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Note: In my last article, I talked about a fundamental shift in the minds of our customers that has little to do with the economy, and will affect our marketing for an entire generation. If you haven’t read it, definitely start there.
Part 2 of 2
In last week’s article, I shared a conversation I had with my friend Bill. Most small business folks I encounter are just as frustrated as he is. Business has slowed down. Worse, the marketing you could count on to drum up business 10 years ago no longer works. It feels like the economy is to blame, right?
A better economy would obviously help. But take it from me. Some of your reliable old marketing strategies may never work the same way again.
The reaction that most people have taken is a frantic search for the next magic bullet. Social media is a great new marketing tool, but it’s one of the common places where desperate marketers are pinning all their hopes. Since the online landscape is changing on a daily basis, people keep asking, “what’s the next big thing that will help me reach the masses?”
But that is the wrong question.
Reaching more people is not the answer.
Reaching more people is not the answer – especially for small businesses. Mass marketing is dying. The financial decline of almost every newspaper, magazine, radio station and television network will prove it.
Unless you have a super-sized ad budget month after month, you can’t do enough mass marketing to really move the needle. The full page ads in the industry magazines don’t work like they used to. You may find that new tools like Facebook get you “fans” but the fans don’t necessarily turn into revenue.
The most fundamental change has everything to do with the prospects who you are already reaching. Your prospective customers are less impulsive. They are more cynical. Therefore, you need to spend more time earning their trust. You must prove to them you’re the real deal — and it’s not an overnight process. Your customers expect you to earn their trust over time, and if you fail to do it, they will lose interest before they ever buy from you.
Read that last paragraph again, because it is key. Most marketers miss this, and it’s THE fundamental change that will make all the difference.
Want to double your business in this new marketing landscape? Start here.
I’ve got an eye-opening experiment for you.
Take a few minuets to talk to the person who manages your website or marketing. Ask them:
“How many unique individuals visited my company website over the past month?”
Do-it-yourselfers — if you use Google Analytics, click the “Visitors” tab on the left and you’ll find a stat called “Absolute Unique Visitors.” If you don’t use Google Analytics, almost every web stats tool has a way of tracking this. If it isn’t being tracked, setup a free account and make this a 30-day experiment.
Unless your website is completely missing the mark, you’ll probably be amazed at what you find. Hundreds… if not thousands of unique individuals passed through your website throughout the month. Each of these individuals represent a possible customer. But do you know who they are? How many of them did business with you last month?
Now it’s time to do some simple math.
Here’s the simple formula…
P = (C/12) / V
C = the number paying customers you have per year.
V = the number of unique monthly website visitors
P = the percentage of additional visitors you need to become a customer to double your sales.
So, suppose you have 250 paying customers per year, and 1,000 unique visitors per month. Then P = (250/12) / 1000. In this example, you would only need another 2.08% of your unique visitors to buy each month to double your sales! This percentage will vary, but regardless of the result, I think you’ll find this is the most effective way to grow your business.
Just imagine… you have all these people passing through your site every month who aren’t buying anything! Most people are trying to double sales by getting 100% more traffic. But doubling your traffic is expensive. Plus it isn’t a sure thing because the new traffic often isn’t as targeted as the traffic you’re already reaching.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m always looking to increase the traffic to the sites I manage. But that’s only after this system is already in place to turn a higher percentage of visitors into customers. If you do what I’m about to describe, then a 10% increase in traffic will produce twice as much business as it did before.
Is your advertising creating more business for your competition?
Remember, there has indeed been a fundamental shift in the mind of your customers. People don’t need to respond to your full-page magazine ads anymore. They are quietly gathering information by visiting your website, and your competitors’ websites.
Your full-page magazine ad may help prospects realize they need (or want) the type of product you’re selling, but by the time they’re done shopping online, your expensive ad may have only prompted them to buy from your competition!
The good news is that most competitors don’t understand this shift. If you can make it work in your favor, you can get more business from their full page ads.
4 Steps for Turning Invisible Visitors into New Customers
Want to increase your revenue? You need to engage with your invisible visitors, offer them valuable content and earn their trust over time.
Step One: Figure Out Your Visitors’ Deeper Motivations & Needs
You can do this by surveying new customers who recently started doing business with you. Ask what drove them to want the product in the first place. Ask what questions they had trouble finding answers to online. Your goal is to uncover their deepest motivations — and the needs that none of your competitors thought to address.
Step Two: Create Free Informational Products to Engage The Invisible Visitors
Once you’ve uncovered these deep motivations & needs, you package information about these needs into free informational products. To build credibility, you should post plenty of free information on your website, no strings attached. Other stuff you turn into e-books, white papers, videos, webinars, or other free products. Deliver these informational products for free, in exchange for an email address.
By the way — resist the temptation to turn this information into a sales pitch. It should be designed to help your prospect whether or not they ever choose to do business with you.
Step Three: Strengthen Credibility & Relationships Over Time
This step is where the most important shift has taken place over the past few years. It’s also the part that few (if any) of your competitors understand. They either make just one attempt to follow up with their new prospect, OR worse, they flood the prospect with email pitches or phone calls that make them sorry they ever took action on the website. The goal is to keep strengthening the relationship and building more credibility. You can do this with personal follow-up emails that continue to address their needs with no strings attached. For tips on how to do this, see my recent video on effective email marketing.
Step Four: Increase your traffic.
You can exponentially grow your business with steps 1-3. Until you’ve completed the first three, increasing traffic is a waste of money. But once the first 3 steps are in place, you begin to realize that all that stuff you had written off just might work!
Magazine ads, radio, direct mail, website, SEO, social media and more. Every failed marketing strategy is worth testing again. Your ads are now focused on the deeper customer needs you identified in step one. Rather than trying to sell your products in the ad, you sell the free informational product you created in step two. Your website is now a hub for engaging invisible visitors. The follow-up marketing you created in step three builds credibility over time, and begins to turn cynical, non-committed visitors into customers. You’ve done it by engaging visitors earlier, building credibility one step at a time, and finally earning enough trust that they want to do business with you.
Is this a new strategy? Of course not. Savvy direct response marketers have used free informational products and follow up marketing to build credibility for years. The fundamental shift is not that this strategy suddenly works. It’s the fact that the old strategies no longer work without it.
I’ve been helping clients with these four steps and it works. To learn more about these strategies, and see the steps in action on my website, check out my free internet marketing video: 3 Costly Mistakes Small Businesses Make With Their Websites.
Jeremy Harrison is an experienced marketing expert with a passion for helping leaders at small organizations get results. He owns Spire Advertising, an Ohio web design and internet marketing company. Get a free web marketing training video at www.SpireAd.com/video