The internet has fundamentally changed how businesses market themselves. Back in the good old days, businesses thought about building a brand. They understood the value of building a name, that consistently promoting the business was important. Most people who exposed to the advertisements, did not need the product or service at the time. But businesses operated with a belief they would eventually, and when they did, they wanted to be front of mind. Before the internet businesses had to be consistent and memorable.
Well, those days seem to have gone. The value of building a reliable brand has been replaced by Google Analytics. If I cannot measure the Click to sale journey, well the marketers of today are not interested. It is all about attribution. $1 spent for $X returned. Yellow Pages were the start of it with call tracking from print ads. Dollars spent on measurable returns. As directory books died off directories online sprang up, the leader of these being Google. Google is the world’s largest directory for businesses. As Google rose to dominance, some early adopters really cleaned up.
Lots of businesses could not make the jump, but for those who saw the power of Google early, it was a gold mine. Relatively lower costs to be there, and it brought excellent prospects right to your business. Well ranked Google listings became the name of the game, either free listings or Google Ads, you had to be there. With this new form of marketing came an unprecedented level of reporting. Advertisers could just pay for clicks they won and then measure those clicks to conversions as leads or sales. That old marketing seemed silly and primitive – hit and miss. This Google thing is the way of the future, measurable, trackable controllable marketing.
As advertisers bowed to the Google gods, this new level of measurement became the expectation. You start to wonder how some businesses get ahead now while others don’t. It should be a straight race. All the best prospects are on Google. Get your listing sorted and get your share. But some businesses do much better here than others, and some businesses have turned their back on Google completely. Businesses are returning to the good old days of branding where consistency mattered. Where men and women got paid for creativity, not statistical analysis. At the start of the internet, it was enough to just be there. But now ‘there’ is very crowded, and businesses need more than only listings.
It would be best if you still were to be on Google. This has not changed. But where on Google? In the generic search terms with your competitors. Maybe. But the better way is to make Google work for you, forget being an also run in a sea of identical competitors . You want to flip the game, cut the prospects off at the pass, and have them search for you by name. Prospects searching brands will click on the brand they are looking for. Brand searches will convert significantly higher on your website. Leads from brand searches will turn to sales at a much higher rate.
How do you get prospects to search for your brand, well here is a list of ideas?
Make it clear internally. Why does this business operate? It would help if you had a story before prospects will follow.
Be great at what you do. Businesses that are really making a difference get referrals. Referrals become brand searches.
Website, reviews, case studies, email marketing. You need to be sharing your greatness with your existing clients.
- Once you are there and have your greatness well presented, advertise it.
Social media, social media advertising, radio, print. Show your work to a larger group.
Stick to the story you are telling. This helps prospects recall you when they need your service. Candidates like to know what they are getting.
- Run some branding advertising.
Facebook, Instagram, Radio, TV (pick the channel carefully) billboards. Branding is not just for the big players; small businesses can run advertising on Facebook and ask prospects to follow their information. Some of those likes will become your best clients in the future.
- Give it away. Be an educator.
Produce valuable information that helps prospects. Free help creates fans. Fans buy and refer.
So, stop putting your hand up in a crowded room, hoping to be picked. Follow some or all the above. Take a long-term approach; building a brand takes time. Stop chasing down clicks, with low conversions rates, who will become short term clients and probably lower average sales values. Start building something that candidates can follow, something familiar, something that they will think for before they think of Google. The future is bright, let’s stand out in the crowd.