Author Archives: Chuck Sink

Incremental Marketing over Capitalized Marketing

I can understand the value in publicity that an appearance on the TV show Shark Tank gives to small businesses vying for capital to expand. Even if the company makes no deal, they come away with brand impressions in the millions. Those who score a business deal, however, just took on a demanding new “boss” with enough equity to call some of the shots, including profit distributions.

What if these same entrepreneurs continued to ramp up sales work, implemented whatever marketing programs they could afford and then applied patience? Would more time and incremental growth render their quest for venture capital obsolete, giving them greater command of fulfilling their business vision? Experience tells us yes.

I believe financial expert Dave Ramsey who says “cash is king and debt is dumb.” Of course, there are exceptions to such truisms and I’ve used credit card debt in the past to successfully leverage my way out of near-bankruptcy, but I believe I was blessed along the way. I paid off the cards as fast as possible and one day I was able to wipe out that debt completely. That very day, my cash flow and profits began to improve dramatically! Since then I’ve accrued some working capital to keep business humming and growing, thank God!

Mine is a micro-example of so many healthy companies that have chosen organic growth over capitalized expansion. Many of my clients and associate firms have been doing very well without implementing a fully integrated and comprehensive marketing campaign, which can be rather expensive. We execute affordable, strategic and incremental marketing steps that, over time, provide the building blocks for more comprehensive marketing programs with the firepower to significantly increase sales and grow their businesses all the more.

I want to do more with my website! I want to increase the frequency and value of my newsletter. I want to spend more strategic time on LinkedIn. I want to produce a new brochure and direct mail piece. I want to attend more networking events. I want to start a formal PPC and SEO campaign. I want to advertise more… But I have tons of client and administrative work that must get done, so I’ll only do one out of 6 things on my marketing want-list today.

Next week, I’ll get to one or two more marketing executions as I can afford the time and money. I’m reasonably sure there will be tangible results with each new marketing step I take, as they have consistently produced leads and new business over the months and years – 6 years and counting!

A few of my clients are going through exciting growth periods and this has fueled more comprehensive marketing programs to spread our messages out to additional media channels. This kind of incremental approach over time reduces the stress of “burn rates” and high expectations from banks and investors. The cash in your bank account has no strings and can be more freely spent on the right priorities – yours!

Executive commitment is marketing gold!

Just a decent photo and two or three bullet points… I’m begging you!

Is this too much to ask a man or woman with some authority and resources? For some business owners and executives, it may seem like a nagging request. Why should they take time away from their important work to jot down notes and hunt for files? Important work. Hmm…

Is marketing communication vital to growing and sustaining a business? In other words, are your product features, pricing strategy, distribution channels and promotional messages important to your business? Marketing is all of those things so why not give it the time and attention it deserves?

But you have “fires to put out!”

Why is that? Maybe some of the fires result from misfired marketing communications or not enough communication. If you own a business, your input and decisions mean everything! If you want high-quality brand, product and direct marketing communications to consistently work for you, you need to consistently contribute to the marketing effort. As the company leader, you hold the keys to what your company can faithfully and consistently deliver to customers, therefore the keys to messaging accuracy and consistency. Realness sells!

Why Me?

For marketing communications to deliver results, two things happen. 1) Appropriate resources are allocated and 2) the business owner leads the marketing team. If there is a marketing committee, the owner or CEO should lead it, not a staff marketing director. You might think, with all this work and commitment, what am I paying a marketing agency for?

Here’s what for: To nudge you toward greatness in branding and sales results; to request and gather the shy pieces of accurate, relevant information you keep hidden – to make them into attractive and vibrant messages that look and sound great in every different media format.

In order to execute an effective campaign, all an agency really needs is about 20 minutes (maybe an hour) of executive time devoted to jot down a few key points, and maybe hunt for a photo (with help) or authorize a photo/video shoot. That’s all it should really take for the company leader. What’s nice is that as the owner or chief executive, you have a phone number and voice to which people answer.

Leverage Your Knowledge and Directives

Once you make relevant facts and images available, the real work begins with the creative agency people who are very eager to please! We direct, we write, we design, we produce, we enhance, we refine and make attractive the raw facts about your value proposition. Executive input and decisions enable all of this to happen!

With the right amount of executive input, professional marketers can execute stronger campaigns. We can nimbly make adjustments to our tactics from marketplace feedback, ever striving to improve and authenticate the brand experience for customers & prospects.

The most successful companies in any category have authentic and refined brands. They produce the most successful marketing campaigns. These campaigns succeed because the company leader is engaged in the marketing effort, devoting thought and directing resources toward successfully delivering their own key messages.

Advertising and Marketing: The Real Deal or Fake News?

Still tasting the raunchiness of some phony baloney served up to me as legitimate business fare, I felt motivated to tackle a controversial yet in-your-face-everyday topic, and an important one in business: attempted consumer manipulation. You can even call it fake news.

Now well past the Industrial Age, we’re neck deep into the Information Age which has devolved to the era of “Fake News.” Media in every form is being used in an attempt to manipulate rather than inform. While this has always been true in advertising, it is now the purview of most mainstream journalism and corporate public relations. Just look at your newsfeeds and ask yourself, is there unbiased veracity and relevance to this information or is it agenda-driven? If the latter, who’s agenda and why? The answers lead either to money or politics or both.

Media today are being weaponized against business and I’ve seen competitors smell blood in the water and attack cowardly from behind concerning some made up accusation of social injustice. And the fact is, most corporate reactions to fake news leveled at them are pathetic. They fold like cheap suits at false claims when any pressure group attempts to slander and shake them down. Why? Because they’d rather allow a lie to propagate if bowing to it makes brand controversy blow over. They unwittingly damage their integrity and lose brand loyalty with every cave-in.

Truth is an awesome differentiator!

Ironically, as an advertiser, you now have the opportunity to stand apart from all the phony baloney being distributed from the manipulative minds of so many “journalists” and marketing writers – your competition for time/space and audience attention. All you need to do is tell the truth in every communication that your organization publishes, including every advertisement and promotion. You will rise above the fray because truth in media is no longer a predictable commodity, but a highly valued communication specialty.

Do you want to distinguish your brand from the competition? Get real now!

Advertising and Sales Veracity Audit

If you tell simple truths about your products and services in every message emanating from your business, consumers will take comfort in the absence of brash claims and hyperbole. Truth has the ring of truth to it. Truth in advertising quietly stands out because of its automatic differentiation from mainstream message clutter. Put every promotional message through the veracity test. Can all your claims be backed by multiple testimonials?

“Seek first to understand…”

How do you figure out the truths that you need your target audience to understand and believe?

Stop thinking about your stupid solution for a minute!  Ask customers and sales prospects what’s really important in a vendor partner who provides what you do. Ask only to listen, not to respond. Just listen and really understand what’s important to your customers, putting any solution response off to the side while you walk in your customer’s shoes and feel their cramped feet. Then, having a better understanding of what shoes will fit, you can become their personal cobbler, helping them take bigger strides forward in their own business by delivering customized value with consistency.

When you know what’s important to your customers, it’s easy to shoot straight with them and you become their trusted, go-to resource. They will even ask your advice before making some of their purchase decisions. Keep listening to customers on a daily basis so you can respond to your market with honest advertising and promotional messages that matter to real people including your friends and neighbors.

Congruence of Branding and Experience is Sales Power!

“Do this and you will succeed.” That’s the general implication behind just about every performance coach’s or personal trainer’s program. Following the suggestions in this post may be as close as I can come in a marketing blog to saying: Do this and you will succeed!

Consistency is a term very often used by marketers who may sometimes need to chide their writers and designers to keep their messages on the strategic track. We’ve heard that consistency in messages across different platforms and media is one of the fundamentals of marketing and it is. But another word, congruence, more precisely relates to excellent branding and marketing, even if figuratively. The congruence of customer experience and brand promise first creates, and then fortifies customer loyalty. Going further, this congruence of branding and the real value that customers experience generates advocacy and referrals. There is nothing more powerful in sales and marketing than enthusiastic “word of mouth.”

Really Different?

There’s a common marketing dilemma. You need to differentiate your brand from loudmouthed competition but you should never make claims that you and your company can’t always fulfill for every customer. The only way for your brand to boost sales and add equity to your business is for it to be authentic. The product or service must be every bit as sexy to the naked eye as it is in pictures. It should do what you promise it will and more. Your team needs to show up and step it up!

Never bloviate, always DEMONSTRATE!

Here you can begin to realize that there are no advertising, marketing or SEO best practices that can substantially increase sales and grow your business without a foundation of product and service integrity. We’ve all heard it, “Under promise and over deliver.” This is a tall order and well worth fulfilling!

Now you can sound off!

Once you have firmly established excellence in whatever your business does (which is only one thing), you’re in a position to communicate it creatively, boldly and loudly in multimedia – over and over, everywhere your message can be seen and heard. And when new customers try you out, they’re sure to be satisfied or very pleased with their experience because of the excellence in your delivery. “If you can do it, it ain’t bragging,” said a Major League Baseball player of the past.

The most powerful new business development combination is brand messaging across multimedia congruent with product/service excellence and customer experience. When someone gets a referral from a friend – of the same brand they’ve been hearing about in various media – the sale is made, the deal is closed, there’s no comparison shopping or haggling.

A point should be made here about the word “excellence.” Excellence can be attributed to low price/value. It isn’t necessarily about being the “Rolls Royce” in your category if you strategically differentiate on price (Walmart hasn’t fared so badly).

The Real Bottom Line

Your Website, social media, print, advertising, signs, business cards, office space – all the channels that carry your sales messages – need to say the same thing, in the same style & tone, and most importantly, they must speak the truth!

 

Your Website’s Hook and Anchor

What are you looking for?  You’ll know when you see it!

Great marketing design, whether digital, print or environmental, has one thing in common. For your marketing messages to be effective, all you really need to start with is this one thing. Without it, people will gloss over your web pages, eblasts, brochures social posts and ads without caring whether your message registers in their mind or not.

But you care!

You can put a ton of effort into writing your messages but you need the key supporting element to give them enough life to make people stop and interact – to engage or be called to act. Your brand needs this desperately and so does mine; bright, high quality, high-resolution visuals – Photographs and Videos!

homepage-slider-image

Through the eyes is where most marketing magic happens. So it doesn’t help when you cut corners on photography and video production.

Impressive cameras on phones are a blessing and a curse to marketers. While you can sometimes capture a great image just by pointing and shooting, people become convinced that they’re great at DIY photography. As they scroll through nice photos they took on vacation or out on a walk, they think they can shoot pictures of their location, people and products for their website. The odds are very low that you’ll get anything truly marketable with an impromptu session using your phone.

Caught you looking!

Now you know this is true about pictures. When you “see what you’re looking for” what do you do? The right image tells a story in proper context within the viewer’s mind. When you are perusing anything, it’s the most striking and high-quality images that arrest your attention; make you stop, look and pique your interest.

One of the fundamental reasons that iconic brands are successful is they take their image seriously and they execute visuals with consistency. You’ll notice how leading companies that you can immediately recognize, whether local, national, B2B or consumer, all invest in creating great looking images and they produce them professionally across all media.

The Social Classroom

The quality photography phenomenon is demonstrated over and over in Social Media. I was recently trying to figure out why a self-promotion post on LinkedIn got so much more interaction than most of my other “interesting” stuff. Then it hit me. It was the beautiful picture. That is all. The link content wasn’t really all that impressive so I’m convinced that people just liked the photo, so they hit the like and share buttons. Social metrics always prove that pictures and videos draw!

About 5 years ago on Facebook, I shared a beautiful bed image with a giveaway promotion for a furniture store client. It went viral! The Facebook Page went from just over 200 Likes to over 20,000 Likes within 2 weeks. To this day, they enjoy a very large Facebook following originating from the impact of one high-quality photo!

If you must do this…

When you decide to go Do-It-Yourself with website and promotional photography, take the time on every snap to be happy with what you see on the screen. Shoot each subject at various angles and keep lighting bright (or focused) and above as well as behind you. Sometimes a good designer can work with non-professional photography as long as it has high resolution. Zooming and cropping can be beneficial here.

zooming-and-cropping

Do you want your website or print designer to wow you? Provide excellent photography and graphics or else let them help direct a professional photo shoot. The best way to distinguish your brand in website and marketing design is to start with high-quality visuals.

Remember that video adds another dimension and it’s just as important to keep video production value up to your audiences’ expectations. For more about implementing video in your marketing, click here.

If you don’t have a big photography budget and you still need a great website design, have no worries. There is a superior approach to website design that creates an excellent user experience even if your graphics and photo assets are limited. Read about this extremely cost-effective approach.

We’ll close with a sincere wish to you and everyone in this audience: Thank you for reading this post about photography. I hope your day started out pretty as a picture and ends in a photo finish!

The Secret Weapon in Your Communication Tool Box

Emails are focused, written communications that are easily searchable and provide a permanent record of discourse. Email is also a handy tool for file and link sharing but emails are woefully ineffective in a very important area of business communication; impetus.

Emails lack the moving energy to solve problems or improve situations. They become buried, static messages that seem to give the sender permission to set aside important business until a response email is received, especially when there are unknowns or questions between the parties.

Clearly, we’re not talking about email as a secret weapon in communications. There’s a much older tool that works business magic.

How many times have you become deeply engaged in an email thread that lasted several days or weeks? The subject line may have nothing to do with the last several emails. Each party is busy with multiple things and the discourse is interrupted by hours and days of delay. Situations on both ends are always changing in the meantime.

A project gets stuck, so finally, you pick up the phone and call your fellow emailer to figure out what’s going on in real time. A few simple questions are answered on both ends and the project is full steam ahead! That was easy! When analyzing the whole thing, you realize an earlier phone call or two would have eliminated days of back & forth emails.

The telephone is the next best thing to being with another person face to face. The telephone encourages and requires dialog. There’s no visual body language so you must rely on a 2-way conversation to make a phone call have any effect. It requires active listening for not only words but vocal tones, breath & sighs, and other audible cues.

Leaving new business on hold? Pick up the line!

Your most vital source of business, both new and sustaining, are the customers you already serve. It’s crucial that they keep getting the value they pay for. If important work and deliverables are stalled from lack of written communication, spoken communication like a phone conversation gets things back on track or even ahead of the game. There’s also the opportunity to expand business with customers by talking with them about how upgrading may suit their growing needs better than their current service level.

Call your customers when you need more impetus behind your messages. Your marketing alone may not be enough. Customers often request something in writing after you’ve had a discussion over the phone. If you don’t hang up with an agreement, tactfully recall the key parts of the phone conversation, emphasizing where there was mutual agreement, and respond quickly in written form perhaps both print and electronic formats. Then pick up the phone and start the conversation where you left off, this time with a concrete offer that they can readily commit to.

More Email Busting Tactics that Work Wonders

Ever play phone tag? Sometimes it takes keys in the ignition to put you in front of a person you need to talk with. It’s hard to ignore the person who physically shows up in your office or job site.

Remember that not everyone likes using the phone. Boomers and Gen Xers tend to prefer phone calls over emails. But there are plenty of Millennials and Generation Z people who actually get annoyed by voice calls. Text them and start counting to 10. Your phone will vibrate or ping by 7 or 8. Text messaging gets through instantly and with an air of urgency. And most folks, young and old, don’t want a bunch of unanswered text messages piling up so they respond fast.

Use the Insider Network

You may have been thinking of your business connections on social media, particularly Facebook and LinkedIn. Direct messaging through these channels, especially Facebook, reminds people that you’re friends too and can be very effective. I’ve had fine results reaching business associates on Facebook when other ways failed to get a response. All generations who are active on Facebook tend to like using it for instant messaging and it’s a robust application for file sharing as well.

I feel it’s only fair to add a final word in defense of good old email. I don’t know if this company would exist without it. If you got to this post through an email newsletter, thank you!

Online Marketing Best Practices: What’s Best for You?

Best practices in marketing vary from customer to customer.

Whenever you hear or read the phrase, “marketing best practices” think of it as a series of tactics that have worked well for a collection of businesses at a recent point in time in a specific industry.

In my own industry, digital marketing, I’ve been seeing a saturation of self-marketing that looks dangerously similar among competing firms. It tends to focus on selling a defined process that includes Web Design, SEO, SEM, Social Media, Email and lead generation/sales funnels. The very same process tends to be applied to very different companies so effectiveness varies from one client to another.

I recently made the mistake of referring to my company’s approach to website development as a “best practice.” While we can be the best website services choice for many businesses, calling ours the “best practice” excludes too many other possibilities influenced by dynamic marketing factors such as vertical industries, culture, demographics, technologies, innovations and trends.

Coming full circle, this is why I love our own approach to website design, development and maintenance. It lets those who know their markets best (our clients) better control the messages and their targeted online distribution.

Best-for-Brand Practice

It would probably be better to call our web development methodology a “best-for-brand practice.” Your website should be designed and maintained around your brand – your audience preferences and their preferred business style. It’s all based on user experience (UX).

Does every business want their website to function as a lead generation machine or a sales funnel? Clearly, the answer is no, yet so many digital marketing agencies seem to push this model as THE best practice in online marketing.

Before you decide on the best-for-brand website development approach for your own company, ask some basic sales questions:

  • Are you selective concerning the new customers your firm wants to attract?
  • Do you want qualified leads to call your phone number so you can better guide them?
  • Do customers require product demos with multi-phase sales cycles?
  • Is your product or service easy to order online?
  • Should prospects download your content and subscribe to news & events? Why?
  • Are you looking for more Social Media interaction? How will that help you?
  • Do you need a steady stream of inbound leads to keep an inside sales team busy and productive?

Each of these and other sales & service needs can benefit from a strategically compatible website design and maintenance plan that caters to audience preferences. Our advice is to carefully consider the nuances that make your brand and customer experience one-of-a-kind and design a customized User Experience around it.

If now or in the future, you are thinking about your company’s next move regarding its website, we invite you to our new Website Services Page to learn about a fresh air approach to managing your website and online marketing campaigns.

Website Maintenance Maintains Business Growth

Choose a website hosting plan that actually works hard for your business!

Your website has parts that will break or expire and cause communication problems, just like your car’s parts will eventually break or malfunction and cause transportation problems. If you have a website for any length of time, you’ve surely experienced a utility malfunction, broken page link or even a complete outage. Panic can set in when that happens, especially in a marketing or sales-driven company. You can begin to imagine people visiting your site and leaving with the impression that your company’s act isn’t really together.

Listen up! The technology overlords of the Internet don’t particularly like websites that aren’t cared for, which clutter up the data universe with a bunch of old, static and irrelevant content. And, they have ways of punishing those sites!

FACT:  You do not know the identity of your website visitors unless they give it to you by opting-in to an offer; filling out a form. That means potential customers, perhaps big ones, are examining your online offerings and possibly getting frustrated with their experience when your site lacks an adequate maintenance program… and you won’t even know about the lost opportunities.

FACT:  Without a professionally managed program of itemized, ongoing technical maintenance and content updates, your website will suffer lower search results and diminished user experience. Some browsers such as Google Chrome might even flash a warning screen cautioning visitors before entering what they deem could be a malware prone or unsafe website.

Does your website have an SSL Security Certificate yet? If not, visitors are already being warned about entering it.

BEST PRACTICE: Put your website on a managed hosting and maintenance plan instead of a basic hosting plan. A fully managed website maintenance plan costs more than basic hosting and it’s more than worth the difference! You avoid disruptions in sales and workflows caused by malfunctioning web pages. Search bots “see” a secure and well-built, mobile-friendly site to crawl and properly index content for searchers of your products & services.

So, what do want your website to do?

Here are the two main service options available:

1. With a low cost basic hosting plan, you can at least have an online presence where people can find you by your own domain name or URL. However, without having and complying with the terms of an SSL Security Certificate, visitors may be warned before entering. Hopefully, your site would be mobile responsive by now, had someone paid attention to evolving standards several years ago and kept your site up to acceptable standards.

2. With a managed hosting and maintenance plan, your website would be searchable for your prospects’ & customers’ keyword queries about your product or service, not just your domain name. Your web service provider would have already alerted you to and installed SSL security certification on your site, especially if you have any contact forms or user portals. Years ago, they would have had your site complying with mobile-friendly (responsive design) standards giving mobile device users a seamless and high-quality mobile web experience before some of your competitors were even aware of the responsive design best practice. Every link would work as redirects are taken care of upon the first warning signal. Real human beings constantly work on the back and front ends of your website to make sure it’s optimized for speed, search and user experience.  Design and functionality plugins are always updated to the latest versions. Malware is constantly scanned for, isolated and removed. And get this: You can call them and talk with them on the phone whenever you need to! Sounds like best practices for online marketing doesn’t it?

My colleagues and I cannot stress enough the importance of maintaining SEO and website competitiveness today, and it’s only getting more intense out there! If you have any questions about website maintenance plans and how they can help improve your business, feel free to contact us online or call 603-345-7223.

Marketing Automation automates what you feed it!

Marketing Automation requires effort and for some, it’s well worth it!

Marketing Automation (MA) works amazingly well when careful planning and diligence are behind it. But caution: you cannot throw money at a third party professional, sit back and expect MA to generate qualified leads. Building an effective marketing automation platform requires an investment in staff time as well as funding to implement the campaigns.

The work is required on two fronts: data management and content development. Unless you invest the time and tedium necessary to capture, build and manage customer data, all the best technology won’t help you. You also need to focus on the quality of your content and calls to action: writing, design, photography, video… PRODUCTION! That cost is always there because you need strong, relevant messages to compete in the digital marketplace.

So, if you have to put so much into it, does Marketing Automation really offer a lot of value in return? Yes, especially if you use it as designed: a tool for “smart” and efficient content distribution.  The automation part kicks in to help boost campaign results by distributing content based on known audience preferences – all stemming from their actual behavior. But first, you need to pull people to your content; get them to navigate your website and take action on your landing pages.

Marketing Automation “turbocharges” well-produced content.

You can set up the most powerful and sophisticated MA system available but if you write and produce gobbledygook content with lousy graphics, your visitors will shrug and move on. If your landing pages don’t convert, MA is a complete waste of your time, resources and money.  Without conversions, i.e. qualified inbound leads with authentic inquiries or direct online sales, you may as well just start randomly cold calling prospects. You’ll probably sell more that way!

Getting anyone to take action requires that you persuade them through a series of emotional and logical appeals. When you apply the AIDA method of persuasion, you’ll have an ideal guide for writing your messages. It helps convince your prospects to decide that your solution is right for them. So what exactly is AIDA?

AIDA simply stands for Attention, Interest, Desire and Action. There you have the universal progression of thought processes leading to a decision to act. Breaking it down further…

Attention:  How do you grab someone’s attention? Call them by name if you can or else “shout” something valuable to their known persona. This can be a perfectly relevant subject line, headline or maybe a 3-second audio/video clip.

Interest:  Once you have their attention, signal that your information is relevant to them. Apply it directly to their needs and aspirations.

Desire:  What’s really valuable to your target audience? What’s in it for them? How will your solution make life and business better? Tell a compelling story. Paint a picture of success or pleasure with words and images.

Action:  The only thing that really matters in your campaigns is, do your visitors and prospects take the desired action in response to the messages? Do they ultimately purchase? Show them clearly what to do. Offer personal assistance or an incentive to sign up, make the appointment or buy!

Keep marketing technology “right-sized” for your business.

It’s easy to lose sight of marketing fundamentals with so much emphasis on new tactical technologies. For many small and even some medium enterprise businesses, an effective marketing program can be accomplished with a website, an active blog, an email marketing platform and 2 or 3 social media pages. If using a CRM, it’s crucial to promptly feed the database (manually if needed) with inbound web leads emailed to a salesperson and/or saved in the forms capture database. Then your sales team can better fulfill their roles to advance relationships, follow up and close more deals.

While I’m wide open to changing my views with evidence, it’s currently my opinion that Marketing Automation is a tool best suited for large organizations with multi-faceted products and multiple target audiences. Most small businesses probably don’t need it, at least not yet. Forms code from many low-cost Email Service Providers can be embedded on landing pages and generate auto-responder emails with drip campaigns.

The automatic segmentation of leads and ad retargeting based on site visitors’ behavior can be very powerful for large sales organizations and professional service firms. To remain competitive today, most big companies need the qualifying, segmenting and lead funneling capabilities of a robust CRM integrated with a Marketing Automation platform. Think Salesforce & Pardot or Pipedrive & Sharpspring.

Whatever you do to modernize your marketing efforts with technology, remember that, to cite my friend and former colleague Gary O’Neil, “You cannot move people unless you touch them.”

Word of mouth or word of millions?

One of my valued colleagues tweeted out a provocative blog post that got my juices flowing and here I paraphrase the essence of it:

Forget your friends’ advice. Just Google it!

Do you need a certain product or service about which you know little? If so, Google wants you to ignore your friends and pay attention to their search engine instead.

When it comes to seeking referrals, do your friends have the best resources to help you find what you need? In many cases, yes, in other cases, maybe and in still others, no! When your friends and family come up dry, there’s one place to go; the Internet.

Let the numbers work for you!

Chances are, most of your friends and associates don’t have the right experience or enough knowledge about your industry to make fully informed referrals. It’s even more likely that your current customers and friends don’t associate with enough prospective clients to feed you enough referrals to sustain and grow your business.

Person to person word of mouth still has a lot of business influence but in a hyper-competitive, digitally enabled marketplace like we have today, you need a strong internet search presence to validate verbal claims by individuals. Even if you get a good personal referral, your prospect will go online to check you out before calling. You can be sure they’ll Google you first. What shows up when they do? This is the simplest and one of the best SEO tests you can do.

Google yourself now!

 

 

Go ahead, Google yourself! What’s in the first few positions on the first page? Is it your content or someone else’s who shares a name? Is your own website or LinkedIn Profile in one of the top positions? If you do show up on the first page, is the information favorable and complimentary or could it raise questions about how well positioned you are in your industry?

Creating a favorable and growth-oriented presence that is searchable on the Internet is a sustainability imperative today, even if you’re still chugging along on word of mouth. At some point soon, if not already, the default action of most people will be “I’ll just Google it…” instead of “I’ll just ask Larry…”