Recent research from Vistaprint confirms what we already know. The most common way for people to find out about a small business is through online research (36.7 percent).
Word-of-mouth was a close second at 35 percent, followed by social media at 13 percent and visiting a company’s store or offices at 8.4 percent.
Of course, what do people who find out about you through word-of-mouth do next? They go online to see what else they can learn about your business.
Even if they’ve already made the decision to contact you based on a trusted referral, they’ll want to get a better idea of who they’ll be contacting.
Which begs the question – are you prepared to earn the business of people who have a need for your product or service, found your company online, and need help making a decision?
To answer that question, you need to answer a few other questions.
Are You Providing Information?
Sounds simple enough, but if you go to most websites and social media business pages, you’ll find the name of the business, a list of products and services, and contact information. Maybe you’ll see a few empty marketing clichés, like “for all your (fill in the blank) needs,” “your full-service (fill in the blank),” friendly, knowledgeable staff,” and “best service.”
Which mean nothing because they’re vague, unsubstantiated claims that any company on the face of the earth can say.
People want more than that.
People go online because they expect to have instant access to virtually unlimited information. And they expect the companies they evaluate and eventually hire to be resources of information.
That information is what we in marketing circles refer to as content.
People want to be educated so they can trust you enough and feel confident enough in your capabilities to make a purchase from you. If you don’t provide information that builds trust and confidence, they’ll find another company that does.
And they’ll bring their money, loyalty and referrals with them.
Are You Delivering that Information in a Way that Matters to Your Ideal Clients?
In my last post, I discussed how to answer the “what do you do” question by getting beyond industry labels. You need to explain how what you do is relevant and meaningful, using relatable, everyday language.
When it comes to the information you provide online, you should follow the same approach and expand on that answer by identifying who specifically you serve and how you serve them.
If you try to be everything to everybody, you’ll just dilute your brand. You may as well just use that generic industry label.
If you target your ideal client with a valuable service offering, you’ll have a position that means something. A unique position that says your business is the best option for handling certain types of situations and solving certain problems.
Instead of being the estate planning attorney, for example, be the estate planning attorney for senior executives in the healthcare industry. Now you own a unique position in your market and in the minds of people who read your content.
Are You Telling Your Story?
Some people won’t care about how your company got started, the backgrounds of key people, your values, or your vision.
In many cases, those people are price shoppers who view you as little more than a commodity. They’re the most disloyal clients because they’ll jump ship as soon as they find a cheaper option.
Your ideal client will dig deeper. They want to hear your story. They relate when that story is authentic.
If all other things are equal, they may choose to do business with you if your story is aligned with their values. They may even pay a little more because they feel a stronger connection with your company based on your story.
However, they can’t connect with your story if you don’t take the time to share it. Tell it on your About page. Tell it in blog posts. Tell it in social media posts. Use real images and videos.
Assume people care. Because more often than not, your ideal clients will care.
Are You Telling People What to Do Next?
The call-to-action is woefully overlooked.
Suppose the ideal client found the information they wanted. They found it to be relevant and valuable. They connected with your story. They’re ready to engage.
But you haven’t explained what the next step should be or given them one final push in that direction.
Leave nothing to chance. Take nothing for granted.
Tell people what action they should take to do business with you. Include contact information on every page of your website. Make sure contact information is prominently displayed on your social pages.
And for heaven’s sake, please don’t just stick a form on your contact page without providing a phone number, email address and physical address. That’s a credibility killer.
Don’t assume that someone is so smitten that they’ll search far and wide for a way to get in touch. Assume more accurately that 12 other things are competing for their attention, so the slightest doubt or confusion could result in a lost opportunity.
Are You Prepared?
Take a look at your website and social pages. Put yourself in the shoes of your ideal client.
Are you doing enough to convert him or her from a passive visitor to an engaged lead and get them on the road to becoming a client?
Does your content make a strong enough case? Is it helpful, valuable and relevant?
Are you consistently developing fresh content to satisfy their cravings for information, or does your online presence consist of a bunch of billboards that sit on the side of the information superhighway and that never change?
Somehow, they found you online. You passed that part of the test. Now it’s time to turn them into clients.
If you need help developing content that moves the needle for your business, or you don’t have the time or resources to support a consistent content strategy, let’s talk. I can help you create content that people want, like, share, and remember.