Archive for August, 2007

for what it’s worth – have a website strategy

 

There’s something happening here… If you make a product or provide a service you better have a website strategy or you will leave a lot of money on the table. You have a business plan, a sales plan, and marketing plan; you have a product development plan, an employee development plan, a family plan, maybe even an exit plan… so where is the internet plan?.

It is a well-known fact that an effective website site can make a business money. It finds leads and makes sales. It will reduce the cost of customer service and improve customer satisfaction ratings. It is the cheapest tool in your business arsenal…and yet you don’t have a plan for it!

Your website operates 24/7 and is a window into your business. Every second of every day on the World Wide Web people will judge your business by what they see when they land on your website! Are you ready for that? A recent national study of professional purchasing agents showed that the average time spent looking for suppliers on the internet was 8 hours every week. Is your website going to answer their questions and prompt a phone call?

What is it worth to you to get more sales and reduce costs? It is not magic; it works like any other marketing tool. Have the right message, get that message to the right people and a percentage of those people will respond. That is how marketing works.

Your website’s competition is not your competitor down the street (or on the other side of the world) it’s the “back-button” at the top of the browser window on your customer’s PC. If they don’t quickly understand the “who, what, where” of your website, they are gone. The lucky winner is the next business on the search engine return list!

Here is the deal:

If they don’t know what you do in 3 seconds…they hit the back-button

If they don’t know who you are in 4 seconds… they hit the back-button

If they don’t trust you in 6 seconds … they hit the back-button

If they cannot find what they want in 8 seconds… they hit the back-button

If it is not clear you are the solution in 10 seconds… they hit the back-button

If they cannot contact you the very second they decide to… they hit the back-button

 

If they last 45 seconds or more on your site… your strategy is working!

NOTE: if they cannot find you easily by doing a simple key-phase search on Google…there will be no back-button to hit. Your business opportunity with a new client is lost! For what that is worth…

”Stop children what’s that sound, everybody look what’s going down.”

1 Comment »

admin on August 16th 2007 in Web Strategy

Is that a light at the end of the tunnel or just another train coming?

If you have made a monthly graph of your sales over the last few years, hopefully, the chart has more peaks than valleys. Do you remember looking at the upward climbing line and happily thinking it would go on forever?  There was no end in sight! You might have loosened the company’s purse strings, made a few new hires, tried a new marketing idea or done some needed equipment maintenance. Sadly, all good things must pass and the northward climbing line suddenly reversed direction and worry replaced optimism

As your heart sank watching that line take a “nose-dive” over the next few months you wondered if the fall in sales will ever stop!  You see a light at the end of the tunnel and wonder if it could be a freight train coming…There is nowhere to run so you cut staff, stop all marketing, postpone all maintenance and hope it misses.  The next month comes and finally there is a spurt in sales and you wipe your brow in relief. Ah…the rollercoaster ride of running a business!

When charting your sales it is important to remember that sales growth, or decline, never lasts forever. At some point the graph line will change. The trick is not to over-react in the moment to shifts in economy or your market. When sales change for better or worse, it’s time to make a list of the “outside” threats and opportunities that may be affecting your business. Then, identify at the “inside” strengths and weaknesses of your organization that are helping or hindering your growth. Decide on a couple of things you can do now to impact your situation and for the next 90 days focus on them. Having a plan always will settle the organization and make you feel better.  Don’t let fear freeze you, reflect, plan and take action!

(Note: If you happen to be living in the world of declining sales now, remember what dad use to say: “It is tough to kill a business – usually sheer business momentum will save you!” Start by looking at one good month as a trend and before you know it…you have two good months in a row and it is!)

No Comments »

admin on August 14th 2007 in Web Stuff

Nothing happens until someone sells something

 I grew up working in a small-to-medium sized family business.  The first thing my father taught me was that “nothing happens until someone sells something.” You can make the greatest widget in the world and go broke if it does not sell.  A good friend used to say, “Having a good idea for a product is easy…the trick is finding the right way to sell it.” To have a successful business it always comes down to sales.

 

Dad also used to say, “There is nothing wrong with this company that a few more sales could not cure.” It is a well-known fact in business that you cannot save your way to prosperity. You can shave 5% off your cost, so that now, instead of a dollar, your product costs you $.95.  However, if you make $.30 when you sell that product, the margin has a bigger effect on the bottom-line. It is simple then, right? If you want to grow your business you have to sell more. If you are having financial problems, cutting costs is ok but you have to sell more. If you want to hit a higher profit goal, you need to sell more. If your business needs better equipment, to hire more skilled labor, or invest in R&D, you have to sell more. Cutting costs alone won’t get you there.

 

Before you can sell something, you have to do some type of marketing. In business, you cannot coast or stay still. Both conditions mean you are falling behind.  Marketing is the first step in the sales process. It gets the ball rolling, and keeps it rolling.

 

“Marketing” is the strategy, or plan, to find and develop qualified prospects and grow your business. Marketing makes things happen. “Sales” is the tactic needed to close a qualified prospect and make them a customer. Most small-to-medium size companies know how to sell themselves, but they do not fully appreciate how to market themselves. Their marketing programs revolve around doing what they have always done. There usually is a lot of gut feeling about what works but little measuring to substantiate where leads come from.

 

It is natural, or even wise, to do the same things over and over again if they work…but what part of your marketing plan and budget is working? What if you could do better? If companies would ask potential customers who call in; “How did you hear about us?” and write the answer, that would be a good way to see what part of your marketing plan works. Get a marketing book, go to a marketing class or call me for some new ideas on how to sell more of your products. It is too important to simply do nothing!

 

I had a client call me today and remind me that before we fixed his website he had not gotten one lead from the internet. Now he gets a minimum of five inquires a week. He complained: “I sure get a lot of junk inquiries now.” I asked if he wanted me to change his website and he laughed and said “Hell no! Last year the company got over one million dollars in new business from internet inquires from the new website.” Customers are finding him and want to do business! He concluded by saying, “I can stand the junk emails… It’s nice to be found!”

 

An internet marketing plan is one example of a new marketing approach. If you are like most small-to-medium sized companies, your marketing resources are limited… Use them wisely.  Figure out what works and what does not…and do more of what works and cut out the rest!

 

No Comments »

admin on August 5th 2007 in Web Strategy