Last week, I attended a business marketing brainstorming session with about 25 other business owners. The group was limited to B2B (business-to-business) firms, so as you might expect, there were attorneys, accountants, bookkeepers, an IT company, and other business-related service providers present. The focus of the session was to discover which marketing and business-building techniques were working for the members of the group, and how those techniques might be adopted by the others.
As the discussion progressed from traditional marketing techniques (such as cold-calling and direct-mail) to more modern “Internet-era” techniques (including email marketing, social media, website calls-to-action, and more), I was surprised to hear how few of the members were finding success with those marketing methods. The owner of a bookkeeping service said, “What am I supposed to do? Use Twitter to write about everything that I’m doing every minute of the day?”. Another business owner talked about his experience trying to get introduced to prospects via LinkedIn. “Has that worked for you?”, he was asked. “No, it hasn’t”, he replied.
Sitting down after the session, I decided to take a look at the Internet presence of some of these participants. Perhaps I could glean an answer — an explanation — for why their businesses weren’t growing with their use of online marketing. I focused on their websites, as that’s usually the best place to start and the easiest to fix.
What I found surprised me: none of the businesses that I examined were appearing on Page 1 of Google for the service that they provided, and none offered a call-to-action on their website beyond “Contact Us” (why should a website visitor contact you when there are countless other firms to choose from?).
If your website isn’t converting visitors, you aren’t ready for Twitter and LinkedIn
I have often explained to business owners that their Internet presence starts with an effective website. An effective website does three things:
- It gets found when people search online for what you offer;
- It looks great when people visit it;
- It gets qualified prospects to engage with you.
By overlooking their websites and pondering the use of Twitter and LinkedIn, some of these business owners are putting the cart before the horse. There is a use for Twitter that might be helpful for the bookkeeper (hint: it has nothing to do with writing every minute of the day) and there is a place for LinkedIn. But the time to develop those activities comes after the website is proven to be effective.