Long long ago, Liz Strauss wrote the immortal words – “Your blog is not your business”. Recently – I had a conversation with a client who learned that lesson – the HARD way.
“Amy” [not her real name] was referred to my business a couple of years ago. The story behind how she came to me is very common – at least in my practice. Years earlier, she had paid BIG money to a web developer to create a web site for her brand new business. Because she didn’t know a lot about this strange world known as “the internet” she assumed that her web site would cause people to line up to hire her to do work for their business. When that didn’t happen – she began doing some homework.
When she began doing her homework she learned that the search engines drive most of the traffic on the internet. So, she typed in some words she thought people would use to find her business. Her web site – the one she paid BIG buck (five figures) to have developed – didn’t show up. So she tried some other words and her site STILL didn’t show up – ANYWHERE. She contacted her web developer and asked what was up – and he told her to be patient. Things like that take time, he said. She she was patient – she waited a couple of YEARS and still nothing.
She began talking to other people and eventually had a conversation with one of my clients. She contacted me and asked me to take a look at her site. Long story short- even though her page LOOKED great through a browser – it had been cobbled together in such a manner that it was anything but search engine friendly. Even though the site “looked” fine through a browser – that’s not how the search engines see a web site. They look at the code – and in this case, it was a real mess.
She told me she loved the site and didn’t want to change the way it looked. (I later learned the web developer is a friend of her husband’s and I suspect she didn’t want to have a show down with him.) I assured her we could accomplish her objective in a much more cost effective manner by launching a self hosted WordPress blog to work in concert with her web site.
Her problem: she wanted her web site to be found in Google. The solution: we launched a self hosted WordPress blog to act as “bait”. She could link liberally to her “traditional” web site using the blog and when potential clients found her blog – she could send them to her site to “close” the sale.
When you go fishing – it’s not realistic to expect fish to jump into your boat. So, you take fishing poles, hooks and various bait to catch the fish. We were going to set up her blog to act as bait. Of course, because there is no such thing as “marketing magic”, Amy had to learn how to USE her WordPress blog correctly. Amy is one of the inspirations for my 8 Week Power Blog Launch product. Her questions – combined with the questions asked by other clients – are the basis for the “curriculum” in the course.
Page One in Google
Recently, Amy contacted me. Her blog articles had achieved her objective. Her content is now appearing on the first page of Google’s results for her desired keyword – a fairly competitive keyword by the way. However, if you think that the phone call was filled with rejoicing – it wasn’t.
Amy was disheartened and discouraged. Even though she had achieved her objective of her blog content being found on Google’s first page – her business still wasn’t thriving. As a matter of fact, she didn’t have a single client – and she had recently had to get a job to make ends meet. She was ready to throw in the towel.
So, the first question I asked Amy was to describe her business model to me. She launched into an exhaustive commentary on her marketing efforts.
“Amy, you’ve just listed the various marketing tactics you’re using to promote your business. What is your business model? How do you expect to make money from your business?”
“Well, people read my blog posts, go to my web site and then hire me. I’m getting lots of traffic – but no one is contacting me to hire me.”
What followed was a distillation of my book, Beyond the Niche: Essential Tools You Need to Create Marketing Messages that Deliver Results In a nutshell – Amy’s business is engaged in making what is known as a Major Sale. However, most of the “marketing tactics” Amy had been engaging in are only effective in marking Minor Sales. Most of the sales/marketing advice you find (online and offline) is geared towards Minor Sale products, which is why Neil Rackham spent a small fortune and 12 years of his life defining and documenting the difference between Major Sales and Minor Sales.
When I first read Spin Selling – where Rackham documents his findings – I immediately recognized that many popular “marketing tactics” are geared towards making Minor Sales. I’d been working with businesses on their advertising as an advertising account executive for over a decade when I first read the book – and it was truly an “aha” moment for me. The Major/Minor Sale definition explained why marketing tactics – from radio remote broadcasts to midnight madness sales- would work so well for one client, yet fail miserably for another.
Amy had been blogging with the goal of being found in the search engines. She focused on creating creative blog post titles instead of creating relationships. She didn’t recognize that once people found her via the search engines, they then needed to form a relationship with her so they could TRUST her. See, TRUST is an integral part of making the Major Sale – and social media is a GREAT way to build your business with social media– by establishing a relationship with potential clients and customers.
This is why I cringe when I see an article which touts “the importance of search engine optimizing your Facebook profile” – or when I read someone touting Twitter or Facebook as the “quick easy way” to build your business. Twitter, Facebook, and blogging are all tactics and nothing more. Tactics are great when you’re on a mission to accomplish a pre-defined goal as part of a marketing strategy. Tactics are exhausting when deployed using the “spray and pray” method of marketing.
When you read that “blogging” is dead – you’re probably reading the rant of someone who didn’t understand the difference between tactics and strategy. A blog is a GREAT communication tool which – when used correctly.