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Marketing is so much more than a website

Marketing is simply a conversation between YOU and the people who need what you sell and are in a position to buy it.

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Your website is just a marketing tool, nothing more.

Unlike what you might have learned from Field of Dreams, there’s no guarantee that if you build it they will come. Your website isn’t magical… it doesn’t hold the key to your business success. It’s not that powerful, really.

As a copywriter, I watch many entrepreneurs struggle over their website. They adjust the branding… they fiddle with the messaging… and they try to get it right. Why? Because they think something must be wrong since the site isn’t attracting clients.

Sure, you need to get the positioning and branding right if you want to be successful. That’s why Christine recently wrote a post on branding and I’ve written a few on positioning too. (If you’ve missed them, they are worth the time. Circle on back.)

But, if you haven’t really tried marketing your site, very few people (and probably even fewer potential clients) have seen it. Failure to market is the biggest problem I see when a website doesn’t convert.

What do I mean by marketing? If you’ve been around here long you can probably guess…

Marketing is simply a conversation between YOU and the people who (a) need what you sell and (b) are in a position to buy it.

Entrepreneurs who are confused and overwhelmed about marketing have actually skipped thinking about creating conversations (the strategy piece) and have leap-frogged directly to gathering ideas about tactics.

Now believe me… there are a lot of tactics out there… and any number of gurus who are happy to sell you their “proven plan” for getting more and more… and more… clients into your business.

You can:

  • Create a money-making webinar
  • Follow a proven launch plan
  • Build a successful blog in just 13 weeks
  • Master Facebook advertising or take Pinterest by storm or be an Insta-success
  • Start a podcast and chat away about whatever makes you happy

Sure, there are lots and lots of options. But starting here will only lead to frustration, confusion, and wasted time. These are tactics… and unless you start with the conversation and build a strategy around talking to real people, the tactics you choose just won’t work.

Want to create a winning marketing strategy? Here’s how you start.

WHAT IS THE PROBLEM YOUR WORK SOLVES?

In order to answer this question, you’re going to have to do some hard thinking. (Marketing is hard work, by the way. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.) Sure, you create websites or design membership sites or build email marketing systems. Those are solutions… not problems.

The problems are a little more esoteric… a little harder to figure out and define. Maybe your client needs an online storefront so she can sell her jewelry somewhere other than Etsy. Perhaps your client needs to take the wisdom he shares in person and convert it to an income stream that’s not dependent on his ability to travel to a convention or event. Or possibly your client has finally realized that if she automated her email marketing she would have time to write a book.

The website you create is the solution to the need for a storefront. The membership site is a vehicle to passive income. The email marketing system is actually time to write a book. See what I did there? I changed the conversation from a deliverable (website, membership site, system) to something much more powerful – a real, felt benefit.

TALK TO PEOPLE WITH THIS ^^ PROBLEM.

Remember, marketing is a conversation between two people. YOU + the person with the problem you solve. You don’t need to talk to lots and lots of people. You just need to go where people are talking about the problems you solve and join in.

Do you create membership sites for coaches who want to build on a proven system, course, or idea? Your first job is to find those people and figure out where they go to talk about business. Network. Join groups online. Go to old-fashioned live events. OR – just reach out to a few of these people and invite them to virtual coffee dates.

Tell them you want to learn more about the problem they face so you can do a better job of solving it for their clients. Meet with them. Chat with them. Don’t sell them. Just talk – ask questions and listen to the answers.

In the course of the conversation, the person you’re chatting with is likely to start asking you questions too. Why? Human nature. We naturally want to learn more about someone when they are genuinely interested in what we do… and this creates an opportunity for you.

TALK ABOUT THE WAYS YOU SOLVE THE PROBLEM.

This is the part where you talk about your work. Not the price of your work or the packages you offer. Don’t get all awkward and salesy and weirded out. Just talk about the work you love… and share stories of creative ways you solve similar problems for other people.

Maybe you were able to find a clever way to showcase someone’s talent or solve a technical issue. Perhaps you went above and beyond for a client and created something amazing on a tight schedule or within their limited budget. Or possibly a client of yours was able to triple her income after you finished your work together.

All of these ^^ are good stories. Tell them. Don’t be embarrassed or shy or hesitant. Let your enthusiasm for the work you love shine through.

THEN, JUST ASK A SIMPLE QUESTION.

Now – caution – this is the part of the process that most people skip. This is the moment when we freeze up or over think or get stuck. Honestly, I’m not exactly sure why… but we do.

All you need next is a simple question. Something that changes things from a conversation with no strings, to a commitment for a next step. Not a huge commitment. Not a sale. Just a next step.

Here are some examples:

  • Would you like to hear more about this?
  • Would something like this help you?
  • I’d recommend something like this for you. How does that sound?
  • I’m thinking I could help you. Should we talk more about this?
  • I do this stuff all the time. Want me to put together a short proposal for you?

It doesn’t have to feel awkward. It can be natural… especially if you are open to hearing “no” from them. Especially if you’re not all uptight and sweaty and weird about it.

This, my friends, is basic marketing. It’s a simple conversation… and you can have that conversation in a lot of ways.

When you post on Facebook or Instagram about a project you just finished and share work you’re proud of, you’re doing some marketing. When you go to a networking event for a group of entrepreneurs who have a problem you solve, you’re looking for people to talk to – um, that’s marketing.

That moment when you ask for a coffee date or send a warm email you’re opening a door for conversation (marketing). And – that call to action on your website or in your blog post or on your business card? That’s marketing too.

Before you can successfully implement a tactic (email marketing campaign, webinar, advertising, etc.) you need to understand each of the conversation steps. That’s marketing strategy. I teach a lot about this. Want to learn more? Read this post.

What does this have to do with your website? Your website is designed to fit into the marketing conversation. It’s where you tell stories about what you do. It’s also where you ask simple questions to deepen the relationship and open the door to sales.

But first – before your site can do all that – you need to (1) know who has your kind of problem and (2) get them thinking about their problem and sharing it with others. Then you (or someone who knows your work) can send them to your website to discover possible solutions.

Does this change the way you think about marketing? I’d love to hear from you. Reach out to me by commenting below or sharing your thoughts in the Drama Free Design Group. Tag me… and let’s get this conversation started!

Author: Michelle Hunter

Michelle Hunter is a business strategist and copywriter with a gift for connecting entrepreneurs and their clients using great writing. She is a regular contributer to the DtD blog and co-creator of Designing Success Bootcamp - Helping designers create a strong marketing engine to power business growth. Visit MichelleHunterCreative.com to contact Michelle or learn more.

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