Online marketing, 4 things you need to know

It’s not about you, your company and its products.  It’s about your customers and their, needs, wants and problems.  Before you spend dollar one marketing your on the Internet, you need to take these 4 factors into consideration.

1. The Basics of Online Business

Finding a company in the building industry without some form of presence on the Internet would be quite a challenge and the reasons for companies operating in or serving rural parts of the US are quite attractive (Expand your marketing reach, spend less time traveling on sales calls and showcasing your work.)  But in the 15 or so years since the Internet hit mainstream, industry participants should be better at using the Internet as sales and marketing channel than they are.   All you have to do is search for some industry related terms on Google and see how few ads come up.  For example the term “rural building company” generates about 1300 searches a month and would cost you about $1.33 click (You would only pay this amount if someone clicked on your ad. See Figure 1 – Shows the average price you would pay to Google.  The term “rural building company” is highlighted in yellow).  As you can see in Figure 2.  not too many people are bidding on this term (There is one ad, which is circled in red).  The bottom line is you could be using the Internet to generate leads for under $2 a lead, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Is your current sales team this effective?

While it is tempting to start ranting about the how and why of online marketing, search engines and site design as the solutions to your sales challenges, they aren’t, they are merely the tools.  The solution to your sales challenge is knowing what is going on inside your prospects’ heads.  You need to understand “the why” and “the how” people buy; this is a process that has not changed since, well, forever.  If you do not understand this, online and offline marketing efforts become a giant sinkhole for time and money.  If  your sales and marketing departments get their collective heads around this, you sales department will be busy and motived by inbound sales leads.

2. I Need Therefore I Buy

Regardless of what you sell, there is one reason why people buy your product or any other product for that matter.  People buy because they have a problem that needs solving and hopefully your product provides the benefits that solve their problem.  Customers don’t buy a roof, door, frame or any other construction product or service simply for the fact of buying them.  They buy a product because its benefits provide them with a solution (A door of a particular size, windows with a special tint, etc).  In most cases,  your years in business , your awards or your brand name are secondary considerations that help reassure the customer after they have reached their decision, they are not the primary drivers.  Think about why you made your last purchase, even if it was as mundane as buying a  soft drink  Why did you do it?  Chances are it was because you had a problem that needed solving (you  were thirsty) and you liked the benefits the product provided (it quenched your thirst and you like the taste). This concept applies for a $1 purchase or a $1,000,000 purchase.

3. The Internet is the answer machine

How do people’s problems relate to your company’s sales process and online presence.  Regardless of the product, all customers go through similar steps when making a purchase decision.
Prospects identify a problem (I need a new roof), then they search for and explore possible avenues for solving this problem (metal? asphalt? cedar.) During the searching process, they refine, evaluate and redefine the buying criteria for the decision, gradually narrowing the field of choice to the “best few” alternatives (Cedar seems too expensive, asphalt might not hold up, Metal looks like the best option for my situation.)  Depending on whose research you read about online behavior, 50 to 85% of this research is done online.  Once prospects gather enough information, they choose which solution to purchase.

4. “So What Does This Mean For Me?”

It is when people take to the web in search of answers the the hammer hits the nail.  At its most basic, your Internet presence needs to accomplish two related tasks to take advantage of people’s research activities. It needs provide useful directed information and it needs to build trust.  If your website doesn’t properly educate prospects, your company will be seen as a pusher.  You don’t care about the customer, all you want to do is move product;  Prospects bounce off your site in under 10 seconds.  If you provide prospects with useful information, you start the trust building process needed to complete a sale.

The next time you look at your website, ask yourself, “Does it teach my customer what they need to know to solve their problems?”  If not, you need to fix it.

So before you go running off to spend more money  on pay per click advertising or redesign your logo, or listening to some consultant who tells you all you need to generate more business is more website traffic, examine how your website facilitates each step of the purchasing process.

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Josh Kerbel is Managing Director of Sales Funnel, a digital marketing agency that specializes in lead generation and prospect management systems.  To get a copy of the free white paper, 8 Steps to Internet Marketing Success, please send an email to report.cm@thejoshkerbelproject.com

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