Within the past 10 years, nearly everything about the way we do business has changed. Advancements in technology have opened new markets, brought people closer, blurred the lines between home and office along with giving new businesses the ability to been seen and heard at levels previously only reserved for the most established and deep pocketed organizations.
While these advancements have offered the most savvy of entrepreneurs a way to hyper grow properly run and ambitious start-up businesses, adoption and the embracing of online advertising have been a slower role for certain established businesses and business leaders. Given that our model is a consultative one- the sales process for a new client is heavily consultative. During this process, you learn quite a bit about the prospective client’s business model, aspirations, sales goals and ultimately, what led them to seek us out for support.
The biggest challenge in the sales process for Search Engine Marketing services is to educate the client that the concept of the Yellow Pages, Trade Show, Chamber of Commerce and most everything else that they have been brought up to believe will enhance their business is trumped by the potential of online advertising. Change can be positive, but the beginnings of any change and in this case a fundamental paradigm shift in the way you sell and view marketing can be painful.
The benefits of a properly run online marketing strategy are many, and the ways to achieve those benefits continue to evolve (seemingly) daily. Whether you are a beginner to online marketing and expert or somewhere in the middle, here are some of the major items to consider when you begin to assess where your organization fits relative to a holistic marketing strategy.
- How am I currently selling? Do I have an inside sales force calling off of lists or do I have an outside sales team knocking on doors? How you currently sell has more to do with your online marketing strategy than you think. Unlike more traditional marketing strategies which focus on brand and brand recognition, the success of online marketing is specifically tied to conversions or sales. It is more analytical and ROI driven than it’s ever been and when done right, it can help augment a sales force in ways never before imagined.
- How do I want to sell and how effective is my strategy? Given the various “traditional” ways organizations approach business development, there may be ways to direct budget to the effort of creating more inbound traffic/leads etc. as opposed to filling the streets with an army of company branded polo wearing, khaki sporting outside sales professionals that are experiencing limited results.
- Who am I selling to and do I have any idea what resonates with my target market(s)? Historically, organizations have been forced to rely on surveys, hearsay, research firms or focus groups to provide direction on which aspects of a service or product offering resonates with the audience at large. With the advances in Google Analytics, Marketing Automation, Paid Campaigns and Tracking Methods, organizations can receive feedback from actual visitors in real time to better understand how they are reacting to various ad campaigns, messaging and calls to action. A/B testing, offers and the ability to show certain content to targeted subsections of visitors enhance the ability to test messaging in a fraction of the time. The world where marketing decisions no longer happen in a vacuum is the world we live in today and the organizations who let their customer’s vote with their clicks are the organizations who will continue to lead the charge while others trail behind.
- I’ve led the horse to water- why isn’t it drinking? Probably because your website is lacking. The days of a website being the proverbial online business card are over. Today’s public have incredibly high standards, shrinking budgets and a marked lack of patience. If your website is not engaging, looks antiquated, hasn’t been updated in two years or is not interactive- all of the money and advertising in the world will not compensate.
The Good News: Websites are not as expensive as they once were. If your organization wants a fully functional, interactive website and does not require a great deal of back end custom development, you should be able to get one for the neighborhood of $40,000. For the cost of a booth at a trade show in Vegas you can have a website that touts your services, products and abilities 24/7/365.
The Bad News: It’s the Wild West out there and just like in the olden days, for every firm who can help you build their business there are three that say they can and cannot. The operations of a successful web design are similar from firm to firm and the platforms that sites are built on vary, but most functions are assumed. When vetting an agency, look at how they view web design in the larger context, and by larger context I mean, “How will this increase my sales?”
- Who, what, when, where, why (and sometimes) how? The more quickly you realize that you are not an online marketing professional, the better. You wouldn’t pull your own tooth, don’t try to manage your online presence alone. The ability for a business leader to enhance their strengths by leveraging a firm who specializes in online marketing is a huge advantage over organizations who devote a portion of someone’s time to these efforts. The ability to drive inbound traffic and convert them to sales is just one aspect of a successful strategy- the ability to understand the who, what, when why… and act on that data is what separates the adults from the children.
- If you have a $100 to invest- lottery tickets probably aren’t the best idea… A good online marketing firm is one that understand the needs, wants and resources of the client and maximizes that budget. There are countless ways to skin the cat and understanding what resources we have at our disposal is the best way to formulate a strategy. If you are called by an online marketing firm looking to “sell” you a service, hang up. The needs of your business will explicitly dictate what is “sold” to you, nothing more.
While the advances in Marketing continue to evolve, there is still time for your organization to reap the benefits of early adoption. Just as there are three Charlatans for every one legitimate online marketing firm, there are three of your competitors who will be slower than you to adapt to the changing marketplace. There is still a power and market share vacuum to the filled by those who leverage the intense power of a properly run online marketing plan.
It is possible and you don’t have to do it alone. Call Wakefly today, we are happy to help!