If I had a $1,000 for every time I heard one of the below statements, I’d be retired and sitting on a warm beach right now!
I had a website built by some guy. It’s never worked.
We have a website, we just need you to help us get more sales.
My current website is fine. However, it doesn’t show up on Google and nobody knows we exist.
Our website is fine, it really is. I just need more customers.
We don’t have budget to invest in market research, business planning, strategy development, internal training or planning right now. We just need a website and Facebook page with lots of likes.
Can we meet to talk about a strategy to generate revenue for my business? I don’t have any money because I already spent it on the last agency that built my website, Facebook pages, printed collateral and new business cards.
Will you consider revenue share? We know our website is going to kick butt but we just don’t have any money right now. You can be a millionaire with us if you just help us for free right now!
This post is not for the social faint at heart. I am going to tell you what others want to tell you but don’t have the guts. It may not be what you want to hear. Yet it is likely what many of you NEED to hear.
The others in your social business and digital marketing ecosystem may have not told you what I am about to tell you because they wanted to sell you the website, coaching, training, Facebook pages, logo, video, Google Adwords setup or who knows what. Or maybe they haven't told you because they don't know how to fix it.
Your current social media efforts are not working because you started at the wrong place.
Failing to plan is planning to fail.
Change your thinking. Think digital social fabric, not website or Facebook page.
You need to quit thinking you “need a website.” The truth is you don’t. If you don’t know your audience, and don’t have a plan, the last thing you need to do right now is build a website that will be nothing more than a band-aid to a much bigger problem you may not know you have.
You can download our POST Audience Analysis Worksheet here. It will get you off to a good start in prioritizing and analyzing your audience.
Don’t even think about building a website if you can’t answer the majority of these questions:
- Who are you?
- What are you to your target audience?
- Who is your target audience?
- What are their demographics? Psychographics?
- What are their goals? What keeps them up at night?
- Why do you need a website?
- What do you want to achieve with it?
- What are your goals, objectives? What does success look like in 3 months, 6 months, 1 year?
- What will you do to inspire, connect and engage your audience when they land on your website? What will you do to inspire them to stick around for longer than 30 seconds?
- What do you offer that the other 100 websites or businesses just like yours don’t already offer?
- Why should anyone care that your business exists? Why should they care your website exists?
- How will you nurture relationships?
- How will you communicate with them? What tone do they speak in?
- What social platforms are they hanging out on?
- Who do they hang out with?
- Why do they hang out on those platforms?
- When do they hang out on what social platform?
- How will you earn their trust, build credibility?
I could list 100 questions here but won’t. I think you get the point. We help our clients from entrepreneurs to Fortune 50, answer these questions every day with our social media and social business audits, social business and social media strategy development, consulting and execution services. I’m speaking from experience, not theory.
We often work more on the inside of organizations than we do on the digital outside because that is where most businesses need help. It’s important you start from the inside out. As Sandy Carter of IBM states, “culture eats strategy for lunch.” I agree with her statement 100% even though I am a lover and strong believer of strategy.
You are the Thread of the Social Fabric
What is the social web today? It is not a singular website, Facebook page, Twitter profile or Google + account.
It is not one singular blog post, tweet, status update, or pin. It is not one single experience but a series of experiences.
A series of conversations that weave a beautiful, relevant, vibrant, dynamic, breathing fabric that connects consumers, influencers, business leaders, moms, dads, entrepreneurs, teens, teachers, plumbers, gamers, programmers, geeks, fashion models, comedians, sailors, photographers, entrepreneurs and even grandma.
It connects them via threads of conversations, posts, pictures, pins, quotes, content, education, inspiration, laughs, prayers and even tears.
If you are not a positive contributing part of this intricately weaved social fabric the chances of you seeing any real return on your investment in your website or other digital assets are few and far between.
You need an integrated social business platform.
You need to develop an integrated business platform that will inspire, connect, entertain and attract your target customers to you. It must inspire, educate and engage them in a way that builds trust, nurtures relationships and makes them know you are relevant to their business and / or life.
I know it may not be what you want to hear from me when you fill out a web form on our website. We’ve had many business leaders asking for help making their current, broken platform work.
The truth is if your website is built on old technology, doesn’t have a user experience designed for your target audience it is often more cost efficient for us to start over than to clean up what you have. The reason is that your current digital platform is a mess. It was probably done by someone that didn’t understand or work under the constraints of what I describe in this post. They instead sold you on a random act of marketing, random act of social media or random act of website. It’s simply not how it works folks.
Avoid Random Acts of Marketing!
Random Acts of Marketing (RAMs) will eat any morsel of a chance of ROI for lunch before you have time to open the fridge to see what your options are.
One of the biggest misconception is that you can just “do social media” and have overnight success. Many preach this and tout that you can just jump on Twitter or Facebook and you can be an overnight millionaire. While this may have happened for a few, it doesn’t happen for the majority. What these folks are really selling is quick fixes, band-aids and random acts of social media and marketing. I am not stating you shouldn't hop on Twitter or Facebook. I am stating you should not expect overnight results.
If you do the double click on the folks preaching overnight success you will find many of them learned the hard way, though they may not tell you such. Many took years if not decades to finally make money online. Few of them have real business experience outside of their own internet marketing startup. Yes, they may be able to help you get where you need to go eventually based on tactics and a random set of deliverables. However, you need to know where you are going, first. This post is dedicated to those who of you who don’t know where you're going and why you are going there in the first place.
If this post resonates with you, take a deep breath. It’s time you slow down to speed up. You may need to take a step back to take two steps forward. Quit listening to every self proclaimed “social media guru” selling you every Pinterest, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google + class and instead do what you know needs done.
It’s time you plan yer’ work and work yer’ plan as Granny would say! It’s time you get in the head of your target audience. It’s time to truly understand what it means to humanize your brand, story telling and your conversations.
The Language Is Changing
The social fabric is speaking a different language today than that of the days of corporate websites, collateral and traditional advertising. If you don’t learn the language you are going to be left behind in a big way. It IS the reason why your website is not working. So quit blaming it on the web developer you hired. He or she probably did what you told them to do. Stand up, take responsibility for your business and do what needs to be done, period!
If your current methods aren’t working, then fix them. We are happy to help you but we can’t help you unless you want to help yourself. Help me help you. Change your mindset and delete the notion of overnight success from your thinking.
Achieving real results is going to take commitment, research, analysis, late nights, and hard work. Quit cryin’ and do something about it. If you want help, call us. No, we can’t meet with you for free to help you plan your strategy and put a proposal the size of Texas together that you’ll try to go implement yourself. We can spot these “free lunch” seekers from a mile away ;)
For the brave and the strong we promise to work in the trenches with you. We will help you answer all of the above questions and more. We’ll help you develop and execute a strategy, plan, and integrated digital platform that will simply kick butt! If you don’t call us, call somebody. Your excuses are done. You can and will do this!
What You Say?
Did this post hit home for you? If it did, don’t be embarrassed. The first step is to acknowledge. The second is to take steps to change. If you have already been down this path, what tips can you offer to help others? If you are an agency or consultant, how often do you see this? If you had $1000 for every time you heard the questions would you also be on the warm beach with me?
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Blog Post: 15 Reasons Random Acts of Marketing & Social Media Don't Work (Marketing Nutz)
Blog Post: 20 Tips to Tame the Wild Social Media Beast
Blog Post: You Can't Fake Relevance in Social Media, Business & Life
Blog Post: Slow Down to Speed Up
Blog Post: Social Trust Factor: 10 Tips to Establish Credibility
EXCELLENT POST!!! Too many people jump into a business without knowing who their audience is. And worst of all – they expect to make MILLIONS overnight!
Thank you for being real with people and for writing an honest, non-sugar coated post about it.
Pam, I’m glad to see you were so blunt about this, it all really needed to be said but getting a client to see this side of things is always quite tricky.
Some people use a consultancy, pay money then ignore everything their consultant advises them to do. Then pay for marketing enforced web design and marketing strategy then want to change everything on the site.
Can we ever escape it?
Pam, you’re so right about this. I silently giggled while reading the intro, I get the exact same answers ;-) I’m based in Switzerland so people are even 2 more years behind in the whole Social Media & Inbound Marketing field. They want me to create buzz for them, drive traffic to a site that was built in the 90ies LOL. Made me feel good that even people like you struggle with this ;-) Misery likes company I guess.
It sounds like what these people are really asking for is a marketing or branding agency. When they find out what a good one costs, they think they can do it just as well themselves. I don’t know any web designers that implicitly understand the unique selling proposition of someone else’s business. Don’t blame the web designer – agreed! Blame the business owner for being an amateur marketer, and not hiring a professional. Great article, Pam.
Pam, it’s always a pleasure to read your no-nonsense articles. Great food for thought here!
Six or seven months ago, someone asked me to meet them over lunch to discuss a few questions they had regarding Twitter and Google+. “Don’t worry, it’s just simple questions regarding my strategy. It would just be an hour of your time. And I am willing to pay you an “expert fee”” (the quote is their’s).
I told them that I needed to have a little more info before the meeting. “Oh no, you don’t need that. The questions are really simple. You’ll see.” I insisted that I still needed them to tell me more about them to make sure I could give them the best answers. I sent them my usual series of questions (most of them you mention in your article) and they replied that they were a little too difficult for them. They felt completely overwhelmed by two in particular: Who is your audience? and What makes your business unique?
The conversation stopped there.
Of course, what that person wanted was for me to give them all the answers without them having to do any work.
Clients need to educate themselves. We are not miracle providers.
A great post to refer people to so we and they don’t waste one another’s time.
This one rang a noisy bell: “Can we meet to talk about a strategy to generate revenue for my business? I don’t have any money because I already spent it on the last agency that built my website, Facebook pages, printed collateral and new business cards.”
* Failing to Plan is… Planning to Fail.
* You are the thread of the social fabric
* Avoid random acts of marketing
* Stand up, take responsibility for your business. Do what needs to be done
* Achieving real results is going to take commitment, research, analysis, late nights, and hard work.
Thanks, Pam. This one’s full of business gems. Love your “no-pain, no-gain” tone on this post. Say it like you mean it. You just did. Nice one !!!
[…] If you want to achieve ROI on your website investment you must know your audience, set goals and implement an integrated strategy to engage your visitors. […]
You inspired me to write my own blog post highlighting the other end of the spectrum — people who think they can start a business without ANY website at all. I’m not sure which is worse! http://samsonmedia.net/blog/2013/04/business-website/
Know your audience, market, customer, plan your build and post build properly, spend to get the right result and if you’ve followed the common sense basics of offering what they want, how they want it, they will return and they will buy.