There is so much more to IM than most successful marketers are willing to divulge. It is the most important aspect of building a business (aside from having a kickass offer), yet so few actually know how to do it properly.
Over the years, the state of internet marketing has changed greatly. The websites are not the same, many of the practices are not the same, and the consumers are not the same.
With approximately 1 billion websites live today, you must offer a “little of something different” than your competitors in order to stand out.
This “little of something different” is the ability to build a connection.
Internet marketing is all about building connections; connections with other business owners and most of all, connections with your consumer base. Driving revenue is a byproduct of these connections by skillfully gaining the trust of the consumer and offering a solution to their problem.
Even if you offer the best product around, long term success may prove to be extremely elusive as customers will eventually flock to whomever they most feel connected to.
Building these connections isn’t easy, but there are specific steps you can take to help begin building connections from day one. The first step I’d like to talk about is branding.
The Importance of Branding
Internet marketing is no longer about putting up a site with a few articles and flooding it with spammy backlinks. This may have worked 10 years ago, but search engines are savvier as are the consumers that use them.
In 2014 and beyond, internet marketing will revolve around building a brand and spreading awareness. Branded websites are not only easier to market, but are also much more likely to acquire return visitors as well because they help build that connection between the company and the consumer.
A brand doesn’t have to revolve solely around a company name either. YOU can be your own brand. Oprah is one of the world’s most widely recognized personalities. She is her own brand. Those pesky Kardashians have made a fortune by turning their entire family into a brand.
People relate more to a brand that is represented by a person instead of a faceless entity as they can better identify with them. The customer gains a certain sense of comfort by knowing more about the people behind the company logo.
Right about now, you may be thinking to yourself, “You know Sean, there are plenty of brands that don’t have a face behind them.” You would be right, but there aren’t as many as you would believe.
Most multi-million dollar corporations don’t have a significant person behind them that most would identify with. Instead, they use famous personalities in commercials and ad spots to help fill this void.
Think about it for a second…
Hanes has Michael Jordan
Revlon has Emma Stone
GoDaddy has Danika Patrick
Progressive Insurance has Flo
Even the biggest corporations in the world understand the importance of having a face behind their brand. Without branding you may become just another website in a sea of websites, destined to float away into utter obscurity.
Be a Superhero in the Eyes of Your Audience
This is where you create your brand identity that sets you apart from all of the other competitors within your niche. Think about some of the individuals that influence you from around the web. Many of them are almost mythical in nature, similar to a superhero…at least that’s how their audience perceives them.
This can be found in every niche imaginable. These individuals have created their own online persona that people gravitate to. Often times their reputation precedes them. Here’s how you create your own superhero identity.
Answer these 3 questions:
Imagine that you are in a room full of your model prospects (the most highly targeted prospects possible) about to give a presentation about your products and services. How would you want to be introduced?
If you could snap your fingers and become the ideal spokesperson for your product or service, what would you look or act like?
How would your model prospects describe what makes you different? (This is your superpower)
When you can answer all of these questions, then you should have a clear cut answer as to what your superhero persona should be.
Connecting Through Transparency
When it comes to your audience, absolute honesty is always the best option. Some choose to go above and beyond simply being honest, and it often pays off.
A fellow marketer by the name of Pat Flynn comes to mind. When it comes to his business, he is an open book. Pat even goes as far as to post monthly revenue reports of his earnings detailing where every dollar came from and what he spent to get it.
Most people aren’t even comfortable sharing this type of information with their close friends, let alone hundreds of thousands of strangers. There are countless marketers out there that likely make a great deal more than Pat, but he has attracted a solid following simply because his openness resonates with his readers.
You can do this through social media or blog posting, but you actually have the ability to expedite the process in the “About” page on your site by opening up about your brand. Here are examples of what you may choose to add to this page.
How did your business come to be in the first place?
What motivates you and your team to continue on everyday?
Why did you decide on your particular product?
What kinds of consumers find the most value in your product and why?
What defines your company or brand?
Provide insight into your life by sharing personal details
It’s important to remember that the entire purpose of answering these questions is to be as transparent as possible. That means no sales pitches. They are not meant to be used as ads to promote your business either.
The answers are meant to help your audience better understand your motives and potentially earn their trust as well. They may also begin to think of you as a real person, just like them, instead of just a web page that is sitting on their laptop.
Have an Opinion
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many marketers provide cookie cutter content in an attempt to avoid stepping on any toes. By not expressing an opinion of their own, they do nothing to stand out in the crowd.
Here’s a quick example of a marketer that formulates his own ideas. Over the last several years, few marketers within the health and fitness niche have amassed the following that Mark Sisson has.
His opinions on nutrition have made him wildly popular, though his ideas deviate from the norm. There are many on the other side of the spectrum that vilifies him because they disagree with his teachings.
Although there are those that oppose his views, he has accumulated a great deal of wealth and a fanbase that will cling on to his every word, because he is not afraid to voice his opinion and be different,
No matter what you say, as long as it isn’t generic drivel, there will always be someone there to disagree. However, those aren’t the people you are marketing to, so it shouldn’t even matter in the first place!
If you take anything away from this post at all, then I hope it is that focusing on click through rates and backlinks are only a small portion of what makes up an internet marketer.
A true marketer builds a connection with their audience through branding, creating a persona that is bigger than life, being upfront about their intentions, and not being afraid to have an opinion that deviates from the norm.