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Business not on the web? It’s invisible

Friday, October 8th, 2010
Birth of the Internet plaque at the William_Ga...
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That headline’s been true about young consumers and business people for a number of years. If your business doesn’t have a respectable¬† and lively presence on the Internet (primarily in the form of a website ), young consumers and business people are almost guaranteed not to know you exist. They just don’t look anywhere else.

Now the Pew Internet study people have confirmed it’s becoming true for a growing number of Americans of all ages. Here’s the gist of their report:

The commercial use [My note: this is about buying products, not about casual use of social media sites, games, or videos] of the internet by American adults has grown since the mid-2000s, with 58% of Americans now reporting that they perform online research concerning the products and services that they are considering purchasing. That is an increase from 49% who said they conducted product or service research online in 2004.

The study doesn’t say it was careful about including all ages; they just say “age 18 and up.” But I can tell you, when my former neighbor, age somewhere in her late 70s, finally stopped resisting getting a computer, I knew there was a sea change in usage levels coming.

My friend’s been resisting for decades—though she’s a former teacher and will absolutely love to do the kind of research the Internet has finally made possible for all of us, though people have offered to help her learn, and though she’s invested many hours trying to teach herself using the library machines—she just couldn’t bring herself to commit to spending the money. And although she’s been having a great struggle learning, she’s determined now to make it work.

Think about it. Another intelligent customer out there with disposable income may be looking for your business on the web. How do your online credentials look? Do they present your business in its best light?

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Marketing is like courtship

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Arranging a marriage contract

The the challenge of business marketing is that it works best when you do it regularly and consistently. I have been faithful to that philosophy for years. But recently I’ve been away from my newsletter and my blog. My apologies to those of you who counted on me as a beacon of consistency!

At any rate, I took a small survey at Christmas to see if people liked the format of the newsletter or preferred it some other way. Consensus was that a single article was a good choice. So that’s the way it will stay–and here’s one for today.

Marketing is not about throwing your money away on “stuff that doesn’t work.” It’s not about jumping on the band wagon for anything new the minute it comes out. It’s about consistently presenting your business in the marketplace in ways that reflect who you are—what exactly you can do for your customers and why the hell anybody would want to do business with you. It’s about putting a face and a voice to your¬† business. And it’s about staying in front of people in whatever ways your industry and your prospects like to get their information.

And it’s always, always about speaking in your True Voice. In the madness of today’s electronic media deluge, your customers can easily find your competitors. If they don’t find what they need on your website fast, they’re gone in the blink of a Google search. If they can’t figure out very quickly why they would want to choose you as their vendor, they’ll find a site that does speak to them.

And it’s a fact that even buyers of the most competitive products even at the biggest corporations want to check out vendors’ websites before they call—even when the vendor’s been personally referred. Think of it like a courtship for an arranged marriage: the boy wants to sneak a peek at the girl before deciding to invite her out for the first time.

In business, the buyer wants to know something more about you and your business before he talks to you. He’s looking for information, yes. But, like the boy checking out the girl, he wants to get a feeling as well. This intangible quality about your business can only be conveyed when your website speaks from the heart—speaks about what truly matters to you in terms of serving your customers.

Call me if you have questions about writing or design for your website. Chicago 773.857.7118. Cleveland 216.472.8502. Or just email me your questions.

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