“If you build it, they will come.”
This what Kevin Costner’s character says in Field of Dreams.
Can’t say I care much for the film, but it’s amazing that a simple line can quickly pass into common parlance.
When people say this phrase, they mean the following: Create something of genuine worth, and eventually people will notice it.
Nice idea isn’t it?
You must IGNORE Kevin Costner!
It’s quite easy to do these days, admittedly, as he doesn’t really appear in many films. But anyway, don’t believe the “build it and they’ll come” stuff.
That quote is worthless. Useless. Dangerous, even. It’s simply not true.
When it comes to online business, building something is not enough.
You can have the most amazing website, a great product and fantastic sales copy…
But if it just sits there online, it will be virtually invisible.
People will not find you.
They will not come.
There are just too many businesses out there… too many product choices… too many websites, blogs, Twitter feeds, YouTube channels and Facebook pages…
You’re like a grain of sand on a beach… an asteroid in the vastness of a billion swirling galaxies… a tiny krill in the Atlantic Ocean.
The likelihood of the right kind of customer miraculously finding your business is almost zero.
Encouraging, isn’t it?
“Er, yes, Tom, thanks for the pep talk!”
Okay, that’s the depressing news…
The good news is that you now have multiple ways to get yourself noticed and guide potential customers to your business.
At Digital Upstart we call these ‘stepping stones’.
These are not always direct marketing adverts or big-hitting sales promotions… Yes, you need those of course, but they’re of no use unless you’ve built up a bit of an audience that trusts you and wants to hear your messages.
Stepping stones are the many points of human contact you make every day across a wide array of online platforms, channels and networks.
Each one of these can guide a complete stranger towards your products.
For an effective marketing strategy, you really need ALL of them working together if you want your amazing website to get noticed.
The stepping stones include the following…
Blog posts – An ongoing diary shows off your opinions and your business story and passes on useful information for free. They make you more visible on search engines and social media when people share your posts with their networks.
If you aren’t already doing so, update your website once a week with news, advice, insights, tips and opinions that could benefit your prospects.
But don’t just let your blog post sit there…
Share it multiple times on all your social media networks, using different copy and images each time. Encourage comments beneath the posts and answer them too. Every comment-and-reply is a marketing stepping stone.
Social media activity – Every time you post something on Twitter, retweet something or ‘favourite’ a tweet, you’re effectively marketing yourself, showing your personality, building trust, and finding new followers. Same goes for Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, or even specialist forums.
It’s no good just broadcasting your links on these; you need to engage, discuss, comment and make friends. Again, these tiny personal points of contact can get you customers.
Promoted posts – You can use Facebook and Twitter to promote certain posts that large numbers of your followers can see, and also (if you’re prepared to pay) that targeted lists of non-followers can see too.
These posts tend to be alluring, compelling and interesting free content, rather than sales links. Ultimately, if they’re to be successful they should look and read no differently to your regular content.
It’s worth allocating a small amount of budget to promoting blog posts, articles and free content that encourage more ‘likes’ and follows on Twitter or Facebook.
Google ads – These are the adverts that appear on Google when people search for certain keyword combinations that you purchase.
Even people who don’t click might see these regularly when they make searches. Again, they need to be targeted at your customer’s deep emotions, desires, fears.
A squeeze page/landing page – Getting people onto your email database is a crucial stepping stone. To grab their attention, make sure you give away content that your prospects will find useful. It could be a free report, ebook, email course or video… a free sample or trial, or even an interview or recording on your website.
Put it on a squeeze page (a landing page that pushes visitors to enter their email addresses), then promote this through your blog and social media, as well as sponsored posts and ads.
Emails – Getting someone on your email list is key, but to guide them to your products you want to have as many points of contact as possible.
Try to email them at least once a week. Include links to your website. Make sure there are contact details in your emails and that the content encourages prospects to get in touch with feedback, questions and queries.
Every response you make is another stepping stone bringing the prospect towards your products.
Direct message – On many social media platforms there are direct message inboxes where people can contact you individually, or as a small group of people. These are usually to request information, or make private complaints or requests, and they’re just as important.
Those few people who contact via direct message are likely to become the most loyal of customers if you communicate with them properly.
Try contacting a customer who has been with you on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin or other social network and thank them. Ask them if there’s anything you can help them with, or that they’d like to see more of.
You can also encourage people to direct message you with questions or queries.
Guest appearances – Appearing on other people’s websites is a great way to get noticed. This includes offering guest posts, reviews and interviews.
Then get guests to create content for your website, so that when they promote that content it leads back to you.
There are now multiple ways a customer can find out about your business. However, you need to keep this strategy rolling week after week.
Never let up!
Don’t get me wrong, the traditional ‘long copy’ sales letter still works, but mainly for those who have existing email lists and good relationships with that list. (As well as experienced copywriters who know how to create a 4,000+ word letter!)
For everyone else, a more piecemeal approach can be highly effective.
Spread your message across a wide range of contact points, from social media to emails and blog posts, to your customer service and personal messaging.
All of these fragments build up a presence online, capturing the attention of stranger and leading them to your products.