Thursday, October 1, 2009

Is your website a Drive-in Movie or a Drive-thru Window?

How to make your website the best source of new business for your company, starting right now.

If your website is not generating a steady flow of quality leads, something’s wrong. After helping companies successfully take their brands online for over 14 years now, I can honestly say that there are a number of reasons why your site may be lacking when it comes to lead generation.

Go here for a complimentary review of your website’s lead-worthiness.

Think of your website as a Drive-In Movie. You want visitors to come, buy some stuff (concessions), and have a great experience that they will tell others about ("You gotta see this film!"). You don’t want them to take a peek and then blow right by, off to a competitor’s site.

Here are three powerful tips to help turn your website into a powerful lead generating engine for your business:

Connect With Viewers

Create Multiple Ways for Viewers to "Connect "… on Every Page.

The old school philosophy: the home page is the most important page of your site.
No longer. Generate more quality leads by thinking of EVERY page as an independent home page, and asking:

1. What must the content of this page do to interest my visitor?
2. How can I help my visitor express what they are interested in?

Visitors can demonstrate interest in a number of ways: filling out a contact form, sending an e-mail inquiry, instant message, live chat, signing up for a demonstration,
e-newsletter, whitepaper, video, forwarding to a friend, or simply calling. If you want more qualified visitors to connect with you, create more ways for them to do so.

Use your "Contact Us" page to guide the visitor. Ask them questions about particular challenges they are having. Ask specifics about their needs as they relate to your products or services. A well-designed "Contact Us" page will generate higher quality leads, by helping visitors really think through their circumstances, and therefore making a more informed inquiry.

Create Great Content

Create & Deploy Great Content that’s Useful, Easily Shared…and Easily Found.

Consistent deployment of unique, quality content is the ultimate driver of online brand recognition and adoption. Great content establishes credibility, demonstrates expertise, builds online presence, and ultimately creates value for visitors.

Today, content can be deployed in many online formats: online press, blog entries,
micro-blogs, social media, e-newsletters, podcasts, slideshows, how-to videos, articles, whitepapers, live presentations, and online demos.

You probably have some great content at your disposal, but may not be fully maximizing its use. For instance, if you recently delivered a presentation, write a press release about it. Develop an article summarizing your remarks for download. Send an e-mail with the corresponding link to your contacts. Record your presentation and build it into a podcast, YouTube segment, or as a download. Post your answers to the most engaging participant questions on your blog. Let your LinkedIn contacts know the presentation is available. Submit your slide visuals to SlideShare, or offer them as a PDF download from your site.

Whatever content deployment tactics you use, make them a regimen. One article alone won’t do it. Consistent deployment in many formats gets the wheel turning, builds momentum, and ultimately drives qualified leads. In case of writer’s block, go here:
Cool Stuff I Can Write About My Brand.

Build for Your Audience

Build the Site for Your Viewer…Not for Your Company

Break away from the traditional "About Us", "Services", "Products", "Contact" info-dump mentality because that puts all the focus on you. Every page of your website should be solely and exclusively about "THEM," the visitor, and their particular challenges, obstacles or needs. If you want your site to be a source of lead generation, every page must demonstrate an understanding that the visitor has a particular problem or need, and that you have the solution.

If ever there’s a specific customer segment or service that you want to highlight, simply build a landing page about it. Your site may become cluttered at times, but if it’s turning visitors into potential customers, who cares? Avoid info-dump site design; that only leads to "Drive-Thru Viewings." Embrace the "Drive-In" mentality, and create a valuable resource center for your visitor, one that they will "drive to" often, and share with others. Invite them to engage and participate at every turn, as you transform your site into a powerful lead-generating engine for your business.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Satisfaction Curse. And “HOW” to avoid it.

From Tiger, to Jordan, to Jack Welch... superstars have one thing in common:
They are never satisfied with their current set of skills or level of ability.

Not ever.

Not even when they rise to the very top of their field.

They avoid the “satisfaction curse” like the plague.

They keep pushing. They keep asking: How can I improve? How can I become more consistent? How can I beat the competition? This is why Tiger Woods still works with a coach every week to help him improve his swing. And that’s exactly “How” this man has come to outperform his competition so consistently for so long.

If you too want to be a leader in your field, take a long hard look at your brand - whether it’s a company, product, or service - and ask yourself: How badly do you want it? How committed are you to becoming the top brand in your category, marketplace or industry?

I’m in my 14th year working with CEOs of small and mid-sized brands, and I can honestly tell you that the biggest brand killer is complacency. The moment you start feeling overly confident about the success of your product, service or company is the very moment you begin to fail as a brand. Satisfaction, in any form, spells bad news for your business. You must commit yourself to always asking the important “How” questions:
- How can we deliver a solution 10 times better than the competition?
- How can we double our sales in the next three years?
- How can we engage a higher level clientele?
- How committed are you?

The “Power of How” also applies to current economic conditions. Asking “How” helps you avoid the pit trap of blaming the economy, licking your wounds, or giving in to self-doubt. How can we make money when our industry sector is losing money? How can we cut our sales cycle in half? How can we create decisive and immediate buzz? As your “How” questions become more specific, your answers will become equally more specific, decisive and actionable. You’ll begin to see a way forward to a brighter future for your brand, as you head toward a position of leadership.

To help guide your thinking, we’ve prepared a “HOW” worksheet. Bring your team together around these ten challenges to complacency, and you’ll be well on your way to achieving great things for your brand in the months and years ahead.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Grow or Die!

A plane or bird can't simply coast forever. They go up, and they come down. The same is true of companies. A number of CEOs I've spoken with over the past few months are experiencing very tough times in their busineses right now. The reason: They were "coasting" when the recession came on.

The past year has taught us many hard economic and business lessons. But the one I hope resonates with all is that you can never stop. You can never stop delivering your brand. You can never stop reinforcing to your customers why you are the best solution. You can never stop reaching out to new customers. I don't care how busy you are. I don't care if you're sold out, or full to capacity.

The only time it's OK to stop is when you're ready to hand over the keys. Until that day, every day and every encounter should be treated as a branding opportunity, and a chance to tell even one more person how your company, product or solution delivers great value.

Friday, February 27, 2009

To the "Next Level"

Whenever a CEO calls me in to talk about branding, I know that every conversation will be a little different, and each company leader will have his or her own interpretations of what branding means, and why it has become a top priority at that particular moment. The common thread or comment that precedes virtually every brand development assignment we undertake is, "We need to go to the next level." A decisive realization that a gap exists between where the business entity is, and where the top executive would like it to be.

Upon hearing these words, or some similar expression, I usually ask, "What does the next level mean to you?" That's where the conversation moves from the here and now to the vision of what the CEO would like his or her business to become. What I have come to realize is that brand development is really a component of business development. It's the expression - in words, visuals, and ideas - of what a company aspires to be.

My advice in this post for any CEO that is contemplating brand development or brand revitalization is this: Think about a moment in time three years from today. Write down in as much detail as possible a description of what your organizaiton will look like three years from now. Getting to "the next level" begins with this important first task. Upon doing so, in the words of Obi-Wan, "You've just taken your first step into a larger world."

Monday, February 23, 2009

Where is the Voice of Innovation?

I’ve never before experienced a time when so much negative news dominated the airwaves. Sure, I know we’re facing tough economic conditions. I know the situation is bad. I know that conditions will likely deteriorate further before improving. I get it. So, now it’s time to shut up, get tough and push forward. Tune out the negativity, and remember that change brings opportunity for those who embrace it.

It’s time to get creative, and make some positive noise. Every day, I talk to CEOs that are developing new strategies, new ideas, new concepts and ways of doing. That’s what we are. That’s what we do. The greatest strength of America, the true power of the U.S. economic engine, is innovation. Let China make it. Let India service it. Let Germany precision-engineer it. We are the innovators, the idea creators, the wild spark that flies into the night, the break through artists. But amidst this economic chaos, too many are focusing far too much on licking their wounds, instead of breaking new ground.

Right now, there exists a tremendous opportunity for innovation to be heard. We as a nation need new solutions, right now. If your company has recently developed something new, is working on something new, get the word out, right now. A black hole has surfaced, one which used to be filled with regular dialogue about innovation, new ideas and breakthroughs. That conversation has all but stopped. If you have something going on, tell the world. Right now, your news will get more attention than it might have two years ago, because few others are stepping out to garner attention with the words of innovation.

Capture the spotlight and become a little bit famous in this infamous time with the illumination of big ideas. Remember that you are American. If you are reading this, then you, like me, are also entrepreneurial at heart. It is our fighting spirit, our killer apps and big ideas that will drive us through this period. Don’t wait for the government. Don’t wait for big corporate. Don’t wait for anything. Drive the machine of innovation forward. Be an agent of change. Deliver spirited ideas when they are needed most, and garner the due attention deserved.

With online communications and social media, your ideas, your positive noise, will spread like wild fire through the growing wilderness of bleakness. Our nation is thirsty for innovation. Branding is the voice of innovation. If you have the next great story to tell, but lack the means to deliver the message, give me a call. At Delia Associates, we love talking to people who radiate positive energy, especially in the face of adversity.

Make no mistake. We are at war. The enemy is not the economy. It is not big business, the auto makers, banks, mortgage companies, or any other tangible entity. This enemy is an amorphous force containing fear, self-doubt and hopelessness, and it must be confronted and conquered one-on-one. Do not compromise your fighting spirit. It has been some time since we Americans have played the underdog. This is a time to command your will, spirit and energy and deliver your innovation message. This is a time to rise, and remember that you are American. Not only made from big dreams and great ideas, but the toughest stuff in the world.

Inspiration for this Entry: “Eleven seconds, you've got ten seconds, the countdown going on right now! Five seconds left in the game. Do you believe in miracles? Yes!” – Al Michaels, reporting the final seconds of the U.S. Hockey Team's victory over the Soviet Union Team during the 1980 Winter Olympic Games

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Making a Case for “Industry Surveys” as a Valuable Customer-Side View of Your Brand

This question has come up several times, usually in the context of brand re-development: Do we invite customers to participate in our re-branding process? That can be a tricky proposition for two reasons: First, customers are busy, and if they are great customers, they probably appreciate that you respect their time and treat it with efficiency. When approached with questions about a supplier’s brand, they may be quick to offer “get-me-off-the-phone” responses like, “They service us well and their pricing is good . . . Have to run.” Click. Answers like these offer little insight when it comes to understanding a brand’s true unique value.

Also, if approached in the wrong manner, customers might find the inquiry a little weird, or perceive it as a lack of confidence or conviction in your brand: “Why on earth are YOU asking ME who YOU are? That’s up to you to figure out. “

Thankfully, there is a trusted approach to getting the feedback you want, without the obtrusiveness of directly asking customers. It comes in the form of an “Industry Survey.” Industry surveys are conducted by third parties and can be done via phone, e-mail, or in combination. Essentially, you build a target list that blends customers with prospects, and ask questions from the position of the industry as a whole.

Common questions would include:

  • In thinking of all the <Insert Your Industry> firms in your region, which one comes to mind first and why?
  • If there is one thing <Insert Your Industry> firms in your region could improve upon, what would it be, and what advice would you have for its improvement?
  • If your company needed the services of a <Insert Your Industry> firm right now, and you narrowed the selection to 2-3 firms, what would be the single most important factor you would base your final decision on?
Any survey questions should be easily answered, and should not take recipients more than 6-9 minutes to complete. Using this method will not only give you the candid and in-depth insight you are looking for, but also keep your brand safely anonymous to ensure a more unbiased response.

The big challenge these days is getting enough respondents for a statistically viable sampling. Let’s face it, everyone is busy these days. One way to overcome this is by attaching a special offer or drawing as a way of enticing people to fill out the form. We incorporated this approach in two recent Delia Associates e-newsletters and received very favorable feedback in both instances. Go to our e-newsletter site, and check out Volume 4, Issues 9 and 10.