Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Frequently Asked Questions About Frequently Asked Questions

No, the title of this post isn't some bizarre typo caused by one too many late-night writing sessions. FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) pages are a fixture of Internet commerce; in fact, it's pretty hard to visit kind any kind of business site without seeing an "FAQ" tab on the home page. FAQ pages serve a valuable purpose. They can help you defuse common concerns and objections right off the bat, smoothing the way toward a purchase or at least further conversation. They can debunk popular myths about your industry, explain individual products or services, dispense important advice, explain how to place orders, and shed additional light on your business's values and mission. Having written my share of FAQ pages for clients over the years, however, I've come to realize that they can inspire as many questions as they aim to answer. So here's a little FAQ page about FAQ pages.

Q: What should my FAQ page include?

A: There's really no list of "must-have" questions and answers, which means that there's no single way to populate an FAQ page. One of the beauties of FAQ pages is that you get to decide which questions need answering. Simply ask yourself which questions you hear all the time from your clients, prospects, and referral partners, or go through old emails to see which questions you've answered over and over again. At the same time, think about including questions that you wish people would ask, or that you suspect they're keeping to themselves.

Q: How long should my answers be?

A: There are no particular rules about answer length, but use common sense. Abraham Lincoln stated that a man's legs should be long enough to reach the ground. Your answers be long enough to answer the question -- and no longer. If your reader see that his question has an interminable answer, it'll only make him more leery to wade into deeper waters.

Q: How should I address legitimate worries or known problems in my industry or product line?

A: Either don't include them on the FAQ page at all, or answer them honestly. You can always find positive ways to couch those negative situations, such as: "We know you're concerned about this issue, and so are we. That's why doing X, Y and Z to make your outcome more pleasant and productive."

Q: Should I put my company bio in the FAQ page?

A: Probably not, although you could answer some specific questions about skills, experience, et cetera. A full bio paragraph about your company or its leaders more properly belongs on your About Us page. Reserve your FAQ page for questions that might come up after the reader has perused your Home, About Us, and Products/Services pages.

Q: Should I leave some popular questions unaddressed?

A: In my humble opinion, yes. Generally speaking, marketing materials that try to cross every T and dot every I leave the reader with the impression that there's nothing left to ask -- and that could very well kill your chances of receiving calls and having productive chats that result in closed sales.

So, there's my brief FAQ page about FAQ pages. Do you feel a little better equipped to write your own? I hope so -- but if you still don't feel like bothering it yourself, rest assured that I can help you in that department too!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A New Year Calls for a New Marketing Plan

So here we are, already well into January, hustling and bustling to build new success in a new year. (I'm cooking up some new notions myself, as a matter of fact.) For many business owners, the beginning of the year is an ideal time to launch new programs, projects and directions -- including some new and improved marketing strategies to help turn all these great ideas into real-world revenue. Why? Because these folks aren't interested in continuing to run in place; they want to gain speed and move out ahead of the crowd. But before you can change your fortunes, you usually have to change your plan.

How's your January shaping up in that regard? Are you perfectly content to keep on keeping on, or are you looking to make some changes that will enable you to grow, adapt and thrive in an ever-changing environment? After all, new marketing trends, technologies and techniques spring up seemingly every day. Google adjusts its algorithm, and the entire online marketing industry changes course accordingly. Traditional websites are supplemented by mobile websites, then morph into responsive websites. In short, times change -- and so do buyer behaviors. So if the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results, how sane are your current marketing strategies?

I encourage business owners to refresh their marketing plans periodically, and the beginning of the year seems as sensible a time as any. Some of the items you might want to look at include:

Your overall business plan - Does it still address your company's needs, mission, values and goals? Are its timelines and milestones still doable? Do the various budgets (including the marketing budget) need adjusting?

Your marketing content - Does your current marketing content do your business proud? Does it actively boost your conversion rates? Do your latest and greatest products and services require promotion via new content? Are you prepared to freshen the existing content on a regular basis, and if so, what's your plan for that?

Your channels - Have you fallen behind the curve in utilizing a full array of social media and other state-of-the-art marketing channels -- or do you actually need to narrow your focus in this area? Could your website be more responsive to a wide range of browsers and mobile devices? Do you need to get more interactive in handling comments and questions from current and prospective customers?

Your analytics - Do you have an information collection system that sifts incoming buyer data into metrics you can use to guide your future marketing endeavors? Do you need to engage an outside provider of turnkey Web analytics, monitoring and management? Could you do a better job of building drip campaigns that automatically send out the right marketing touches to the right customers at the right point in the relationship?

There's still loads of time to make this year your best-ever year for new business growth and development. Just make sure that your marketing grows and develops too!