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This is the homestretch, kids!
Now it’s time to make a website and get our name out there via some cheap and easy marketing.
The Interwebs: Your Website
Rule 1: Put Brand First
“10 landing page tricks that GUARANTEE conversions.”
“5 inbound marketing techniques your website MUST utilize in 2016.”
Man, there sure are a lot of guarantees, musts and must-not’s when it comes to the web. Or at least that’s what a glut of hackneyed business bloggers would have you believe.
What no one ever tells upstarts is these are generic tricks for generic businesses, and since we’ve established our unique perspective in the first two articles, we don’t need them.
Personality trumps “landing page tricks” any day of the week.
There’s really only one rule to building a website for your business, and that’s put brand first.
When you have a unique perspective, your audience will want to engage with you, and you won’t have to resort to “tricks” to get them. Before you worry about high-converting button styles or landing page optimization, ask yourself, “How can I make this website an extension of the brand I’ve built?”
Is your brand brash and unexpected? Then DON’T use those “10 lines that sell!” you read about over on Desperate Entrepreneurs Weekly™—instead, be brash and unexpected.
If your brand is sweet and generous, give away some cool and meaningful content. There is no more important place for your brand to be itself than on its own damn website.
Unlike advertising or social media efforts, your dotcom is a destination—people have to come to you. They like you, or are at least curious about you, so take a breath and confidently show them who you are.
Can you imagine if you drove out to your mom’s house for some life advice and she spent the entire afternoon pressuring you into signing up for her email newsletter?
Rule 2: Make It Easy to “Buy”
When someone digs a brand, they want to support it. They want to spend their money. Don’t make it hard for them to do so. Make it simple and straightforward.
Do you offer a service? Make it clear what that service is and include your contact info on every page. Sell a product? Set up a quick, simple cart. Keep all the bells and whistles optional.
At biklops.com, we make it easy to pick up the phone and call, drop us an email OR, if you want, fill out a questionnaire to get a project started with us. Once our visitors are enjoying the cut of our jib, we don’t want to slow them down with unnecessary calls-to-action to sign up for newsletters, receive free coupons, start an account, etc.
It’s great to make all that available—just don’t make it necessary.
Rule 3: Brand Is the Longer but Better Game
I can’t tell you how many awesome companies have been spooked and gone generic to their detriment.
Going Generic™ is when a small business feels that the niche they’ve created for themselves isn’t paying off fast enough, so they broaden and become another “me-too” brand. Suddenly the “Bookkeepers for Smart Restaurateurs” are simply “Your Small Business Bookkeepers.”
Though they may see a small bump in clientele for the first year, they suddenly realize they’re competing with a larger pool of competitors, many of which are already too far ahead.
This realization usually comes the moment someone forwards them a link to the NEW “Bookkeepers for Smart Restaurateurs” who stuck it out long enough to be a success.
Again, know who you are and stick with it.
Are you really going to blog? Regularly? With consistent insight? No? Then skip it. It can hurt you just as easily as it can help you.
Rule 1: You Don’t Need It and You Certainly Don’t Need All of It.
Am I blowing your mind or what?
I’m going to tell you a (not actually secret) secret: there are entrepreneurs within a stone’s throw of you right now making six figures…who never ever tweet. Seems crazy, right?
Social media is a double-edged sword, and it’s worth asking yourself if you really have something original or interesting to say and if you can say it with some regularity.
Is your brand funny? Insightful? Then Twitter is a good place for your brand to make that known. Is your brand visually compelling with cool-looking products or an artful aesthetic? Then Instagram is a good idea.
If you answered no to both of the above, you’re not a boring, lame brand—you just don’t need a Twitter or Instagram account, and that’s just fine.
Facebook is an exception here.
Even if you lack content, enough Facebook users use the site as a directory of sorts that I’d recommend setting up a page for your brand even if it were just your logo, location and a brief description.
Rule 2: No “me-too” content!
After we’ve spent all this time defining an original, singular language for your brand, know that I will never forgive you if I find out you’re posting Windows XP-looking landscape wallpapers on Instagram with “Believe in Yourself” typed over the top in a script font.
Do not jump on tired bandwagons, and do not repeat the insights of others as your own.
In putting your unique brand out there, you might find you end up with hundreds vs. thousands of followers—but these are your true fans, people interested in your brand’s unique voice. These are the kinds of fans that become repeat buyers and brand advocates who will stick with you.
When you borrow some other brand’s unique language, you’re simply creating a gateway for your “fans” to find the brand you ripped off and become TRUE fans of theirs. Stay fast!
Marketing, or How to Say “Look at Me!” with Integrity
Marketing is tough. Early advertising was incredibly straightforward: literally a hand with “LOOK!” written on it pointing at a 50% off coupon.
By the sixties, marketing had taken a turn. With a huge landscape of same-same competitors emerging, basing a brand’s value on its pricing became a shaky proposition; if that’s all you have to offer, you leave yourself open to someone undercutting your pricing and thereby ruining your value proposition.
Instead, sixties marketers started to position companies as more than just their products—they were avatars for larger ideas and values.
Oddly, the pendulum has swung back to that pre-sixties vibe in recent years.
With social media taking such a huge amount of space in the collective business psyche, marketing has adopted a “direct value to consumer” standpoint that has squeezed a lot of the life out of communicating with our audience. “Click here for 50% off’ just doesn’t have the spirit that the VW bug’s “Think Small” campaign had.
I think selling our brands as simply freebie providers is selling us short. My advice? For every three pieces of brand communication, sprinkle in one piece of ‘sales-y’ material.
Running your first print ad? Your logo, a simple photo and a URL will do. Running your fourth? Think about a promotion that’s appropriate to your brand. Name recognition first, then grab the on-the-fence stragglers with something more catch-all.
Remember: unless you’re Wal-Mart, you’re looking to do more than remind people you have the cheapest box fans in town—you want to build up a recognizable personality in your audience’s mind.
Marketing by Association
Some brands aren’t robust enough to get by on simple communication of their identity.
That’s fine! Thanks to Part One of this series, you’ve managed to carve some real values for your company. Now go live them! A brand that follows through is the most powerful marketing of all.
If you claim to be the “Bookkeepers for Smart Restaurateurs,” sponsor some foodie events around town. Make your Instagram about food and the people who make it—not screenshots.
People love other people’s passions and motivations, not their products and business models.
One of my favorite brands, Burger and Friends, has SO MANY SKUs, yet their marketing and social media rarely swims the seas of discounts and product-specific communication. Instead, they focus on brand—welcoming the misfits and weirdos to join their oddball, t-shirt-centric club.
Goodnight and Good Luck
The seas you’re about to navigate are uncharted, choppy and just plain weird. Stay the course, inspire those around you and find the Promised Land.
I promise the other side is fun, reasonably comfortable and so much less stressful than those first few months, or years, at sea. Know thyself—and cash them checks.