All too often, we hear from business marketers who are in dire straits. They've turned to us because they need solid, concrete answers they can use to turn their marketing plans around... and more often than not, they need them fast.
Unfortunately, looking for a quick fix isn't going to help, no matter how badly they might want or need one. To give you a sense of why, here are condensed descriptions of four real-life inquiries we get commonly, and the problem with the logic of each one:
1. "We've dropped off the first page of Google and our phone stopped ringing. My offshore SEO team has stepped up their link submissions and put our site on their special content management system, but it doesn't seem to be helping."
In this case it's one of throwing good money after bad. Lots of companies have seen their search engine traffic virtually disappear in the last couple of years, usually because they've taken a shortcut to get to where they are. Google (not to mention searchers) are sick of low quality pages and are doing everything they can to weed them out of the results. Adding more of the same isn't going to help.
- Offshore isn't always bad, but cultural differences are very real. In a content-driven world, content crafting needs to be locally created (or at the very least, edited) to resonate clearly with your readers.
- Submitting links is the opposite of earning them. Google reduces the value (and sometimes punishes) links that are not earned.
- Proprietary CMS systems are risky. Better systems handle URLs and content well, and provide you with admin level access without requiring you to submit a support ticket.
Building a website with lots of fresh content and high-quality links isn't easy, and it takes a bit of time. And, it's the only way to succeed with organic SEO over the long term.
2. "We need to generate orders right away. If I give you a list of all my emails from Outlook, can you send them a message to buy my product? If we sell enough, I can set aside a regular budget for marketing next time, but I can only afford a couple of hours for now."
The answer to flagging sales isn't to indiscriminately offer your products to everyone on your list in the hopes that someone will buy. In fact, you're more than likely going to annoy the people you have as contacts and prospects now, further dwindling your chances of making a sale to them in the future.
What's more, it's become more important than ever to build a strong opt-in list that you only contact with targeted offers or in response to requests. Not only is that the more profitable approach, it's the one that's going to keep you out of trouble with anti-spam measures. Concentrate on attracting customers to your business, not blasting everyone you can find with generic offers. Rule of thumb: if it's interruptive, it's spam. If it is welcome and helpful and directed to the right audience, it's not spam.
3. "It takes too much time for me to blog, share, and engage with readers. Can't I just hire you to do all of this for me? I need to focus on my business."
While we can teach you to make more effective use of social media marketing, it's still something you need to be involved with on a day-to-day basis. The reason isn't technical or financial, it's personal. One of the easiest ways to set yourself apart from your competitors on social media is by being authentic. We can't be you or answer questions the day you would. By devoting time and energy, you'll see significantly better ROI than any 3rd party could.
Luckily, effective social networking and social media marketing don't have to require hours and hours of time. In fact, with the right guidance and regular engagement, it is possible to manage (and enjoy) your social networking in under 30 minutes a day. And as an added benefit, the time you spend online will help you get better at running the rest of your business.
4. "I need to generate more business from my website. Can you quote my RFP? I listed the services I'm looking to get help with. I'll get my designer to do the website - she did the last one. Depending on what you cost, I'll short list those items."
Following a menu-based, pick-and-choose approach to online marketing is a great way to see some of the trees while missing the entire forest. Our clients are successful because we use multiple marketing channels and techniques in concert, not because we build a webpage, buy ads or tweet for you. What worked in the past is so yesterday today: it's the Internet after all.
Also, seeing online activities as separate disciplines is about the best way to ensure that you'll never get the results you're hoping for. You want to work with a vendor that understands your business and customers as if they were your partner, not your supplier. One who helps you understand how everything fits together and teaches you what they do so your knowledge improves from the experience. That way, you are empowered to keep your messaging and campaigns on track, even without them.
These certainly aren't the only four issues of this type we see on a regular basis, but even if we listed another dozen, they would all have one thing in common: Every one of these problems stems from businesses looking for shortcuts to online success.
Trying to follow one quick-fix plan after another isn't just exhausting, but it's also a waste of time and money. Work with a vendor who can help you get things right the first time; you'll be glad you did later.