Visibility is an earned resource.
You can earn visibility by writing valuable & high-quality content, actively sharing your content on social media and other outlets, and engaging with your followers and influencers. Feel like you're already doing all that and getting nowhere? Try these modern marketing tricks (read: best practices) to increase your visibility online.
Think & Act Like a User, Not a Seller
The biggest mistake businesses make is trying to sell constantly. All decisions are made based on the question "Will this increase my traffic/leads/profits?" We're here to tell you: Stop That.
Changing the way you think is difficult. After all, you are you, and you are trying to promote your business online. But your potential customers don't care about that. They don't care that you need to meet sales quotas, or that you need to show results to your boss. They don't care about your business (yet).
What they do care about is what you can do for them. What can you offer them that will make their life easier? What about your product or service is superior to your competitors'?
To find out, you have to step out of the role of Seller. You need to find out what matters to your buyers, what makes them anxious, what makes them take action. If you work primarily with clients, there should be a few who are willing to sit down and answer some of these questions for you. If you work with consumers, surveys may be easier.
Once you know what your potential customers are thinking, you need to reflect that back at them.
Example: Marge works for a software company that creates video editing software. The company wants to sell to colleges who will use the software in classes. The schools and their students need the program to be simple, yet feature-dense, and educational.
If the software seems too expensive or confusing, the schools won't buy it. So, Marge creates a campaign to promote the "first affordable video editing software that teaches you how to make movies like a pro."
Marge decides to write a series of blog posts and post on social media to promote the product. Instead of writing about why the product is so awesome and you should buy it, she starts with an article on 5 Elements of an Awesome Educational Video Editing Software.
It won't directly sell the product, but it's something that her targets care about and are very likely to read. If they find the article helpful, they're more likely to check out the company's products.
Once you're thinking like a user, you have to act like a user. You're a person behind a screen, not an advertising robot. Buyers like to feel connected with brands, and you can do that with honest, human interaction.
Example: Marge shares her blog post on social media. Later, she notices a comment on the post: "Great article! :)" says a user.
Now, Marge could reply with a sales pitch... or, she could take the opportunity to offer additional helpful information: "If you're looking for similar articles, we'll be publishing a series of blog posts on the topic in the near future! You can follow us on social or subscribe to our blog to get quick updates. :)" This is information they (and others who see the post) are very likely to act upon - plus, a blog subscription counts as a lead.
Emojis and colloquial speech are frowned upon in highly professional situations. However, social media is generally not a highly professional situation. People are there to relax and catch up on daily happenings. Online, it pays to read the atmosphere and act like a user who belongs there rather than an uptight walking billboard.
Offer High-Value Information for Free
Don't be stingy with information! You don't have to hand out your product/service like cake at a birthday party (because you would never make any sales), but freely sharing valuable info is a great way to create brand awareness.
"You have our attention."
You should offer different kinds of information based on the main stages of the buyer's journey: awareness, consideration, and decision. Buyers are interested in different types of info depending on where they are in their research process.
For the awareness stage, your content should be broadly focused, easily understood, and completely non-promotional. So, an awareness stage offer from Marge might look like "What Makes Video Editing Software Educational?" or "10 Things You Didn't Know About Video Enhancement."
During the consideration stage, the buyer fully understands their problem and is searching for solutions. Marge might write a post titled "Choosing the Right Software for Your Video Editing Course."
In the decision stage, the buyer has decided on a solution and is now researching vendors of that product or service. So, Marge will write a case study on how her company's product made one college professor a very happy camper.
In this final stage, don't be afraid to give them a taste of your product/service. Demos, free trials, or free samples are high-value, low-investment ways for them to dip their toe in your waters. Once they actually experience the benefits of your product, it's unlikely they'll go back.
A surprising number of business decisions are based on emotion rather than pure logic. Check out this infographic from Forbes:
These numbers are even higher in the B2C realm, since decisions are made based entirely on personal value.
The content you produce isn't about you, but you can sprinkle in anecdotes and stories and other fun tidbits to brighten up your writing. Giving your visitors a small window into your life lets them relate to you as a human being (as we mentioned up above).
Mention trends among your clients and experiences your customers have had. Your buyers will connect more easily to people in their situation than to a vendor who is - yes - offering valuable information, but who is ultimately trying to make a sale.
"So the other day we were messing around with new ways to do [blank] with our product, and wow, we found out it could do [something interesting]!"
You can aim for entertainment value with funny stories about roadblocks you've run into while performing your service or listing unusual ways to use your product. Reader's Digest did this type of post for WD-40. The post has been shared 32.7k times.
If WD-40 themselves had jumped on that opportunity, all that traffic and social sharing power could have been theirs. Instead, they have a page that is difficult to share and hard to scan. (Upon further inspection, they don't even have a blog. This is 2016, WD-40, wth.)
Share everything. Share. Everything. People aren't going to stumble on your content. They just aren't.
You have to spread your own content through social media, email marketing, sponsored advertising, and other inbound marketing avenues. When someone retweets your blog article, you retweet their retweet. Own that shit.
If a potential customer asks a question you've answered in your blog, link them to the blog post. Don't be afraid to spread your content offers far and wide.
Just remember to follow the two most important tenets of inbound marketing:
- Don't Annoy People
- Keep It Relevant.
- Think and act like a user. You are a human being, not a walking billboard. Put yourself in your buyers' shoes to produce valuable content and effectively engage with them online.
- Offer FREE high-value content. Transparency and no-strings-attached information are extremely important to today's consumers.
- Tell stories. Be human. Be relatable. Don't be afraid to educate and entertain.
- Share everything. Just do it.
To increase your visibility, you have to take off your selling hat. Tell people about your product when they ask. If you do everything right, your product will speak for itself through your happy customers!