Recently I was hired by an established law firm to evaluate their marketing efforts and advise them on how the could achieve better results. I sat down to interview each of the key attorneys to see if everyone had the same vision for the firm and as I suspected, each attorney had varying opinions about what practice areas were in the best interest of the firm and how they needed to market themselves to achieve success.
This is not unusual for any business, regardless of age or size. Often times organizations spend time and money on advertising and marketing without a communications strategy or marketing plan. To the credit of the law firm, their former in-house marketing director had a marketing budget and spreadsheet tracking their expenses.
As a seasoned (older) marketer, I still believe in “Marketing 101.” More specifically, creating a balanced marketing plan based on a SWOT Analysis.
The SWOT Analysis is a great way to identify your organization’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Thus, providing a blueprint for creating a strategic and balanced marketing plan.
SWOT Analysis Format
The SWOT format can be approached in different ways. However, for the sake of this exercise, start with 4 squares on a piece of paper with enough room to write 5-6 points under each. These don’t have to be detailed, but they should be well thought-out to get the most value. Note the diagram above for reference.
The first row should be internal strengths and weaknesses. Think about your company and things you can control. The second row (opportunities and threats) should include external factors, such as market trends, other companies, competition, and other factors that you may not fully control.
Now that you have created your square, let’s delve into more detail.
Strengths - SWOT Analysis
Defining your strengths is an important part of this exercise. For some, writing down strengths can be uncomfortable, but for others they may end up with a long list. If you fall into the latter category, try to pair your list down to the 4-6 strengths that define your brand. This helps to prioritize your strengths. Remember, strengths should be based on your company and should be internally focused.
Each strength should focus on a single area of your brand. See below for some examples.
Writing down your weaknesses can be difficult, but believe me, you will find this part of the process very revealing. It is essential to understand what your business lacks to help you make sound marketing and business decisions about things such as: your marketing message, target audience, workflow, staff and other resource needs.
Here are a few examples of weaknesses:
When considering opportunities, I find it helpful to review the organization’s strengths. Often times, the strengths help me to brainstorm opportunities. Sometimes the list of opportunities can be lengthy and daunting. Your goal is only to identify opportunities, it is not a to-do-list, so don’t be afraid to think big! Later when you are creating your marketing plan, you can prioritize your opportunities.
Here are examples of opportunities:
It is important when evaluating threats that you look beyond the obvious, such as competitors or economy. This does not mean that you exclude these from your threat list. However, you should expand thinking to include other threats, such as changes in political policies and new traffic patterns that may affect your businesses location.
Here are a few more examples:
· Internet. Provides potential clients with free access to marketing advice and
low cost graphic design and print resources.
· Profit Margins. Lower rates to remain competitively priced due to increase competition from local marketing businesses and online services.
· Facebook. Small businesses and start-ups are using Facebook to promote their services as opposed to hiring an agency to build their website.
Having a clear understanding of both internal and external factors is essential for any business to survive in today’s fast-paced, high-tech world. Whether you use the above
4-square format, or simply type your list of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, or threats, on a single paper, you are on your way toward a more efficient marketing plan.
One of the most common complaints I hear from business owners is that they are not getting traffic from their website despite investing thousands of dollars with a “professional” web company. My response is usually two fold. “Are there any analytics to show the amount of traffic to your site and where is the traffic coming from?” My second response is “who wrote the web copy?”
Unlike print copy, writing for the web requires resisting the temptation to write “fluff.” Those searching the web are looking for answers to questions and want value and Google search algorithm rewards those with relevant, current and interesting content.
The most successful websites include useful content, such as articles or “blogs” that provide the reader information and a reason to come back to the website.
The way the Web works is very different from print and the content of your website needs to reflect that.
Keep Individual Page Content Short
The Web is not a good place to write a novel. Keep the content short. The shorter it is, the more likely your readers will read it. List can also be effective web content. If you have technical information consider an infographic as opposed to a full page of copy or add a blog on the topic to your website.
Write SEO-Friendly Copy
Google is watching. If you haven’t yet heard about SEO (search engine optimization) yet, is important to note that an SEO content friendly site will rank higher online than one that is not. WThus, when writing copy for your website, it is important to include keywords and phrases in your content. You need to use the phrase enough so that it's recognized as the topic but not so much that your readers notice.
Video and Audio
Internet marketing also known as digital marketing is constantly evolving. One of the latest trends is to incorporate video and audio on websites. If you plan to do this, consult a web specialist as there are some technical issues you should know before investing your time and money into adding a video or audio to your site.
Rules are Meant to be Broken
All of these rules can be broken. Know your audience and know why you're breaking the rule before you do so. Don’t be afraid to show your personality in your writing, just keep in mind the audience you are trying to inform or serve.
By Ian Mills
The fact is if you aren’t optimized for mobile you’re ultimately losing sales. Research shows that 57 percent of mobile users will abandon your website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load and 30 percent will abandon a purchase transaction if the shopping cart isn’t optimized for mobile devices.
Considering how important a website can be for any small business it seems only natural to take the extra care to ensure the website is mobile friendly. It’s amazing to me how so many websites are still not optimized for a mobile experience.
Here are five reasons small businesses must have a mobile optimized website:
1. Mobile Users are Different
Mobile users have different objectives than desktop users and typically this means they want information in quick, easily digestible bites. Customers report that their mobile purchases are often impulse buys and some statistics show that mobile users spend more money per purchase than customers do on desktop websites.
This underscores the importance of optimizing your mobile experience to match a visitor’s needs and behaviors in the context of how they will most likely be browsing your website. By making the path to purchase or enquiry simple and intuitive you’ll align more precisely with mobile users who need information rapidly to make decisions on the fly.
2. Mobile Gets Traffic
With one-quarter of global web searches conducted on a mobile device by over a billion users worldwide, mobile websites are just as important, if not more so, than desktop versions. Multiple sources report that smartphone users are engaging with mobile websites and apps while watching TV, commuting to work, and simultaneously while using a computer.
As Google made clear with last year’s Hummingbird update the future of search is mobile and websites that aren’t usable on handheld devices will see their search rank suffer for it.
3. Better Brand Engagement
People like your brand more when you offer a satisfying mobile experience and they’re more likely to return to your website later on a desktop. 90 percent of people report moving between devices, or “multi-screening”, to accomplish a task. When your mobile experience is optimized for functionality and consistency it fosters trust and affinity with users.
On the other hand if your mobile website is difficult to navigate customers are more likely to go to the competition than to visit you on a desktop computer. If you can’t provide what they need when they need it you will have lost the opportunity for the sale and risk losing a customer permanently to a competitor.
4. Increased Conversions
Desktop websites in mobile browsers are ineffective at converting visitors into buyers. Calls to action (CTAs) are often obscured, links are difficult to click and contact pages are buried in awkward menus. Mobile shoppers have little patience for an unwieldy website and one-third of them will leave a transaction if the site isn’t optimized for mobile.
To make the most of mobile, CTAs should be clear and easy to click and contact information should be one of the first things visitors see. 80 percent of shoppers admit that mobile purchases are impulse-driven and that they’re more likely to purchase from and interact with a brand that offers an engaging mobile experience.
5. Reduce Your Bounce Rate
Content that looks great on a desktop might be unreadable on a mobile device. Visitors won’t stay on your site if they have to pinch and zoom or squint at illegible type, or worse yet if it runs flash or anything that requires add-ons to display in a browser. If your website isn’t optimized professionally for mobile your bounce rate on mobile devices is going to be extremely high. By providing mobile visitors with an appropriate and intuitive user experience you will obviously engage visitors longer and drive more of them to purchase or enquire.
Mobile Health Check: Pick up your smartphone and go to your website. Ask yourself these questions:
• Does it load in less than three seconds?
• Does it draw your eye to your key selling points or message?
• Is the content easy to read?
• Is it easy to navigate?
• Is it easy to recognize and activate the call to action?
• Does it provide a good user experience?
• Is it a website you would spend time on if it was not your own?
If you mostly answered “no”, then it’s time to optimize your mobile site and capture the traffic and sales you’ve been missing out on. In our definitive report, The 11 Essentials of a Successful Website Design, mobile optimization has been ranked as number 8.
Ian MillsCo-Founder and CEO, Magicdust
You’ve heard it before: it’s not what you know but who you know.
That’s why it is important for anyone starting a business or responsible for sales to engage in networking. Although, not everyone enjoys meeting new people or finds networking as simple as turning on a light switch. In fact, the idea of networking may make you break out in a cold sweat.
As an entrepreneur and marketing consultant, I know to succeed in business it is essential to overcome fear which often leads to paralysis and failure.
So for those who dread networking, I hope the following three tips will help you conquer your fear and make networking a part of your overall marketing plan.