SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is a headache for many small businesses. Many think it a waste of time and can't see the point and those who can are often worried about being taken for a ride by those who practice the 'dark art' of SEO.
Well, the bad news is that small businesses can't really afford to ignore it any longer. However, the good news is that the new search algorithm from Google, the Panda 4.0 should help.
The phrase 'content is king' is as well worn as a comfy pair of shoes, but from now on content really is king. The new search criteria will reward those web sites that provide good, original, authoritative content that is frequently updated whilst penalising those sites that just re-hash existing material. In addition you will be rewarded by how easy and intuative your web site is to navigate.
If you view your web site as a an online catalogue you had better start thinking again and if you haven't got a blog onto which you regularly post then again, start thinking.
Fortunately Google have uploaded a post that will help in your likely review.
Are you struggling to find your ideal customer?
To begin with, particularly if you are a start-up or small business, you need to consider who your ideal customer is.
I wonder how many of you created a Buyer Profile before you started trading? A profile that looked at demographics, the key problems encountered and identifiers that make your ideal customer look at your product or service.
Once that’s done you need to think how to can reach them and more buyers like them.
This is an area where many businesses fall down. I have worked with so many organisations who make assumptions about where to find these buyers but that’s what they are, assumptions. You must take the time and do the research that will confirm or deny their accuracy.
If you want to reach your ideal customer you need to know where they spend their time, both real and virtual.
Are they reading industry blogs or news sites, is it the type of industry that likes printed material or digital, are they likely to read newsletters , or do they attend networking groups, trade shows or local association meetings?
To find out, survey your current and past clients, don’t be afraid to ask them – it shows that getting it right is important to you.
Hopefully, you will see a pattern emerge with several of your best clients giving the same responses. You can use this to help get your message right where it needs to be.
It doesn’t matter how strong your USP is or how powerful your value proposition, if the message isn’t reaching the right people your whistling in the wind.
Take some time and think about:
Have you surveyed your current and past clients to create a Buyer Profile?
Do you know if your marketing is being seen by your ideal clients?
If you’re looking for help to get this done give me a call or email.
How often do you buy from yourself?
twice a year, once a year or never? I suspect that for many small business owners the answer would be never. Let’s face it, you are probably too busy keeping things afloat and moving in the right direction. Besides, everyone knows what they are doing – don’t they?
The experience your customer gets during the whole purchasing process will determine whether they finally make that purchase or, even more importantly, decide to come back in future. You can make as many assumptions as you like about how your customers are handled but unless you experience it yourself or through an independent ‘secret customer’ that’s all they are, assumptions. You can never know whether the processes you have in place are actually working or not.
Have you ever stopped to think what your name says about you or even if it actually represents what you want it to? Moreover does your name speak to your customers and convey your products message?
A simple example to illustrate this:
We all assume (I think) that Vodka is a great Russian export. Consequently most Vodka has a Russian or East European sounding name to reinforce the message.
All very Cosak sounding you’ll agree. However, only one of the above is made in Russia, Leningrad to be precise and that is the last one Stollchnaya. The others are made in the USA.
A name can say a lot about the product it represents, make sure you get it right. Spend time doing research and holding focus groups before you finalise something.
Many SME’s will invest a significant amount to ensure that the design of their marketing collateral looks professional, but how many, I wonder, happily pay the same sort of money for the right content? After all, you know your company, you know what it can do, how it works and its experience in providing a particular product or service.
For this reason, many senior managers will take on the responsibility for writing the copy that relates to their department. This is fine except that more often than not that is just what is written -
‘we can do this’
‘we are proud of our’
‘we can help by’
‘I have experience in’
Your copy, whether in letters, direct mail, brochures, web site or company profile, should be written with the reader in mind, that way you will focus on their needs.
As an experiment go through all the different pieces of marketing material you use and in one colour mark each we, us, I, me, our, my etc. and in another colour mark each you, your’s, your. Then count up each colour. You should end up with a ratio of around 5 you to every 1 we. If your ratio is the other way around your copy is focussing more on what you want to say rather than what the reader may want to read. Changing this emphasis will make a big difference.
For a free review of your present marketing collateral, get in touch
David has worked in advertising and marketing services for 30 years both client and agency side. Having worked with local, national and muliti-national clients, he set up DLH Marketing to help small organisations, owner managed businesses and those organisations without in-house marketing.