While we are all working tirelessly to increase sales in this unsettled business environment, I’m giving away some of my digital marketing secrets to help you.

Listening to clients’ needs and struggles in the construction industry has helped me develop a syllabus of sorts. I begin with Digital Marketing 101. When clients start asking about Google rankings, Facebook ads and website analytics, I remind them they have prerequisites to meet before getting to that class. That’s Digital Marketing 301.

There are many so-called “experts” and new digital marketing channels; it’s easy to get overwhelmed. One size does not fit all.

Secret #1: You don’t have to do it all to get quality leads.

Pro Tip: If your marketing person is trying to upsell you on these new ways to get leads, be wary. It’s not supposed to be complex. A simple website that tells a story, presents a problem and solution, provides key client success stories and asks for the sale with strong call-to-action buttons is a great start.

Ask your marketing person: How do you wireframe a website to get more leads? If they don’t have a good answer, find someone else!

Great copy supported by clear and inspiring design helps connect your company to your customer’s needs and is another must-have. Hire someone who can accomplish this and understands your values and core principles.

I was recently asked by a client, “Why do we need to upgrade our website if we get most of our leads and clients through associations and relationships? Why do we need to invest in a more modern looking site if we are growing organically through referrals?”

When I asked my client what type of clients he was attracting, he identified large engineering companies with multiple layers of potential customers.

My answer: If you are going to increase your business within this company through referrals, you need to upgrade your brand and digital identity. If you are referred from one customer – who knows you – to a colleague in the same company who does not know you, chances are good that the new referral will go straight to your website to gain a sense of who you are.

This client asked a valuable question: In a tight economy, why should I invest precious dollars in a website when the one we have is adequate enough? Does anyone really go to my website? The answer for his company is yes.

Your website should be a visual representation of what you want to convey to the customer. It needs strong, clear copy with visual, inspiring design. In this case, a multi-million-dollar industrial engineering firm was searching for a national specialty contractor with money to spend on an updated website. The firm was not looking for a budget company who clearly cut corners. Image matters.

In these times, where face-to-face interaction is sparse, our digital footprint is even more important.

Secret #2: Sell the story before selling your product/service.

As a business owner, have you ever sat down with a salesperson and halfway through the pitch you wonder what it is they are selling – and what it has to do with you? This sales professional has forgotten his/her story and is only selling the product.

The story is the why behind the what. Why do I need what you are selling? How will it make my life better, easier and more successful? Selling the story makes everyone want to know how it ends.

Too often, B2B companies forget to be interesting. They focus too much on content and details of the product/service that they miss telling the big picture of why prospects should consider doing business with them.

Good copy opens a story loop in the prospect’s head, making them want to keep reading to find out what the answer is.

I recently talked with a future client who was struggling with converting website traffic to leads. A quick audit of the client’s website revealed overarching, glossy statements like “sustainable solutions,” “make every drop count” and “chemical free is the better way.” The site quite literally showered me with statements about the benefits of the organization’s product. Yet I didn’t know what was sustainable, and if it was supposed to be dripping. Making something “chemical free” sounds positive, but that depends. Are we talking about food, water or hair products? I rather like the effects of the chemicals they put in my hair.

The site was also missing strong imagery to help the consumer understand the industry and product the client was portraying. And it was missing strong copy and inspiring design.

We needed to engage the customer by presenting a problem and our solution to that problem. How do I save the prospect money and headaches by solving a common problem?

Secret #3: Marketing can be aggressive and that’s okay.

While it depends upon the marketing channel, it’s okay to ask for the sale with strong calls-to-action in your marketing. “Buy Now, Contact Us, Get a Quote, Book an Appointment, Schedule a Consultation” are so much better call-to-action statements than: “Learn More, Click Here, Find Out More” or (God help us all) “Read More.” When you have strong problem and solution verbiage above the fold, you can and should ask for the sale with noticeable call-to-action buttons.

Closing deals and warming up leads is not just for the frontline sales team anymore. Digital marketing is now the front line. Hit the pain points. Create urgency. Tell the story of why your customer needs you.

You can be aggressive and straightforward. From websites and email campaigns to social media posts and sponsored ads, make sure your copy is strong and your call to action is stronger.

I like my first cup of coffee strong and my second cup stronger.

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