Want in on a little secret? Any time you want to get whiff of where things are headed, there’s a sure-fire bellwether you can rely on; The Food Industry. From the Food Network to what’s being sampled in the grocery aisle on Saturday, to the newest food finds on cable shopping channels, food sells. Everybody eats. And if there’s a trend, something that gives you a leg-up on the competition or a break into a new niche, it’s likely that the food folks are already on it.
One of the “new” things making the rounds over the last year has been the resurgence of “back-to-basics” instruction. You can’t make but three clicks anywhere on social media without running into celebrities and just plain folks, using everything from Go-Pros to smartphones to illuminate the intricacies of baking a potato, slicing an onion or having a go at Coq au Vin.
So, in that spirit, this is the start of some back-to-basics for the SMB marketer. Think of this as an adjusted “how to” (or perhaps” how not to”) handle the essentials now that 2017 is here. We’ll look at what’s changed and suggest how you might consider adjusting what you’re up to. So let’s dig in…
EVERYBODY HATES THEIR WEBSITE
Well… most everybody. I can’t remember a client in the last five years who was happy with their website no matter where they were in the process. Brand new, terribly old and everything in between, almost to a person, the universal cry tends to be “My website sucks!” That, is typically followed by a short list of grievances, mostly of the client’s own making either directly or indirectly. Sad, but true. So let’s slog through the website basics as they look today.
First, yes, you still need a website. If you’re relying on a Facebook page or a blog post to do your heavy lifting, you are courting disaster. You don’t own your Facebook page and the moment Zuckerberg and company decide they need to monetize something else, you could wind up high and dry. Do you need a Facebook page? Yes, but that’s a different chapter.
If you’re like most SMB marketers, it’s just one of the many hats you wear. By definition, you don’t have time to build web pages, much less do any deep coding, and unless you have a natural bent for it, you should not even try. You should find a company that builds websites with an easy to use content management system so that ANYONE in your organization who can figure out their way through Microsoft Word, can make basic changes to your website on YOUR schedule and as YOUR needs dictate. Anything less is trouble waiting to happen.
I won’t be making any recommendations in this category and I’m only too happy to tell you why. Your relationship with your website vendor is not far removed from the relationship with your primary care physician. Until something steps up to replace it, your website is the lifeblood of your relationship with your prospects and your customers. If you don’t like the competence and bedside manner of your website vendor, kick ‘em to the curb and keep looking until you find one who will put up with you AND keep you healthy. It’s that important.
Secondly, and this is gonna hurt, your website is not about you. It’s about your clients and your prospective clients. EVERYTHING on your website must serve to assist them in their decision to do, or to keep doing, business with you while giving you the opportunity to do some serious lead capture. After you ensure that you’re addressing everything a customer might need, and making sure that you’ve given yourself at least one, if not more, opportunities to snag a name and an email from your visitors, then and only then do you have the luxury of satisfying your ego and posting content that only you care about.
In short, your website is not for bragging about you, but rather for convincing someone that you’re the best choice to do business with. There is a difference. Depending on your industry, those differences may be subtle. Subtle or not, you owe it to your future success to develop a keen eye through which to filter and separate the necessary from the ego fluff.
NB: If your website doesn’t consistently generate emails or phone calls, it is a failure.
Sorry, there’s no nice way to say it. Like every other division/department in your company, the website must support itself through revenue generation of some kind. It can be as simple as swapping an email for a downloadable whitepaper, or adding new members to your loyalty club. Whatever method, make sure you make it quick and easy to do for the end user. And… make sure you use the info you gather in a timely fashion.
Folks who join your loyalty club should get a response email with a special offer or information literally immediately after joining. Not an immediate sales pitch, an immediate “thank you” along with something of value. Remember, information has value. Even information you’ve known about for years. “Hi John, thanks for joining Members Plus, I’ve attached a list of questions and answers we’ve gotten over the years from members like yourself. I hope you find it useful. Thanks again for joining us!” You get the idea. Whatever you do, don’t collect that info and just let it lay dormant. Not good.
To recap our “basics” so far:
- You’re never going to love your website. It’s always a work in progress. Get over it.
- While not quite your priest, your web vendor is close. Get one who gets you.
- You must be able to instantly add to or change your website content internally. Period.
- Your website is about your customers, not you. Ego check.
- Your website must have the ability to generate tangible leads/members. No exceptions.
- If you’re fortunate enough to collect user info, use it.
And our last website basic;
EXAMINE EVERYTHING THROUGH A MOBILE LENS
If your website doesn’t look good on a smartphone, what the kids call “responsive”, it’s broken, plain and simple. The way we access the web has changed. Mobile won. Everything on your website; articles, blogs, forms, etc., all must be readable and functional without having to pinch and zoom. No one has time for that anymore.
If your vendor hems and haws about responsive anywhere along the line, get a new vendor. Seriously. Mobile responsiveness is no longer an option, it is a necessity. It’s your responsibility along with your vendors to make your client’s experience an easy and simple one. Online folks will not burrow through an obstacle, they will bail and go somewhere else where the experience is easier, no matter how high your search ranking. Get your mobile ducks in a row.
Alright in the interests of keeping to our “Basics” theme, that enough for now. There’s a ton more. The nuances, like recipes, are virtually endless. But, if you handle these basics, you’ll have good start on offering a good meal to your online visitors. Some of this may be obvious to you. If so, that’s fine. You’d be surprised how many knowledgeable clients I’ve had who have missed the obvious. Hopefully you’ve found at least one nugget to make the read worthwhile.Next time, Facebook basics. Seeya then.