Tag Archives: marketing

5 Website Features That May Be Working Against You

By Molly Yurick

Molly Yurick-website feature working against you

Contrary to popular belief, your website is not about the products you sell, the services you provide, or the information you share. It’s actually about the people who visit it and their needs. As a website owner, your job is to turn those visitors into paying clients. But before you can do that, you have to keep visitors on your website for long enough to pique their interest. And that means not scaring off your prospects with features that are annoying or—even worse—that could make you look unprofessional.

With all the web-design elements available today, it’s easy to lose sight of what will work best for your target audience. However, once you shift your focus to serving your visitors instead of your own needs, avoiding these features becomes much easier.

Your website is not about the products you sell, the services you provide, or the information you share. It’s actually about the people who visit it and their needs. Click To Tweet

Here are five website features that may be working against you:

1) Aggressive pop-ups

Pop-ups come in all shapes and sizes. Some are intended to persuade visitors to interact with your call-to-action (“Sign up for our newsletter” or “Take our survey”), while others are paid advertisements to bring in some extra income. But, let’s be honest, pop-ups are quite bothersome, especially if they appear repeatedly. Expect to lose visitors if they have to spend more time closing pop-up windows than exploring your content. If you feel you need to include pop-ups on your site, make sure you do your homework, place them well, and use them wisely.

2) Translation plug-in

Translating your website into other languages is a smart business move if you are looking to expand internationally. It makes your products or services available to more people in more places and may very well increase your sales and online success. While it may seem like a translation plug-in or machine translation service will save you time and money, think twice before taking action. Machine translation systems are great at getting the gist of a text, but often skew the meaning. For example, in some languages, a popular machine translation tool translated “US President” as “Bush” well into the Obama administration. To avoid embarrassing mistakes that scare off global customers, make sure you hire a professional translator who can perfectly craft your message for your audiences abroad.

3) Autoplay video

It’s happened to every Internet surfer out there. They arrive at a new website and an unfamiliar voice or loud music blasts through their speakers. They frantically stop the video, rub their sore ears, shake their fist at the screen and close the tab. Video may be all the rage right now, but the secret lies in knowing how to use it effectively. Autoplay videos—whether for informational purposes or to bring in revenue from advertisers—are annoying and will often push visitors away from your site. If you plan on using video on your website, add a prominent play button instead of having it autoplay. Let users decide whether they want to watch the video instead of deciding for them.

4) A dysfunctional mobile version of your website

Mobile Internet usage now surpasses computer usage. This means that you must have a mobile-friendly version of your website that maintains all the same key functions as the desktop version. If visitors do not have a positive experience when they land on your mobile site, you may drive away a huge portion of potential traffic. So, make sure your website is responsive. Responsive websites include all the same content and information on any device used to access them, but the display changes automatically based on the size of the viewer’s screen.

5) Infinite-scrolling home page

Infinite scrolling is a design technique in which content continuously populates at the bottom of the screen as the user scrolls down the page. This technique can be very effective for certain types of sites, but for most, an infinitely long home page can be distracting and confusing. It increases load time, makes navigation and linking messy, and hides or eliminates the highly valuable website footer. Users often search the footer for contact information, social media links, and privacy or security notices. If you’re not sure what type of home page will work best for you, consult a web-design professional to learn what works best with your target audience.

Whether you are a freelancer or you own a multi-million-dollar company, all you have to remember is this: make your website for them, not for you.

Molly Yurick is a Spanish to English translator specialized in tourism, hospitality and airline industry translations. She is also an active volunteer for the American Translators Association. The American Translators Association represents over 10,000 translators and interpreters across 103 countries. For more information on ATA and to hire a translation or interpreting professional, please visit www.atanet.org.

Stalled Sales? 

Get Unstuck by Engaging in a Strategic Market Analysis

Jill Johnson-target market

By Jill J. Johnson

If you are struggling with sluggish sales, there are two critical areas you must review to address the situation. The first is determining if the slowdown is due to changes in your target market. The second is determining if your sales and promotional approaches are ineffective. While there may be complicating factors beyond your control, most of the time a sales slowdown can be attributed to one or both issues. This type of analysis reviews your demographics, competitors and the effectiveness of your marketing messages to provide a comprehensive evaluation of the demand potential for your business. When combined with a marketing audit, you have a powerful opportunity to turnaround your sales.

Strategic Market Analysis is a powerful approach to uncovering the true reasons for your revenue slowdown. Click To Tweet

Conduct a Demographic Analysis

A demographic assessment is the foundation of determining if your products or services remain feasible. Understanding your target market demographics provides insight regarding the impact of any changes in market volume. A demographic review can help you determine if you are in a short-term sales slump or if a more significant market decline is expected over a longer time horizon. All too often the cause for a revenue decline is evident in the demographic data. The key is to allow the data to show you objectively what is going on in your market.

A well-executed demographic analysis evaluates shifts in the variables of your consumer’s age, gender, income and other economic variables impacting the market you sell to and identifies potential market risks impacting your business survival. Business client demographics include company age, revenue, number of employees, or number of locations.

Be careful in defining your market area boundaries. Too many businesses use wider geographic areas for their market than they realistically serve. Overly optimistic boundaries will overstate your market potential. Think of your customer demographics as you would a doctor looking at your vital signs. Demographics will help identify new opportunities. Or they will confirm your market has shrunk to a level where you should re-consider your offerings.

Conduct Market Interviews

Some organizations conduct probing interviews of customers, employees, key community leaders, industry associations, and vendors to gain insight on what is changing within their marketplace. Interviews provide you with insights into what makes your competitors tick or help you understand what your key target audiences really think. Interviews can help you understand what is going on and provide you with insight to refine your marketing messages to improve sales.

Study Your Competitors

While the Internet has made it easier to gather basic information on competitors, competitive intelligence involves deeper methods. Look at what products and services they are promoting. Evaluate how they are positioning these resources including how they address pain points to meet customer needs. You can use primary research techniques including networking with industry experts, customers, suppliers, key referral sources and even competitors to better understand your market environment. Combine this information with the use of secondary research sources such as news media or subscription databases to help you gain additional insight. Researching your competitors will provide you with a deeper awareness of opportunities or the need to revamp your offerings. Competitor insight also can help you develop more effective strategies to address the impact they might be having on shaping your consumer attitudes or restricting your market area.  

Secret Shop Your Sales Team

Secret shopping allows you to better understand how effective your salespeople are at sharing your brand message with your target audience. You can assess their conversation approaches, closing techniques and positioning efforts when responding to contacts from a prospective customer. You can combine this approach with secret shopping your key competitors. Secret shopping your team and competitors will give you greater insight into identifying opportunities for improvement and enhancing sales effectiveness.  

Complete a Marketing Audit

Effective marketing strategies balance the critical interrelationships of the elements of the marketing mix with your organization’s strategic plan to reach identified target markets and generate desired sales results. A marketing audit evaluates the effectiveness of your marketing and promotional tactics to identify what needs to be maintained or improved to support your organization’s strategic vision and plan. This would include a review of your website and sales approaches (phone, drop-in, Internet, etc.). Review all of your marketing collateral materials to assess improvements to enhance consumer decision-making. Carefully evaluate how you utilize your social media channels to identify more effective tactics for sharing your marketing message and engaging with your prospects or key referral sources.

Provide Sales Coaching to Your Team

Sometimes your team needs outside support to review their sales approaches to improve overall performance. It is not uncommon for novice sales people to be given a few books and some sales manuals with the expectation they will intuitively figure out how to sell. Closing deals, whether to a consumer or a commercial client, can be a much more complicated effort, especially if it involves a complex sale. Complex sales do not resolve in a single interaction and they often involve multiple decision points before the final decision to buy. Sales professionals often have to tweak how they converse with prospects. Developing better skills and questions for probing prospects can help isolate decision criteria and move the sale forward.

Final Thoughts

Engaging in a Strategic Market Analysis is a powerful approach to uncovering the true reasons for your revenue slowdown. The goal is to determine if your marketing approaches or your lack of a viable market is the cause of your situation. If it is your marketing, you can adjust your sales and marketing messages to better align with your customers and their decision triggers. If it is the market, you can review your pricing strategy and geographic market area boundaries to better optimize those elements impacting your target market.

Sifting through the data you gather will help you reassess your market trends, growth factors and competitive dynamics. You gain an understanding of the implications of this information relative to your organization, as well as an assessment of how well you are positioned for long-term success.

Jill J. Johnson is the President and Founder of Johnson Consulting Services, a highly accomplished speaker, an award-winning management consultant, and author of the bestselling book Compounding Your Confidence. Jill helps her clients make critical business decisions and develop market-based strategic plans for turnarounds or growth. Her consulting work has impacted more than 4 billion dollars worth of decisions. She has a proven track record of dealing with complex business issues and getting results. For more information on Jill J. Johnson, please visit www.jcs-usa.com.

Five Ways to Leverage Your Talent Brand to Attract Great Candidates

How your company can leverage what employees and candidates say about you to attract top talent

By Jeremy Eskenazi

Have you ever struggled to hire the right people? Do most of the people you interview seem like a questionable fit at your company? It might be a symptom of not using your employer brand to your best advantage. An employer brand is what employees and candidates say about your company and the work experience when you’re not in the room. It’s not something you can go out and buy, or have a fancy branding exercise to develop and replace if you don’t like the one you have. Much like branding a product, your employer brand takes on elevated meaning and a predisposition to buy or join. In what is currently a competitive talent market, effective branding creates a sustainable competitive advantage and can make a huge difference in who is interested in working for you.Your employer brand takes on elevated meaning and a predisposition to buy or join. Click To Tweet

If you’re not sure what your employer brand is today, think about employer review websites online that are popular in North America and many parts of Europe. If you’re not familiar with the concept of these sites, they’re user-driven platforms that encourage people to anonymously record their experiences with a company as a candidate or employee. They can write whatever they want, even if it’s negative, and they can encourage people to run in the opposite direction. The flip side is that reviewers can also sing your praises and wax lyrical about you. Unfortunately, much like any user-driven site, anonymous contributors are usually either delighted with something, or were very upset; so you tend to see wild swings of positive or negative comments.

An employer brand is not necessarily changed overnight, but every time you interact with a candidate, you create an impression. Now multiply these impressions dozens or even hundreds of times. This is a powerful force. This is your professional brand and your opportunity to create (or start to re-create!) the first experience.

The people, symbols, and meaning we try to attribute to the company can be a powerful tool in communicating where the organization is headed. The brand management process helps you to unearth the organizations’ brand expression in the marketplace. The five ways to leverage your employer brand are:

1. Asset Assessment. Be honest: what are your strengths and weaknesses? How large is your company¾do you need people who thrive in an intense corporate environment or do you want people who are happy to have a more stable career? What benefits do you offer? Is there opportunity for advancement? Knowing this and being able to clearly articulate it is so important.

2. Employee Involvement. What is your organizational culture? Is it vertical, with top-down direction and little front-line input, or are decisions made on a broad collaborative basis? Is there opportunity for creative thinking? Knowing how your employees interact today and empowering them to tell the story of how they contribute is powerful.

3. Competitive Assessment. What other organizations can your candidates work for? You need to know who your competitors are and what they offer. If another company offers higher wages, can you compensate with profit sharing or better benefits? Are there opportunities for you to be creative about your offering based on what your competitors are packaging for candidates?

4. Brand Positioning. You need to know where your organization fits in the overall market. Does your company compete on price, or are you targeting the upscale market? Are you known for promoting from within? Does your company have a reputation for treating women and minorities fairly? The comments left online are a good starting point for this, as are any internal surveys you run.

5. Brand Expression. This is the combined result of all of the ‘brand signals’ that are present in the marketplace and are picked up by consumers and candidates. Every element of your employer brand needs to be in alignment. For example, if you claim to care about the environment and candidates are offered Styrofoam cups when they come in for an interview, you’d be surprised how much that can alter perceptions of your company and what you stand for.

In today’s competitive global economy, these five steps can help you find the candidates you need. Remember that candidates can be both internal and external. If you bring the right talent into your team, they may be interested and have versatile skills that could allow them to try new jobs at your company. They may be ready to take on a new role and be promoted, or they may be excellent at their current job. The point being: there is active work required to engage your current employees as brand ambassadors as well—they too represent and can carry your employer brand far and wide.

Remember, you can’t “make” an employer brand. An advertising agency can’t help you create a brand. They can help create a brand message. Whether or not you know what your brand is isn’t the issue. It’s knowing the what the themes are that people use to talk about your organization. Then you can manage the expression of the brand—and how people receive it—as part of your brand as an employer. You can do this through your goals, vision, and values, and the taglines that best explain what your company is about.

It’s easy for someone to throw out “we aspire to be the best place to work”. Your employer brand cannot be solely aspirational—it has to be accurate for where your organization is today. When your position is too aspirational, people will likely be unhappy when they encounter you—both candidates and employees. If you were in their position, don’t you think you’d feel let down too?

Jeremy Eskenazi is an internationally recognized speaker, author of RecruitConsult! Leadership, and founder of Riviera Advisors, a boutique Recruitment/Talent Acquisition Management and Optimization Consulting Firm. Jeremy is not a headhunter, but a specialized training and consulting professional, helping global HR leaders transform how they attract top talent at some of the world’s most recognized companies. For more information on Jeremy Eskenazi, please visit: www.RivieraAdvisors.com.

Quit Fishing for Publicity, Reel in the Media

By Russell Trahan

There is an old proverb that goes, “Give a Person a Fish, and You Feed Them for a Day. Teach a Person to Fish, and You Feed Them for a Lifetime.” The same can be said about publicity. If you do publicity once, you’ll only get business for a day. However, if you do publicity with frequency and repetition, you’ll build a business that will feed you for a lifetime.

There are several other ways fishing is similar to publicity, there are a few:If you do publicity once, you’ll only get business for a day. However, if you do publicity with frequency and repetition, you’ll build a business that will feed you for a lifetime. Click To Tweet

Knowing What You’re Fishing For/Knowing Who Your Target Market Is

First, you have to decide what you’re fishing for, then you go where they are. If you’re fishing for trout you would go to a lake. If you’re fishing for salmon you head to a river. And, if you’re fishing for Mahi-mahi you would gas up the boat for some deep sea fishing. The same is true for your target market. Once you decide who your target market is, you go where they are. If you want name recognition in front of business decision makers you would go to trade, industry, or business association publications. If you want the attention of single parents you would go to women’s magazines or mommy blogs. Every market has magazines and blogs they read regularly. Know who your target market is and where they’re located and you’ll get a bite every time.

Having the Right Lures/Position Your Expertise

In a lake you would want a bobber and lures to attract the fish’s attention. In a river or stream you might want to use a fly-fishing pole. On the ocean, of course you’d want to be fully strapped in with a strong line and reel. The same is true to positioning your expertise in a way the reader wants to see it. You may think that since Entrepreneur, Fast Company, and BusinessWeek are all business publications you can send the same press release to all of them. Consider their core reader: Entrepreneur says who they are in the title; Fast Company attracts the reader who wants new, now, next; and BusinessWeek is the old steady blue-chip business person. So, if you tailor your press release to the reader of the publication you want to get into you’ll have them jumping out of the water for you.

Using the Right Bait on Your Hook/Using the Right Content in Your Hook

Whether you use a worm, eggs, or chum depends on the fish you want to catch. The same is true for the content you use to hook the media’s attention. If you don’t get the media’s attention, your target market will never see your content, so you have to present your content in the right way. So many people make the mistake of presenting themselves as the story. What the media cares about is what you can do for their reader; who you are and why they should listen to you comes second. Press releases should not be advertorial or self-promotional; they should be educational, informational, and content-driven. Lead with your unique stance or controversial opinion. Offer the media additional information on a story they’re already running and they’ll be itching to take the bait.

Telling a Fish Story/Using Your Publicity

Every fisher has a whopper of a story about the one that got away, but just as many have trophies mounted on their walls to prove their skills. The same is true with your publicity; you’ve got to tell a good tale about it, otherwise you might as well cut bait and walk away. Start an ‘in the media’ page on your website. Nothing impresses a potential client more than knowing the media considers you the go-to source for information on your expertise. Even if your business is just in the local market, don’t shy away from national press. Showing a local realtor you’ve been in a national real estate magazine will be just as impressive as being in the local newspaper. Use the publicity you receive in your social media as well. If you’re a B2B business you would want to focus on LinkedIn, or if you’re B2C you could use Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, or others.

If you’re hoping to build business name recognition, increase market awareness, or boost sales, you first need to drop your line into the water. Wading in to the mainstream media doesn’t have to be a scary situation. Knowing who you want to hook, and having the right bait in your tackle box will land you publicity without much of a struggle. Regardless if you’re standing on the banks, using a row boat, or in a trawler, it’s about positioning your content in front of your target market in a format they want to hear, then just sit back and reel them in. You’ll have a net full of media placements to use in your marketing for a lifetime.

Russell Trahan is the Owner and President of PR/PR Public Relations and Author of Sell Yourself Without Saying a Word. For twnety years PR/PR has enjoyed a track record of getting 100 percent of their clients placed in front of their target market. For more information, please visit www.prpr.net.

Target Marketing: Enhancing Your Sales and Marketing Effectiveness

By Jill J. Johnson

Jill Johnson - target marketingYour customers can be grouped according to a variety of different identifiable characteristics that reflect their specific needs and interests. These needs and interests impact their attitudes toward purchasing decisions. Each of these groups is called a target market. Target marketing is the response to identified market needs. These needs will differ for groups within the total population and they can change over time. Target marketing can turn challenges created by changes in our economic environment into opportunities to better achieve your organizational goals.

While it may seem very limiting to narrow your market, the truth is you cannot be all things to all people. It is difficult and costly to develop effective promotional messages or reach your most likely purchasers if your target is too broad.

There are three major components to developing effective target marketing for sales results. First you have to clarify your market segments. Then you have to engage in data mining to verify the market opportunity really exists. Finally, link your target market to your operating, sales and promotional strategies.

1. Clarify Your Market Segments

A solid framework for evaluating your target market incorporates many different variables to develop your customer profile. The key is to begin to identify the distinctive patterns of attitudes, desires, concerns, and decision-making criteria for them. By understanding these elements, you can focus your marketing approaches to more effectively reach your target audience and to influence their purchasing decisions. Customers are more likely to identify with messages specifically tailored to their individual needs.

Target marketing typically incorporates an assessment of the demographics of your customer base. There are many demographic variables that can be easily identified and measured. A few examples for a consumer market include such aspects as age, gender, income or marital status. Business customers can consider aspects such as employees, revenue, or years in operation. Knowing where your customers live or work is another method for evaluating your target market. Geography is typically combined with demographics to measure market size.

The psychological profile is an exceptionally important variable in target marketing. Understanding your customer’s personality, buying motivations and interests provide powerful opportunities to develop communication messages designed to trigger a buying response in your customer.

Other variables may influence your customers’ purchasing decisions. These can include generational differences or customer brand loyalty. They may be highly influenced by other people being involved in their purchasing decisions. Do you need to position your marketing messages to influence decision influencers too?  Clearly assessing these target market segments provides a gateway for creating better marketing messages to ensure your customers and their decision influencers are compatible with your options.

 2. Data Mining

The second critical step to developing your target markets is to quantify your market size. You do this by data mining. Data mining involves analytically reviewing your internal customer and comparing it to external market information. Look for patterns and relationships to help understand your customer’s buying patterns and opportunities to influence them at each stage of their buying decision cycle.

Start by reviewing your Internal Customer Data. Prepare historical summaries reflecting several years of data. Most people only look at one year of data—this is not sufficient to help you determine if your market has achieved its maximum potential or is on a decline. Look for trends and patterns. What types of profiles can you create of those who buy from you? When do they buy? Who is most profitable to you? Start evaluating how effectively your marketing approaches reaches them and matches their purchasing decision approach.

Then, conduct a detailed review of the available External Data. Assess how your current customer profile matches up with the real market opportunity. Do the demographics show a potential for long-term growth? Does the data show anything else that might impact your sales success?

3. Tie Your Target Market to Your Promotional Activities

Promotion must be customer oriented and matched to how, why and when they buy. Where do they look for information to solve their problem or meet their need? It is not about what you want to sell them. You will need different marketing messages for those who are at the awareness stage gathering information than those who are ready to make a final purchase.

Match each of your promotional efforts to your target market. Clarify in detail how it benefits or provides value to them. What needs of theirs does it meet? How does it meet their needs in ways your competitors cannot?

Make your prospective customers understand how you will help them solve their problems or meet their needs by using your target market insight to customize your promotional messages! Tie your promotions to their decision-making cycle and move them through their purchasing decision-making stages in a deliberate and effective manner. Heal their pain points!

There are numerous promotional options beyond sales activities that can help you communicate with your target market. These include advertising, public relations, social media, collateral materials, direct mail, email campaigns, website, tours, presentations, networking, participating in community events, open houses, trade fairs, using giveaways and generating referrals from satisfied customers.

The effectiveness of how you communicate your value to your customers and key referral sources will determine your ultimate sales success. Communicate with them in the ways they expect. Develop a matrix to clearly define each target market you want and need to influence. Then identify how you will use each promotional opportunity to communicate with and influence each market segment.

Final Thoughts

Using target marketing provides you with a disciplined approach to crafting highly effective marketing messages that have the potential to drastically influence your sales. The process of target marketing is on-going and dynamic. You have to work hard to keep up with your market and discern when it is changing. Changes can be subtle. You will need to adjust your strategies to change with them or you may have to find new customers to remain a viable business.

Jill J. Johnson is the President and Founder of Johnson Consulting Services, a highly accomplished speaker, an award-winning management consultant, and author of the bestselling book Compounding Your Confidence. Jill helps her clients make critical business decisions and develop market-based strategic plans for turnarounds or growth. Her consulting work has impacted more than 4 billion dollars worth of decisions. She has a proven track record of dealing with complex business issues and getting results. For more information on Jill J. Johnson, please visit www.jcs-usa.com.