Before we dive in, there are two fundamental questions that only you can answer.
Well, that's not entirely true. WE can help you answer these questions. But in any case, the answers must be in hand before you go ahead with ANY online marketing program!
The deeper you think this through (or we think this through together), the better we can help you focus your entire online strategy, to fit your businesses' core strengths to the expectations of your ideal clients.
There are two approaches: distill the unique, core characteristics of your existing business, then figure out your ideal client profile. OR, find a market niche — a cluster of ideal clients — and build a business around them.
It's an iterative process. Is your business' core strength in demand? Are your current clients are an unprofitable headache? Does your innovative product even have a market? Reconsider and adjust accordingly.
Here are they two big questions clients ask:
Don't be mysterious . . . weave your responses into the fiber of your entire marketing program so your clients really know who you are, and can understand why your business is the best choice.
Suddenly, you're no longer competing on price alone, or as just one of many similar choices. Your business is now unique, with a clear identity that clients will remember.
Now that you have your ideal clients in mind, and a notion about how to engage them, what's next?
Consider the DESK method: A self-reinforcing framework for your online marketing strategy — it's actually a process that attracts potential clients to your site, educates them, and motivates them to take action.
The aim is to guide your visitors through a process, from uninvolved visitor to committed client, building top-of-mind awareness mind along the way.
Drive targeted traffic. (Let's assume your site is already built.) Some of the best ways to do this are Local and Universal search engine optimization, online ads, autoresponder mailings, joint venture marketing, link campaigns, postal mailings, and offline ads including radio and television.
Educate your client. Provide ample information so visitors can take action.
Answer every potential question and reservation. Do not assume your visitors have a working knowledge of your industry, products, service, or jargon. Many will not. Tell them what they should be looking for and how your business provides it. Offer solutions, advice, tips, and guidance.
Your site and marketing program must be designed and built from your client's point of view—not yours.
Sell your product. This step builds credibility, and displaces uncertainty. Provide online reviews, testimonials, educational qualifications, titles, certifications, experience, associations, etc.
What does your business bring to the table that is different from your competitors? How does that help the client? Why should they buy from you? Help your potential clients decide if there's a good "match", and show how your products or services are the solution they are looking for.
Remember your site is your 24/7 representative. It works tirelessly on your behalf. Make it serve your clients with benefit statements, client-centered descriptions, comparisons, online tools, articles, interviews, and easy navigation. Integrate plenty of images, audio, and video to make your best case.
If you want clients to come to your local office or store, this DESK component could viewed as a "pre-selling" phase, helping visitors become strong clients before they even walk in your door. Read about Local Search to drive online clients to your offline business inexpensively.
Indecision is the enemy. Provide complete information to help your clients overcome the "paradox of choice" problem—indecision brought on by too many options, or too little actionable information. Do whatever it takes to inform and guide your clients about your products or service, and explain why you are best choice as the provider.
If you have a service business, your site must communicate your company's personality and philosophy, usually with audio or video, to establish "fit" and to build trust and confidence.
Close the sale. (you're right, close starts with a "c", but we couldn't resist the handy DESK acronym). The close is your call-to-action: What do you want visitors to do? Come in for a free consultation? Use an online tool? Sign-up on your mailing list? Buy your downloadable product? Visit your store?
Think this through and then provide an easy and fast way for your visitors to take that action. This point alone can make the difference between getting the business or losing it to a competitor.
Here are some ideas to sweeten the deal . . .
For downloadable products: Offer a strong guarantee, and a restatement of the value of what the client is getting. It doesn't hurt to include an incentive package or bonus in the form of low-cost, high-value information products. Policies for privacy, refunds, and returns are important too.
For local services and professional practices: Offer complementary consultations, introductory training or advice, and downloadable information guides.
For retailers: Offer coupons, painless pick-up and delivery, comparisons, and a guarantee.
It's especially important to not let visitors "touch" your site just once, walk away, and forget about you forever—you need multiple encounters to get noticed, and to create top-of-mind awareness.
Offer something of high perceived value in return for your visitor's contact information and use an autoresponder (automated email program) and social media tools like Twitter to stay in touch and restate your benefits. Invite your visitors into a long-term mutually-beneficial exchange.
Lastly, be sure to track all activity. Today's analysis software like Google Analytics makes it easy to see trends and to get feedback on improvements you make.