The Purpose Of A Network Is To Share
The web is the world’s biggest public network and like all networks it is designed to share.
Web marketing, in essence, is that simple. When you share what your market wants then you can be found on the web by your market. There are things you can do to enhance being found but basically that’s the whole secret to web marketing – sharing what your market wants.
Unfortunately for many small business owners they have been led to believe that what their market wants is a classy looking web site, or they are told to copy other web sites and do what those business sites are doing. The end result is a business site that talks about the company, the products, the business reputation and offers testimonials as proof to be trusted, but no mention at all about the market or what the market is really interested in.
What is your market interested in?
Your product or service may be a perfect solution for your market, but unfortunately your website is not talking about a solution, nor is it talking about problems. And it is problems & solutions that is of interest to your market before they even think about buying a product. A few people may be interested in buying from you right now, but most people come to a website to learn about their problem and possible solutions. Those that are looking for more information comprise the bigger part of your market. Web marketing that copies an offline style of marketing where the advertising is supposed to motivate sales is going to fall short of attracting the bigger portion of your web market.
First The Problem
The problem stems from older media marketing applied to web marketing – that comes to us by way of print and broadcast media – that only provides one way to market which is to advertise. Print and broadcast advertising had the purpose of attracting attention and motivating people to come to a store with their questions. The web is a new media and it works differently even while accommodating certain kinds of advertising. Now, through the web when people are on your business website they are already in your store and still they have questions and they are looking for answers. The problem is to get the information your web market wants into your website as quality content. This is the kind of sharing that search engines want and so does your market.
The solution is to think like your market does and then you can share with them the information they are looking for. You probably think that that is what your web site is doing already, but it isn’t. If your web site was thinking like your market then you wouldn’t be here reading about web marketing because you would be too busy serving your market.
When your products or services are innovative your natural market will be more refined and have a more defined description. For example, is your market made up of people attracted to cutting edge solutions or do they prefer to follow trends? Maybe your market is educated and expects to be given intelligent choices. Different groups within your web market will use a different language, so-to-speak.
For small business owners that have developed unique and original products/solutions then being more selective and able to talk to one group of like-minded people is a natural marketing process. It is a suitable marketing method for business owners that want to build long term customer relationships.
Attracting your market
When you make the choice of attracting your natural web market you are taking steps to build a long term relationship with your group. Your business may outgrow this group but it is like potting soil to establish your web business. It is where your business can serve and grow.
It’s not the most difficult thing to accomplish – speaking to your market – the difficulty is in the discipline needed to only speak to one group. We are led to believe that the web lets us market to the world and this is not true. The web lets us market to one group (our chosen market) world wide. In other words, our market is selective and exclusive. They will select our websites when we talk exclusively to them.
Remember those two words:
Your marketing tendency is probably to be broad and inclusive in order to catch as many visitors as possible. However, no information on marketing is as important as knowing what your market wants from you. And your market is SELECTIVE in searching for solutions, and EXCLUSIVE by eliminating anything that doesn’t attract.
The Web Separates Fact From Reality
The factual truth is that your web site is a one-to-many communication medium… But this is not what people experience.
Any number of people in your web market can visit your site at once, these are the simple facts, but your market experiences a one-to-one relationship with your website.
Each member of your market arrives alone, visits alone and then leave alone. Each visitor experiences a one-to-one relationship with your web site. There is no crowd in their experience, just your website and them.
This illustrates the difference between a familiar material reality from the virtual web reality. The psychological experience is more powerful than the factual reality and this is a clue to how important psychology is in web marketing. To emphasize the psychological impact consider how it is not the factual information on your web pages that are as important as the attitude and experience you provide for your web market.
The factual information that your pages provide about a product and service is important, but the attitude of helping and being of service will trump the factual data every time. This is something your business can build a reputation on and when your website is helpful and useful it will be shared by the group that is your market.
Give Up Control – It’s Killing You
The web is a democratic marketing medium. Every web user controls their own web experience
Every web user, just like you and I, make our own decisions when searching out solutions to problems. The sites we visit do not make any decisions, it is not within their power to make choices for us, although they can influence our decisions.
Web marketing people would like to have you believe otherwise. They would like you to believe that they can control your market and drive your market to your web site. And this is why Search Engine Optimization (SEO) was born so that there was a sense of control. SEO is alive and well and it works as it should, but it does not control people in your market.
The web works by attraction and SEO can attract a lot of people to your web site but the concept of controlling the market is an illusion. If it were a matter of just getting a high volume of visitors then web marketing would be a snap. It could be done by the numbers and simply be a matter of having a mathematical formula and every website would be successful. But that’s not what is happening, even with expensive SEO and advertising services.
The web is alive with people. The web exists only because of people and the further we get away from people with our language then the less influence we have on our market. Traffic, sales funnels, and people in the pipe are abstract terms for web marketing that has gotten further away from working with real people. Psychologically speaking, people do not respond so well to abstracts that turn them into numbers or objects. Our market wants to be treated and talked about as real human beings.
Control does not exist – the illusion is killing your marketing
As long as we hang on to the attitude of controlling our web market we continue to alienate our market. It may not be obvious and it may not be consciously recognized by our market but the attitude is still built into the experience our web site provides. However, recognizing our site’s attitude and the illusion of being in control is not the most important discovery we can make.
The most important discovery is that by letting go of any illusions of controlling our web market we can see what it is that we can control. And what we do control is everything about our own business web site. By losing the sense of control over a market we are freed up to find new ways to engage our market and build meaningful relationships.
In the absence of sharing and providing useful web content there is still some level of success for mediocre web marketing. In other words, the web is not a void where things don’t happen at all. The truth is, and we know this to be true, that the web is very adaptable and the web can accommodate any means of marketing. The web can present a poorly designed website just as easily as it can a well designed web site. Just the same, how much more effective would it be if psychological attitudes of sharing and respect replaced the push marketing attitudes of making the sale happen by sheer force?
In contrast, there is still probably a portion of your market that wants a quick shopping experience that is efficient, safe and offers variety and this means that there is no such thing as one style that fits all the needs of all members of a market. For many small businesses it will be the helpful and informative style that works the best for them, especially when there is just a few products or services that require more knowledge to make an informed decision to buy.
The Group Is The Key
Individual members of your web market remain anonymous and without a face.
All web users, meaning your web market, are anonymous and you do not know anything about them until after they share their information with you. This personal and demographic information – age, race, gender, income and location – doesn’t help you to form a picture of your anonymous web market. A new approach is needed.
There are a few articles listed in the article section that can help you, but basically it is a matter of deciding for yourself who you are going to market to. Forget about demographics and other fact based research, at least for now. The list of facts for a whole group of people would be confusing, if not useless. Later on you may find factual research useful when groups are being tested, but even then the psychological factors play a big role in the results. The Pepsi® Challenge is a good example of skewed results on a one time test rather than the preference for a steady diet. Pepsi® is sweeter then Coke® and scores well for a one time test, but for a steady diet it is too sweet for many that initially gave it the thumbs up.
The factual reality that your website is made for multiple use even though individual members experience being alone on your page, and so the same applies in reverse for describing your market. Your web market is not, in fact, who they are as individuals because your market is not an individual. They all belong to a ghostly group of people that are held together as a group, not by facts, but by intangible psychological values.
When you look at the list of psychographic markers you can see that they would make better keywords than any fact based demographic markers. A group of people that make up your market do not know or see one another. They are not aware of being part of a group, but they form a group based on what they believe, what they like or dislike, similar attitudes and shopping habits. An individual description of members in the group is not what you need to know, you need the image of the whole group you want to target.
In other words, your market can be described by what they value regardless of age, race, location or annual income. And so you will fare better to use psychographics in web marketing and attract your web market by expressing similar values because you do share those same values – or they would not be part of your market.
Which Side Of Ready Do You Market To?
Your web market is of two minds. But then the truth is that all markets are of two minds
The two minds of your web market are described as those that are ready to buy and those that are still undecided. If someone cannot make up their mind it is going to be more of a challenge for you to get them ready, but this is exactly what your web site can do for you if you build it to do the job.
This has been discussed on the SERVICE page but it is worth digging a bit deeper.
For those business owners that offer a fast paced shopping experience then they are after those in their market that are “Ready Buyers” because these buyers already know what they want. The research is behind them and what they are looking for is the best price, best quality and convenient timing. But that’s not all they want if they are shopping online.
For a ready buyer shopping online they also want up to 3 more advantages that offline shoppers don’t always need. These 3 advantages can be more like requirements although one or two advantages may suffice.
- Affordable delivery
- A safe e-commerce transaction
- Easy return policy
For this portion of a market your web site does not need to provide a great deal of information because the Ready Buyer has already made up their mind. A basic catalogue and e-commerce setup works fine for them, if they can trust you.
However, it is a different story for the “Undecided Buyers” that need more information and wants your help in providing the knowledge they need. If this is the portion of your market that you want to target then you have an opportunity to serve your market and build a long term relationship at the same time.
It shouldn’t be a difficult decision to choose which portion of the market to focus on, but if you try to mix them together then there will be trouble. You won’t even see the trouble because by mixing together both extremes with your marketing material you just confuse everyone, including yourself. The various portions of any market are not so easily seen but they are there just the same. Some members of a market are not ready to buy right now and if you want to take part in helping them to make a knowledgeable decision you can be attracting them early and take them through the buying cycle.
In the material world you find that salespeople do this all the time and quickly assess how close to making a purchase a customer is. These salespeople are not inclined to spend a great deal of time with someone at the early stages of the buying cycle because it involves a great deal of time and energy to get them ready to buy. Your web page does not have this problem of time and energy and there is no reason to ignore people in these early stages of potential customers.
Your website provides an extended opportunity to educate your web market and walk them through the stages of the buying cycle. This is exactly what the undecided portion of your market wants from you, and your website lets you give this to them. It is not only the experience that a portion of your market wants it is also the way to get right down to doing business. By talking about problems and solutions everyone is getting what they want, including you and your business.
With appropriate planning the best organization of content and connecting links on your web page can be worked out. Your web designer may come up with a sophisticated navigation system to accommodate enough information for everyone. But do keep in mind what Leonardo da Vinci said… “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”