Gone are the days that someone calls an agency and wants to finally build a website for their business. For the most part, everyone has one. Depending how savvy the company is, they are either on Web 2.0 or higher of their own digital presence. We started work in web development many years ago, and it is nice to no longer convince a company how important a web presence is. However, there is still a huge misconception as to just how powerful a website can be. Just building a new website doesn’t mean people will find your website. Today, competition is fierce online. At Leopard Digital, we seriously struggle when someone wants us to build a new website but they do not want to spend any money or social media effort to drive traffic to it. There is a sense that so many people are searching online, that if they build it, they will come. This is not the case.
Outside of digital marketing, people will only find your website in one of 3 ways:
1. They type your URL in the address bar – these are your existing customers
2. They type your business name in the search bar – these are customers or referrals
3. They type your type of business (or products) in the search bar – this is the open market
In the case of someone finding you in example 1 or 2, having an updated site is still important. It validates that they are doing business with a company who stays current, relevant information is all that is found versus dated content, and the user experience should be better since current development matches current technology requirements such as the latest mobile devices. So, it is definitely worth keeping your site regularly updated just like maintenance in a home. If you do a little each year, then you shouldn’t have a tear-down on your hands. But, if you launch it and forget it about, in 5 years, it is most likely a big do-over!
Example 3 above is by and large why people tend to come to us for a new website. They think if their site is updated with nice current design, then they would attract more customers. I am not sure how this thinking is so widely believed, but this is where a digital marketer at any level becomes necessary for your business. This is where art and science merge. See, with websites, there are two experiences simultaneously happening. First, there is the front-end. This is what people see when they land on your site. Your navigation, design, content, forms, downloads, etc. Second, there is the back-end. This is what search engines and digital tools see when someone searches for your products or navigates through your website. The back-end is the busy part because it collects cookies, stores data, and tells Google, “hey, hey, pick me!” But the back-end is not very pretty at all. Like a blind date, you want to make a good first impression. If you haven’t washed your hair in a week and your clothes are a wrinkled mess, it may take a bit for your date to finally learn how smart you really are! In person, someone may give you the time to explain who you are and why you’re great. But, on a web page, forget about it! You have about 2.5 seconds to make that happen. And, if people don’t like your front-end enough to stay and learn all about you, then your back-end will never get to collect the data needed to learn why they tried dating you (errrr, visited you!) in the first place.
Therefore, the short answer is no. If you build it, that does not mean they will come. These are the efforts that drive traffic to your website:
1. Online advertising
2. Content optimization
3. Social media
4. Referrals from other websites
Getting traffic to your website is a nurturing business. It doesn’t need to be expensive, but it does need to be consistent. So, take the time to write key business goals for what you expect from your website and be prepared to spend the time building it according to the success you want. Then connect with us, we’d love to help you #FindYourSpot!
The best sales professionals have one goal: solve the customer’s problem. If the customer doesn’t have a problem, then they don’t need a solution. So, either a salesman has to “hurt ’em to heal ’em” (as we say in the south), or they need to respond to the question with a knowledgeable solution. Thus, the sales call has to be fluid in case the problem is not what the sales professional originally perceived. In fact, ideally the customer discovers he has numerous problems the salesman can solve. Either way, information is king. In a world full of information, the pace of retrieving the answer becomes the competitive advantage. Furthermore, many businesses provide numerous solutions. A human can only retain so many details about complex specs or products. Nothing is more humiliating than when a potential customer asks a question about the salesman’s company’s products, and he can’t answer it! The customer is never more interested in the answer than when he’s just asked the question. So, either the sales call starts to lean towards, “I’ll follow up with you later,” or even if a sale is closed, a cross-sale is probably lost.
This is why we designed and developed an app that can carry the customer conversation from beginning to end in the palm of your hand. It is a good practice to take a room of sales people and ask them to describe the average sales call conversations in detail. Odds are, they have similar characteristics and some of them may not include checking on the company website. Here is a great example: a worldwide sales team may regularly need to calculate the price of products in different currencies depending on where the part is manufactured. It may not seem like a big deal; he can simply pull out a smart phone and Google it. When his customer asks about market news, he can locate it on his laptop to walk-through the story. Or, if there is a product video available on YouTube, he may even use a tablet to find and offer an excellent resource.
The sales call can continue for some time while waiting for this video to load, or that site to be found, or that contact to be emailed. But what if, upon discussion with this room of sales people, you realized the conversations were all fairly similar and could plan to be prepared in one application to offer all the answers? Yes, there is an app for that. Unlike many sales software solutions, the Leopard Digital app takes into account the modern philosophy of transparency. The salesman takes the lead, but while he is researching the answer, the customer is watching. Everything done in front of the customer should be a quick, professional, and even branded experience. Also, some sales solutions are designed to gather pertinent information to design analysis/produce charts and research for the customer, but when an unanticipated question is asked, it would be odd to login to the software to design an answer.
It’s time to turn the monitors around. We all know the feeling of standing behind an airline counter and waiting through 100’s of keystrokes and having no idea what could possibly be going on on the screen! Technology, like the iPad Pro, offers a large screen that is easily shareable, and there is no hidden feeling of searching for something behind someone’s back. More data, less memorization, less missed cross-sales, suggestion alerts, and presentation quality research. Contact us to learn more about it. We can use the digital advantage to help you #FindYourSpot out in the offline world, too!
Thank you for your time,
Attaining success can feel like a mad rush. Not only is it difficult to clearly define success for yourself, it is even more difficult to find validation for achieving that success. There used to be articles that listed the Top 50 Professionals Under 50. Then came the computer age and it was all about the Top 40 Under 40. Now with the digital age, they publish the Top 20 Under 20. UNDER 20, REALLY?! One of the most amazing chefs to compete on a TV series was only 9 years old. NINE – a chef – on TV! So, now, everyone over 30 feels like it’s way too late. There is so much going on that is competing for people’s attention that it can feel defeating to even try. Most of us have regular jobs that are clearly defined and easily understood. “I own a retail store,” or “I work at a digital agency,” are statements that don’t need a lot of explanation. Seriously, when a 19-year-old named in the Top 20 Under 20 designs a high-tech glove that could prevent surgical mishaps by giving surgeons a sense of touch, why even bother getting out of bed? How can you ever feel uniquely successful?
Well, instead of being concerned with being named among the 40 successful people under 40, be more concerned with being the only 1 under 100 to accomplish what you will. Success today is a quickly-evolving term. What you accomplish in life will be unlike anyone else. What will you have accomplished before you’re 100? It’s kind of like the old college exercise of writing your obituary, but instead, write what your resume will be at 100. Odds are, you won’t be concerned with having the line, “Published 4 Tweets a day and ran 1 Facebook campaign per month.” You will be more concerned that you, “Engaged in social media and grew a large fan-base that considered me a thought-leader in my field.” It is nearly impossible to keep up with all of the business marketing services available today. Figuring out how to achieve success or grow a business can seem so overwhelming that you may even give up before you start. So, here’s a piece of advice. Don’t bother trying to figure it all out. Especially in the online marketing space, simply find a couple of resources that you enjoy using yourself, like LinkedIn, Facebook, blogging, etc. and be disciplined about adding more and more content to them.
Marketing in general is a journey and definitely not a destination. You are never done, there is always something new, and if you zig-zag too much in your journey, you never actually travel very far forward. Don’t get too anxious when another and yet another fabulous new online marketing platform for only $10/month comes along. Stay the course. Take on a new discipline when the others are humming along and only if you have spare time. No one can use them all, but consistently using the ones you choose will still progress your company’s image online. You inevitably will achieve a road-map of success before you’re 100 years old that will be unmatched. Maybe someone under 20 can build a Success Road-Map App that comes with a route you can follow, like Google Maps. Just plug in the desired success, select “from current location,” and press “directions.” ….if only I were under 20! 😉
Thank you for your time,
In America, manufacturing is a critical sector of our economy. It is 12% of our GDP, 18.5 million jobs are supported by it, and $1.3 trillion of product is exported annually. So, for such an extensive industry, how is marketing still a myth to so many manufacturing companies? This question has been puzzling people for years. In fact, an article published in Harvard Business Review in 1977 titled, Can Marketing and Manufacturing Coexeist?, is proof that the two have long been at odds. As you are aware, both professions have evolved significantly. However, just in February of this year, an excellent article written by Elena Garuc titled, Four Marketing Action Items for Manufacturers, proves manufacturing is still lagging in modern marketing opportunities. The four action items are:
- Establish a marketing strategy
- Update your website
- Embrace social media
- Rework your email marketing campaign
Garuc makes great points for diving into each of these, but I want to elaborate a bit further. See below for additional reasons why I believe manufacturers need to stop pretending they are not direct to consumer.
- No matter what industry you are in, it is not what you’re selling, it’s who you’re selling to! Even if you only sell B2B, you are selling to people, and people use the web as the window to the soul of your business. It is the fastest way to grasp who you are and how you can be relevant to them. Many manufacturers had a site built as recently as 7 years ago. Unfortunately, the technology, usability, and design has changed so much, that the site looks like it was built in the ’70’s! Manufacturing today is using sophisticated technology and producing clean, sleek parts. Your website should reflect that image. It needs to be modern and explain who you are not just what you do. And most importantly, it needs to be mobile optimized so that people in the field can easily review your website on their phone or tablet.
- Humanize your work. Unless you are manufacturing artificial limbs, you may not think of what your doing as directly affecting lives. But, even if only to the sales partners and customers, you are people running an important business. Having a presence on social media may not necessarily drive new business, but for the people who are researching you, social media can be an outlet to humanize your business and share a lighter side of personalities.
- Communication is key. Establishing a monthly newsletter and email marketing may sound more cumbersome than it is. Again, this would not necessarily be for new sales, however. Just setting triggers for customers in process is a huge time saver for customers and your team that answers their calls. Also, newsletters are a great way to communicate house keeping items like, “we have a new payment system,” or “our latest machine purchase has increased our size capacity.” Not every customer reads these all the time, but just seeing your name in their inbox helps keep you top of mind. Staying top of mind to people in your history is the best way to make sure they’re in your future.
Establishing a clear marketing strategy is important, especially if you are going to spend money. But, many of the suggestions I just made are inexpensive or even free. The bottom line is that your customer and potential customers are looking online. A picture tells 1,000 words. Let them picture you as you really are today! Of course, if you don’t have an in-house marketer, let us help you #FindYourSpot in digital. We can improve your presence at any budget level.
Thank you for your time,
Paid search is often thought of for only lead generation, but service is an expense that can always find more efficiency. Few things are more exciting in business than strong growth momentum. Either the market is finally right, or you launch a new product that changes your market, or maybe – just maybe – you finally found the right marketing team. But whatever the reason, when you find yourself with a healthy backlog of orders, you can see the future in a different light. However, it doesn’t matter if you sell mortgages or manufacturing services, the more products sold, the more you have to service. In regards to service call centers, we have done a great job in the last 30 years of outsourcing or even offshoring these tasks seen as pure overhead.
The savings have helped, but now we have to service the service centers with constant training, communication, and metrics expectations. When service has to take place in person, as is often the case in manufacturing, it is an expense that cannot be spared. So, how do we further minimize service expense? What is the next generation of service efficiency? Well, everyone who shops at Walmart knows this answer. It’s Self-Serve, of course! So, how exactly do we take B2B industries and enable them to Self Check Out? We answer the question right when they ask it – through paid search. Below is the 1-2-3 of the how-to’s and benefits of a concerted paid search effort for service. Or, CONTACT US to discuss the best options for your business.
- Build a service YouTube channel. Many companies today have done a decent job of website FAQ’s. Depending on how long they have been hosting and allowing experts to comment on those pages, however, there can be information overload on them. Also, the more comments a question gets, the more opportunity for contradiction of the right way to handle a service situation, and thus your office gets a call anyway. Nothing is more easily explained these days than when demonstrated in a video. Video has by far the highest engagement rate of digital media. You have service teams in the field everyday, have a camera follow them around for a couple of months. It doesn’t matter if you have a software or hardware service call, an expert has to go through the process of troubleshooting and correcting. Film it, catalog it, and share it.
- Drive traffic to solutions. Once you have this service channel to a reasonable library, your customers need to know it is there. If you suppose that customers can navigate your website’s user experience to the 10 clicks it may take to find a solution, you’re probably supposing wrong. Many will give up before they figure out the logic of someone’s navigation stream. They will sooner leave your website, go to Google, type in your company name with the product and service needed, hoping Google will find your correct page for them! So, SEO for service is also critical for potentially saving a service call. The most efficient route to helping your customer find your videos, though, is through paid search. Also, a search for something like, “ABB Guided Wave Radar Level Service” is not a competitive term. This is why a service campaign in search engines can be the fastest and least expensive route for a Self-Serve solution.
- Consider a service app. Whether or not an app is a good effort for a product depends on the quality and length of time the product will be used. If it is a 30 year mortgage or a 15 year life expectancy installation in a plant, then obviously service will be needed over a long cycle. An app would be worth the customer’s effort to download. See our app page for a brief overview. When sales offers the service app as a free download with purchase, it can be a huge comfort to many DIY clients.
We all know that there is no way out of providing a service team for products. In fact, the better the service, the higher the sales can be as it is proven the relationship between the two are critically dependant on each other. But, customer service today can often be a better experience if the answer almost seems to find the customer versus the customer chasing it down. Having digital solutions for service is a huge benefit because even if every problem cannot have a video solution, the fast metrics available for what people are searching for and clicking on are the best insights of what is going on with your products out in the field.
Thank you for your time,
We all have that one person on the team who seems to know it all. And, often times, he actually does! But, the challenge is that Mr. Know-It-All tends to do something that isn’t very smart. He finds a way (and then yet another way) to do something better. He can often be what I call “actively deciding” which is a current state of open-ended decision-making, versus the past tense, decided. Particularly in today’s ever-evolving world, nothing is ever done. Everything we complete is only complete for the moment. It can take months to launch a new product whether a newly engineered light bulb or a new type of mortgage loan. So, from the time the product was conceived to the time it is ready to be released, of course we have learned a lot along the way and can find improvements in the original concept. The choice should not be to halt the progress, but to let it run its full cycle and then start a new decision cycle versus continuously interrupting the one in process. For some, this will simply make no sense. “How can you know there is a better solution and release a less optimized one?” Well, for these people who struggle, here is a 1-2-3 to consider:
- Remember, it’s not what you’re selling, it’s who you’re selling to. Your market hasn’t even caught up to your original thought. They haven’t sat in the meetings, heard the debates, priced out the other options, and weighed the benefits. They simply woke up one day to an email that touted “New XYZ Product!” Also, we largely work with professional services. Many of our clients don’t offer products that are sold to the same buyer even as often as light bulbs. So, whatever you release today is bound to be significantly better than the version they had before.
- No one cares as much as you. Now, don’t get me wrong, clients’ expectations are high, and they are more educated to their options than ever before. But, even still, on the one product that you have spent an inordinate amount of time developing, no one in your sphere probably knows or cares about it as much as you do. It is important to keep in mind that you’re not done with a product or service offering, there is V.2 and beyond waiting to be discovered. Continue your thoughts down the next version and even keep them to yourself for a bit. One doesn’t want to demotivate the team or deflate their enthusiasm. Let them feel accomplished and keep the level of enthusiasm for teamwork and accomplishment.
- Progress over perfection. This is a philosophy that needs to be mentioned and adopted by the development team from the beginning. Now, this doesn’t mean settle for a mediocre product, but there can be processes in place to actually ensure that Mr. Know-It-All doesn’t continuously kill the opportunity for growth. For instance, Thomas Edison and his team of researchers tested more than 3,000 designs for bulbs between 1878 and 1880. In November 1879, Edison filed a patent for an electric lamp with a carbon filament. The patent listed several materials that might be used for the filament, including cotton, linen and wood. Edison tested more than 6,000 plants to determine which material would burn the longest. Apparently, bamboo won. Now, this isn’t to suggest that Mr. Edison wasn’t correct in his approach, but 6,000? Really? Were we still burning ourselves with wax while waiting the time it took to test 6,000 plants? A good suggestion would be to have a firmly documented development process in place, as most companies do. But at some point of the process make a rule that once it is signed off of that step, there is no turning back. You may even start version 2 before V.1 is launched, but for goodness sake, get it done! Let us marketers worry about the messaging.
We all know that once we do something so little as remodel a hall bathroom, we would do it differently next time. The good news about product development is that, most likely, there are many more next times to come! Keeping people motivated is the name of the game, let them make progress.
Thank you for your time,
All businesses are also customers. Even if it’s only office supplies we’re talking about, the people ordering the supplies can and will share their experience. The supply order taker at the water cooler may say, “Wow, I ordered supplies online from XYZ Company this morning, and they delivered them this afternoon! Really made me look like a hero to my boss who needed a couple of things.” Then, sure enough an engineer, who will probably never order supplies for the company, will walk away from the break room having an affinity for XYZ Company. Thus, without XYZ Company being able to track it, they have a positive offline brand impact directly due to their online service offering.
Office supplies is an obvious case of supplier and customer. But, many businesses that are not web-based businesses may not see themselves as a customer of soft services like search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo. The biggest challenge about this is that having a savvy appearance online is no longer an option. Being engaged in the online conversation via social media is no longer an option. Especially important, being found when someone searches for your particular offering must be part of the business growth model. So, the question becomes, how does a non web-based business have a strong presence in a whole other business: the web. Well, we at Leopard Digital believe the first thing you have to do is Find Your Spot!
We define your “spot” as having a place on the web that accomplishes 3 things:
1. Your website is easily found if someone searches your name or any of your product offerings
2. When a searcher clicks on of your results, they find a trustworthy and current experience
3. The amount of money spent to be found is in line with your growth and brand budget, which would include sales, marketing, service, and even corporate service responsibility budgets
Many companies can accomplish all of these goals of the web without being the number one result at the top of every search result in everything they do. That is a very expensive and often cost-prohibitive approach to an online strategy. Yet, if you are on page 3 of search results, or if you have no current social media posts, not only are you missing a lot of visitor volume, you can also be detected as untrustworthy or out of touch with modern business. The point is for you to get engaged while staying within your comfort zone of budget and online appearances. So, here are my 1-2-3’s to help you Find Your Spot if you are not a web-based business.
- Design your budget around being competitive versus trying to be competitive within a pre-defined budget. Either do the research or hire someone to do the research to understand the scope of opportunity in the field of your business. For instance, if you are in oil & gas manufacturing and you make level measurement technology, you can see how many monthly searches on average there are in words like: site glass level gauge, liquid level gauge, magnetic level, etc. You can learn how many searches per month, what the average cost per click is in the search terms, and who is competing for those terms. If the clicks are expensive and the competition is tight, it is best to decide one or two products to compete in online based on your offering. So, if “magnetic level gauge” is $7/click and very high competition but “site glass gauge” is only $1/click and low competition, then the goal could be to be a 3rd or 4th search result in one versus a first result in the other, respectively. Make sense?
- Track the ROI all the way through LTV (life time value). This is a long-range goal if you haven’t started working on this yet. But the idea is to know how many people visited your site from search or social media posts, relate it to a marketing/sales code, and watch the value of the buyer over time. Now, generally, manufacturing like level gauges are not capable of completing purchases online. Therefore, there needs to be training in the conversation of sales and coordinated tracking of rate of increase in traffic to the site to rate of growth in overall sales and perception value. This step is a detailed blog within itself, but we would be happy to explain in further detail if you want to Connect With Us.
- Track your share of voice in the marketplace. Remember that brand value is critical in a longer sales cycle product, like manufacturing tends to be. In the case of level gauges, if the average customer only buys them once every 7-15 years, then you cannot afford to miss their purchase, or else you have wait ANOTHER 7-15 years! So, it is important to continuously track the search volume in the industry and how your competitors rank in getting their share of the volume versus you. All of this can be done by using “listening” software that is available today. Hiring an expert like us can offer you insights into the nuances of the industry and give you alerts of moves your competitors may be making both on spend as well as product pushes.
Again, it’s really too late to decide if you want to compete for online impression share. The evolving goals are the decision points. Are they for direct sales or brand impression and trust? Deciding what your comfort zone is should begin with where the competition already is and backing into a plan that you are comfortable with. Your Goldilocks Spot doesn’t need to mirror anyone else’s, but you do have the try the porridge to stay competitive!
Thank you for your time,