If you build it, will they come?

Last week, I caught a bit of the Kevin Costner film Field of Dreams. If you haven’t seen it, the story starts with the main character hearing a mysterious voice one night in his cornfield saying “If you build it, he will come.” As the story progresses, Costner feels compelled to take action and ends up building a baseball field in his yard…and of course, he does come.

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAaXAAAAJDc0MjZmMzZiLTYyN2MtNDhhYy1hOTE4LTZhYzZmM2I0ODE5YwThis got me thinking…

I meet a lot of businesses that have built great products and services, yet are struggling to succeed because not enough people are coming. This is because, generally, businesses don’t sink or swim on the quality or utility of their product alone; it’s only when there’s a sense of appeal that customers start switching on. In reality, the product’s existence isn’t ever reason enough to attract the volume of customers you want.

When these businesses realise nobody is coming, they often turn to special offers, discounts and even drop the price in a bid to attract customers. But this thinking is fundamentally flawed if the overall objective is to attract new customers – especially if they aren’t be aware of the product (or its value) in the first place. The actual problem is the product’s obscurity in the customers’ world – it isn’t inside the bubble they’re living in yet. If they don’t understand the value of the product, a drop in price isn’t going to create appeal.

Appeal is built on attraction, urgency and perceptions of demand. For some businesses, creating product appeal using content marketing will be easier than others, but the same basic ingredients usually apply:

  1. Attraction

Attraction in this context is the power of evoking interest in or liking for your product or brand. Here, you need to think about how you can attract customers without just telling them that you think your product is great.

My book, Content Marketing Revolution, talks about how today’s consumers are increasingly making decisions based on useful information, valuable engagements and brand affinity. To expand on this, I strongly believe customers hardly ever make decisions based on the product itself – in most cases customers don’t buy products – they buy brands. It’s usually more about the way they feel about the seller, brand or provider.

Think about how you can use informative and educational content to demonstrate how your product or service is solving a problem or making something better. Whether it’s hard facts, tutorials or user-generated content, you need to make sure your content delivers the message clearly and is appealing or relevant to your target customers.

  1. Urgency

In sales and marketing, urgency is often created with time pressures and scarcity. When attraction and urgency are paired, swift action naturally follows. Think about how you can create a sense of immediacy in the content you create. For example, you might make a download available for a limited period for a limited number of people, or maybe schedule a live webinar or Periscope talk on a specific date and time. The idea is to encourage your audience to take some kind of action before the opportunity passes.

  1. Demand

Demand is something every seller wants to keep and every buyer wants to get rid of (the buyer seeks to end “demand” by making a purchase). Often, this is heightened when their peers, influencers or even competitors also desire or advocate the product. Think about how you can use content to demonstrate demand within this group – endorsements, user-generated content and social conversations are a good starting point.

“Demand is something every seller wants to keep and every buyer wants to get rid of.”

Beyond this, how can you fortify the connection between the brand and the buyer to increase demand? A great way to do this is to create an intrinsic connection between the content you’re creating and the buyer’s relationship with the product. How about creating exclusivity with a club, a newsletter, or a social profile that offers exclusive content, advance access to offers and information?

Whatever your product, whether it’s a new idea, an improvement to an existing one, or even just an offering that’s new to your business, the product’s existence isn’t enough to attract buyers. Instead, be proactive and start creating your market right now with valuable content that directly appeals to your prospects.

If you set your target and build the content, they will come.

 

by Dane Brookes, Director at Group Dane and author of Content Marketing Revolution.

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Putting customers first: UX and customer experience

You’ve probably read and heard lots of people in the digital marketing industry talking about user experience (UX) and how important it is to achieving your website’s objectives. Similarly, more biz-wigs are talking about how important customer experience is to your business. Both of these whisperings are true, but how do they relate to each other?

User experience versus customer experience

The term user experience (UX) refers to your customers’ relationship with your digital interfaces…how they feel about these interactions and how they behave and interact with your brand online through your website and any other digital platform or software you’re using.

On the other hand, customer experience refers to the complete experience, perceptions and interactions with your company as a whole. This includes how they found your business (for example online, on the high street, in the yellow pages, etc), their experience or interactions with your business (i.e. online, on the telephone, at your office or shop, etc) and how the relationship has progressed through continued contact (such as repeat purchases, product support, marketing emails and advertising).

use-it

Get on UX

UX is just one piece of the overall customer experience jigsaw, but it is also likely to be one of the first points of contact between your business and its customers. This is because, like you and me, many customers check out a company’s websites before making any kind of contact. It’s really important that customers (existing and potential ones) have an online experience that is positive and reflects the overall desired customer experience.

Ensure that your website’s UX is strong by checking accessibility standards and carrying out user testing; take a close look at design, content and site architecture.

Consistency is key (and lovely)

Once you have your UX polished, you need to consider how this relates to the overall customer experience. There’s no point having a great UX if it isn’t supported by a great customer experience when it comes to the quality of communications, complaints handling, brand perception, etc.

It’s a good idea to build the general principles of great UX into your overall customer experience strategy. How do your customers feel about each stage of their interaction with your company? Have you made customer-facing processes as simple, efficient and easy to follow as possible? Does the customer experience reflect your desired brand image?

The main thing to remember when looking at UX and customer experience is that your visitor/customer should be at the heart of everything you do. They will thank you for it in return business, recommendations and a generally warm and fuzzy glow when they think of you. Never forget that your customer has a choice.

For help with user experience or customer experience, get in touch for a chat.

Also see our blog post: How is your UX affected by responsive design?

How is your UX affected by responsive design?

“My experience of your website started at my desk and ended on the train.”

While on my lunch break yesterday, I visited a travel website on my work computer. My experience of the website was very good, so much so that I didn’t even realise when my lunch break was over. My boss will be pleased to read that as soon as I realised, I got straight back to work (honest).

Train - London Later, on the long train journey home, I pulled out my smartphone to finish browsing the same website. At first, I was pleased to find that the website was responsive (which means it adapts to the device it’s being viewed on). But wait. Something didn’t feel right… It looked completely different. I double checked it was the same website I visited on my lunch break… It was. Why was the look and structure so radically different from the desktop site? Why could I not find the information I was looking at earlier? Why was the navigational structure so different that the only things familiar were the colours? Without wanting to sound too dramatic, I felt confused, agitated and impatient with the website.

This got me thinking about how important it is for a responsive website to have a consistent user experience (UX) across different devices. If you’re not familiar with the term, UX is basically concerned with the emotional aspects associated with the use of interactive technologies like websites and web applications.

The whole point in a responsive website is that it will work and display adequately according to the user’s device. However, the fact it’s adapting means that the quality of UX is also potentially changing with it. It is important that any differences across devices must be logical and intuitive.

How is my responsive website’s UX?

Slip your feet into your customers’ shoes and think about how they might want to access your site.

Customers' shoesTest your website’s UX on all screen sizes and devices you intend to support, such as smartphones, tablets and desktop computers. Just remember that you don’t have the power to choose which devices you support – you must always, always go where your customers are. Remember, you can look at your web analytics to determine what devices are most commonly used by your customers.

For help with UX or responsive design, get in touch.

Thrash your bounce rate and improve ranking

When it comes to search engine optimisation (SEO), lots of businesses focus purely on getting visitors to their website. Many don’t realise that the way visitors behave when they are there affects its search ranking.

Did you know that your website’s bounce rate, which is the number of people navigating away after visiting just one page, is one of the factors search engines like Google and Bing use to calculate your website’s relevance, quality and importance?

High bounce rate can be a sign of low visitor engagement, poor keyword targeting and poor design/functionality. So, what can you do to try to reduce your website’s bounce rate?

Relevant keywords

Make sure the keywords you have optimised your website for are 100% relevant to your business. If your strongest keywords aren’t carefully aligned to what you do, you’re likely to pull in visitors who aren’t interested in your website.

High-quality content

Once you have attracted the right visitors, you need to make sure they actually want to be there. You can do this with strong, engaging content. Make sure all of the pages on your website have genuine, relevant copy, images and videos, which are useful or interesting to the visitor.

Intuitive navigation and structure

Make it as easy as possible for users to find content on your site; use clear navigation and page structure. If you have a user journey in mind, at each point make it clear where you want visitors to go next.

Regardless of how trendy it might look, avoid overly complicated or stylish navigation that isn’t user-friendly and intuitive for the user.

Design

When it comes to visitor engagement, presentation is content’s twin brother. If your design isn’t good quality, visitors may assume that this reflects the quality of your business and quickly bounce off to one of your competitors.

Functionality

From links to coding, make sure everything works the way it should. Clicking on broken or inaccurate links is very frustrating to users, while broken functionality is likely to send your visitors packing.

For help with search engine optimisation and reducing your bounce rate, get in touch with Group Dane.

You deserve to go bust…

…if you don’t think your website is important.

We’re battling through the biggest recession for decades, so now is the time to get business smart and acknowledge the importance of your website.

The first thing most people do when they’re looking for a product or service is Google it. Like it or not, if your competitors have better websites, they will probably engage more customers than you.

You need to give the same care and attention to your website as you do to your products and physical shop window. Let’s face it, this is the digital age; your website directly impacts your business.

Group Dane blog post

Bill didn’t think his website was important.

Your first, your last, your everything.

For goodness sake, your website is your shop front, (good or bad) it’s your first impression, (pretty or ugly) it’s your face, (weak or booming) it’s your voice, (on trend or car crash) it’s your style, (silk hanky or runny nose) it’s your professionalism, (carrot or stick) it’s your culture and, crucially – it’s one of the most powerful selling platforms you’ll ever have.

Barry White might as well have been singing about his website in this song:

Make sure your website feels special to you, Barry White style. Ooooh yeah.

Is your website “OK”?

“OK” and “poor” are the same thing when it comes to optimising customer egagement. Keep working on your website until you can honestly describe it as “great”. Would you describe your products as mediocre, average, not bad, ok, or fair? You may not have to if your website is already saying that for you.

If your website could talk to you, is this what it would say?

No need for a chemical romance, but you should try to court your customers with a beautiful, functional website.

Let’s get serious.

If your business is unique, if you do something better than everyone else, if you have something to offer that is special…your website should reflect this.

For your potential customers, your website will be the only time they ever make contact with you. It’s time to get serious.

In this song, Jermaine Jackson is probably singing about sorting out his online presence:

It’s true that you only get what you pay for; if it’s homemade or one of those cheap £200 template deals, you won’t be kidding anyone.

Sucking air time

To find out how much you should pay for a bespoke website, specially tailored to your business’ requirements, get in touch with Group Dane for a detailed no obligation quote.

 

Photograph by Mock Turtle Moon, New York.

Learning from Obama

US President, Barack Obama, has just won a second term in office. What can your business learn from his election campaign?

Take gambles

Sometimes you just have to take chances. The Obama campaign made a big gamble when they turned negative after Mitt Romney captured the Republican primary. Obama’s attacking rhetoric branded Romney (a former investment manager) a corporate vulture, accusing him of putting good Americans out of work.

Clearly, this approach worked well for the President, but taking this line was a big gamble at the time. I’m not suggesting you verbally attack your competitors, but if you want to be victorious in business, you need to take gambles.

But remember that it’s crucial to take educated risks wherever possible. Don’t forget that Obama’s gambles were highly researched, carefully planned and always executed with a comprehensive fall-back strategy.

Albeit on a smaller scale, you need to do the same in business decision-making. When making decisions, calculate the probability of each possible scenario and plan for best, moderate and worst case outcomes.

Show strength

With the bin Laden raid and his war on terror suspects abroad, Obama adopted the image of a steely commander-in-chief keeping Americans safe. He used this as a key symbol of strength as a unique selling point.

If you’re going to instil customer confidence in your business, you need to show strength in areas your competitors can’t demonstrate.

Think about your unique selling point and exploit your competitors’ weaknesses or lack of experience in these areas.

Take a new approach

For the second election running, Obama’s campaign reinvented the way presidential elections are won.

The President’s path to victory lay in the most sophisticated voter targeting and turn-out methods in history. Think about how you can target your customers more efficiently and encourage them to “turn out” for you.

People don’t vote for political parties; they vote for people. Similarly, customers don’t choose to buy from companies, they choose buy from people.

Think about your customers and their needs. How can you make a real connection with them? Let your unique voice speak through your business.

Going Social

If ever there was an example of the power of social media it’s the latest presidential election. As expected, Obama echoed his 2008 campaign by demonstrating his social media prowess. Although Mitt Romney increased his social media presence hugely compared to 2008 candidate John McCain, Obama remained in poll position. Pre polling day, Obama achieved 1,124,175 Facebook likes, compared with Romney’s meagre 633,597. On Twitter, Obama was retweeted 150,106 times compared with Romney’s 8,601.

Some of the fastest, most effective ways to reach your audiences include social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Think about how you can use Obama’s online campaign as a model to help you gain competitive advantage in your business area.

For a social media campaign fit for a President, get in touch with Group Dane.

Last week, I emailed the BBC…

…to ask if they wanted a new website.They said no. But that’s to be expected, right?

All too often, companies waste time, effort and money pitching products and services because they don’t understand who their target clients should be.

Are you getting it right? Here are a few things to consider:

Take a good look at yourself

Know your limitations as well as your unique selling points. Ask yourself what you could comfortably offer a client and what you would struggle to deliver. Think cash flow, think people-hours, think resources and logistics.

If you couldn’t fulfill a large-scale multinational order, should you be pitching to multinational companies? If you only have three members of staff, should you really be pitching for a job that will require 200 person-hours each day?

Be realistic and don’t push yourself or your business to the point of collapse; if it seems impossible, it probably is.

Choose your targets wisely

Make a wish list of potential clients and whittle them down by asking yourself important questions, such as:

  • How much do they need the product or service you’re offering?
  • What kind of budget are they likely to have available?
  • What relevant experience do you have in their sector or industry?
  • Is a contract with this company logistically viable; where are they based?
  • Do you have enough cashflow and resources to fulfill their potential demands?
  • Do you have any existing contacts that could help to facilitate a meeting/pitch?

Research, research, research

Before spending any time planning a pitch, find out as much information as possible about your prospective client. One simple phone call could save you from planning a pitch to a company that is already in contract with one of your competitors.

This is where your networking skills are invaluable. Talk to your contacts and find out everything they know about potential leads. The more information you have about your target client, the better your pitch will be.

Better use of time

Once you have an accurate picture of your business’ strengths and weaknesses and you know exactly who your target clients should (and shouldn’t) be, you’ll find that your attempts to drum up business are much more efficient.

If you would like some help developing your online offering, get in touch with us at Group Dane. We’re offering free digital consultancy to UK SMEs.

Oh, and of course I didn’t really email the BBC. That would be silly – my research revealed they have a wonderful website already!