Start with what you already know
You already know this tip from your own online experience. You might not have applied it to the content you produce. Get this right and your audience will grow. Failure to get this right will stunt your growth. It comes down to what content are you showing. Is it for you or for them?
Think about the channels or websites that you view on a regular basis. Why do you go there? If you are like most people, you go there because they give you content that you value and appreciate. The online places that are most engaging (and most often visited) are the ones that offer content that fills the viewer’s hearts and minds. That is to say, they are the sites that give compelling content. The content changes frequently and it is easy for you to access. True? Of course! It’s so obvious but it is so often missed by companies in designing their website.
If you want to grow your online presence there is a clear and undeniable path. You have to bring to your audience something they value.
Make it easy for your audience
You also have to make it easy for them to get at the content. Have you ever had this experience? You click on a link and land on a website. After a few seconds you have no clue what the company behind the website does. It’s a confusing and chaotic (and sometimes beautiful) mess. Even though the link suggested that it might be valuable you just don’t get what they do.
What do you do when that happens? If you are like most people you simply click the back button and search again. Most people have the attention span of a gnat when they encounter something new online. Their immediate reaction determines whether they stay or leave. When that happens the offending company has lost their opportunity to ever capture that viewer’s attention.
Don’t make people guess what you do. Try this test. Ask someone you trust but who doesn’t know the insides of your business plan to help you. Ask them to view your content for ten seconds. Ten seconds later ask them to describe what you offer. Tell them to only use the last ten seconds for the basis of their answer.
Is your content as clear as you had assumed it was.
If someone can’t grasp the big picture of your business in ten seconds you need to revamp what you are showing to them. Make sure that the people who are searching for you quickly see what you have to offer them. Never forget that you only have a couple of seconds before a new person clicks the back button. You must give them an immediate and personal reason to stay.
Promote the things your audience values
It isn’t about what you personally see as valuable or important. Ask yourself what will fill the hearts and minds of your audience. Many companies and individuals start with what they value the most. They often forget to go beyond the features of their product or company. That is the easy part. A better approach is to focus and promote the benefits to the end user of a product.
No one cares that you have been in business for 83 years or that your office is an architectural wonder. They care that you offer something of value today, right now! Yes, it’s wonderful that your company was started by your grandfather’s uncle. It shows stability and good management. Your customers don’t care. They want to know what you can do for them right now. Don’t sell what your customer isn’t interested in buying. If you must brag about how long you have been in business frame that stability as a benefit to your customers. Showing what is most important to you is 180 degrees off of the right direction. Show what is most important to your customer.
Features describe a product or service but the benefits sell it!
A dentist might be proud of the $100,000 Cone Beam Digital X-Ray machine they just bought. The patients only care that it exposes them to one-tenth of the radiation of an older machine. They care when the dentist tells them this new machine will give a better view of their mouth and overall health. They like that the dentist has the latest technology because of what it does for them. It’s crazy but to most patients, a massive flat panel TV screen in the waiting room would be more impressive and memorable to them. Don’t try to swim against the tide. Make sure your waiting room (what the customer sees) is as impressive as your technology (what you value most).
Another example can be found in an art gallery. Everyone loves a beautiful painting. Almost no one cares about the chemical composition of the paint or the type of brushes used.
Imagine an art gallery trying to sell two paintings. One painting was done with incredible skill and technique. The painting is of a mop in a corner of a room. Another painter may notice and appreciate the technique and skill used. Most people viewing that painting would walk past it without even noticing the time, effort and amazing skill that it took to create such a painting. To them it’s just an ugly mop.
Now compare that to a second painting – done with average skill – of a young mother teaching her child to use a mop in a tiny but sunlit apartment. For many people, it would trigger a moment of their own young life. Which painting would probably sell first?
One last example, happens every day in every car sales lot. Very few people understand even the basics of how an internal combustion engine creates power. Almost everyone wants a car that gets them to work. Imagine two auto sales people at a dealership. The first salesperson knows every specification and detail of every car on the lot. She can tell you the cubic centimeters of every available engine and the mileage ratings of every competing car in that class. The second auto salesperson says things like: “The girls are really going to notice you at the red light sitting in this cool car.” or “Your boss will see you as a person of substance when they see this car in your parking space.” Who is most likely to get the most sales?
If you create paintings, you care about technique. If you buy paintings you care about the emotional content. If you build or design cars, you care about specifications. If you buy cars you care about how you will look in that car.
In most industries, there are things that are critically important to you but of no value to your customer. Have you ever heard someone say: “Wow, the lug nuts on the wheels are 20% stronger than necessary?” Of course not. You have also never seen a car owner bragging about the strength of lug nuts. You will see them beaming with pride as they show the world what they own. Don’t tell your customer what is important to you. Show your customer what is important to them.
The best way to discover what your customers value the most?
What does your customer value the most? If you can’t answer that without hesitation you have some work to do. Spend some time brainstorming what is most valuable about your product or service to your customer. What do they rave or complain about the most?
If you are unsure one great way to discover this information is to ask them. Create an online survey of your existing customers. There is an online tool that can help you to easily create a survey.
The free site is called Survey Monkey.
You might want to offer an incentive to encourage people to take the survey. It could be a discount on their next purchase or a prize drawing. You can quickly generate a wealth of insights about what you should be marketing. If an online survey would not be appropriate you could reach out to your best customers by phone.
When you ask them what is most important be sure to tell them you value their opinion and simply want their insights. Make your questionair short and fun. Don’t try to get into a thousand specifics.
Just ask them three questions.
The three questions are:
- What do you like the most about your experience with our company?
- What do you like the least about your experience with our company?
- What would you like to see changed about our product or service?
Don’t worry, these informational – not sales – contacts will be enjoyable. Reassure your customer that you are not trying to sell anything. You simply value their opinion and want their advice. Remember, these are the customers that love what you do the most.
You will probably be pleasantly surprised and maybe even shocked by the great stories and the insights you get. These can become marketing gold. Use what they say to shape what you tell others. Promote the things you learn about the success of your customers in using your product. Do you see that shift in focus? You are not promoting your product (well you ARE!), you are promoting the success of your customers WITH your product or service.
The things that your customers value most should be the focus of your online presence and your keywords. Your customer’s social proof can become your financial success!
One important last important caution
Remember, you must post valuable content frequently! Search engines and social media algorithms all value frequency of new content. There is a bigger reason to post frequently. The impact that has on your audience and their willingness to engage with you online is huge. If your audience sees that you are engaged they will be much more likely to return for more. There is little reason to return to a site that does not change at least weekly.