Tuesday, October 27, 2020

This Halloween, Avoid These 4 Scary Marketing Gremlins

Halloween is coming, although 2020 has already given it a tough act to follow. In the spirit of this holiday, let's look at four ghoulish gremlins you want to exorcise from your marketing content and strategies.

The Cobwebbed Website

Countless horror stories and films place a spooky old abandoned house at the center of the proceedings. You've seen the characters shuffling up creaking stairs, pushing cobwebs out of the way with every step. (Who knew spiders could be so industrious?) The house presents a cold, dead, unwelcoming environment. Does your ancient website do the same? Many of the old-school sites built in the days before mobile shopping took over the world can seem as ugly, antiquated, and hard to navigate as any haunted house.

If you have an old static website, you need to get that relic brought up to code, so to speak. Invest in a new responsive design or dedicated mobile site that looks just as good (and works just as well) on small devices as it does on large monitors. At the same, pull up all that creaky old web content and refresh it with new, better-optimized verbiage.

The Ghosts of Content Past

Your website may not be the only part of your marketing array that suffers from a case of the cobwebs. If you haven't updated your LinkedIn bio, company brochure, sales letters, direct mail offers, or other marketing pieces in a while, those pieces could be haunted by the ghosts of long-dead, long-irrelevant features, benefits, and brand messaging. No matter how frequently you issue and reissue this marketing content, it will miss the mark because it represents the past, not the present.

Set a new goal to keep all your marketing tools consistently up to date. Make sure that they all complement each other with relevant, congruent information that supports what you are now, not what you were once upon a time. 

The Invisible Call to Action

Congratulations -- your marketing content has lured your prey into your parlor. As your prospective buyers absorb that print or digital marketing piece, their eyes inevitably reach the point where they're supposed to receive a command to do something: the call to action. But where is it? you've somehow managed to exclude it or make it unclear, leaving your audience adrift and releasing them from the spell you created.

Don't suffer the effects of an invisible call to action. Clothe it in clarity by placing it at the end of your spiel and issuing clear, simple, easily-obeyed instructions to your readers. 

The Blog of the Undead

Legends tell of an ancient blog -- a blog page that once thrived, only to hover lifelessly in an uncertain state today. Is it alive, or is it dead? It still exists on your website, but it hasn't seen any fresh blood (in the form of updates) for months or years. Does this lack of interest and information mean that its owner is equally moribund? Has your brand joined the ranks of the undead?

You know full well how to breathe life back into your blog and other forms of inbound content marketing. Create content. Write articles. Create videos. Post news updates. Do these things on a regular basis so that your clientele can see that your business still has a pulse. If you need help, hire a freelance copywriter or other qualified marketing professional.

Have a happy -- and profitable -- Halloween!

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Who Is Your Website?

Whose chocolate-chip cookies would you rather try -- a knight in shining armor's, a brilliant scientist's, a chic supermodel's, a super-handy master carpenter's, or a kindly grandma's? 

All of these archetypes send out positive vibes, but setting aside the question of which person we'd rather have offering us chocolate-chip cookies, most of us would probably assume that among this cast of characters, granny makes the best baked goods. Granny's the one who makes the goodies. We trust Granny with that task. It's a stereotype, but we buy into it, for better or for worse. If we were shopping for the most seductive perfume, on the other hand, it's probably fair to say that even the kindliest grandma will lose ground to the chic supermodel.

What? But you just said we trust Grandma!

Yes, but that was for cookies. This is for sophistication and romance. It's a matter of applying the right persona to the right subject.

If you own a bakery, you might have the fabulous good fortune of a real-life smiling mother or grandmother type handing out lots of sweets to your customers (in exchange for lots of money). If you're a cosmetics store, you may have elegant salespeople gliding from section to section, at least, celebrity models' pictures gazing longingly over the perfume stand or lipstick aisle. But what if your "salesperson" is your website?

Just as your commercial spokesperson, sales rep, or brand icon represents a persona, so must your 24-hour, 365-day virtual storefront. So the question is, who is your website? What persona should it embody?

Think about it from the customer end. If you needed, say, a repair service, who would you choose? A happy-go-lucky guy with a bag of tools? A local pro with a 30-year track record and plenty of advice on how to maintain the stuff once he fixes it? A national corporation with a slick warranty and guaranteed delivery times?

Actually, any one of these three images might work, depending on the nature of the problem (Simple? Complex? Urgent?) and your own personal priorities (Speedy turnaround? Sheer skill? Friendliest folks?). So the ideal persona for your online brand reflects your target audience, which means it's always worthwhile to ask yourself -- if your website were a person selling your stuff to your ideal customer, what type of person would truly dazzle that customer? How would that character look? What would that character say, and in what tone of voice? WHO is your website?

Answer that question for yourself. Express it to your audience. And get ready to sell some cookies.