Our process begins wherever you are, and continues with you for as long as you need, as far as you go.
Whether you have no online presence at all, or whether you have a website or other materials that need work — we work with you to make your message count. Here, we walk you through the initial stages of our process to help you really identify what you need to do and how we can help you do it. Please note: this is not a quick read. In this process, we dive deep with you to get at what you really need.
Question 1: What is your real market?
What you sell or what services you provide help define your market, but we need to be really clear on what specifically your market is. Even a one-stop shop can’t be all things to all people. Let’s pinpoint and define your market.
Question 1a: Who is your ideal customer?
If you could pick the most perfect customer in the world, who or what would that customer be? Beyond an unlimited budget, what can you tell me about the best possible customer or client you could ever have? Let yourself dream about this question a bit. We all have less than ideal customers, but which ones are the best ones? The ones we will go through fire for? Why will we go through fire for them?
Now, what would make that customer even more ideal in your eyes?
Question 1b: What made your worst customer ever the worst?
We need to know what both ends of this spectrum look like. We also need to define what we don’t want to attract to your business. Think about all your “never again” moments in your business, and what precisely made them so awful.
Once you know who your target clients are, you can better define what your real market is.
Question 1c: Who are your competitors? What differentiates you from them?
Again: we need specifics. You are not simply bidding against the same “other guy” over and over again. If you paint houses, who else works where you do, and why do some people work with the other painters while others use you? If you are a realtor, why do the sellers you represent choose you over others in your office, your market, your neighborhood? Why do some choose the others over you?
Question 2: What do you want your online presence to do for your business?
Be specific about this question. It’s not enough to say, “I want people to be able to find me” or “I want customers to be able to learn about my business.” Who should find you? What should customers learn about your business?
Question 2a: What can you teach customers about your business?
It’s not enough to inform people about you, your products, your services. You have to educate customers as well. There are a lot of reasons why but the bottom line is this: Your message must add value even to the customer’s time spent reading your web page. It benefits them, and it benefits you. It also benefits your ability to be found online.
Question 2b: How much new business can you take on?
You need to have this issue in the back of your mind as you work through this process. You will not only be getting new customers, but as your funnel fills and your customer base grows, you are also going to have to continue to evaluate and adjust what your online presence should be.
Question 3: What is your budget for marketing?
And you cannot answer this question with a question. Asking “what do you charge” is like asking your doctor “what am I going to die from?” The doctor has no idea, and I don’t know what the work I do will cost until I know what work you need and want, and what you can afford. I can’t answer this question for you. Only you can know what you can afford.
Once you know what your budget is, then we can start to create a plan that allows you to do the marketing you need to do in the way you can afford it.
Question 3a: What is your budget for ongoing marketing beyond the initial investment?
Don’t make a budget without planning for maintenance. You wouldn’t buy a vehicle without considering the costs to license, maintain and run the vehicle. Gas may be cheap, but it will never be free. Nor will insurance, registration, oil changes, tires, or anything else that keeps it running. No one buys a truck and lives happily ever after.
If you watch the news, you know that online security is a major, ongoing issue that impacts ordinary people every single day. Even Facebook poses dangers. If you are unwilling or unable to monitor and police your website and social media, to update software, to keep your content current and on point, then you will need to decide what you can afford to pay for it.
Question 3b: How much of your own time will you be investing, both now and over time?
We all need to know how much you can put into this initiative. You need to budget your time — because it’s as valuable as your money — and we need to know whether we can support you successfully. We also both need to know who will be responsible for what going forward.
As it says on our home page, you are the expert at what you do. We are experts at connecting you to your customers. But we have to connect both parties, so we need to know how much input and feedback you can give — before, during and after.
Quick side note: we haven’t talked about technology at all yet.
Because it really is about the message.
Question 4: What do you have in place already?
Now is the time to consider your message inventory — the tools you have and the tools you need. Now we consider your company name, your domain name (internet address), your logo, your slogan, and more.
Question 4a: What do you already have? And how much of it do you want to keep?
If you already have some sort of corporate identity — logo, slogan, particular colors — does it still reflect what your business does? Define how it does, or how it doesn’t. Even your business name may no longer reflect what you do. Businesses grow and evolve; they have personalities. We humans can change our wardrobe, our hair, and other external things to reflect how we feel and what we want to project. As a business changes, you may need to take that into account.
In the same way, if you have built a reputation with an existing name, but your business has expanded beyond what it originally intended, perhaps it’s time to tweak the name, the logo, and maybe even your internet address.
Question 4b: What changes to your products and/or services do you anticipate coming in the future?
An integral part of our process is making sure that what we do for you now can adapt, and expand in scale, to what you will need in the future. Oprah Winfrey often says that “intention rules the world,” and if you intend, or even dream with intensity, about incorporating new facets into your business model, let’s start preparing for them now while we evaluate your message inventory. Tell us where you want all of this to go, and let’s look at your corporate identity with an eye toward that as well.