What Do You Expect From A Web Consultant?
Is it someone that will tell you what to do or is it someone that helps you understand your choices? From the very start of a web project there are decisions to be made, and you have choices. A web consultation should be pointing out the business choices and providing knowledge so that you can make the best choice.
Often enough a web design firm will consider themselves a web consultant. They feel qualified to advise you on paid advertising and social media marketing. However, you probably won’t learn much about low tech and low cost organic marketing that is highly effective at building relationships.
Why don’t you hear very much about organic marketing?
Organic marketing is a hands-on project and it requires a few things most web design & marketing people don’t know much about, and this would be you, your business and your web market. Especially your web market. Getting to know a bit about you and your business is easy enough, however, being able to describe your web market is going to take a collaborative experience where you will start learning the way your web market thinks. In the end you will decide what fits for you and your business from a position of knowledge.
When you look up web marketing you will likely find the term “Content Marketing” which implies that your content does the marketing. This is true enough because your page content contains marketing keywords and it should also hold the information your market wants. Web page content is gauged by search engines by the quality and the quantity you provide for your market. Quality is better than quantity but having both is best of all. Content marketing is the organic method of web marketing and it relies more on providing a quality service than a financial investment in advertising.
For you to make knowledgeable choices you need information about basic marketing methods and how they could work for you. It is also important to recognize your preference in marketing because there are two types (technical vrs organic) and they are like night & day.
You do not need advise – you need knowledge
When you have knowledge you can make all of your business decisions with greater confidence. It is not important to understand how or why technology works when all you need to know for your business is what technology does to serve your market. This knowledge comes to you as you learn more about your online market and what it is that your market wants from you. Offering what it is that your market wants is what attracts your market, and that is always the first step in web marketing.
Finding Your Market On The Web
The reality is that we do not go after our market on the web – they find our website. That is why it helps to know our web market so we can help them to find us. There are a few ways that can help us to understand our web market so that our web site can be designed to attract a the market we choose.
The first thing we need to realize is that we can acquire only a share of the market we call our own. Even though we are after the lion’s share it will still not be the whole market that we can capture. And the main reason is not because of competition – it is because a market has different possible personalities and our website can only speak to one personality, over and over. Trying to speak to every member in a single market description is problematic.
Well, you can try and talk to different types of shoppers all at once, that too is a choice, but the message you would use to attract the broadest market is going to use common keywords to compete. The popular keywords will attract more visitors if you can beat out the competition, but a high volume of visitors is not the only way to attract buyers. In fact, it may not even be the best method or the most affordable method. Instead, you can choose a market type that fits with you and your business by being more selective, unique and original. It’s all organic and natural to the web.
Why would you divide your market?
People in any web market have different attitudes and you can choose those attitudes that you want to attract. These groups within your market can also be separated by the way they prefer to shop and selecting a niche market is a good place to start. By dividing your market you create more refined choices, but if you don’t make a choice your marketing will be a default choice, or no choice at all. And that’s okay for some, still, being more refined in targeting your market seems like a better strategy for the World Wide Web.
DIVIDE BY READINESS
Every market in the world can be seen as being in one of two possible states. There will be those we could call a “Ready Buyer” and there will be those we could call an “Undecided Buyer.” In most web marketing it is the ‘ready buyer’ that web sites are designed for. It is the ready buyer that knows what they want having finished doing the research and product comparisons. Marketing to this group is something we are familiar with and we think in competitive terms to attract the attention of ready buyers.
The other portion of the market that is undecided has always been ignored, or they are pushed into being ready by aggressive marketing. The undecided buyer on the web doesn’t respond well to being pushed and for the buyer the release of pressure is just a click to move away. This bigger undecided portion of the market wants more knowledge and information before they will be ready to buy. Advertising doesn’t do this, but the web is a cost effective means of educating your market, over and over.
Even from this brief explanation you can see that one group within your market wants a quick pace and the other wants more time. Your website cannot give both portions what they want because it means one page providing two very different experiences. It’s not going to help your business to be schizophrenic.
DIVIDE BY SHORT OR LONG TERM GOALS
Short term goals fit well with the ready buyer, and long term goals fit well with the undecided buyer. Setting a short term goal is usually about having a variety of brand name products and an efficient and safe shopping experience. The brand names remove doubts about quality and the variety provides the convenience of getting the shopping done quickly. This choice can be more for yourself as a business owner because it helps you to set a pace that suits your style of marketing.
Long term goals are suited to a business with few products to sell that are innovative, fit a niche market or require time and greater knowledge before the buyer is ready. However, working with long term goals does not mean that sales only happen slowly.
In Malcolm Gladwell’s book titled “Outliers” he writes about a car sales manager that never uses quick selling tactics but, instead, works to sell the best vehicle for the buyer’s needs without any pressure. This salesman outsells, by a big margin, every other salesperson every month.
The point is that the long term goals are built upon reputation and experience. When a buyer has a very good experience they do tell others and they come back for more good service themselves, and the web and web markets are no different.
DIVIDE BY PSYCHOGRAPHIC PROFILES
Unlike the familiar demographic markers that are all fact based you’ll find psychographics are less tangible human values. Psychographics are also known by the term “Market Segmentation” because they do describe segments of a whole national market place. They are used to define profiles for different personality groups for marketing in general. It is useful for targeting a more specific types of buyer that is otherwise unknown.
The magazine industry has used psychographics to help with the designing of a cover page. The magazine wants to use what appeals to the anonymous market segment they wish to attract. The cover is designed for a group profile that may see the cover as they pass a news kiosk and be attracted.
Psychographics is a good place to start defining your web market and then consider dividing that segment by the readiness to buy and/or the type of goals you can set. The process of dividing a market is needed when the web, as a marketplace, covers the whole national market. This means that even a niche market is more than big enough to keep your company busy. Your focus on a market profile is a helpful way to develop targeted keywords.
The most difficult place to do business
It’s difficult to do business on the web in the mixed up middle where a business owners just wants to sell their products for a price to anyone or everyone. It could happen, but why would it? That which is being offered from one website can be found at so many other sites all over the web, so why should people buy from your business? A market will be attracted to the one site that offers the type experience the market wants. Yes, you could be of service to almost any market you choose to serve, but not choosing a market, and not being of service is the biggest waste of a web business. If you just wanted a web site to use as a business card or brochure then you’re not interested in a web business and any website will do.
Searching for a Web Designer
We can’t do without web designers, at least not if we want custom features and a sophisticated layout, and often we do. But there are alternatives for the do-it-yourself business owner. There are a number of online web builders, or software programs, to design your own website. These options do have a learning curve plus monthly cost and they are still only as good as the operator working them. Although they are useful tools for updating your website a web designer can give you an even better content management system (CMS) that is customized for your needs.
Just the same, we do not want a web designer to create a web design for us. Instead, we want them to create a web design for our market. We ultimately want our market to use the site and most of the use will be based on the informative content we provide for our market. In this case the designer will create the best layout for the type of information our market wants and for the volume of information we can provide them with. The content doesn’t have to be a lot, but if you are building customer relationships then more is better than less.
Most small business owners do not know what their web market wants, they only know what they want to say about their business and their products. This is not what your market wants from your website. Your market doesn’t care about you, not at first, and what they want right away is a solution to their problem. Your market has a problem and you sell solutions so let’s talk about problems and not products. It all ends up as it should, and you can get right down to business talking about what your market wants to know – Problems & Solutions.
Two Design Strategies
#1 For business owners that chose short term marketing strategies then your focus will be on hiring professional web builders & designs along with marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) people. This is can be done without knowing the technology, but you still need to know what you want or the costs can runaway. This is not a strategy that can be bootstrapped on a small budget like you can with long term goals that are organic and use free marketing tools.
#2 For business owners that choose long term marketing strategies then your focus will be on your market to help you think about what they want. Technology is less of an issue because long term customers don’t need highly technical website or web marketing. By choosing a long term strategy there is a lot of your basic business skills that can go into building a web business, not just a web site.
The choice of marketing strategy should always be yours to make, but you may need a better understanding of the two market choices. And then you will want to know more about your specific market. This is what a web consultant can do for you – when they are not doing the designing – to show you how the unique nature of your business is useful for attracting a natural market.
Incentives for Inventive’s?
In many ways it is easier to follow the crowd and do what others are doing with their web marketing, which is whatever the web designer tells you is hot, or standard, or popular these days. There is a lot of support in the industry to keep things as they are because there is a lot of money to be made selling the same stuff over and over.
For other small business owners that are inventive and original by nature there are some natural incentives for creating long term goals and building customer relationships.
What could be your incentive for building long term goals?
It won’t matter to anyone else if you fail or succeed so the incentive has to be worth it for you alone. For a small business owner in a world full of other small business owners the incentive may be as unique and original as the motivation for starting your business in the first place. Your business web site is another business opportunity in a virtual network, if that is what you decide, or it can remain just a web site.
Perhaps another incentive could be your values for the community you do business in and you seek to attract a market that shares the same values. This would be your natural market that is looking for more than a solution because they are also looking for solutions that have meaning.
Perhaps your incentive is to work for yourself and invest in your own future. The list of incentives to change from the ordinary way your online business connects with its market is as meaningful as it is personal.
The web makes it possible to market the uniqueness of your business when you want to promote more than just a product or service, and this is possible because search engines send out robots to find unique and original content. Your incentive could be to market your unique business in 3 ways:
1.) Unique products and/or services
2.) Values unique to your business
3.) Market yourself as the owner
The good news for business entrepreneurs is that good news travels pretty fast within a web market and really good news goes viral. Fortunately the viral part doesn’t happen overnight and it would be a monster to handle if you’re not ready for it. Just the same, all of the attractive human values do attract attention on the web because those values represent keywords with meaning that attracts people of like mind. This is your natural market.
And when all is said and done you need to start somewhere, and sometime, when the same old carbon copy that everyone’s using isn’t building your business. Perhaps it’s time to look at all of your choices.
Oh yes, and a final incentive is that long term marketing is natural and low cost. How low? Well, it’s such a subjective question but if you cut the trees for lumber and clear the ground then you can build your home for the cost of nails and a few tools. That is a slight exaggeration but not by much when it comes to building a virtual business. Just like a material business there is a lot you can do for your web business because it is your business.
Only Your Choices
A web consultant cannot make the best choices for you. If you are not certain of the best choice for your business then you need more information. There is no reason to get caught up into the technical aspects of web design anymore than you need to be an auto mechanic to buy the best vehicle for your business. A web consultant’s job is to talk in business language, not web language.