He's the CEO of an optimization firm called Enquiro. We were chatting on the phone the other night about 2004's challenges for the search optimization (the fact that nobody really understands Google's latest "Florida" update yet; Yahoo deciding to bail on Google and create their own natural listings algorithms that everyone will have to re-optimize for; and the fact that there are still bozos giving a bad name to the search field by doing a cruddy job for clients.)
Then Gord innocently asked, "How do you think the search firm industry could better market itself?" … and I exploded into this huge rant.
I had no idea I felt so strongly. But the fact is, the search industry has an identical marketing weakness to most industries where there are tons of competitors (software firms, marketing consultants, etc.): zero obvious differentiation.
Most competitors' Web sites make same-sounding claims, describe same-sounding services, and make same-sounding lead generation offers. (And too often use clip-art.)
Some try to break from the pack by making either of the three big marketing mistakes:
Mistake 1: Boasting about leadership. "We're the leader in…" Even if it's true, unless you're a household name it sounds fake, and no one cares except your CEO. It's not a key differentiation point.
Mistake 2: Making up terminology to describe yourself. "We use the unique A.B.C. process to…" If prospects never heard of it, they don't care. They are not here to learn about you - they just want to know if you can solve their particular problem.
Mistake 3: Broad customer description. "Everyone from the Fortune 500 to small businesses use our services." Prospects don't think of themselves as generic (even if they are), so they don't want to buy generic services (even if it would suit them.)
My advice? Focus your positioning on the customer - not yourself.
Do you have a group of clients in a particular niche? Then create marketing campaigns (and a site section) dedicated to how you serve that niche specifically (yes, even if you also serve others.) A niche can be:
- the tech platform they use - the size of their company - geographic location - their business model - their budget - their job title - demographics
And, yes if you serve many niches, then create many of these vertical marketing campaigns starting with the niches that are currently most profitable for you. Then stick a big honking link on your home page and your site navigation bar calling out to each niche by name (the name they themselves use, not something you made up).
This is *not* rocket science. It's 101 marketing.
Ok, rant over. Thanks to you and Gord for putting up with it.
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