I am sure you’ve heard it before…

“I’ve been talking with several other companies and they are telling me they can do the same thing for half the price.”

My question is…

“Can they really?”

No matter what industry you are a part of the same rules apply. There are companies out there that get it and companies that don’t. When I think back to the beginning days of Mindscape and compare it to the current time there are vast differences. We  have improved our skills, added more talented staff, increased our product offerings, and most importantly added years of experience to our intellectual capital.

Web development can be approached in many different ways and there are multiple ways to solve the same problem.  The more experience a company has, typically translates into a more efficient solution which takes into account all the potential hurdles and issues which could arise down the road. The only way these companies get to the point where they can overcome the hurdles and arrive at an efficient solution is from making mistakes early on and correcting them.  Some companies just never learn and in the long run just go away.

Experience and delivering past positive results has a tremendous amount of value.  It can save you hours and hours of frustration and more importantly many lost customers.

The question you ask yourself shouldn’t be “How little can it possibly cost me to get this done?”

Let’s look at it for a moment.  You are looking to maximize your online potential and revenue with your website.  Do you truly think that the “low bid” is the best answer?  Do you seriously think that $5,000 is going to provide you with a solution that is going to bring millions to your bottom line?

The money you’ll make by choosing a company with an excellent track record and PROVABLE results will be much greater than the money you will potentially lose by being a “test case” for a company that “says” they can give you exactly what you are looking for at a much lower cost.

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Many companies simply put a website online giving information they believe is important and expect it to create revenue for them.  The old saying, “build it and they will come” isn’t true on the Internet.  Sure, there are some companies which have created products that have caught on in a huge way and have become overnight successes on the Internet but, these really weren’t “overnight” successes.  These companies took the time to do things the correct way.

There are specific ingredients required to have a successful online presence.

INGREDIENT ONE

Understand your buyers so you know what problems they are looking to solve and speak to them in the language they speak and understand.

  • If you knew your clients were primarily Spanish speaking you wouldn’t build a website which was written in English would you? It is imperative to take the time to understand exactly who your buyers are, how they prefer to consume information, what problems they are looking to solve, and how they talk.  Never assume your visitors are familiar with all the “industry jargon” and acronyms you hear from day to day.  If your visitors can’t easily digest the information you are presenting to them on your website, they will quickly click on the back button and visit the next site on the list.  Think about the times you’ve met a salesperson that you had a lot in common with and you seemed to be on the same page.  I am sure you’ve found it much easier to open your checkbook and buy what they were selling.  The web is an excellent way to do exactly that.  If your visitors can easily understand what you are saying and feel as if you completely understand their issues, they’ll feel confident that you can deliver the solution.

INGREDIENT TWO
A professional presence which accurately matches your offline brand.

  • Consistency is key!  When someone is looking at your offline marketing materials and happens upon your website, you want them to immediately know they are at the right spot.  Also, a professional appearance will assist you in gaining instant credibility with your visitor.  Especially if this is the first exposure they have to your company. If your website has a poor visual appearance and looks cluttered your visitors will possibly think the same of your company. I am not saying it is important to have all the bells and whistles and flashy movement on your site, in fact, that can simply overwhelm your visitors.  It is better to have a simple, clean website which presents your information in a professional manner.

INGREDIENT THREE

Easy navigation so your visitor can easily find what they are looking for.

  • How many times have you arrived at a store where you know exactly what it is you are looking for but can’t find it? When you’ve found yourself in this position you simply locate an employee to point it out to you.  Sometimes it can be difficult to find someone, but you’ve already taken the time to go to that particular store and the chances of you leaving before making an attempt to locate your item is significantly lower.  On the web it is much too easy to hit the back button on the browser and arrive at another store within seconds.  This can be a frightening thought unless you pay attention and keep it in mind when having your site developed.

INGREDIENT FOUR

Give your visitors a way to convert themselves into a prospect, lead, or sale.

  • Having a site telling your visitors all about your company, products, and how you can help them solve their problems is great unless you don’t give them an opportunity to let you know they want what you have.  Don’t put yourself in a position where you’ve filled them in and then count on them to pick up the phone and call you, or locate the “contact us” link to send you an email.  It is important to have calls to action strategically located throughout the site.  The easier you make it for your visitors to tell you what they want and need, the higher your conversion rate will be.  Your website can be an excellent way to allow your visitor to get 90% of their questions answered and if you make it easy enough, they can easily tell you exactly what they want.  I don’t know about you, but if I talk to prospects where I only have to do 10% of the sales effort, I am a happy guy.

INGREDIENT FIVE

Take the time and make the effort to get the word out to your potential buyers so they can find you.

  • The Internet is an incredible communication medium.  There are over 650,000,000 searches conducted on the Internet every single day.  The people conducting these searches are telling you EXACTLY what they are looking for and you have an opportunity to serve them up with the perfect answer.  Obviously you’ll need to know what they are looking for and what these issues are before they type it in.  The beauty of the Internet is this information can be found easily!  With so much search volume being conducted, you can get an extremely accurate idea of how many visitors you can expect to get based on the individual search terms you are focusing on.  An excellent opportunity exists amongst all businesses to stake their claim and dramatically increase their online business.  83% of all small to midsize businesses aren’t spending any time or money on search engine marketing.  It is incredibly easy to become one of the top 20% by simply doing something.  If you have a solid website as your foundation which is easy to navigate and makes it very easy for your visitors to tell you they are interested, all you need to do is drive the traffic there and expose as many visitors as you can.  They are telling you what they want; now simply show them you have the answer. Unlike traditional advertising you can get free traffic by building your website pages correctly so the search engines find your site and information relevant.  If you do choose to participate in pay per click campaigns you only pay when someone visits your website.  What a novel concept…paying ONLY for results!  If you approach your website project properly you’ll find you can create incredibly targeted traffic and your conversion rate will soar.

INGREDIENT SIX

Take the time to create a plan for your online presence.

  • Successful companies take the time to establish a business plan so they have a step by step roadmap for their business activities.  They have clearly defined goals so they can measure their level of success and make decisions based on their success in reaching these goals. Your online presence should be no different! Determine exactly what you want to accomplish with your online presence. The most effective process for setting your goals is to determine how much revenue you’d like your website to produce for you.  It is very important to set a very specific number.  Once you’ve determined this goal, figure out what each buyer will represent dollar wise.  It is easy to determine your average annual customer value by taking your total sales volume and dividing it by the number of customers you’ve billed over the past 12 months.  Once you’ve figured out this number you’ll know exactly how many customers you’ll need to gain over the next 12 months to hit your goal.  Sounds simple huh?  It is!  The problem is a high percentage of companies don’t take the time to do this simple exercise.  Companies typically just pull a number out of the air and have no idea of what it will take to hit it.  Don’t be one of those companies!

It’s been a couple weeks since my last post and I’ve been itching to find a few minutes to share all that’s been going on. We held our SEO Success Seminar January 24th and that has kept me extremely busy. The seminar was a huge success! We were able to spend the morning with over 30 local companies and shared with them how to develop a successful web strategy through following The New Rules of Marketing and PR.

The Crowd at the Mindscape SEO Success Seminar

In the web development world there is an immense amount of competition and many types of companies.

There are companies which primarily focus on programming and when you see their sites you can typically identify them quickly, as the sites aren’t the most visually pleasing. They have incredible functionality, but they don’t really engage the visitor in a very user friendly way.

There are other companies which develop beautiful websites which effectively convey the companies brand on the web. The sites which come from these companies typically look great, but don’t progress much further than a company brochure. They usually don’t have many “calls to action” and any functionality is pretty much non existent. Companies that truly understand how to translate a companies offline brand to the web effectively are relatively few and far between. These skills typically don’t reside with the “programmer type” companies, so although the brand is carried through effectively, the functionality needed to help the visitor enter the buying process doesn’t exist.

The third type of web development company are the marketers. There is an emerging group of independent Internet marketers on the web. The quality and skills of these marketers vary greatly and so do the results you’ll receive. There are companies out there promising the world and delivering very little, and other companies which are delivering tremendous results. These companies produce sites that market correctly to the buyer personas the companies are trying to reach, but these sites are usually designed on blog software platforms and are completely dependent on a patch work of third party software. This isn’t a horrible thing, but it limits the ability to translate the company brand and can create a very clunky and inefficient administrative process.

Presenting at the Mindscape SEO Success Seminar

Over the years Mindscape has been very aware of the vast differences between these types of companies and we have built our company with the goal of being all three types wrapped in one. We work with companies from the point of setting their Internet revenue goals, finding and profiling the buyer personas they are trying to reach, doing keyword research to help them reach their buyers at the moment they are looking to buy, and developing a solid website which effectively communicates their company brand. We also make sure the website is very user friendly and walks the visitors through the buying process efficiently and is constructed in a very search engine friendly manner. Once the site has been finished we work with the companies on the creation and implementation of their Internet Marketing strategy.

We’ve had tremendous results over the years and have helped clients increase their revenue by millions of dollars and on average increased their traffic by over 300%! With all the competing companies in our industry it is sometimes difficult to stand out and show you are the real deal. We’ve decided the best way to do this is to share the knowledge we’ve accumulated over the years and in most cases we can consult with companies and show them how to effectively drive boat loads of traffic to their sites and convert that traffic into revenue. The beauty is we can teach them how to do it without the need of hiring a Web company to do it for them.

We’ve decided to stand out from the crowd by sharing what we know and helping as many companies stake their claim on the Web as we can. I am sure you can do the same in your industry. Let me know if you’ve experienced the same.

We have been helping companies by developing and implementing successful Internet based strategies for the past 7 years. This is a highly competitive area of the web and “in my humble opinion…” some of the results we’ve helped our clients achieve are quite amazing! We felt our methods were top notch and that we had some of the best processes in place to help our clients understand the web and how to succeed on the Internet.

You notice I am speaking in past tense…

In October I picked up a book called “The New Rules of Marketing & PR.” The minute I cracked the cover I was blown away! I immediately went to Amazon.com and ordered copies for my entire Web PR department and my business partner. This book is required reading for every person in our company who works in our Internet marketing area and quite honestly, should be required reading for every company who is looking to succeed on the Internet.

Over the years I’ve found very few people who actually understand all the components that go into a successful online strategy, and even fewer who can articulate it clearer. Upon further investigation I found this book is the number one web marketing book on the planet which after reading, wasn’t a real surprise.

I am a firm believer that a company can’t ever get to the point where they feel they’ve “arrived” and stop improving. If they do, they’ll certainly die. I am not saying a company needs to continue to grow to be viable, but I AM saying a company that doesn’t constantly thrive to get better, will absolutely lose its’ viability.

With this being said, I am a HUGE proponent of constantly learning new techniques and skills, so we never find our company in this position. Once I finished reading “The New Rules of Marketing and PR” I immediately sought out the author, David Meerman Scott, and began reading his blog in hopes to learn more. I found out he held seminars and was determined to find one I could attend which fit my schedule.

I was successful! I just returned from the Pragmatic Marketing “New Rules of Marketing” seminar in Boston, MA. All I can say is WOW! The book was excellent, but the seminar was amazing!

There is only one way to get better at anything and it is to model the best. I would encourage everyone reading this blog to find the leader in an area in which you strive for excellence, and learn everything you can from them. If you follow this recipe, you are sure to find success!

Pete Brand with David Meerman Scott

One of my previous blog entry titles was “Accelerate your growth by working less.”  I am sure if you’ve taken the time to read that entry you’ll understand the thought process behind the statement.  The reason I believe this to be true is by working less you give yourself the mental break necessary to stay fresh which leads to a much better ability to stay focused on your objectives.

We work with companies every day in developing strategies to increase their online revenue.  The beauty about the Internet is anyone who takes the time to set a clear objective, has the ability to stay focused, and takes consistent action towards the pursuit of those objectives WILL SUCCEED!  This sounds very simple and obviously  isn’t just limited  to Internet based businesses.  The beauty of the Internet is it is very simple to establish a baseline in the beginning of your efforts and easily track your progress.  In “the old days” you were limited in the ways you could measure your progress and the lack of these available metrics made it easy to get frustrated and abandon your plan.  The Internet provides the metrics to, in some cases, track your progress hourly!

Companies are quickly realizing this and it is my belief that the Internet is only going to explode as more and more companies rush to the Internet to stake their claim!  Since this is the time of the year for New Year’s Resolutions … make the commitment to maintain a laser like focus on your objectives and take consistent action towards obtaining those objectives.  When you look up at the end of the year you will be extremely glad you did!

I am amazed how long it took me to realize an obvious fact.  If a company doesn’t make a profit, they won’t be around very long.  For years it seemed as though we were chasing our tails and constantly losing money on jobs.  Whether it was because we under quoted the job to get the work in house, or allowed the project to experience massive “Scope Creep” and when it was all said and done … we would either break even or lose money.  The interesting thing is that the “embarrassment” to make a profit didn’t kill us!

I am a creature of habit and therefore have many companies with which I consistently transact business.  I develop relationships with the people at these companies and enjoy the interaction I experience.  I know they are making a profit from my loyalty and when I stop to think about it … I am glad they do.  I know the better these companies are doing, the better the chance they will be there to take care of me for the long haul.  Once I develop a trust in a companies ability to provide me with consistent service, I want to protect that relationship so I don’t have to go through the painful task of finding a replacement.

I believe our client’s feel the same way!  They chose us based on the belief that we could deliver a solution for an existing problem they were facing.  I believe they also made the decision to do business with us because they trusted we would be here for a long time to support them with any future needs.  We owe it to them to give all of our clients a fair price and a quality product.  Most importantly, we owe it to our clients to make a fair profit so we can continue to be there for them when future needs arise.

Remember:  There is no need to fear profit!  Companies DO NOT exist long term unless they make a profit and if they aren’t practicing profitable habits, they won’t be there to support the work they are proposing for you anyhow.

Alright, I have to be the first to admit I am not the happiest person in the world when sales people come knocking on my door. Sometimes I feel like a hippocrate since I have been selling in one form or another for the past 20 years, but when I stop and think about my attitude towards the “door knockers” I see it pretty clear.

The times in my career when I’ve felt the best about selling is when I took the time necessary to fully understand my potential client’s business and determined exactly what they wanted to accomplish … and then figured out a solution! There is no reward in working hard to spit out all the correct sales closing techniques only to convince someone why they should spend money with you. There is no reward in pressuring someone into finally saying “ok, ok, ok … I’ll give you my business.” You may say, “There most certainly is a reward … you get a commission for getting a yes.” Let me repeat … THERE IS NO REWARD IN SELLING!

I’ve reviewed hundreds of books and tapes and attended many seminars, and always seem to get the most excited when I find someone that gives a new technique on setting goals. I am sure all of us think we have goals, but how many of us truly do? How many of us begin each day working toward a clear, tangible reward by taking action steps which will surely help us arrive there.

I get excited when I meet with a company that has a true idea of what they want to accomplish. When I am presented with this goal, I enjoy nothing more than sitting down with them and putting our heads together to come up with a solution. I obviously could never know their business as well as they do, and conversely, they can’t possibly know my business as well as I do. This combination can be powerful if the two of us approach it with the goal of not only defining the end result they would like, but also by defining an action plan to get us there. If this is the approach taken, there is no selling! The two companies simply combine the existing knowledge from their own points of view, and determine a strong solution!

To all you “door knockers” out there…

Take the time to find out what I want to accomplish and use your expertise to show me how to arrive there with your product or service. I am sure there are many people out there that feel the same as I do and I’d love to hear from you!