Simple Questions Don’t Always Have Simple Answers

By Beacon Staff

Recently I received an email from a friend that asked a simple question:

“We’re looking for ways to get the word out nationally on (our stuff). When you Google (keywords that they think are important), nothing about (our stuff) comes up. Do you have some suggestions?”

Sometimes a one sentence question with a two sentence explanation has a 700-word answer.

Let’s talk about my answer.

“A full-blown campaign of traditional and new media is going to be necessary to make it a brand name like (national brand in their market) or (other national brand in their market). However, I don’t think that’s the right marketing goal. The right marketing goal is (for them to sell everything they have – which is limited by space), which is a much more reasonable and attainable goal than trying to compete with national brand one and national brand two for name recognition.”

While I’m not one to suggest reaching only for the goals you can reach, a healthy dose of reality is necessary. In this case, reality isn’t the limit. The limit is physical. My friend’s service can only handle a fixed number of people.

What’s the point of expending the effort and expense of becoming a national household name if you can only handle the business of a portion of Flathead County?

My answer continued: “Getting on the 1-3 pages of google and *staying there* can be a full time job. Among other things, it requires creating search-friendly content, regularly performing search engine optimization tasks, measuring results and implementing changes as a result. Given that a lack of staff to manage those kinds of tasks, I’m not sure how much you can do to strategically manage this. It’s real work and requires ongoing attention. “

People like to think of the internet as “free”. It isn’t. While getting visitors to your website by virtue of Google searches seems free, it isn’t even close. The time is takes to do the things to necessary to get on page one *and stay there* for your search terms can be substantial.

My response went on: “One thing that whoever is managing the site should be doing is tracking what search terms people are using to arrive at the site. People might not even be searching (my friend’s specified keywords) to find the site. Add to that, what are they searching for when they actually pick up the phone or email? The keywords they are searching for when they get to the site and just click away are likely different than the ones buyers are using. The difference is substantial. “

This point is critical if you want to increase the number of visitors to your site – and particularly if you want buyers. A pretty famous study showed that even one character can discern a buyer from a looker. Both are valuable, but the buyer who is ready to buy deserves special attention.

In particular, the research I’m speaking of showed that the plural of the term (ie: dogs vs dog) in question was an indicator that the visitor is someone who is early in the buying process – the research stage. When the singular (dog) form was used, most visitors were ready to buy.

If you know that, the difference in how your website treats them can be huge.

“The upside is that the demographic that can afford that $700+ price point should narrow down where your marketing should take place. You can probably fill it just by marketing in (big city in the south) because of the existing client base there – and thus the potential to leverage word of mouth, but I’d focus on marketing to (the specific niche of people) in Seattle, Salt Lake and Minneapolis because it’s easy for them to get here (travel is an issue for their clientele). “

Finally, because of my specific knowledge of this business, I know that travel is critical and so are demographics. You have specific knowledge of your business and thus, your customer. You should know yours just as well.

The most important part of my reply? Focus on the right things for the right reasons.

Want to learn more about Mark or ask him to write about a business, operations or marketing problem? See Mark’s site or contact him via email at mriffey at flatheadbeacon.com.

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