Business In a Competitive Environment. It is no secret that the business environment, especially over the last few years, has been more competitive than ever.
With economies in the tank and businesses looking to trim costs, more pressure than ever is being put on sales and marketing departments to gain marketshare. This, in itself, is a two-fold problem being that the size of the overall market is smaller in addition to the fact that the required skill level required to compete has increased.
It is at times like these that a business is required to make an effective implementation of each and every resource that is available to a business entity. In other words, not only do we have to be aware of and understand the promotional techniques that we will have to enact so as to be successful, we will also have to refine our execution of any and all such methodologies.
One of the largest shortfalls, in modern business, especially for fortune 500 companies, oddly enough, is that of Search Engine Marketing (SEM). Many businesses today are of the mentality that because of the fact that they are well branded or well known allows them the convenience and comfort of staying in front of the competition or standing on the shoulders of the rest of the pack.
Well, I am a firm believer that it is not the large that eat the small, it is the fast that eat the slow. While being well branded is a great position to find yourself in, never allow yourself to be fooled into thinking that it makes you bullet-proof.
Any brand has to be supported by not only the people, but the processes that built it in the first place. Furthermore, these people and processes must continually sustain and maintain the brand or rest assured that it will fall. If either one falters, then down goes the brand with it.
Key to modern commerce is visibility. And I am not referring to just plain old visibility like you have when you publish and distribute a paperback catalog, I am referring to visibility in terms of speed and convenience.
Is your visibility fast? Is it convenient? Are you, right now, losing marketshare due to a lack of speed or convenience in terms of your visibility? If you are reading this article, you may very well be. Ask yourself, in terms of service and response time, who leads the pack in my field or niche?
If a potential customer or client needs information about my offerings, products or services, am I positioning myself so as to be the first to hand them that information? The answer to this question is one of the most important variables in the equation that defines your sustainability.
Just how visible are you? How visible are your products? Are you a resource of information in fields that include your offerings? How easy is this information to obtain? DO potential clients have to ask for it or is it readily available? Search Engine Marketing may and in most cases does hold the key to these questions.
What Is Search Engine Marketing? Search Engine Marketing today is at the core of visibility. If your company is still relying on a physical catalog or brochure as your foremost means of communicating your products and services to potential clients, rest assured there are many more that offer the same product or service and potentially an inferior product or service when compared to yours that has a much higher level of visibility.
In most cases products and services that are convenient and quickly accessible, regardless of their inherent level of quality, are the ones that are purchased. More often than not, there are time requirements that have to be met.
Quality, in many cases, takes a back seat to both cost and availability. Are your products readily available through search engine queries? If so, what is their Search Engine Results Page (SERP) position? Do they even have a SERP position?
Not knowing the answers to these question is a dangerous position to be in. Why? Because business in the virtual world is even more competitive than in the offline world. Why would that be the case?
Business In The Virtual World. To understand how business proceeds in the virtual world is to understand automation. Core to the concept of any process is automation. Literally any and all aspects of virtual business reduces or eliminates the inclusion of human interaction or necessity.
This ultimately reduces error and eliminates any lag that is associated with relying on people to both perform work and do so correctly. Without automation, virtual business would be bottle-necked severely. Why?
Because humans need time to think, respond, calculate, answer emails, review for accuracy. Automated processes, once set up, do not require this. Once business is established online, the offline version of it is immediately obsolete.
Communicating Through A Website. Imagine a scenario in which a potential customer seeks information on a technical product. Company A has neglected to launch a website with the necessary information online that completely and accurately describes the products available that would fulfill the potential customers needs. As a means to bring the required information to the customer, Company A sales representative first takes a phone call or receives an email for quote request.
The sales representative who is contacted then records or forwards the technical information to the appropriate technical department that then quotes the request and responds with a quote package that may or may not contain errors. In many industries, depending on the level of technicality, this process may take several days if research is required. After several days, the sales representative of Company A receives the quote and then forwards it back to the inquirer.
At this point the potential customer may find errors that have slipped into the quote via human error thus starting the process over again. This scenario plays itself out over and over again in the offline world and is the source of much lost business.
Company B receives the same request for information but instead of relying on human interaction as a means to record, process and relay information, an online catalog displays all of the technical specifications available to the inquirer. Next after finding the necessary technical information on the website itself, the inquirer is then directed to a web-page that automatically processes the quote request.
All of the technical requirements are entered into the specification form and all of the information is processed immediately with no errors barring any errors from the inquirer them self. Company B receives the business due to an investment that was made in terms of automation and visibility. However, as mentioned before, visibility required not just a web presence, but a competitive web presence that revolves around where your potential customers are.
Performing Keyword Research. How do potential customers find your products? Where do they search? Make special note of the fact that I said potential customers not existing customers. Remember, we are talking about gaining marketshare, not securing current marketshare. Odds are if a user of your product or service does not do business with you they are not aware of your offerings.
I have personally found that this is even true of sales reps with respect to their own product lines. Make a priority out of finding what roads potential clients travel on by finding out what search terms they type into search engines to find and research products the need. Build content to suit and leverage those keywords. Show off what you know and generate content that does just that.
Content Is King. If you are new to Search Engine Marketing, you may have never heard of the concept that content is king before, but rest assured, it is true none-the less. Content is king meaning that information is the source of many things including, knowledge, power and influence to name a few.
Furthermore, placing this information online in an optimized and readily accessible fashion gives you leverage the likes of which nobody else has unless they have the same information available with the same level of visibility. How much information should you put online. In short. All of it. Yes, that is what I said, all of it. You have to be the number one resource for information. You site or company has to be the default in terms of usability, information depth and breadth. Which leads me to my next question. Is your site user friendly?
Is My Site User Friendly? Well, Is it? When people come to your site, do they find what they need when they visit? Or, even more importantly, do search engines find what they need when they visit? I have seen many websites of large companies that put investors before customers. Honestly, how much more idiotic could you be? Who pays your bills? Why are you in business? Is it to serve your investors or your customers?
Unfortunately, investors win out all to often. A site that is user friendly puts the customer first. A site that is user friendly shows off your products and services. A site that is user friendly does not withhold valuable information that it consider proprietary when it is not. A user friendly website gives potential customers exactly what they need when they need it and it show them how they can get it, whatever it is.
A user friendly website has a navigation and internal search function that makes finding that information a snap. Once all of this is in place all you need to do at that point is a little site-promotion and the rest will take care of itself.
Promoting Your Site. Promoting your site is very easy once it it set up. Key to site promotion is activity. You have to show your visitors that you are active and ever-present. Just as you would never shop at a store that has no activity and a stale product store, so too is the same true with a website. Why do you think that search engines love blogs so much? Because, for the most part, they are continuously updated and always contain fresh market-relevant information.
Blogging or something similar gives your customers or potential customers a warm and fuzzy feeling that says: These people know what they are doing and they are on the cutting edge in this field. Site activity is key and maintaining it forces you to keep up with developments in your niche, which is not a bad thing. In time, if you stay the course, you will become a brand, if you are not one already.
Am I A Brand? Try this. Go to Google and type in the name of your business. Is your website the first in the search results? If it is, one of two things is true. Either you have a very odd and unique business name of you are a brand. Hopefully, the latter is true. Hopefully, you are indeed a brand. If you are a brand, your name will represent and be known for your products and services.
Your name will represent and be known for a product or service. If you are a brand, you will be the go-to operation for that product or service. Falter and your brand will be tarnished. How do you keep from faltering. Become a process. Refine that process. Drive that process. Advance that process. Re-brand yourself, continually. Once this cycle is in place, then you can promote yourself.
Special Promotional Techniques. Let me let you in on a little secret. Search engines are not that smart. Truth be told, they are getting smarter, but truth be told, they are written by humans, so humans can manipulate them. Once you launch a site, or if you have a site that is already online, odds are, search engines will need a little help in determining what keywords it is relevant for.
In many ways, you can help search engines understand what you are all about and what products and services you offer. When search engines visit your site, many times they conclude, to the best of their ability, the subject or theme of your site and business. Most times, they get it right, sort of. Some times they get it wrong because of the way your site is set up. I really hate to tell your this, but this is your fault. However, this is a problem that can be fixed, if you are show how.
Integrating You Offline Business With You Online Presence. This is something that will come naturally. Many will tell you that your online presence is an extension of your offline presence. However, truth be told, your offline presence should be an extension of your online presence. Your online presence is where your automation is. It should be the core of your functionality.
It should be your representative, your public persona, your personal representative and your spokesman. It should be how you manage your public relations with your clientele, not just your investors. Investor are good for just one thing, headaches. Your clientele is your lifeline. Establish your online presence and then integrate your offline presence with it in such as way that your offline presence is an extension of your online presence, not vice versa.
Scaling Your Efforts. This is the real beauty of an online presence, the ability to scale your efforts. Here you have the potential to scale your efforts with limits set only by your talent. Every once in a while a piece of information will go viral. You can only hope that your name is attached to it, if it is something good, that is. Nothing brings traffic or creates buzz like viral information.
The ability to scale your efforts is a function of an online presence. It is at this point that borders blur, language barriers dissolve and understanding begins to take over. A competitive online presence gives you and what you are the ability to transcend what you are.
The Bottom Line. Search Engine Marketing is with us from here on. You are either on the train or off. If you have never heard the expression – it is not the big that eat the small, rather, it is the fast that eat the slow – you will soon know that it means, regardless of what you think the future will hold.
Those who will survive will embrace change and leverage it to their advantage. Remember, change is the only constant and those who can adapt to it will be the only constants.
Source: How Can Search Engine Marketing Help My Offline Business? | TheBitBot Organic SEO Tips