What’s the ultimate goal of all these branding and marketing strategies I write about? To make it easier for people to find you and buy from you. To get rid of friction. Eliminate barriers. Soften sharp edges. Grease the wheels to the sale.
Here are a few ways I see people making things unnecessarily harder, and tips for how to fix the problems.
When people search for you online…
If I search your business name online, do you come up first? If I search your name on LinkedIn, can I easily find your profile and verify that it’s yours? If not, you are causing unnecessary friction, and probably losing business.
You can fix this by making sure your entire website is souped up so users can find it by name. I’m not a huge proponent of traditional SEO and trying to get found for generic keywords (I believe in focusing instead on creating valuable content), but you do need to come up first on Google when a user enters your company name. If someone else is popping up ahead of you, hire an SEO expert just to set up your site so it’s strong for the keyword of your company name. You can also blog and make sure to mention your company name in your articles. It is much easier to win the SEO game for your name than it is for a generic search term, so unless you are competing with a company with the same name that spends money on its SEO ranking, you should be able to come up first after a few weeks with these efforts.
In addition, make sure your LinkedIn profile is filled out accurately so when your name comes up it is attached to your current company. If you have a generic name and your profile is outdated, users have to look for clues as to whether it’s you (especially if you have never met or your head shot is inaccurate or outdated—and if this is the case, replace your photo). Again, if you make it hard to connect with you and your business, you are creating friction.
When someone wants to understand what makes you better...
Are you making the best case on your website for why someone should hire you over the competition? This is the crux of the branding I discuss in these articles, but I want to speak to a very specific piece: credibility. Are you making a great case for yourself? Do you show off yourself in the best possible light? Do you share valuable information through articles that show your thinking and allow clients to get to know you a little? Do you highlight your accolades in an impressive way? Or do you bombard viewers with tons of information and hope that something, anything, sticks?
Too much information is actually a hindrance to purchasing. When you make viewers work to figure out what you do, who you’re for, and why you’re great, you risk losing their attention. Essentially, you are making potential customers weed through all the information and clarify it for themselves. And chances are they are going to give up pretty quickly in favor of someone who has already done that work for them.
When someone wants to contact you…
When you email me, is your contact information in the signature of every email I receive from you? I cannot tell you have many times I’ve had a call scheduled with someone and then find myself weeding through all our email correspondence looking for their number. Usually this happens because they don’t have their signature (1) at the bottom of every response (to add a signature to a Gmail account, click the box in Settings that says “Insert this signature before quoted text in replies and remove the -- line that precedes it,” or read how to do that here); (2) they don’t have their signature in their email responses from their phone (only “sent from my iphone” which is useless information); or (3) they don’t have a signature at all, which means when I finally do find an original email from them, I still don’t have their phone number.
The solution? Make sure your contact information is in every single email you send out or reply to. This reinforces your brand and makes it easy for people to contact you.
While we're on it, when I go to your website can I easily find your phone number and email address? If all you have is a contact form, you are also creating friction. I highly recommend adding contact information to your website. And put it everywhere: on the home page, on contact page, on the footer of every page. And especially when you send out a calendar invite to another person for a call or meeting! Put your cell number, why you're meeting and both party's names on the calendar invite. As my friend and entrepreneur Hannah pointed out: I love (not) when something shows up on my calendar that says "Call Hannah".
Side note: I know a lot of people worry about putting their phone number and email address out there for fear of being spammed or getting a lot of marketing calls. But this is incredibly short-sighted. I have had my phone number and email address plastered on our website for six years, and while I do get some solicitations, it’s worth it not to risk losing great clients. I unsubscribe often, and I mark certain numbers in my phone as “don’t pick up”—and they stop calling. The fear is not warranted. Don’t let it create friction for your customers.
When someone is interested in working with you…
When someone expresses interest in working with you, and you respond by setting up yet another time to talk about it, only to hear their needs and then go off to write a proposal, you are creating friction. Most people operate with the proposal process. If you’ve read my book or previous articles, you know I am a fan of productizing your services, specifically your initial engagement service, to eliminate proposals and free work. Having a clear-cut, flat-rate process that begins an engagement greases the wheels and makes it really easy for a client to get started. Otherwise, while you’re off writing a proposal, someone like me might start working with your client because I made it easy to purchase right then and there.
When someone loved working with you and wants more…
I’m writing to myself, because I have only started to implement this process, but I will share it anyway. After someone has worked with you and loved the experience, do you have something else to offer? Having a clear-cut next step and offering is a great way to increase your value. It is reportedly 70% easier to sell to an existing client than to a new one, so not selling to your current customers is a great way to leave money on the table.
It’s not always possible to offer a next step. Based on our vision of what success looks like, my partner and I specifically decided we did not want ongoing clients. Once we built people’s brands, that was the end. But now I am realizing there are ways to offer additional services that don’t have to look like the agency model I was trying to avoid. Instead, I’m building a marketing coaching and consulting program that will allow me to work with clients in an ongoing manner that doesn’t require me to build a marketing agency.
When developing next step offers for clients, sometimes it’s easier to identify your end goal first (what you want to spend your time doing, how much you want to make, etc...), and then build the concept of how to get there. As long as you’re clear on what additional value you can offer your existing clients and you know what your success goals are, you can start to build an upsell. This will make the process of selling to current clients so seamless that you might stop looking for new ones altogether! I’ll keep you posted on that one.
Don’t make things harder for yourself. Before you start investing in expensive business-building activities, ask yourself if you have removed all the simple barriers that may exist for your potential clients. Make sure you are easy to find, easy to contact, and easy to buy from. Then make sure all your activities moving forward just keep on greasing the wheels (click to tweet).