I watched with amusement when I recently saw a billboard go up advertising a small business. In this case, it was an ambulance-chasing lawyer.
So what was so funny about that one billboard? It is this firm's attempt to create top-of-mind recognition for their business.
No doubt, the firm has been sold the theory that the billboard creates top-of-mind presence. The advertising agency sold them the hope that if somebody is thinking injury lawyers, they recall that billboard and give the lawyer a call.
This used to work.
So what is the problem with that one billboard?
Twenty-six years later, the power of the top-of-mind brand building has diminished.
With the Internet and our proximity to smartphones, no longer is the top-of-mind game the one to win. Being discovered on the web matters the most.
Don't get me wrong - big, brassy above-the-line advertising still has a place. Especially for big brands that have massive budgets and compete for millions of customers.
But that is not your typical small/medium business. Super corporates, with their big budget, can buy hundreds of billboards. This big buy is typically backed by a comprehensive omnichannel strategy to make sure their web presence supplements their old-style advertising mediums.
Small business can't afford the coverage needed to get market saturation. Even more so if the goods or services that you are selling are niches.
If I'm actually hurt and in need of a lawyer, seeing a billboard once does not make me remember the name of the company.
If I needed an injury lawyer, would I jump in the car and go back to see the billboard? Or would I go and search the category online?
Of course, it is web search that wins every time.
So, my (free) advice for the lawyer is, you had better have a good website to justify the investment on your billboard. No matter how fancy the location or the creative on your billboard, your prospects are still going to go to the Internet to check and confirm your existence.
Top-of-mind used to work
In the old days, top-of-mind recognition worked when there was no other way of finding out who was in the market. But now, one search on "injury lawyers" will yield hundreds of results on the Internet.
If you get the click, then you rely on your website to be the real lead generator.
If you don't have a fantastic website, praying for thousands of people to see your message is a complete and total waste of money.
Studies show that 68% of research, on average, is performed on the Internet before a consumer makes a buying interaction with a business.
For many companies, it is much higher.
Your website needs to be a lead-generating, trust-creating powerhouse.
So how do you get your site to bring you the riches you seek?
Here are seven necessary to-do's that you can activate right away to get results.
1. Get your team working on the problems you solve
To get your marketing firing, you need content. The best source of content comes from your team members. Have your team sit down and start writing out all the questions that your industry generates. Then go ahead and answer them.
Do this efficiently by using cloud-based software like Google Apps for business, and you can get your entire team working together on literally one page. This makes copywriting, question answering, version control and proofing a dream.
2. Invest in an inbound marketing strategy
Inbound marketing enhances the visitors' journey to the website every step of the way. It's the process of taking your prospect gently down a funnel of trust. You begin by attracting, then converting and, finally, closing your prospect.
Inbound marketing is about providing the information at the time the customer needs it and expects it. This helps the searcher trust you, then contact you – which will only occur after all the research has been done.
3. Take marketing seriously
If you are expecting to grow your business in the global market we live in, then you had better have a strong marketing investment.
With fibre optic and the Internet, the world has changed from the one we lived in 26 years ago, back when the single billboard was a viable tool.
Marketing and technology have converged. Knowing your market does not mean that you know marketing. With this Mar-Tech convergence, now is the time to consider outsourcing your marketing. It is impossible for one person to understand the full gamut of tech and marketing solutions. At the very least, you should have an allocated budget and let the marketing people do their job.
Unless you are in the marketing game, you are too busy doing your job to master of two industries.
4. Invest in automated marketing
Imagine your accountant doing your books with a pencil, ledger, and a green eyeshade. Of course, analysts now invest in computers and sophisticated software. But is your marketing department evolving at the same pace?
Automated marketing software is taking the world by storm. It replaces the paper and pencil methods of the past. Are you using it? Much like accounting software, automated marketing software is an investment in productivity gains.
If you are not using it, then you are exposing yourself to your competitor that is looking for new and progressive ways to become number one.
Austomated marketing is seriously worth considering, because these gains in market share occur at the one place it matters most - sales and marketing. Sales and marketing are the one part of the business where you drive sales growth or, at the very least, sales maintenance.
Without having automated marketing software, you risk being left behind and going out of business.
By investing in automated marketing software, you can put in place systematic processes, making it easier to help your prospect with their challenges.
5. Create valuable premium content
How are you growing your email database? Are you actively attempting to gain more contacts? Do you have premium gated content that makes people want to exchange their email for your information?
People are happy to trade their email for answers. For example, instead of paying for the billboard, it would make sense for the lawyer to have commissioned a writer to pen an e-Book which outlines the ten stages of recovering funds after a prospect has an accident.
Prospects seek answers to their questions. A billboard does not answer anything. Prospects wish to understand their problem before they engage and trust a business for a solution.
With an automated marketing platform, the process of nurturing the contacts into quality leads becomes possible. List management and lead nurturing become explicit, personal and creates a viable return on investment for your business.
6 . Invest in audience remarketing
Audience remarketing is the process of reintroducing your information to people that have visited your website. Using modern day digital tools, you can remarket to those people who you already know are interested.
By targeting information to your prospect, you are reminding them regularly, but without the massive spend required for old ways of advertising. Top-of-mind recognition is occurring, but in the right order - after the web search has been performed.
7. Invest in a content marketing strategy to lift your organic search ranking
Increasing your natural search ranking on the web can only be done by having a significant presence on the Internet. This means hundreds of pages, and this is where content marketing comes into it.
Marketers who have prioritized blogging are 13x more likely to enjoy positive ROI. (HubSpot State of Inbound, 2014)
This means creating substantial content that provides answers to your customers' questions so that search engines can find you. It is the job of your company to provide responses to Google, so Google can service its customers – the same people you want to be your customers.
If you do not provide the response to the questions, who is? Your opposition.
The global world is a dynamic, highly competitve place. No longer are you competing with the local business down the street. You are competing against everyone with a website – that means millions of global enemies. Your sales and marketing are your only weapons to combat the world. It's time now to get progressive and do some disrupting of your own. Start by taking an inbound marketing assessment. It's free, and you can get a bunch of ideas to further renovate your digital weaponry.