What if all this wonderful data was used to deliver value rather than persistent attempts to extract value. If we know so much about our customers, why can’t we deliver instructional materials, travel guides, how-to’s, surveys to hear their voices, equipment reviews, nutrition advice, sports opinions, whatever…doesn’t have to be 100% golf…just helpful stuff that brings them value and indoctrinates them into the ecosystem.
Here you find tips on how to optimize your workflow with your website. Save time with appointment booking. Create some smart forms, automated emails and lots more tips to help you work more efficiently.
So, I think of brand in terms of attention and leverage. Attention is our most valuable asset long term.
The value of brand is in accumulating peoples’ attention over time, The end.
The first thing you need in order to tell your story is someone willing to listen.
The more trusting attention you have, the better your brand. If your target audience has no idea who you are, then you don’t have a good brand.
In terms of leverage, a company with brand has tipped the scales to where customers are seeking them out…Mercedes or McDonald’s. A company without brand has to continuously push or sell themselves to win business.
Here’s a real-life example of the impact of brand:
I’m fascinated by what seems to be a normal thing in the Golf Course Management industry.
Basically, golf courses hire management companies when they feel like they’re not winning. Either privately owned clubs or member owned facilities tend to miss out on economies of scale, buying power, and more refined processes. One option is to hire a management company to come in and refine the system and help them compete.
The interesting thing is that nearly all golf facilities in this scenario refuse to display their golf management company logo on property.
From the club’s perspective, it’s totally understandable. The club’s brand and logo simply carry more weight in the local marketplace. If the management logo isn’t bringing any value to the club, why would they want it?
This is crazy to me…and really an amazing opportunity for management companies right now I believe.
Club Management is a Lot Like a Franchise Relationship
So, there are two big reasons that someone starting up a new restaurant would choose to buy into a franchise…Think Subway, Outback, or McDonald’s:
1) Operating Efficiency:
On one side, the processes, operating efficiencies, buying power, and access to resources and expertise. They’ll get up and running quickly, and with a lot less brain damage than if they had gone it alone and they can run a tighter ship.
2) Brand Recognition:
They know that they’ll win business on day 1 that they wouldn’t have otherwise won if they had started out as Jimmy’s Hamburger Shop.
Done right, the brand part of buying into McDonald’s is far more valuable than their processes for making hamburgers.
Nobody would dream of buying into the McDonald’s franchise without stamping the logo everywhere on property. I know it’s not allowed. The logo is the biggest reason people buy into the franchise anyway…
The marketing is done for you, everyone knows the value proposition, what they’re going to get, cost structure, and everything else. Buy into Subway, and you’re going to have people in your store on day 1.
Will the Club Management Dynamic Ever Change?
As things stand right now, I doubt it.
…the minute a management company’s brand begins bringing direct value to the facility at the local level, meaning bringing bodies in the door, clubs will line up to buy into that ecosystem and capitalize on the attention.
That’s when the scales tip for the management company. Until then, it’ll be a battle to get the name on the door.
I really believe the “land grab” we’re seeing right now for market share in the golf management industry is going to predicated on strength of brand rather than who’s got the best “processes” or “buying power”.
Process, scale and expertise are table stakes, not differentiators anymore.
How do build brand?
That’s actually a really easy answer.
I believe that anything you do as a company that DELIVERS VALUE to your audience is building your brand.
Any time you attempt to EXTRACT VALUE, you’re incrementally hurting your brand.
You’re always either selling or building brand.
Beware of your Messaging Mix
I see a lot of companies sacrificing the long term (think customer lifetime value) in exchange for quick wins now.
They’re on the “sales hamster wheel” because continuously trying to extract value from your audience is never cumulative.
I see a lot more content around “hey, come buy our shit” instead of simply trying to be good citizens, winning trust, listening, and building authority for the long term.
I think companies need to think really hard about the mix of content that they’re putting out there. Is the ratio of “Gives” vs. “Asks” where it should be?
I believe that Day 1 of any significant project is the dumbest we’re ever going to be.
Think about the last time you redesigned your company website.
You probably brought together a bunch of smart people and designers, talking about all the elements the site needed to have. There was deliberation, fine tuning, and lots of opinions.
The project probably lasted months, with lots of brain damage in between.
When the site finally launched, everyone high-fived each other and went back to their real work…leaving the site to degrade over the months to follow.
Now, you’re back where you started…with a crappy website, and a looming redesign once again in the back of your mind.
There’s a Better Way
With a website redesign, everything we decide to do in the beginning could be totally wrong. There’s simply no way of knowing for sure what will work best.
Even with a group of really smart and experienced designers, it’s all a matter of opinion and conjecture.
Why not defer everything but the necessities? Why go through all the headaches and business interruption? Why write big checks without knowing if you’ll ever see any measurable results?
I say save some up-front cash, build the essentials, start measuring real user behavior, and make more informed decisions as you move along.
It’s a Problem with the Process, not the People
A winning online presence is simply about a commitment to continuous improvement. That doesn’t necessarily mean spending more money, but “spreading” resources out over time.
Traditionally, we invest a bunch of time, energy, money in a website redesign. When it’s done, there aren’t any resources leftover. The site is neglected and degrades over the next year or two…until the process is repeated.
Instead, take the same resources you would have spent on a redesign and amortize over that same 2 year period.
Redesign the core necessities only. This saves time, energy and money for other stuff later on. Then start monitoring performance. Add elements and request work based on real user data (not some designer’s opinion).
Short cycles of review, planning and improvement mean that your site will never need a total overhaul ever again. In the meantime, it’s guaranteed to deliver value, causing far less brain damage for you and your team.
Quick best practice share for you…
So, we’ve developed some really cool appointment booking stuff lately for some of our clients.
If you’ve tried to find some time to talk with me, you’ve probably noticed that we’re using the system too.
It’s awesome – no more of this:
“Hey, do you have any time this week?”
“Sure, send me some days and times you’re available and I’ll get back to you”
“None of those days work, any other days?”
You get it…back and forth…total waste of time.
Instead, just add your appointments to your site like my buddy Brendon Elliot and his team of golf instructors at Little Linksters. They’re golf pros giving lessons to kids…they book everything and accept payments in advance right on their site. Really cool.
By the way, Brendon just earned the PGA’s National Award this year for Junior Golf Development…good stuff.
…Or just send someone a an email with a little something like this:
Here’s a link to carve out some time with me to talk about online appointment booking on your site.
Or add a link to your email signature…
See what I did there? ;)
It connects with your personal calendar…no conflicts…and when someone books time, it’ll just appear on your schedule.
Huge time saver…and an effective lead conversion mechanism for some sites.
So, hopefully you had a chance to check out Matt Cutts’ short SEO video, and you now know the top running speed of a cheetah.
SEO can be awesome…the idea that people just “find” your company online and your phone rings.
Actually, that’s how we get most of our business aside from referrals…
But SEO isn’t the only way to bring new business in the door…
This super complex diagram illustrates the world’s most powerful marketing formula of all time. Just kidding…it’s not that complex (or drawn to scale either)…
But it is powerful in its simplicity. Here’s the premise…by the way, I can’t take responsibility for this tremendous artwork or the concept itself. My buddy Russel Brunson is the mastermind.
Step 1: Who is your ideal customer?
What kind of fish is it…an 18-year old kid, a 55-year old corporate executive, a small business doing between $1 and $5 million dollars per year? Here’s a link to create buyer personas if you need help with this part.
Step 2: Where are they hanging out?
Are they fiddling around on Facebook? Are they driving in their car? Are they at their office computer Googling stuff?
Last week we talked about one of our clients selling medical devices to hospitals. Their buyers aren’t Googling or Facebooking…they’re running around all day inside hospitals. That means SEO or Facebook ads won’t work…they need sales reps to physically visit them.
Step 3: What kind of bait are you going to use to attract them?
Maybe it’s printed catalogue or brochure. You could offer a cool ebook on your website to compel them to sign up for your mailing list. Maybe you host an informative webinar, a podcast, or invite a decision-maker to play some golf. What are your targets interested in, and what would entice them to take some sort of action?
Step 4: Where are you going to take them?
What is the absolute best way you can possibly serve them? What’s the end destination for your ideal customer? …this could be months, years, decades down the road.
Let’s say you’re an auto manufacturer. Your ideal entry level customer may be a 35-year old male making $65-80k per year. Your bait is a good value SUV because your customer has a young family. Over the years, the kids grow up and he’s got more disposable income. Your end destination is to eventually get him into your top-of-the line $130,000 sports car when he turns 60.
…Or maybe you’re in business consulting. The best way you can serve your top clients is with a fully immersive 1-week on-site evaluation for $50,000. You may not be able to sell this until you earn trust and deliver results with smaller plans, but incremental steps can lead them there.
So, it’s really that simple as you look at your own marketing…
Go ahead and draw some stick figures if you need to.
• Figure out what kind of customers you’re hoping to catch.
• Where are they hanging out?
• What kind of bait will work best?
• Where do you want to take them (how can you serve them in the best possible way)?
Look, I get it. We all fall into the daily routine and none of us have the time to go through those marketing exercises you learned back in undergrad.
We’re all way too busy for a little Marketing 101 – Especially since sales grew 10% last year, you got promoted, and the boss is on vacation this week. Whatever we’re doing, it’s working. Let’s not poke the sleeping bear, right?
Except everyone needs a little dose of the fundamentals once in a while. Here’s a quick stat for you:
75% of the $1M – $50M businesses we work with have never bothered to define their company’s niche market position.
They can’t answer these simple questions without falling back on easy answers or bland clichés:
• Who do you want your clients to be?
• Who DON’T you want your clients to be?
• Exactly what solutions do you offer?
• How do your provide those solutions?
• Why do you exist?
Sounds pretty simple right? Believe me, most companies don’t bother with this stuff. Most end up cutting corners by using canned responses like “we focus on customer service” or “we provide the best value in the industry”. Garbage. Nobody cares!
Properly defining a company’s niche market position doesn’t involve vague clichés and meaningless crap.
It’s about coming up with helpful, specific, and precise information that customers want to know. A good strategy review session, with a little bit of focus, will set you apart from the pack immediately. I’m sure of it.
This article goes into the 5 areas leading up to creating your company’s positioning statement. Along the way, you’re guaranteed to think about some stuff that you hadn’t considered in a long time…if ever.
Let’s Start with Some Basic Rules…
For each of the 5 steps, use the listed questions to help you wrangle up some great ideas in each category. These questions are just guidelines. Nothing is off limits, so let the ideas flow like Donald Trump’s comb-over.
Rule #1: Answer with as much real detail as possible. No copping out with generic language that nobody cares to read.
Rule #2: Dig deep. Be honest with yourself, your company, and areas where you have (or don’t have) opportunity to succeed. Collaborate with your teams.
Rule #3: Set yourself apart. Find areas that make your group unique and really hit them hard. Differentiate like crazy.
Got it? Okay, let’s get started.
1. What’s Your Current State of Differentiation?
Let’s take a look at just how differentiated you are sitting here today. The goal is to separate yourself from the herd. Avoid the idea of being all things to all people and drill down into some targeted cracks that haven’t been explored.
For example, making the first page of Google for the search term “Car Insurance” isn’t going to be easy. Alternatively, you could quickly rise to #1 for the term “Classic Italian Sports Car Insurance in Scottsdale”. Granted, there aren’t as many searches, but you’ll be the top dog and everyone that comes to your site will be interested in what you’re selling. Here’s a link to our SEO Guide ebook if you want more on keyword research, using long-tail keywordsand achieving search engine rankings.
Consider where you stand today with some questions like:
Who are your biggest competitors?
Who is the market leader?
What makes your company unique?
What are your selling points against each main competitor?
Give me 1 -3 sentences about what you stand for and how you differentiate your company currently.
2. What is Your Purpose? (not as easy as it sounds)
This is the “Why” part of your business model. This area is usually the most important for your customers, but the most neglected by marketers. There’s a whole universe of possible reasons why someone should buy your goods or services…many that aren’t so obvious.
At the end of the day, this is all your prospects ever really care about. Why you?
For example, let’s say you’re a golf pro giving lessons. There are a ton of reasons why people should learn golf…most have nothing to do with golf itself. Most golf pros would assume people take lessons to learn how to hit the ball, cure a slice, or improve their putting. Nope. I’ve surveyed golf students. They take lessons for bigger reasons than that:
• To meet new people
• To impress colleagues or my boss
• For exercise
• To get outside more often
• To avoid embarrassment at the next charity tournament
• To set an example for my kids
• Because it’s FUN!
Here are some good “Why” questions you should take some time answering:
Besides profits, why does your organization exist?
What would people miss if you weren’t around tomorrow?
Why to you go to work every day and why do clients want to work with you?
What value are you delivering specifically?
What specific problems do you solve?
That last one is the big one. Things beyond the nuts and bolts you sell. What do your customers really care about…what are they searching for? That’s the secret to creating content that is music to their ears.
3. Who are Your Best (and Worst) Clients?
This is the “Who” part of the program. Defining who you want as customers is the starting point for marketing altogether. Maybe your model has evolved over time and your target market has shifted a bit. Ours has, many times.
If you haven’t already, check out our template for developing your buyer personas. Buyer personas are fictional representations of the people you are selling to – right down to their age, location and movies they like. Not really, but the more detail the better if you’re trying to create content they’ll fall in love with.
Equally as important is to create negative buyer personas. Figure out who you DON’T want as your customers so that you can cast them aside sooner in the process. Save your time for the best fit customers – whether that’s got to do with finances, attitude or just working with people you like.
Ask yourself these questions to solve for “Who”:
What audience are you hoping to attract?
What types of clients have been most successful in the past?
What traits do they have in common?
Which industries, categories or market segments do they occupy?
What types of clients are the most fun to work with?
What types of clients do you NOT want to work with?
4. Core Competency
Now it’s time for the “What”. Unfortunately, this is the part where most companies begin (and end) their analysis. Focusing on what YOU do and how great YOU are is not only boring as hell for your prospects, but also incredibly ineffective from a marketing standpoint.
Think about your personal relationships (real ones outside of the internet). Everyone knows a guy (let’s call him Steve) who just likes to talk about himself. You’ve heard all the stories about his glory days playing football or how all the girls loved him in high school. He brags all day long, never asks about you, and it wears you out. Don’t be the online version of Steve.
While it’s important to convey your expertise, do it in a way that doesn’t suck (like Steve). Where possible, have others demonstrate your expertise rather than bragging about it yourself. Case studies and testimonials are great for this.
I’m getting ahead of myself – before you start worrying about delivery, ask yourself some good questions:
What goods or services do you offer and what are you expert in?
What do you do better than your competitors?
Which of your goods and services provide the most value to your clients?
If you could only provide one thing, what would it be?
What would your top clients miss the most if your company went away?
5. Is There a Company Culture?
Culture is all about the set of beliefs you live by at your company. It’s the “How” you operate as a group fundamentally. Depending on your industry and the nature of your clients, this just might be the most important aspect of your company.
For example, there are lots of people who would never buy cosmetics from a company known for conducting animal testing.
What are the philosophies and methods you follow to service your clients?
Do you have a unique way of thinking or any special work processes?
What is the one thing you would never change about your company?
Will you say “NO” to a prospective client based on your values? For what reasons?
What does it take for someone to succeed as an employee at your company?
Finally…Create your Positioning Statement
Using all the brainstorming and notes from the previous 5 steps, now it’s time to summarize what you’re all about. Your positioning statement can serve as your elevator speech, and should serve as a guiding beacon for your marketing and sales decisions.
Fill in the blanks:
We provide (this good/service/value/outcome) for (this type of customer/company/industry/market) by (using this kind of approach) because (why).
Here’s the Web Design Phoenix positioning statement:
“We provide value driven website design for growth oriented companies run by good people – because successful online marketing requires sound strategy and effective communication…and we just don’t like dealing with grumpy people.”
Take our PDF Version with you…
Take our free online marketing self-evaluation to figure out what your company is doing well, and also where may be some opportunities. This quick overview often helps uncover some “quick wins” in your marketing plan to help you immediately.
It’ll take you 5 minutes to answer some yes/no questions – a great tool that we typically reserve for our new clients to help uncover strong and weak areas in their online marketing presence.
Checklist for Marketing Best Practices
- Company identity and defining your niche market position
- Discovering your competition, value proposition, and selling points
- SEO strategy and generating website traffic
- Social media strategy
- Converting strangers into qualified leads
- Converting leads into customers
- Reporting and learning from results
- Marketing challenges and goals for future growth
Maybe you’re attracting a ton of website traffic, but aren’t converting any of those strangers into qualfied leads. Alternatively, maybe some data and analytics tracking would help to inform future design and business decisions.
We haven’t come across a company yet that is doing everything on our checklist, but everyone who goes through this exercise gathers some fresh ideas and perspective. Give it a try.
Many companies mistake Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Inbound Marketing. The truth is that SEO is only a small part of the Inbound Methodology’s Attraction Stage. Sure, SEO helps to bring new visitors to your website, which is great.
What happens when visitors make it to your website?
• Do they come and go without a trace?
• What are they interested in?
• Chances are, they’re not ready to buy just yet…
how do you keep their interest over time?
These methods tackle the entire sales funnel…leading prospects into and through your sales funnel through self discovery and on their own time. Our Inbound Agency specialist Casey Bourque explains in this video how it works in principle…
How to get clients into the sales funnel:
More Inbound Resources…
- The Step-by-Step Guide to Inbound Marketing
- The Quick and Easy Guide How to SEO
- The 6 Marketing Metrics Your Boss Actually Cares About
- Website Development and Inbound Marketing Resources Library
- PDF Presentation: What is Inbound Marketing
Feel free to share or reach out with any questions to our Web Design Phoenix consultants.
Inbound Marketing is a process that seeks to address the changing “balance of power” between buyers and sellers nowadays.
It used to be that sellers controlled all the information, and therefore had all the leverage in sales transactions. Today, if you consider recent purchases that you’ve made, chances are that you looked around online to research options before making your decision.
Inbound marketing is a strategy that puts your company in the places where your prospects are looking for information. Over time, strangers convert into leads and then become customers. Inbound is like a trail of helpful breadcrumbs leading the way toward your goods or services. All performance metrics are tracked along the way to both demonstrate returns on investment, and to provide a basis for continual improvement.
Beyond simple search engine optimization or pay per click advertising driving traffic to your website through search engine optimization or pay per click advertising, inbound marketing is a complete marketing strategy for all phases of your sales funnel:
Phases of your sales funnel:
- Attract new visitors to your website and online presence
- Qualify your audience through persona development and personalization
- Convert visitors into leads…it doesn’t do any good for them to come and go without a trace!
- Turn your best leads into your best customers
- Continually please those customers so that they’ll promote your company to their circles of influence
Free Inbound marketing book – written by Web Design Phoenix
Modern day e-commerce is highly competitive. Strategic insights, programming, design, and ongoing management sounds costly and time consuming. It doesn’t need to be.
First, wade into the waters slowly. Consider that Amazon wasn’t built in a day. Look to resolve core requirements first, with the mindset that added functionality, integrations with current systems, and complete automation should be added later on.
Chat with multiple e-commerce website developers. Consultations are free. Gather information on their approaches and suggested solutions. Share information on your requirements and you’ll collect ideas.
When it comes time to select a developer, get multiple offers. You can play them against each other, compare pricing and recommended strategies, learn about prior work, and properly vet each candidate company.
Consider motivations. Many companies will simply charge by the hour or quote a flat project rate. These fee structures provide incentive for reduced work, minimal time investment, and slow delivery times. While it’s fair that both sides have skin in the game, suggest some sort of contingency component based on established, measurable metrics most important to you: say gross sales, website traffic counts, etc.
Increased contingency component might mean reduced or eliminating out of pocket development costs for you. When cash flow is tight, this can be an effective approach with minimal downside risk for you.
A good website developer will agree to this (under fair terms), while a lesser company may not. There should be sufficient upside potential for each of you, but also downside protection in the case of failed or ineffective solutions. It’s fair to work toward shifting some portion of the risk across the table to the developer.
An experience website developer will spend time discussing these arrangements and seek to craft fair fee structures with aligned incentives, somewhat shared risk, and upside potential.
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A Plan for Content CreationJuly 30, 2019 - 11:10 am
- How (and Why) to Define Your Company’s Niche Market PositionSeptember 6, 2017 - 10:56 pm
- Online Marketing: How to Attract, Convert and Close CustomersFebruary 16, 2017 - 8:50 pm
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160 International Parkway
Lake Mary, FL 32746