Category Archives for Strategy

Message in bottle

Is your company’s message clear and compelling?

Is your value proposition interesting?

When a visitor visits a page on your company’s website what is your message?  What is the message you want the visitor to understand in the first few seconds of their visit?  Seconds is all the time you have.  It isn’t just the impatience we have adapted to in the digital world.  Marketers for decades have realized they have only seconds to get a prospect’s attention.  Is it is a billboard along a busy street, a TV advertisement, endcap in a grocery store or any other display of a company’s product or service.?  The casual passerby or visitor decides what information is important in milliseconds.  This nuance of human behavior has been studied from every possible angle to determine the best possible way to break through the millions of input stimuli each of us experience during a typical day.  Cognitive decision-making advocates will explain that the decision to engage the message is something intuitively completed before our conscious mind even begins to evaluate the input of stimulus.  It is part of our basic survival mechanism.

Fancy words aren’t found during a Google Search.

Many of our organizations decide that more complexity of our message differentiates us from competitors.  If we use big words we must be smarter and know more about the subject.  Even better if we use all of the industry technical jargon to explain our products and services.  Recently I was assisting an international organization that was focused on recruiting ex-pat executives.  An ex-pat executive is someone that has worked overseas in a foreign country in a senior leadership role.  The organization felt this was a valuable asset and nucleus for a group of like-minded people.  Absolutely correct but with one major issue.  In crafting their message for the organization’s website they focused on the keyword ex-pat.  A quick search on Google, Google Trends, Moz, or other keyword tools found there were no searches involving the keyword ex-pat.

Feel Good Terms Sound Good in Marketing but Don’t Produce Results.

“We are baffled when people aren’t the primary focus of any transformation”.  “Were Boutique.  Cookie cutter solutions don’t make the cut with us..”  Very noble statements for the headlines of the firm’s home page.  This is a well established and recognized firm in the government contracting space. The website is very well done in appearance.  Easy to navigate.  Good content and explanations of services.  They are emphasizing what they feel differentiates them from competitors.

The challenge is no one is searching for differentiating characteristics of your products or services.  At least not at the beginning of their search.  No one searches for people being the primary focus of transformation or non-cookie cutter solutions.  The organization is a management consulting firm focused on government contracts.  Their home page title tag contains the name of their company and the management consulting services.  Since the name of the firm is in the URL they don’t need to emphasize it in their title tags.  Someone searching for the name will find the website.  More important is what they do.  Why not use government contract management consulting firm?

Why use these terms?  It is what describes the firm.  Someone searching for a government contract management consulting firm will not be searching for a company that is baffled when people aren’t included in the transformation.  Look what results I get when I search those terms:

Search Screen shot government contracting

Even though this firm doesn’t utilize any basic SEO technics it came out in the number one spot when searching for these more likely terms.

A search for The terms focused on the original firm’s website shows they came out on in the top ranking but who would think to search for the terms?

DAI search terms

Tech Speak is bad for you Marketing Message Except for other Techs.

Technical jargon is worse.  “We create data transformations in the cloud.” I made this one up but you get the idea.  I recently attended a huge technical conference on healthcare technologies.  Walking through the aisles of the show I found it difficult to determine what services many of the exhibitors actually offered.  Even when I stopped and asked the person in the booth often all I got was more jargon.  I got the feeling I wasn’t worthy of their attention if I didn’t understand the buzzwords being used!  Unless I am looking for a definition of a technical buzzword I probably won’t start my search for one.

Let’s dumb this down a little.  I’m looking for a more secure way to connect all my current internet devices in my home because I’ve seen stories about my provider’s wifi might not be that secure.  I don’t start my search with IoT, internet of things security.  I probably start my search for the phrase more secure home internet.

Internet of things

And searching for secure home internet:

Secure home internet

If I were a company selling secure wifi routers I much rather show up in this second search.  Chances are the visitor will be someone looking to purchase a secure router.

Back to the healthcare technology show.

I’m hesitant to provide bad examples of messaging from the conference although there were many.  Just think about it the next conference you attend and see what messaging explains what the company does in a few milliseconds without explanation.  Here is an example of simple messaging where I assisted.  This firm offers a multitude of services in multiple industries but this was a healthcare conference.  There was only one primary message that would resonate with attendees interested in this firm’s services.

Loricca HIMSS 17

For those not in the healthcare space HIPAA compliance is a big deal and only by the use of the two primary keywords, HIPAA and Compliance was the firm going to get any prospects attention.  Cybersecurity or IT compliance services wouldn’t have the same impact.  In this case, there is no doubt what the primary service is for Healthcare visitors: HIPAA Security Risk Assessments.  The same is true for their website.

How do you want to be searched?  What is realistic?

The examples were just to get you thinking about what your firms’ message should be.  What is it you do?  Not in your industry terms or technical jargon.  What terms would your most likely prospect use when searching for services or products of your firm.  The last example is an executive recruiter.  At least that is what I called him.  In order to differentiate himself from the herd.  In his defense, he is different but not in terms of search terms.  You have to get the potential customer to your store before you can impress them with how you are different.  There aren’t a lot of searches for an executive recruiter that isn’t really an executive recruiter or sometimes consultant. The search is for an executive recruiter.  Get found first, Get the visitor to your store.  Get them engaged in wanting to know more.  Then and only then attempt to dazzle them with how you are different.

Contact us for more information on how to create the right message.

Small Business Owners

Online Small Business Marketing

Business Owners & Entrepreneurs Need This Info

Are you an online marketing expert? Chances are you aren’t and don’t have the time to become one.   I’ve never met a business owner that isn’t an expert at their own business.  You conceived it and built it with your ideas and hard work.  Most of you are not “jacks of all trades” when it comes to growing and running a business.  At some point in your growth, you have to start delegating and leveraging other employees or trusted advisors.  Who to leverage and who to trust decisions will make or break your business?

Hiring Employees & other Professionals

Online Strategy

As a business owner, you must hire or contract accountants, financial advisors, insurance agents, lawyers, human resources, payroll, benefits, transportation, operations, purchasing, sales, and marketing.  I probably missed a few but you get the idea.  Marketing professionals may be the toughest to quantify and hire.

Most business owners I’ve worked with struggle with hiring the right employees or outside advisors.  You really don’t have the time or expertise to do it well.  Often it is spur of the moment gut decision in an attempt to solve an immediate problem that has gotten out of hand.  Ensure you plan your marketing hire.  Do you need an SEO, social media, or email marketing expert?

The Mystery of Marketing

According to a 2014 CMO survey published by the American Marketing Association and Duke University, companies with: less than $25 million in revenue spent an average of 11% on marketing. $25-$99 million in revenue spent an average of 9% on marketing.

The Big Spenders  According to Statista marketers will spend $207 Billion Dollars in the US during 2017.

What is the return on investment for all this marketing spend?  Much of it is very hard to quantify.  Especially marketing dollars spent on branding.  The most visible example of a big spend on branding might be the super bowl.  A few of the advertisements have a call to action but most like Anheuser-Busch are pure branding.

According to the American Marketing Association, the average spends for 2017 Super Bowl 30 second commercial was between $2.5 and $2.8 million dollars.

Of course, there is more to it than just the 30-second ad.  These ads are leveraged in a multitude of ways for branding and to get the consumer to take action.  More difficult is finding a direct correlation between the spend and the return on investment.

Who Should You Believe?

Online Marketng Pyramid

It is complicated but as a business owner, you need to insist on defining metrics up front before beginning any marketing efforts.  The goal of marketing for you as a small business owner should be to generate leads for your products and services.  Marketing is not sales.  Conversion of prospects to purchase your products and services is the sales process.  Marketing makes them aware of your products and services and sets them up for conversion.

So what would be good metrics for a small business owner?  For most of us, the best metric would be phone calls to your business.  Have calls increased?  Make sure the employees answering the phone ask where they got your number!!!!

I remember doing some marketing in the 90s for a world-renowned youth tennis instructor.  Pre-internet he agreed on placing an animated ad on a billboard on one of the main arteries in town.  There were very few of these types of billboards in existence at the time.  This main artery was one international tourist visiting Florida took to reach the beach.  

The tennis pro’s reaction was he no longer needed the ad because his phone was ringing off the hook from international parents seeking more information.   When I asked him why he thought that the calls increased he didn’t know. I hadn’t insisted that the employees answering the phone asked the same question.  After I connected the dots for him he left the advertisement up until he could take no more new students.

You may not get these results for a billboard or other ad but be sure that you are able to track results prior to placing an ad.

Online marketing results are trackable.

Online ROITo me and to you as a business owner, the best part of online marketing is the traceability.  FREE tools are available to track every action and reaction of online marketing.  Before you contract or agree to any marketing project ensure these tools are in place on your website or social media accounts.  For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  Or is there?  The only way to know is to track your online marketing efforts.

Watch for my next week’s post on online tracking tools that you can use to find out if you are getting the results you anticipated.  These tools will help take the guesswork out of your marketing initiatives.  Immediate factual feedback is available when metrics are defined and tracking planned in advance of any marketing efforts.

Get an immediate technical assessment of your website or contact us for a better online strategy.