Note by Don Purdum: When I first started this blog in early June 2014 I went in search of finding those to connect with who really understood business and blogging. Donna Merrill jumped right out of the crowd and I knew immediately she was someone I wanted to connect with and get to know. She has been a successful business owner for over 30 years both offline and online and she is the perfect understanding of both those worlds.
Take it from here Donna:
The savvy marketer is the one who knows that building a business, either online or offline, requires teamwork.
I don’t know of any successful marketers who have reached their goals purely on their own, without help, assistance, coaching and a team of professionals working with them.
Of course, I know plenty of people who have tried and not succeeded.
I usually run into them when they finally realize that they need some guidance. They want to be successful marketers, they’ve done everything they can on their own, and now they’re ready to get people on board who can help them achieve their dreams.
When people first turn to the internet as a marketing platform, they typically start with a website and/or a blog.
When putting up your first website/blog, though, your first hurdle is drumming up some action. You say to yourself, “Gosh, I cannot find a way to get people to find me here among the plethora of businesses and websites.What should I do?”
Now that is the main question people think when they first start to have their website designed for them. No worries, that’s normal.
There are a bazillion websites up, but how you work it is another story.
From this point on, you have to make a decision to follow one path or another.
It all comes down to having a marketing plan that showcase who you are, what your business is, and how you can add value to people’s lives. It can be an offline business as well as an online one. It doesn’t matter, you are here in this huge space called the internet to brand yourself and your business.
Which path will you follow in trying to achieve this?
Most people that are trying to get their business going online, will follow one of 3 paths.
Path 1 – All Dressed Up And Nowhere To Go
The first path is for those with high expectations.
This path appeals to the “look at me” types of people. They write all about their business, they espouse their expertise on a topic, they showcase their talents and skills, and might even develop an information product or list of services they can provide to their readers.
The problem is, they don’t have any readers. Or at least, not many.
It’s not necessarily because their content is poor or their expertise is lacking. It’s because they focus purely on their content, and never get around to marketing it.
That’s because they have a fantasy view that if they put good quality information online, people will find it… will find them… and will start to follow them.
It would be like if I went out and bought a killer dress, spent hours in front of the mirror getting myself all fixed up and ready to go, all the while fantasizing about how people will heap praise on my “new look”… and suddenly realize I have nowhere to go.
I call in a pizza and watch an old movie in my bathrobe.
If I really wanted to show off my “new look” I would have to have actually left my house and mingled with a crowd of folks.
Expectations never get you anywhere.
You can’t simply put up a website, add great content and expect things to work out.
It’s true that you need that great content, but then you have to get away from the mirror and mingle with a crowd of folks.
It’s called marketing.
Path 2 – Do it Yourself (DIY)
The Do it Yourself folks know that they need to market.
They get it.
They put together a blog with some great content, start blasting it out on social media platforms, and build some traffic to their site.
From there, things get a bit tougher.
Now they need a way to funnel this traffic into their business.
They need auto-responders, video upload services, copywriters, payment processors, tax advisers, legal advisers and on and on.
They’re determined to put it all together on their own.
No far into the process, they find themselves so caught up in the technical aspects, the learning curves, the overwhelm and confusion that they realize, “gosh, it can take years to get any traction this way.”
That’s because they’re reinventing the wheel at every step of the process.
They’re making it their business to become expert in too many things, and refuse to turn to the real experts who already know how to get things done.
The DIY folks out there are wasting tons of time. They often argue that they have more time than money, but eventually will come to know that time IS money.
Path 3 – The Savvy Marketer
Now lets look at those that are the folks that lie in the three percent ratio of success.
Yes, boys and girls… only 3% of online marketers stay on the right path long enough to reap their just rewards.
So, lets focus on those there percent people who I call the Savvy Marketers.
1. They know the importance of marketing.
You can be running a brick and mortar Pizza shop or slumped over your laptop working on the best new plugin since sliced bread. Either way, you know you need a market. That means you have to be visible online. Everyone is on their smartphones these days looking for something!
If you are visiting some place and want to know where to get find a good pizza joint, what is the first thing you do? Get on your phone and find one. If you find one that displays a menu, a few pictures, and especially a small discount because you found them via their website…you are there! If you develop a cool plugin, you need to show it off to people who can use it. You need to be marketing online.
2. They are not afraid of investing money.
Even if they have to go out on a limb to take that chance. They have the understanding that it takes money to make money. That’s why some people will go to a bank and get a “business loan.” Sometimes we do have to borrow in order to get our business moving. Not everyone has start up money.
If you are a savvy business owner, you might need to tap into your credit card, a bank note or your grandmother for a loan. It doesn’t matter… you are willing to take a chance for the sake of building your dream business. This all gets down to that fear factor.
Savvy marketers have broken through that and know darn well they’ll need to invest to have any chance for a good return. OK, I’ll get off the pulpit now because this is one of my pet peeves!
3. The savvy marketer also knows that Time is Money!
So they hire someone to put up their website. A good professional can make a huge difference in the way it looks and works! Especially when it comes to navigation. People need to get around that website quickly and clearly.
4. They need to stand out from the crowd and develop a savvy way to do so.
Let me illustrate an example for you: There are three pizza shops in your neighborhood. You like one of them and are their loyal customer because every time you go in there you are welcomed with a big hello.
It gives you that warm fuzzy feeling. Plus, they comp you with something like a free drink. You are now “wowed” by them and swear they are the best pizza place in town.
The other guys on the block, are not so Savvy. They keep their head down, don’t welcome you, and make you pay for every stinking thing in there. Their pizza may be just as good, but they don’t provide the great customer service that their competitor does. So, they don’t get the business.
You see boys and girls, customer service is what you need to be giving. So why am I taking about Pizza? Simple!
Whatever business you are in, your website has to have some kind of enticement for people to want to do business with you. On a website, this might be your email list offer, a free ebook or whatever. Once people opt-in to subscribe to your email list in exchange for receiving the free ebook, there are endless ways to communicate with them via email marketing.
The Savvy Marketer knows this, and is always building a list of loyal customers/subscribers.
That “list” is your permission to offer your highest level of engagement with people who have voluntarily subscribed. That is where you give ’em what they want. A few “did you know” stories, plus a percentage off of a product and/or service. Maybe a “buy one get one free” or “Tuesday night special.”
The opportunities are endless and you will have a good open rate when you stand out from the crowd and give your customers great value and an occasional killer “deal.”
5. Savvy marketers also maintain great content on their main website or blog.
They know darn well that they are writing for people interested in their niche. They focus on giving them the best knowledge and information they can.
If you are that local Pizza shop for example, you can talk about how that Mozzarella cheese was made.
The guy across the street is at a loss, because he never talks about it. If you are the techie guy that makes plugins, you can talk about how and why you did it and how it can help you in your business.
Get the picture?
Content still is King!
It must ALWAYS be written specifically to your target audience, and must always benefit them in some way.
6. When it comes to Social Media, savvy marketers know that they must be on a few platforms.
Their social presence online is a “must” because it works hand in hand with their website. Here’s where it gets a bit tricky, but the savvy marketer knows that he is not only going to share a quote or a picture of a cat.
The savvy marketer will share only things that are congruent to his business. In order to keep things “social” though, he’ll throw in occasional glimpses into his personal life.
“My two year old just kicked me in my shin!”
That’s a personal enough to let your followers know that you’re real.
More than that, the savvy marketer knows how to work social media for the benefit of their business. Lets take a Facebook Page for example…
There is a certain formula to get some conversations going on there.
Ask a question. The Pizza guy would ask something like “When is the best time for you to order your pizza?”
Ask Either/Or questions:
“Do you prefer sweet pineapples on your pizza or hot and spicy peppers?”
Post some “Did You Know” items… “Did you know that there is a caloric difference between our regular pizza and gluten free one?”
And of course, you can post the occasional “Pitch”: “If you stop by on Wednesday, tell us you found us on Facebook and you will
get a free Coke.”
These are just examples of calls to action to get people talking up your business. Always be creating a conversation for others to join.
That’s what a savvy marketer does.
7. Savvy marketers also knows that they need to build an online “team.”
So they dedicate a good segment of their day for reaching out to others and reading their blogs/websites, commenting, and sharing
content of others. People just love that!
Soon they will reciprocate, and you will start to build a team following among bloggers and readers alike. So you start building your own community, your own Google-alternative. Eventually the word gets out and you become pretty well known in your niche
Savvy marketing is all about connecting with others. It has to be focused on your readers, and your virtual team, no matter what kind of business you are in. I used pizza here for example, because it’s pretty common to most of us. But the pizza guy needs to keep up with
the big chain pizza stores that have a low end product, but sell like crazy because they are constantly advertising. Also, he has to stick
out from the crowd. I hope I didn’t get you too hungry!
The take away here is that you can be a savvy marketer no matter what you are selling from pizza to the greatest online plugin in the world.
The point being, you need to look at your business as a business.
You must have that marketing mindset whereby you are always providing value to your customers/clients. You need to spend money to make money.
You need to let others do their job for you such as designing your website, one on one coaching, group coaching, graphics work, copywriting, and running your ad campaigns. This is all part of running a business.
If you are not communicating effectively with people who visit your site, you are going to loose them to the next guy.
If you have a fear of shelling out some bucks, you NEED to get over it. Drop the “I can’t afford it” mentality. If you think you can do it all “the free way,” you might not be in business too long. If you really cannot afford to invest some money into your business, you might need to wait until you can. You should never invest money into anything unless you can truly afford to lose that money. Sometimes it happens.
Sorry for being so bold about this, but I’ve had my own offline business for years, plus I operate a successful online business. Many times, I’ve had to go over the top and spend money to make money. Making tough decisions like that are what fuel a business, both
mentally and financially.
I would love to hear your comments about this, Yay or nay! Lets get this conversation rolling.
PS I want to thank you Don for having me as a guest on your blog. I am honored to be here and l’m looking forward to chatting with your commenters.
About Donna Merrill
Donna Merrill has had a brick and mortar business for almost 30 years. She never advertised, it was word of mouth and she supported her family in this business. Now she’s on the internet, applying the same principles. Go-giving is her middle name. She loves to Blog and share information.
You can visit her on her website at www.donnamerrilltribe.com
Why the “tribe” name? Because tribes are what rocks in social network.
Do you have a question, thought or idea for Donna? If so, share in the comments below and let’s have a great conversation!