I don’t know about you, but when we started trying to figure out how to make Soliber Net work back in 2004, the idea of a “business plan” sort of made us gag. The college and years of employment in large corporations painted a picture that wasn’t really relevant to us, with things like lines of credit and office space and a business license.
Those weren’t the problems we had to figure out. Our problems were more of the “Who are the people who want our services? How do we convince them we’re good at what we do? And should we be offering them everything just because we can?”
In the end, we put together something we called the Straightforward Approach, which answered those questions for us in the beginning, and for our consulting clients as we moved forward. Then in 2010 we decided to stop working exclusively as a whitelabel marketing agency and start taking direct clients. And found out that our Straightforward Approach was resonating well with them as well – so I’d like to go ahead and share it with you today.
In the spirit of the whole “Straightforward Approach” thing, just imagine what’s below into a proposal for your company online strategy and see if it fits your requirements.
Who’s the right customer?
Marketing 101 tells you to know your market. Too many marketers confuse that with demographics. “Our customers are companies and individual entrepreneurs who speak English or French, have an online business and their own website, and have verified Paypal or carry a credit card.”
Demographics are collections of traits. They come in real handy if you’re buying a mailing list or deciding where to advertise, but demographics aren’t people. They’re just a collection of patterns.
When we try to sell to that demographic, we think about Thomas (who hates to be called Tom), who’s the owner of a power tools online store he started a few years ago. He works from home and makes over 100,000USD after tax, but clocks 100h a week which makes him guilty for not spending enough time with his wife Claire and their 4-year old son Robert. And yes, he accepts Paypal and regularly pays suppliers on the Internet with his business Amex as they give him loyalty points to spend on holiday flights.
Talk to one person
Whether we audit his pages, analyze his competitors or build backlinks to his pages, we keep thinking of Thomas.
What can we help him out with? Why is our stuff the perfect match for his problems? Can our website audit provide him with recommendations, besides pointing out the errors, thus saving him time to figure out how to fix them himself? Is every link building campaign followed by a detailed report, so he doesn’t feel insecure about spending his money for nothing? Does our media publishing campaign respect the fact that he’s pulled in 20 directions as a business owner, and help him with content generation so he can focus on what he needs to do? Is our A/B test going to ruin his customers’ experience by making pages slow to load or messing the checkout process? How are we protecting his reputation and privacy, knowing his family’s safety is depending on this business?
What’s not working for Thomas right now? How can we make that work better?
How are customers finding you?
You need a website or probably more. The website needs to be optimized for your business purpose – to drive phone or e-mail leads, to generate online sales or simply promote your brand and offer directions to your premises. We can make your website more visible in search engine results with our SEO services. We can review your Pay-Per-Click or media campaigns and help you optimize them for traffic and conversion. Or we can help you connect with potential customers via social media and communities. And for each of these we will provide you with solid reporting, easy to understand and correlate with your spending activities.
What will we need to get this done?
If you don’t have a website already we will help you choose a content management system suitable for your business model. If you don’t have analytics in place to track the performance of your website, we can help you choose that as well or we can use the existing one. Do you need a copywriter, graphic designer, wordpress developer? We have those, and we can assign them to work on your project as needed. One third of US e-commerce merchants report cart abandonment rates of 50% or higher – we can analyze yours and design tests to improve your overall website conversion. We have probably the best rank tracking and backlink discovery tools in the industry and we will set you up with weekly reports on both your website ranking and your top competitors’.
Is there any way to test your services first?
Absolutely. We want you to know what you are buying into. We want to start every new relationship with setting the right expectations. This helps us serve you better, and protects both your investment and our reputation. Don’t rush to order a service without having a chat first. And if you’re not the chatty type, go ahead and book one of our free reports – be it the website audit, the rank tracking or the backlinks analysis report. We’ll be delighted to run that for you and apply our tools and experience to your website.
What partners will you involve in this project? Are you outsourcing my work?
We have been serving other marketing agencies since 2004 as a whitelabel service provider. In doing so we were the last link in the outsourcing chain, the unsung heroes who did all the heavy lifting. When you talk to us direct, we are still the same. We offer one point of contact, one Project Manager assigned to you, a clear escalation path and full accountability. All Soliber Net resources are our own and bound by the same NDA, and you need not worry about data privacy or competitors peeking at your campaigns.
How will you know it’s working?
Again, we are big into reporting and results-driven plans. We’ll monitor the search engines and track any rank move your site or your competitors’ register. We’ll be uncovering all the backlinks your competitors are building, and design a strategy blueprint to counter them. And last, we will review your website analytics, checking for visitors, bounces, engagement and conversion rates. You’ll know it is working when you start receiving more visits, more sales and when the positive sentiment towards your brand increases. And you will know why every step of the way.
What do you need to worry about?
There are a few caveats, and it is part of setting the expectations to talk about them before we commit to anything. First, Search Engine Optimization is not a short-term effort. It might take weeks and months of sustained efforts to see a change in rankings, especially on highly-competitive keywords. Whoever promises your results overnight is either too eager to sign you on or doesn’t care about long term consequences from using unethical methods. Second, there is only a limited volume of demand in the market at any given moment. The effort to secure one more incremental visit or close one more sale might not be worth it sometimes. And that is why we suggest you always look at optimizing your business both ways – increasing the number of leads/orders, but also increasing the average order value and share of returning customers.
Having trouble putting it all together? Feeling a little overwhelmed, or like you’ll never be able to make it happen? That’s a sure sign you’re on the right track. Or at least, it’s a sign that you’re exactly like the rest of us. A certain amount of overwhelm just goes with the territory. The good news is, you truly can manage that. Start small, grow at a comfortable pace and read on about our Keyword Research Services as you gather momentum.