These days, for businesses to stay viable, they need to be able to survive and even thrive in the highly competitive online environment of the internet. So-called internet marketing gurus, search engine optimization (SEO) experts, and online lead generation specialists may lay claim to all sorts of high tech wizardry to get clients’ websites to become top performing forces online. However, the secret to online success whether for an international mega-conglomerate or local ma and pa sandwich shop remains the same, and it is not a spellbinding as you might think. Selling online is a lot like selling anywhere else. You want to know the secret to selling online? Here it is. There is no secret.
There is no “magic bullet” to get your site top rankings within days, weeks, or even months. There is no cheating the search engine algorithms which determine page rankings. Well, there is, but it will catch up with you and do a lot more harm than it ever did good. There are no special programs to install, classes to sign up for, or memberships to join that will propel you to the heights of internet prominence for your chosen keywords. Instead, for businesses to be successful online, they need to follow the basics of any other successful business.
Step One: Solve a Problem
This is Business 101. The most successful businesses in the world live and die by solving problems for their customers. Netflix provides an inexpensive, speedy delivery of video entertainment that the customers control. Amazon provides a massive marketplace for vendors and consumers to meet, allowing simple, one-stop shopping for a variety of needs. Plumbers unclog drains, fix toilets, and install water heaters. The list goes on. If you want to be successful in any business, you need to define a problem and provide a solution. If you are not solving a problem for your customers, why do they need you? Think about it. Even comedy solves a problem. It allows people to laugh, relieve stress, and forget about their worries even if only just for a little while.
Step Two: Build a Brand
Your brand might be a business, a product line, or even yourself. The brand is everything. The choices you make to define your brand have definitive outcomes. Ask a graphic designer about the difference between using red or blue as a main color in your brand’s logo. You might be surprised to find that each has tangible, economic effects. Your brand is the way you present your company, yourself, and your product online. You must be able to narrow everything down to a simple message, a simple mission. From the language you use to the colors you choose for marketing materials, brand matters. You want people to recognize it online, in the mall, and everywhere they see it. For example, consider the Activision executives in charge of the Call of Duty line. They have built their market from the ground up, defining their brand along the way. Now, they have an identity all their own that other companies can only hope to achieve in respect to visibility, familiarity, and brand loyalty.
Step Three: Differentiate Yourself
In order for a business to survive, it needs a unique selling point (USP). What sets it apart from the rest? There are a few basic ways to differentiate a business from its competitors. The most common USPs are price, product, and service. By offering the lowest price, businesses can gain a leg up on their competition. By providing different selections, unique options, or a combination of selection and price, businesses can do surprisingly well. Then, there is the market focus, becoming the thought leader or all around expert in a very specific field, so that existing and potential customers know that your business is where they want to be when they need something in your field. Walmart succeeds by providing cost leadership, variety, and convenience.
To be successful online, mastering SEO, content creation, establishing authority, and all the other things that internet marketers talk about is important. It is important that these basics be there before the big push, though. If you plunge ahead trying to dominate the search engines with keyword and long tail key phrases, local search marketing, organic content, and social media marketing without a solid foundation to base it all on, failure looms in the future. Avoid the frustration and take the proper steps to insure success with online marketing. Define a problem and solve it. Define the company or product. Then, be different. These items can be harnessed into any online lead generation campaign, but without them the campaigns will be fruitless.