Why You Need Online Marketing

online shoppingMany business owners still don’t really understand why they need to do consistent online marketing to ensure ongoing success. So let’s take a look at why it might be necessary.

Firstly, the way people shop has changed, no longer do they browse the stores for hours, mostly they go online and take a look at what’s on offer. If they’re looking for a service, they’re most likely to look for local providers with great reviews. With so much choice from all the competition and the fear of getting a ‘bad’ service, they’ll read the reviews to get a feel for the quality of service offered.

They may go on social media and ask “Can anyone tell me…?” As an example, “Can anyone tell me where I can find a great car mechanic who won’t rip me off?” Once they get replies, they may look for the company by name online, to check out things like cost and availability. They often won’t go direct to the website because they won’t always know it. What they will do is search the company name, or the version they have from recommendations.

If the mechanic works under the business name ‘The Wrench Guy’ people may search for ’wrench mechanic’ or ‘the wrench mechanic’ or even ‘wrench mechanic guy’. This is where branding comes in and plays such an important part in online marketing. You need Google to associate your business and brand to the important words in your brand. In this fictitious case, the word ‘wrench’ needs to be associated with ‘mechanic’.

The question is, why do people do this? Why can’t they just find your site and call you to make an appointment?

Online marketing is about building trust.

Ask yourself these questions;

  • Would I do business with someone I don’t know, have never heard of and am only reading about online?
  • Would I do business with a company I’ve never heard of, know nothing about and have no idea of whether they’re legitimate or scam artists?
  • Would I do business with a company or person where I didn’t know what products/services they offer or what sort of reputation they have?

Most people would answer no to those questions, which is where online marketing comes in. It should help answer questions people have and want answered before they buy.

I don’t know who you are.

If they don’t know who you are, your online marketing should answer the question fully. It should tell them who you are, what you do, why you do it, what your company stands for and why you’re better than your competitors.

I don’t know if I can trust you.

Your marketing should answer this question as it’s probably one of the most important. With all the choice and competition out there, we humans need to feel confident in making a decision. Sure we might have heard of you somewhere, even been recommended by a friend, but we still want to feel comfortable. In fact, when asking someone why they chose who they did from two very similar businesses, the most common answer is “I don’t know really I just felt more comfortable with this one.”

It’s not enough to have a fancy ‘mission statement’ you must show that it’s more than words, you must show that it’s a principal your company and staff live by in the business world.

Never think that your private life will not affect your business. Just because you’re not a well-known celebrity don’t run away with the idea that you can do and say what you like in private. With smartphones, internet enabled cameras that also record video, unless you never see anyone and live completely isolated (and even then drone cameras could catch you) your opinions, throw away comments and embarrassing moments can all be available online, even where you didn’t upload them.

Marketing is a 24 hour phenomenon it goes on regardless. Your efforts should be geared to making sure that you know what’s being said about you, by whom and joining the conversation where possible.

I don’t know if your product or service is exactly what I want.

Strangely, many business owners/managers still believe that just exhorting consumers to ‘buy now’ is enough. They post links to products on Twitter, Facebook, G+ and anywhere else, thinking that if they tell people to buy often enough, they will.

Unfortunately for them, consumers don’t shop like that. Since the economic crisis people are much more careful, they want a great price true, but more than that, they want a great experience, they want to know you care about them, they want to know precisely what your product or service does. More importantly, they want to know what it will do for them.

For that you need great content. This is where most small businesses fall down, they don’t understand the need for content. They put up what is basically a brochure site, giving a little bit of background, perhaps some info on the people and then it’s all about the product. Unfortunately it’s product knowledge, which whilst necessary is not all that’s necessary.

Many years ago, I sold fitted kitchens direct to the public in the UK. Way before the internet and way before computers were used. We had a team of people who’d knock on doors and try and make appointments for a ‘kitchen designer’ to come in a redesign the kitchen free of charge.

As one of those designers, my job was to go in, measure up the kitchen and produce a plan. Then it was my job to ‘show’ the prospects our products. I had in depth knowledge but, I didn’t just tell them what the kitchen was made of, I also told them why that was good and what it meant for them.

Take hinges, our hinges were specially produced so that they didn’t drop, this meant that the doors fitted well and as no strain was placed on the doors by a dropped hinge, the doors wouldn’t need replacing, thereby saving the client money on repairs and replacement. For every component of the kitchen, we provided both product knowledge and reasons why it was better and what it meant for the client.

Your website needs to do the same.

What makes you different from your competitor?

When I take on a new client, I ask this question. If they can’t answer it or, we can’t find the answer between I us, I don’t take them on. Why? Because it’s a fundamental question and one you need to answer clearly, it has to be consistent across all your marketing materials. Think of Nike and their ‘Just Do It’. The answer I get most often is either “We’re better” or “We’re cheaper” neither of which stands up to scrutiny.

The consumer is thinking something like “You say you’re better, OK, prove it! How are you better?” If you go with the “We’re cheaper” option, you almost challenge them to look at other companies just to see if you are. While doing that, they’re likely to come across other companies at the same or similar price but where they emphasise ‘quality at affordable pricing’ and who wouldn’t want quality and a low price?

The ‘cheaper’ option also leaves you open to ruthless competitors, especially larger ones, who can undercut you for the length of time it takes to put you out of business.

What many business owners fail to realise is that while some consumers do look for the lowest price, the majority are looking for value for money which is not the same thing at all.

Those who look for the lowest price, are also the least loyal. This means your costs for getting customers is more than if you have customers who’re loyal and give you repeat orders.

Online marketing is about your competitors too.

If offer a product and not a service and you’re in the USA, Canada, UK, New Zealand or Australia you have a couple of competitors you may not have given any thought to. Amazon, it’s my first stop when I want something. My sister goes to Ebay first then Amazon, my daughter always tries Craig’s List first.

One of the reasons we (and millions upon millions) of others do is it’s a one stop shop. Second, prices are always competitive, thirdly, there’s lots of feedback. That feedback, in the form of reviews etc, is incredibly important for making a buying decision.

On Amazon there are customer reviews and forums. Amazon also has something called ‘Fulfilled by Amazon’. This is where vendors send their goods to Amazon and when an order comes in Amazon bills, packs and ships.

Amazon also allows vendors to advertise their goods on Amazon, customers buy the goods through Amazon and the vendor packs and ships. As well as product reviews, the vendors (just like on Ebay) get rated too, so you know what sort of service to expect. Behind all that, is the massive Amazon brand. Buy through Amazon and you can return items up to 30 days after purchase for no reason.

So buying, even from an unknown supplier through Amazon is so easy and comfortable, they have my billing details so I don’t constantly have to give them to multiple vendors, They have my delivery address and I can add as many as I like. They offer gift wrapping on some items and their customer service is excellent.

Never mind the shop in the next street, you have giant competitors online too.

  • Online marketing is about showing consumers that they can buy from you with confidence. It’s about making your brand synonymous with your product or service in your local area. It’s about helping your customers live a better life in some way. It’s about their needs and wants not yours.
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Why you need online marketing
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Too many businesses still ignore the importance of online marketing. It's as if as long as they have some business coming in, they don't need to pay attention. Well here's a heads up, you do need to pay attention and 'do' online marketing.
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