97% of consumers search online for local businesses (source: Google). This is a stunning statistic and demonstrates clearly how people nowadays look for information and seeks solutions to problems online.
The days of the phone book and Yellow Pages or Golden Pages being the first port of call for consumers looking for contact details for local or national businesses are well and truly over.
Perhaps the phone book will endure, perhaps not.
But if you fast forward ten, fifteen, twenty years you will have increasing numbers of people heading into middle age and beyond who know of nothing else but “Googling” for information, sharing photos and major events in their lives on Facebook, commenting on the latest news and controversy on Twitter and perhaps searching for a job on LinkedIn.
Gavin O’Reilly was ousted from Independent Newspapers this week and one of the principal criticisms (leaving aside the personal animus between personalities) was that he really didn’t have a sufficiently well thought out strategy for “online”.
“Something is happening here but you don’t know what it is, do you Mr. Jones?” (Bob Dylan, Ballad of a Thin Man, Highway 61 Revisited)
Rupert Murdoch is attempting to put the genie back into the bottle by introducing more paid for access to the content on his newspapers. Whether he is successful or not remains to be seen but my money is on this strategy being a massive mistake.
Regardless of whether you consider this inexorable sea change as a good or bad thing, if you are a small business owner you should be concerned with only one thing-getting your business, your offer in front of as many interested eye balls as possible.
Consider this: when the 97% of consumers who search online for local businesses are searching where do you think they look?
Where would you look?
The Google search engine? (My money is on this one)
The New Paradigm
All of the above indicates a new paradigm in how people obtain information, how they find “stuff”.
It would be a mistake though to think that selling your business, your products and services requires a complete departure from a fundamental principle of doing business since God was a boy.
Doing Business Online
The key to doing business online is to get your stuff in front of interested eyeballs. In the same way that footfall is the key to retailing in the “real world”, traffic/visitors are the online equivalent of footfall.
It is a different venue but the principle is the same. If you get your offer in front of enough interested visitors you will do business.
The corollary is also true though..
Without traffic to your website it is a useless adornment to your business.
Think electronic tumbleweed blowing across your site.
And a waste of electrons.
And they are free.
Cherchez La Femme
Alexandre Dumas coined the phrase “cherchez la femme”. It means look for the woman implying that in every case of inexplicable or irrational behaviour by man a woman was the root cause.
Other pulp fiction novels will tell you to “follow the money” implying that if you find who is to gain most by the crime committed then you have found your culprit.
Keep this at the forefront of your mind when you are deciding on how best your small business can benefit from internet marketing and getting your business in front of the 97% of consumers who search online for local businesses.
On Wednesday a young couple traveled from the south of Kildare to my office in Kilcock to ask me to represent them with a family law problem that they are having.
They had rung me a few days before but, in honesty, I didn’t expect them to show up.
Because to get to me they had to travel the length of the county and in the process drive past many other solicitors’ practices. They didn’t know me from Adam so why would they bother..
However, show up they did.
We discussed their problem and it was clear that they would need to obtain family law legal aid as neither of them were working and had a young family. I explained how this works-that they needed to go to the local family law office, fill out the forms required and then they would be presented with a list of solicitors who are on the panel for family law legal aid in the county.
I explained that if they wanted me to act for them then they would have to choose me from that list.
They replied “Oh yes, we want you to represent us..we like your style”.
After they had left the office I wondered to myself why they had said they liked my style as we had never clapped eyes on one another before Wednesday.
And then it struck me..
They had come across my solicitor’s website, http://BusinessAndLegal.ie, on which I publish a lot of content relating to common legal problems that people have. They had obviously read what I had written about their family law problem, had watched some videos and maybe looked at some PowerPoint presentations.
They may have visited my About page and seen my photograph and all of this information gave them an impression of “my style”.
Content marketing at work
When I thought about this encounter it made perfect sense.
Because all of the content that they consumed on my website, the text, video and PowerPoint presentation spoke to their particular problem in a language they understood.
I suppose it shouldn’t have surprised me in a way because I am a firm believer in the power of “content marketing” but this particular encounter was the first time that anyone I had spoken to referred to my “style”.
And it made perfect sense.
Selling professional services on the internet
Selling yourself or your business on the internet is a two step process-first you have to earn the right to an audience to make your pitch and then you can make your pitch.
The single best way to earn the right to make your pitch is to give your prospective new customer or client something for free. This can be great content on your website, a free report or other giveaway, a free trial or whatever is appropriate for your particular business.
As long as it speaks to your prospective client’s problems in a way that they understand and which demonstrates your expertise and shows that you can help them-yes, them- you will create a huge competitive advantage over your competitors and grow your client base.
This is content marketing at work-it works for me and many others in diverse industries and geographical locations.
Try doing this in 140 characters on Twitter..
Filed under How to Win New Clients
Insurance lead generation is the lifeblood of any insurance broker or small business in Ireland involved in the insurance business.
Regardless of whether it is life insurance leads or leads for general insurance for house or car the need to have a regular pipeline of new leads is ever present.
Because the insurance industry is populated by big hitting, financially strong insurance companies it can be difficult for the “little guy”, the independent insurance broker, to generate sufficient new leads and business.
Advertising via traditional routes such as newspaper advertising, radio and television can quickly burn a large hole in the finances of any small insurance company or broker.
Insurance lead generation via the internet
The internet offers a great opportunity for the smaller insurance business to compete though.
A steady supply of leads and enquiries from people searching for the cheapest insurance quotations can be obtained if your website ranks well in Google and the other search engines for the types of phrases people use when looking to obtain an insurance quote.
There are two ways to generate insurance leads via the internet-through the Google Adwords advertising programme or through your website ranking well in the search engines.
Google Adwords advertising for insurance leads
An alternative to generating this free/organic traffic is to use the Google Adwords programme. However in some industries such as law, finance and insurance the cost per click with Google Adwords can be prohibitively expensive and soon burn a hole in your marketing budget.
This is simply because the cost per click that you will be expected to pay will be driven up by the big players in the insurance industry and who in all likelihood have deeper pockets than the smaller broker.
Free/organic traffic via a website
The cheapest, most cost effective method of generating insurance leads is through having a website that ranks well in the search engines for the phrases people use when looking for insurance.
This is easier said than done but, if successful, is a far better alternative than paying for traffic and will be an excellent investment in your insurance business into the future.
Organic traffic, that is to say traffic delivered through finding your website on the Google search results page, is the best type of traffic for this simple reason: the searcher has typed a phrase like “get insurance quote”, “car insurance quote”, “insurance broker Dublin” into the search box in their browser, most likely Google.
This visitor is therefore
- Targeted (not just a random visitor landing on your site by accident)
- Describing their problem and telling you what they are looking for.
Good insurance website
Having a good insurance based website is clearly a great way for the smaller insurance business or broker with a limited budget to “muscle in” to the value of the internet through good strategic, astute marketing and getting their business in front of targeted searchers.
The alternatives, paid advertising for insurance leads in traditional media outlets like newspapers and/or radio/tv, can quickly see escalating costs and a very high cost per lead.
The video above refers to the website which is described more fully in this insurance website for sale page.
So, you have paid big money to a web design company for a website for your business but you are now wondering..where is the traffic?
Where are the much needed website visitors that you need to justify your investment of scarce cash resources?
Perhaps you are seeing little or no return on your investment and you now have a beautiful looking but useless website which is doing nothing for your business with no traffic, no leads, no sales.
Increasing website traffic
There are really only two ways to get traffic to your website:
- paid traffic through programmes like Google Adwords advertising programme
- free traffic through the search engines results pages (serps) and ranking well on the SERPS for keywords and phrases relevant to your business.
Buying traffic through advertising with Google Adwords has it’s uses..but not as a long term, sustainable marketing model for your business.
It is simply too expensive and will leave you open to the vagaries of fluctuating cost per click with every single visitor to your site being paid for.
It does not take too long for this to really add up and burn a very large hole in your marketing budget.
The smartest, most cost effective way to get a real return on your website is to generate lots of free, organic traffic from the search engines.
This route is sustainable, very cost effective and will lead to incrementally larger returns from the small investment required to generate this traffic.
The investment required is simply in great, relevant, unique content on your site. You can do this yourself or you can outsource it.
But Google, the largest search engine by a long way, makes the vast bulk of it’s revenue from advertising sales. And to continue to grow this revenue Google has a huge vested interest in bringing the most relevant, targeted search results for it’s searchers.
When Google does this it allows the advertisers to get good, “hot” leads for their goods and services.
And this in turn sees the advertisers continuing to spend with Google Adwords.
Most relevant search results
Given the commitment of the search engines to bring what they consider to be the best results for their searchers this is where your site can step in and be one of the most relevant results returned for searchers.
But only if you have good, relevant content for the searchers query (search).
Your task as a website owner therefore is to give your site the best possible chance of ranking well for a whole range of search terms relevant to your business and relevant to your target market.
This is not rocket science.
But if your site looks great with great design but is content poor or has little or no content it simply will not rank well in the search engines..and consequently won’t attract any traffic or visitors.
Structuring your website
To ensure that your website becomes a real, revenue producing asset for your business you will need to plan as to
- what topics you are going to cover on your site
- how to categorise them
- how to lay out your site to make it easy for both human visitors and search engine robots to find their way around and find what they are looking for.
The starting point for this plan should be carrying out good keyword research with a tool like the Google Adwords keyword tool or the tool (Keyword Suggest) provided by SEOBook.com.
Both of these tools are free.
Good keyword research allows you to create content that you know people are searching for-this removes speculation, conjecture and guesswork from what you should be spending your time writing content about.
The language of search is “keywords and keyphrases” (they are called “search engines” after all) because keywords and phrases actually tell you what people are searching for.
To increase your website traffic you need to understand how content marketing can help grow your business and convert your existing site from a pretty but ineffectual distraction to a real lead generator for your small business.
In this episode we look at the single biggest obstacle to generating new business on the internet and how to overcome it..
Hit the player below to listen now
Click here to access our show archives.
If you want your website to convert your traffic into new customers/clients for your business you will need to take special care with the two most important pages on your website.
It will probably come as no surprise that the most important page on your site is your homepage-this is the page that will receive most traffic from the search engines and from where visitors will navigate to other sections on your site.
However many people are surprised to learn that the second most important page on your site is often overlooked when you are trying to build a site that will be a TRUE asset for your small business.
2nd most important page
You may be surprised to learn that the second most important page on your site is your About/About Us page.
The reason for this is simple-if a visitor is sufficiently impressed with what your business has to offer and is seriously considering engaging your services or reaching for their credit card to purchase goods or services from your business they invariably navigate to your About page to satisfy themselves that they have made the right decision.
They are looking for reassurance and your About page is an opportunity for you to confirm that they have made the right decision, won’t regret it and to cement trust with your new customer.
For this reason your About Us page should do a little more than tell your visitors who you help and how you help them..although it should certainly do this. This page should also demonstrate your expertise, credentials, training and convince your visitor that, yes, it is a good decision to go ahead and use that credit card or make that call.
So many About Us pages on small business websites are
- Appear to be an afterthought
And critically fail to reassure the visitor that they have made the right decision in doing business with you.
Three steps to fix your About page
I would strongly advise that you do three things in relation to your About page-
1. Make it reachable with one click from everywhere on your site (you can do this by having it in your primary navigation menu for your site);
2. Use your About page to persuade readers why they should do business with YOUR business by giving some information about your expertise and qualifications and most of all..why they should trust you and your business.
3. Use a picture of you or some person-give your business a human face as you have a much better chance of overcoming the “trust” barrier that is your biggest barrier to sales online.
Don’t make the mistake of underestimating the importance of your About page on your website.
The biggest obstacle to selling your goods or services online is not price, not technology, not lack of traffic, not paucity of Facebook fans or Twitter followers.
There is one fundamental element necessary to persuade your visitors, followers, fans, random surfers to reach for their credit card and buy what you are selling.
And that one element is trust..or lack of it.
Trust can be defined as a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.
On the internet especially this vital element is the one big barrier between your business and a sale or new client/customer or even a new subscriber to your website content.
Overcoming a lack of trust
Trust online, just like in the real world, must be earned. In the context of marketing your business online gaining your visitors trust must be one of your principle goals for your website.
Gaining your visitors trust firstly involves demonstrating your expertise or authority in your marketplace. This is not a short term thing though-it involves a commitment to providing great value content on a consistent basis for your website visitors-publishing really useful information or tips addressing the very real problems that your visitors are seeking to solve or ameliorate.
It involves building a relationship with your visitors through various incredibly effective and ethical means. The two most important and effective methods of building trust and demonstrating authority are:-
1. Publishing great content consistently on your site
2. Email marketing-building and maintaining a relationship with your subscribers by firstly giving them something of value for free for becoming subscribers and just when you think you have done enough..give even more value.
You will know that you have succeeded when someone emails or calls you and asks you this question:
“what would you recommend?”
Aside: a number of years ago in the United States a tv company carried out an experiment outside a small town bank. They, with the consent of the bank, put a sign in the window saying “Bank closed for training- please give your deposits to the security guard”.
Outside the bank the security guard, resplendent in a new security guard’s uniform, accepted deposits for the duration of the experiment. This “security guard” was an employee of the tv company..
Over 90% of bank customers willingly gave their hard earned cash to the security guard. When asked afterwards why they, to a man and woman, pointed to the uniform and the sign.
“He looked official”.
This experiment demonstrates the power of trust and being the authority and is why police, army, judges, barristers and so many other figures of authority wear a uniform of sorts.
Fortunately you don’t/can’t wear a uniform online..
..but you can become the authority and overcome the single biggest impediment to sales online-trust.
The street traders in Dublin’s Moore Street probably never heard of Dr. Robert Cialdini.
However they were very successfully using one of the universal principles of persuasion long before Dr. Cialdini ever published his seminal book, “Influence-The Psychology of Persuasion”.
Widely regarded as one of the most powerful and informative books about marketing written in the last 3 decades “Influence-The Psychology of Persuasion” has influenced every well informed attempt to persuade peoples’ behaviour.
Dr. Cialdini, a university professor in the University of Arizona, describes in his seminal work “Influence-the Psychology of Persuasion” how there are 7 fundamental psychological principles which influence people to say “yes”. In great depth he describes how successful salespeople and companies use most or all of these principles on a daily basis to persuade us to buy.
The 7 Principles of Persuasion
The 7 universal principles of persuasion are
- Material self interest
- Commitment and consistency
- Social proof
Number 1 above is self evident and does not require any detailed explanation.
The rule for reciprocation is one of the most powerful factors at force in the attempt to persuade.
Giving somebody something for free creates a powerful feeling of obligation in the recipient.
It can be very difficult to say no and it is this feeling of obligation that leaves us exposed in attempting to resist a good sales pitch.
Commitment and consistency
We as humans have a strong desire to be and to appear to be consistent. This is why salespeople will always attempt to ask you a series of questions which elicit a “yes” response in the early stages of their pitch.
The key to the salesperson getting you on a path of his choosing is if he can get you to make a commitment at the outset; the desire to be consistent will take care of the rest.
The desire to be consistent often pushes us along a path that we know to be wrong but which we cannot depart from such is the power of the desire to appear consistent and which has been recognized by prominent psychologists such as Newcomb and Fritz Heider.
Most of us assume that a course of action is more likely to be correct if other people are taking the same course of action.
Much as we all hate canned laughter on many tv programmes, tv studios still employ canned laughter because it is simply effective and works.
If the salesperson can get you to like him, he has a great chance of making a sale because we buy stuff from people we like.
The Tupperware party is a good example of the power at work here and the hostess ends up selling a lot of stuff to her friends, not because here friends want Tupperware storage containers but because they like the hostess.
She invited them to her home didn’t she?
“Follow an expert”-Virgil
We are influenced strongly by authority and expertise and who can resist the trappings of authority such as titles, nice clothes, nice cars, academic qualifications, uniforms and so on.
Authority is a huge factor in the ability to persuade and lead.
Moore Street traders or the guys at GAA or soccer matches shouting “get the last of the red apples/choc ices/bananas” knew all about the power of scarcity (or perception of scarcity) influencing sales.
These powerful and universal principles of persuasion should be at work in your marketing efforts for your business.
One of the easiest and most effective ways to wield these weapons of influence in your drive for new business is on a well structured website through the medium of content marketing..
Marketing for lawyers, solicitors and attorneys is a needlessly expensive activity-expensive for solicitors and lawyers.
The big winners in online marketing for legal professionals are internet marketing consultancies who exploit the ignorance of many busy lawyers by selling them online marketing services that are completely inappropriate for their industry.
I suspect that this misselling is not intentional but arises from the mistaken assumption that what works in other industries for these consultants will work for law firms.
For example I recently read some advice on the website of an internet marketing consultancy who specializes in marketing for lawyers. The piece was riddled with mistaken assumptions about the type of website and online marketing that would be best for lawyers.
One of the prime assertions in this article was that because internet surfers have short attention spans it was futile for a law firm to publish anything other than short, frothy pieces of little substance on their law websites.
The truth of the matter is that people with legal problems who are looking for information about their problem have incredibly long attention spans with heightened adrenaline.
If your child has been taken into care or you have been charged with drunk driving or dangerous driving or you have just received a summons from a bank seeking the return of their money you can be pretty confident that attention spans are not short.
The story set out below is a true story and was first published on an American website for lawyers (www.attorneyatwork.com)
The name of the gentleman below has been changed to protect his identity.
Lead generation for solicitors
“Micheal O’Shea is a worried man. It’s 3 am on a wet Sunday morning.
Fifteen minutes ago he had been breathalyzed by the road traffic police while driving home from his sister’s 40th birthday party. He might have had one or two too many.
He walked into his den and switched on his computer. He began typing “drink driving limits in Ireland” into the big white Google search box.
The first search result that he sees, sitting at position number 4 on the 1st page of Google, that can confirm or allay his fears is a video on YouTube called “drink driving limits in Ireland”.
His interest is piqued because this is exactly what he is looking for.
Five weeks later I am standing shoulder to shoulder with Micheal O’Shea in the Criminal Courts of Justice, Dublin, Ireland when his case is called by the Court Registrar.
Mr. O’Shea is now my client.
3 Step Client generation for lawyers
Client generation for lawyers is a simple task when you remember an old sales adage-“don’t talk to me about your weed killer, talk to me about my weeds”.
There are 3 fundamental steps you need to take to ensure your website is a genuine asset for your business and not just a necessary but ultimately useless adornment, somewhat akin to a chocolate fireman.
1) Provide useful, relevant, keyword optimised content (lots of it) about the problems facing your potential clients;
2) Make it easy for them to contact you (and they will);
3) Respond quickly and professionally.
Keep in mind that you must become a problem solver. Your searcher and potential client is looking for a solution to a problem.
Will your website provide that solution? If it does, your client pipeline will flow freely.
Offices in London, Tokyo, Paris
Your potential client really doesn’t care if you have offices in London, Tokyo and Paris. He is not concerned about your wood panelled offices. He doesn’t care about your country club memberships or your society memberships or your charity work.
All of the above is very impressive and laudable.
But your searcher simply wants a solution to his problem.
And just how many videos do you think there are on YouTube about “drink driving limits in Ireland”?
You guessed right if you guessed one. And it took all of five minutes to make and upload.
Always be solving and good luck..”
The internet marketing strategy at work here can be just as easily applied very successfully to many other professions and businesses.
Relying on a one size fits all approach to internet marketing for lawyers and the drawing of incorrect conclusions of marketing campaigns in other industries can be an expensive mistake..for the legal professional.
Feel free to contact us to devise a strategy to help you generate new clients for your law practice. The strategy that we devise for your practice will be drawn up by a lawyer for lawyers in a cost effective, smart, strategic way.
It is a strategy which will generate new traffic and leads for your law practice-if you want a fancy, ineffectual digital marketing strategy with buzzwords and bells and whistles..this strategy is not for you.
However if you want to build a real online marketing presence which will attract hot leads searching for the practice areas and services that you provide and which will be a genuine asset to your practice simply use the contact form at the top of this site.