In Million Dollar Web Presence, authors Chad Barr and Alan Weiss lay out tactical strategies for building a brand and business by leveraging the Internet. In the following excerpt, they detail the factors critical to a successful web presence.
Never before has it been this easy and risky to accelerate our brands, growth and businesses globally. It's risky -- "risky" because the amplification that the Web offers and that many boast about is really a cacophony that just as often drowns out the valuable while intensifying the banal.
If you throw a rock down the street you have even-odds chances of hitting an "Internet marketing expert." There are millions of pages of text, video and audio created daily. The challenge is to see above this fray strategically, so that you can enter it with a brilliant tactical plan.
What is essential in achieving your business dreams on the web? These factors are critical:
1. Establish credibility. Credibility is the Holy Grail of Internet strategy. Most sites are not sales sites, but rather, credibility sites. That's why cheap tricks such as pop-up windows and videos that automatically start are very bad ideas.
2. Portray and demonstrate leadership. You and your business must look world-class. Who would want to do business with someone who looks and dresses poorly? Your site is a reflection of you. It is your virtual representation. If you don't take your site seriously, why should others?
3. Stand out in the crowd. How do you stand out in the crowd, especially when everyone is amplified? This is the fallacy of the social media platforms, which claim to "amplify" messages. When everything is amplified, nothing stands out. (When everything is a priority, nothing is a priority.) One of the best things to do is amplify your customer's voice rather than your own.
4. Incorporate these critical components of credibility:
- Impressive client list: The more the better. The intent of this page on the site is to scroll down forever. You want the visitor to be positively overwhelmed.
- Written and video testimonials: A powerful testimonial should include name, title, organization, key challenge faced and powerful outcomes and results achieved. Anonymous or "blind" testimonials aren't credible. When possible, include a hyperlink to the actual scanned testimonial. Rotate the most powerful ones on the homepage and interior pages, and embed the applicable ones in the body of the content. Create a YouTube channel that contains all your video testimonials and then embed them into your site.
- Case studies: Use three simple paragraphs labeled "Situation," "Intervention" and "Resolution," with a brief explanation of what you faced, what you did and what resulted.
- Client results: Substantiate these via testimonials and case studies.
- Intellectual property: Position papers, interviews, models, visuals, audio and video.
5. Make use of the doppleganger effect. The Internet allows you to "duplicate yourself" many times over, globally, by intelligently using the web and web communities. In other words, people can "interact" with you on your online community, websites, blogs, social media platforms, shopping carts, podcasts and other media.
6. Monetize your site and productize your business. The more your brand is solidified, the more you can charge, until the trajectories of fee and value actually cross, and value follows fee, because people expect to get what they pay for.
7. Demonstrate a proven track record. Show off your client success so you're irresistible to prospective clients.
8. Be aware of the company you keep. With which sites do you associate, and what do they say about you and those you deem to be your peers?
9. Realize there is no silver bullet. "If you build it, they will come" works only for ballparks in Iowa or Kansas. It takes hard work, consistency, evolution, focus, innovation and reinvention to draw high-quality customers and clients.
The secret to building a strong community of quality supporters on the web is to engage in as many ways possible -- public speaking, workshops, shopping cart, ebooks, books and booklets, referrals, online community and others. This is marketing gravity. Begin with areas most within your comfort zone. For example, if webinars are your passion and expertise, then find the right firms, create the right content and market to the right audience. Move on as you implement each tactic to those outside your comfort zone by gaining expertise and resources. You attract new clients and educate existing customers about the varying ways to do business with you.
The more diverse your marketing, the wider and "stickier" your web.
Chad Barr and Alan Weiss are authors of Million Dollar Web Presence (Entrepreneur Press, 2012). Barr is president of The Chad Barr Group, an Internet-consulting firm based in Shaker Heights, Ohio. Weiss is president of Summit Consulting Group Inc., a management and organizational-development consulting firm based in East Greenwich, R.I.