The True Value of Your Home Page

There are a lot of bad websites out there. If I have to spend more than a couple of seconds looking for pertinent information I usually click the top right X and find another website that can give me the information I’m looking for. If I can’t do that and must dig through a specific website to find that information my frustration level grows with each new path I must navigate down. I AM YOUR CUSTOMER. I am busy every second of the day, I have too much on my plate and anything that slows me down is a big problem.

How do you make sure that doesn’t happen on your website? Think long and hard about your Home Page because it is the key to your website’s success. Value its real estate as if it is the most precious thing your company owns. It needs to be clean, easy to look at, and have the “meat” of what you do right there smack in the middle of the home page so that your client is instantly hit with how YOU will benefit THEM. Your contact information should be instantly visible. So should your Social Media connect icons to allow interested people to permanently connect to you. Most importantly your menu bar should be clear and easy to understand without any useless, unnecessary tabs. Just the facts m’am, in a clear and easy to digest format.

One of the single biggest mistakes clients make is trying to cram too much stuff on their home page and I spend a good amount of time trying to convince them that the award they won 3 years ago or news article from the last decade really doesn’t need to be there.

The rule of thumb for a great Home Page is the same as great writing: Edit, Edit, and Edit again. If you’re confused about what is the most important information get a professional marketer to help because this is one real estate deal you can’t afford to blow.

Be Smart About Your Marketing

Do you have a budget? Do you have a Marketing Calendar? When are your busiest times of the year and how are you marketing your company to maximize sales during the peak season? What do you do to make the Slow Season less slow? What are your marketing goals this year?

I know, lots of questions, but they’re all important, and you wouldn’t believe how many business owners I speak with who don’t know the answers, and never ask themselves the questions.

In order to develop an Outbound (Traditional) Marketing Strategy, you need the following information:
A basic Yellow Page Ad in small town America starts at $35/month (much more in Metropolitan US). The best day of the week to advertise in your local daily paper is probably Tuesday or Wednesday, but it may be different for your publication or target customer (It’s much more important to negotiate placement of the ad). The average price for a prime time TV spot is $450 and up. The average price for targeted Cable Advertising in Prime Time can be as low as $13 per spot. The average price for premium radio station spots range from $85 – $135 per spot (again, negotiating the placement is more important than the price).

You also need an Inbound Marketing Strategy: Is your website bringing in new paying customers? Do you show up in the organic rankings on Google’s first page? How much are google pay per click ads for your geographic target? How much will it cost for you or a top marketing employee to spend time on Facebook, Twitter, Merchant Circle, LinkedIn and Fast Pitch Networking, let alone PressWeb? What about Facebook Ads? Are they right for you?

Sure, it cam be a little overwhelming but there are people who can help. In my market in Northeastern PA you can hire a guy like Mo Devlin from Mojo Marketing for your Outbound Marketing who will not only answer the questions, negotiate the price/placement, but also develop a strategy for you. Or, if you’re a marketing savvy business person, you can figure it out yourself, but you must figure it out; you must have a Marketing Plan. No matter how upbeat and optimistic any of us are, it’s a tough market out there, and understanding what your marketing resources are and how you are going to use them is crucial if your company is to thrive in this economy.

How to Win Friends & Influence People Online

It’s such a cliched and overused phrase I couldn’t resist paraphrasing it as the title for this blog post, although I wouldn’t be surprised to learn I’m not the first.

I’m reading Trust Agents by Chris Brogan & Julien Smith, and before I get into this I will admit that I want to be Chris Brogan when I grow up; he is THE Social Media Blogger & Internet Marketing Expert and has so many projects in the works I am sure the man never sleeps. He’s all about sharing and giving and is generally the popular guy in the room – liked by the guys, trusted and liked by the girls. I started reading the book really to get inside his head and see how he got where he’s at, and to understand the written & unwritten rules of successful brand building through Social Media Marketing.

So I get to a section on being a “Good Citizen,” – sharing knowledge and information and not selling yourself. Being a “Good Citizen” is about promoting others far more than you promote your own products & services; operating in a spirit of collaboration, not trolling the internet for customers. A few pages into this chapter I realize: “They don’t know anything about selling that I don’t know already.” That doesn’t mean I’ve lost esteem for the authors, and that they don’t know a heck of a lot more about selling & marketing ONLINE than I do. It means that I realize that what they’ve done is translate the way a great Salesperson/Business Owner/Marketer operates in Real Life onto the web. Any great career salesperson worth their salt knows that in the real world you need to be your client’s trusted advisor and friend, and I mean genuinely, to develop meaningful relationships and long term sales.

And any good salesperson realizes that a client will immediately smell disengenuousness and false friendship… and NO ONE likes the hard sell – that only works in used car dealerships, occasionally. Constant Twitter/Facebook posts all about your products means eventually even your real-time friends will tune you out. Imagine you’re at a business card exchange and there’s one guy running around collecting & giving out as many cards as he can, stopping for a few minutes to sell you hard on his company. You may find him amusing, but you’ll probably never do business with him. Then there’s the lady who speaks to maybe 3 or 4 people in that hour and a half exchange, and you are one of them. She speaks so passionately and enthusiastically about her business and, more importantly, asks a lot of questions about YOURS and actually seems to listen. You’ll remember her, and you actually make a mental note to look her up on Facebook & Twitter when you get back; you might not ever need her services, but if someone who you know does, you’ll refer them to her in a second.

So the moral of the story is: don’t be someone different online than you would be in person… would you really run around a room of people shouting out the praises of your company and hard selling ? Probably not, and if you would there’s really no hope for you in sales, either real or online. In REAL life you’re probably a genuine, sincere person who believes in what you do. Hopefully you also are a networker & collaborator already, so BE THAT online too. It is amazing what doors open up, for sales, professional development, and even real friendship when you start putting other’s ideas first.