Don’t Let Search Engines Corrupt Your Marketing
OK, I understand. If you are ignored by the search engines
then vast quantities of traffic will never find their way
to your site. But, hear me! Unless you spend every waking
moment at it, search engine rankings are very hard to lock
up. For heavily searched keywords the competition is
enormous. For obscure terms the traffic is tiny.
Let's face it, for all the focus on search engine
optimization, most of us are going to have to get our
traffic the old-fashioned way – pay for it. In dollars
(ezine advertising) or in time (writing solid original
articles.) Well, thank goodness that's out of the way!
The obsession with SEO is a drag on internet marketing,
taking your eyes away from the basics of ALL business – on
Offline, the term ‘niche' means a group of customers
sharing certain characteristics. Online, it has come to
mean a bunch of happenstance folks who accidentally used
the same search term!! If you think about it, from a
marketing point of view, it is absurd and massively
impoverishing of original ideas.
However, once you free your mind from the Google-clamp, you
can start looking at your web business the way it should be
looked at – from the customer's perspective!! If you
design you site to deal with10,000 random visitors tossed
your way by Yahoo!, then the experience they will get will
either be bland (you designed for the lowest common
denominator) or off-base for a large portion of them.
How would the non-SEO-obsessed marketer, market their
business? First, a dose of reality…
The vast majority of web home business people are
product-driven. That means they create or select a product
to sell then they advertise indiscriminately in the hopes
of selling it. Their obsession is with the product not the
customer. The SEO-phenomenon locks this thinking in place
(and encourages the slick and desperately meaningless sales
letters that get written!!)
A true marketer looks at things the other way round. Even
though their interests are in a particular space (say,
gardening or celebrities or dating) they come at marketing
by asking three profound questions:
** Who is my customer?
** What does my customer value?
** What experience do I want my customer to have?
Who is my customer?
Am I selling to everyone in the market? Or to a tiny sliver
of the total opportunity? Is my customer the sports fan,
or the football fan, or the Bronco's supporter, or the
young, obsessed, male Bronco's supporter? You get the
idea. Focusing down on a sliver narrows your market, but
makes your message incredibly specific. Now you needn't
worry about excessive focusing. If you want to increase
your market you move up a layer and then introduce another
group. So instead of just young, male, Bronco's supporters
the site is about Football and contains sub-sections
focused tightly on specific groups – young, male Bronco's
fans on one page, young, male Cowboy's fans etc. Each feels
the site is focused on his individual obsession.
What do they value?
People tell you they buy for rational reasons – product
functionality, after-sales service, warranties – and they
do, in retrospect! But, what triggers a buying frenzy is
the soft behavioral, psychological stuff. Status, dreams
of a lifestyle that will turn their family and neighbors
pea-green with envy (not wealth you notice, but the dream
of what wealth can bring), safety or reduction of risk, sex
and all forms of ‘looking good', being admired, and so it
goes on… . The more specifically you know your customer,
the more your site will focus on these buying triggers. If
your site focuses on young women, driven by identity needs
and the desire to attract a mate or out-do their female
competitors, by needs of emotional security or commitment
then its tone is going to be very different than one aimed
at young, aggressive, testosterone-driven males looking for
uncommitted experiences … well you get the idea. But they
may both turn up at a dating site!
What experience do I want my customer to have?
Experience marketing is hugely important. In a world with
absolutely no shortage of products that can ‘do the job',
the actual buying and owning experience has become an
integral part of the purchase gratification. Think of
almost any major store. It's a form of living theater
trying to create a buying environment that will reassure,
stimulate and be part of the offering itself. On the web
that may seem less easy. But it can be done. At the
mechanical level, ease of navigation in the site – for
everyone including the disabled. At the emotional level,
the selection of testimonial givers (an admired figure sure
beats a nobody) and the way they are delivered. Offline,
how easy are returns, the customer service reps, and the
ease of contacting you, the follow-up calls and so on.
Think of every step in the buying and owning process and
how it can be enhanced.
OK, I hear you say. I agree. But, if I'm not focused on SEO
where do I find the targeted customers this article seems
to imply? The answer is simple. Advertise in a wide range
of places, with a wide range of text and keep track of the
results. Some will yield more customers than others. Track
the ones that buy and then focus on the sources that gave
the most buying customers delivering the experience they
That's how the pros do it!
About the Author:
Michael Kay edits the * Insights Letter* and *The
Home-Based Business Review*. These are FREE publications
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