, to be effective, has to march on like a never-ending parade. That’s why I prefer to talk with guys like Neil here at Strategix. He’s the little engine that can – he is the drum major that keeps the marching band organized, tooting away and marching forward. I hope you have a Neil – if not, get one – or him.
A few words about wants and needs and your online marketing message
Yes, professionals are quite able to identify the needs of their customers. But just because a customer NEEDS something, doesn’t mean they WANT it – and statistics show that buyers buy from WANT more so than NEED.
Take for example, food. Everyone needs to eat or they die. But do they need to eat cake or steak or drink vintage wine? No, they don’t. They could survive on raw fruits and vegetables. In fact, they might be healthier. But they will toss what they WANT into their carts at the grocery store and stride up to the cashier and pay for it.
The lesson: You have to make what you offer as a solution to their problem what they WANT – not just what they NEED.
If Charmin can make toilet paper fun and appeal to the vanity of their market, if Bean-o can make light of personal gas, and if the market is willing to pay lots and lots of money for bottled water, there exists the possibility of clients wanting your product or service.
Be sure to include and build that into your online message with your branding and plan.
Fill the human need to understand and make having your product or service something that people want and you can’t help to be successful.
Elaine Whitesides has a unique business past having spent time in the residential and commercial real estate/finance corporate world and also many years as an educator. Combining those with a love of writing and organizational development, she founded Whitesides Words. Her business is to bring together professional service providers and the business owners who need their services – at a reasonable rate. Her purpose is to share the stories of business and business people with the world. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 317-520-2885. Visit her website at www.whitesideswords.com.