Archive | March, 2013

About Your About Us Page

30 Mar

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One of the primary reasons a prospect comes to a website is to learn more about a business. The prospect wants to learn not only what you do and how you do it but — more importantly — why you do it. There are many competing businesses in your industry and community. Statistics have shown that one of the most visited pages on any company website is the About Us page.

Why is that? Whether you are a B2B or a B2C company, your prospects are people first. So it’s natural for them to want to know more about the people behind the company they’re considering working with. Prospects hire the people in the business, not just a faceless company.

Unfortunate 
The sad truth is that most company About Us pages are filled with industry jargon. Or they’re carbon copies of all the other websites in their space. This makes them boring to read and easy to bypass¬†
You know you’ve landed on one of these About Us pages when the page is filled with boastful claim after boastful claim. You see words like “industry leading,” “unique solutions,” “award winning,” and “innovative brand.” With eyes glazed over, most visitors can’t exit these pages fast enough.

People want to learn about people. They already know about what you do from the other pages on your website. The About Us page should focus instead on why you do what you do.
How to Fix It
If your About Us page has these issues, the good news is it’s not difficult to fix. You need to get a pen and pad of paper. As you sit to think about re-writing the page, don’t be afraid to let some personality shine through.

Your About Us page is a selling tool. To sell more of what you do, you have to get the visitor to establish a bond with your company and trust you. To establish this bond, you must let the visitor know the people behind the company. A big part of your brand is your company culture. Your About Us page is an opportunity to tell visitors your story and what your culture is about.

Here are eight ideas to think about as you create the content for your About Us page. Weave them into your brand story.

  1. How did the company start?
  1. Why are you in this business?
  1. Avoid all hype and jargon.
  1. Say what you want to say in as few words as possible.
  1. Include a few testimonials from happy clients. It won’t seem boastful if others do the advocating on your behalf.
  1. Make it personable and interesting. Don’t be afraid to show the human and vulnerable side of your company. Your visitors aren’t perfect people either. So showing this side of your business allows your brand to connect and build a bond.
  1. Invite visitors to connect with you in other online places where you’re active (LinkedIn, Facebook, blog).
  1. Tell them where to go and what to do next. This is the “call to action” part of the page.

Tell them not just what you do and how you do it. Instead, tell the visitor why you do what you do. Your About Us page is the perfect place to share that message with the world.

How to Make Marketing and Sales Work Together Like Peanut Butter and Jelly

25 Mar

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Marketing is about telling your story. Sales is about having conversations.

From the point of view of marketing, every single business is unique. No two are exactly alike. The mistake occurs when everyone in the industry looks at what others are doing and copies it. The story is no longer unique.

To sell more and to make the job of sales easier, you need to position your marketing message in a unique way that resonates with and attracts the types of customers you’re looking for.

When you do this right, you will end up having conversations. Conversations that will ultimately lead to sales.

If you don’t tell your story, you can be sure that your competitors will tell the story for you. And that is not the story you want prospects to hear.

Stories and the Caveman
From the beginning of time, when early human beings drew paintings on cave walls, people have been telling stories. Stories are in our DNA. Stories connect one generation to the next. The human brain has a special soft spot for stories.

That’s why the most successful brands have a story wrapped up in everything they do. We’re bombarded with marketing messages every day. Why do we remember some brand messages and not others? Because those brands have planted a seed in our brains with their unique and interesting story.

No one forgets Coke and their story of a top secret recipe kept in a vault. Apple, Starbucks, and Virgin are among other brands that tell their story very well.

Why Do We Do It?
Your story should be not just about what you do or even how you do it. The story really should be about why you do it. That part of the story is what connects people with you and your business. That’s what becomes the story of your brand and business.

How Do We Do It?
This doesn’t have to be difficult to do. All you need is a pad of paper, a pen, and a quiet space to think. All you have to do is answer the question: “Why are we doing what we do?”

That’s a big, hairy topic, I know. But you have to tackle it and get it down on paper. If you can manage to answer it in an authentic way that captures the imagination of your prospects, you’ll make your marketing messages focused and much more effective. People may not remember you or your logo very well, but they will always remember your story.

In turn, that makes the job of sales much easier. It opens the door to conversations. Those conversations will lead to real sales. Your story will make it easier to reach prospects looking for what you do.

A unique marketing story told in an authentic way will make the job of selling much easier. That’s what successful marketing is all about.

The two go together like peanut butter and jelly.

The One Radio Station You Should Tune To

25 Mar

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There’s a radio station you may have never heard of, but it’s one you need to tune into each and every day if you really want to grow your business. It’s called WIIFM, and it stands for “What’s In It For Me.”

Yes, this is a fictional radio station, and yes, it’s a bit cheeky, but the message is one you can’t ignore. Your customers are being bombarded with messages every single day. The only messages that will register are those which adhere to the WIIFM principles.

You must clearly spell out what’s in it for them, or your listener will quickly tune you out.

Here’s a good quote to remember from Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales:

“It’s actually surprising how many people don’t follow this simple guideline of courtesy. I often get long, tedious emails from people explaining to me in great detail how I can help them and how great it would be for them if I would work on their project, or endorse it, etc. But they fail to consider my context. Why should I care, and even if I do care, why should I act on this rather than any of a thousand other things?This is what your prospects and customers are thinking every time you broadcast your messages. So recall this quote when you sit down to create your message, whether in print, web, social media, or any other communication channel.

Are You A Little Bit Country or Rock n’ Roll?
To understand what your prospects want to listen to or what they regard as important to them, you need to speak with and understand your customers. Pick up the phone, conduct surveys, go visit your customers, and take them out to lunch or coffee. There are many ways to find answers to this very important question.

Rome Was Not Built In One Day
Pablo Picasso painted over 5,000 drawings and images that very few people cared about at the time. But during the same period, he also created masterpieces that the world loves to this day. Don’t expect to find answers the first time you visit a client. Keep asking, probing, and analyzing your findings until the answer becomes crystal clear.

Seth Says

If you’re not attracting the right prospects to your business or converting them into customers, selling products, or building a strong brand in your community, it may be because you’re not clearly stating what’s important to your audience. Seth Godin said it best:¬†“Ten years later and the ego pendulum has clearly swung in the direction of the virus. That’s what we brag about and what is too often measured. How many eyeballs are passing by is a useless measure. All that matters is how many people want to hear from you tomorrow. Don’t try to convert strangers into customers. It’s ineffective and wasteful. Instead, focus on turning those momentary strangers into people eager to hear from you again and again.”

Favorite Station
Building and growing a lasting business brand takes a little work. Attracting audiences that care about what you have to say comes down to providing value for the type of audience you want to attract. You now know how to find out what they care about. Take those findings and craft the type of messages your listening audience will never want to tune out. When you do that, your channel will become one of the coveted favorite stations of your listening audience.

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Why You Need a Competitive Advantage

13 Mar

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A successful business follows one core marketing concept: “Find a need and fulfill it.” However, there may be many players offering similar services and products in your field. This is where having a competitive advantage can lead you to the top.

To be in the top 10% of your field, you need more than just a competitive advantage. You must also communicate that advantage loud and clear through everything you do.

Competitive advantage is defined as “a superiority gained by an organization when it can provide the same value as its competitors but at a lower price, or can charge higher prices by providing greater value through differentiation. Competitive advantage results from matching core competencies to opportunities.”

In other words, when you create a competitive advantage for your business, you can win either by charging less than your competitors through improved efficiencies or by charging higher prices than others because of the added value you provide.

In 1985, Michael Porter, a Harvard Business School professor, wrote the definitive guide called Competitive Advantage. In his book, Porter defined three ways companies can have a competitive advantage:

  1. Being the Cost Leader: offering lower prices than your competitors by providing a reasonable value while still making a profit. Wal-mart is one company that’s famous for this strategy, but Costco may have mastered it even better. Low prices are in Costco’s DNA and have become the company’s competitive advantage. Costco still charges just $1.50 for a hot dog and a fountain drink. As prices increased, Costco began manufacturing its own hot dogs in order to keep the prices low. Massive buying power and a super-efficient distribution system, coupled with a lower-overhead warehouse business model, have allowed Costco to remain a leader with this strategy.
  1. Differentiation: providing products and services that stand apart from your competitors. This strategy involves creating a brand that clearly communicates how your company delivers value in a way others can’t match. The result is a product or service people are willing to pay more to receive. Starbucks has mastered the art of charging higher prices than its competitors by selling more than coffee. The company sells a brand and overall coffee-buying experience others can’t duplicate. Buying a Starbucks coffee includes the atmosphere the company creates for its customers. It’s an added value the company’s thousands of locations “sell” and which customers continue to buy into every day.
  1. Focus: providing your products and solutions to a niche target market that you know well. With this strategy, you understand your customers’ pains and problems better than your competitors. Therefore, you can offer the best solutions at the best price. Apple understands its target audience. While others have tried slashing prices to remain relevant, Apple has been able to innovate and charge premium prices because the company understands who its market is.

Where does your business fit in these models?

If you haven’t defined your competitive advantage or aren’t clear what it could be, first answer these questions to help refine your search.

  1. What is it exactly that you provide? What problems do your services and products solve? Be crystal clear on the products, services, and solutions you provide.
  1. Who are you serving? What is your target market? Who are your ideal customers?
  1. Who is your competition? This could include local businesses or Internet-based companies. It could also include services and products from other industries that your customers are purchasing to solve their problems.

Once you’ve completed these steps, the research phase is done. Now you must analyze your findings in order to discover where your products and services can realize a competitive advantage. The answer may not appear right away, so you must continue to revisit the process until it becomes clear.

Once you’ve found your competitive advantage in the marketplace, it’s time to communicate that advantage in every marketing piece and everything you do until it becomes a part of the DNA and culture of your company.

Innovate, Don’t Imitate

9 Mar

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One of the most effective ways to keep a competitive edge is to think like a prospective customer and compare your business frequently to your competition. What does your competitor offer that your business does not?

While it’s helpful to stay informed of what your competition is doing, you should avoid copying their ideas. Rather, if you see a good idea that you’d like to implement, find a way to add more value and make it an even better idea. For example, if your competitor offers free shipping on purchases of $100, you could provide free shipping on all purchases and possibly even returns, which removes potential risk when placing an order.

If your competition sells a comparable product, an easy way to add extra value to your business is through service. Whether you have longer business or customer support hours, free shipping, a better warranty, free training, or live phone operators (no automated phone service), it’s often these types of value-ads that really stand out when customers compare businesses.

Another great way to gain customer perspective is with a customer survey or questionnaire. Ask your audience how you can improve, what new offerings they wish you provided, and what they like best about your company. Their answers could easily point to innovative ideas that will give you a competitive advantage.