In this article, Glenn May-Anderson of Lumaro Group talks about focal-point marketing, and the importance of your website in your overall communications strategy.
“I’m not ready to spend $300 a month on a website. Besides, I already have too much business – what I really need is another massage therapist.”
I could see in the window behind her that the wind had picked up, and the snow was blowing pretty hard. I had just finished my appointment with Alicia, and while she was printing the invoice I had started chatting with Stacy, who owns the massage therapy clinic.
(I know what you’re thinking – “Massage therapy? What does massage therapy have to do with marketing?!?” Stay with me here…)
Stacy’s entire statement caught my attention, but it was the “$300 a month” that confused me. It must have shown on my face, because both Stacy and Alicia looked at me funny.
I shook my head and snapped out of my daze: “Wait – what? Why would you want to build a new website NOW? It would make more sense for you to solve your staffing problem instead of worrying about marketing.”
Stacy had been poking around local website companies, thinking it was time to upgrade. Her son (currently in grade 9 at a local high school) was the one who built her current site. It’s not the sexiest website you’ve ever seen (think: 2009), has some formatting errors, and is a bit clunky. And it has an online appointment booking system integrated into it that works seamlessly.
In other words, it works perfectly for her business right now.
I forgot the most important part: She owns it. Domain, code, and all. When her son set the site up, he did the research, built it himself, set up the hosting, and has backups downloaded. On a USB thumb-drive, yes – but it’s a backup, nonetheless.
When I talk with people about how they promote their business, how they connect with their customers, and how they structure their marketing and communications, the first thing I say is, “Tell me about your website.”
I want to see their reaction to the inquiry. I want to hear what they actually know about their site. I want to know if they built it themselves, or had someone else do it.
Then I will ask, “Why do you have a website?”
It’s the answer to this question that, to me, is the most important. Because while I sincerely believe a website is the single most important thing a business, cause, or organization needs to have, I want to hear why they think they need one.
Everyone gets so caught up in technology, in social media, in trying to “go viral,” or hopping on the latest “trends,” wastefully spending money on things that simply don’t matter or won’t help them, they forget the most important thing about all marketing and communications:
Why are you doing it?
Is your goal to attract new customers, or communicate with existing ones, or share your story, or raise funds, or recruit volunteers, or provide information?
Well, yes…those are the results you want, but they aren’t your goal. None of those things will happen unless you do one thing right: Make a connection with people in the digital world that motivates them to engage with you in the real world.
This is where we get to the principle of Focal Point Marketing: Everything you do from a marketing or communications perspective should be to direct people to a focal point, and that focal point is you. Your business, your cause, or your organization. In the real world, that means your place of business, where someone can come and meet you and your people.
In today’s digital world, that means the only piece of real estate you can really own: Your website.
Your website needs to be the focal point of every other piece of digital marketing, promotion, or communications you do. In today’s world, you should be driving everything – every inquiry, every question, every client, every prospect – to your website. A website that you own and can fully control. A website that motivates people to call, or text, or come visit you. A website that leads them toward a human interaction.
This isn’t a complicated concept, and it really isn’t anything new. For all the shiny technology and connectivity we have, the core principles of good marketing and communication haven’t changed in almost a century.
I’m old enough to remember a time when there were no home computers, let alone “teh intrawebz.” My kids (well, adults now, TBH), will never know the sheer joy of leafing through a colossal lump of thin paper, looking up someone’s name, and then calling 14 people you didn’t want to talk to, in order to find the 15th one you did.
Back then, we also had this thing called the “telephone directory whose pages were coloured yellow” (just trying to avoid a trademark lawsuit here). If you needed to reach a business, or an organization, you opened the book (that was smaller than the white pages) and you searched under the category you were looking for.
Then, you carefully read the listings, and saw the big the ads that some of those businesses or organizations paid money for. Ads to promote themselves. To grab your attention. To (hopefully) have you call them. Or, and this is going to seem really weird to anyone under the age of 30, to go visit them at their store.
In the past, it was phone books or newspaper ads or flyers or radio or television. We still have those today, along with a host of other digital options that do the same thing. Yesterday, the point was to have someone call you or visit you in person. Today, the desired result is identical. It’s only the method that has changed: Today, you want everyone to visit your website to learn more about you. Over 50% of people will search the web for information about you before they actually try to call or visit you, and that number gets bigger every year. Your website is arguably more important today than your bricks and mortar in terms of attracting others to your business or organization.
So, before you go blowing your brains out on social media or other marketing, advertising, or communications initiatives, go back to square one and evaluate your website. Does it tell your story in a clean, simple way? Does it speak to your desired audience? To your existing customers? Is it easy to navigate? Does it make it easier for people to find you or connect with you immediately?
Don’t overcomplicate your marketing and communications efforts, or waste your money and time on the newest shiny thing. Keep it simple. Your website is the business card and phone directory ad of the digital age. Make sure it does the basics right, and make sure everything else you do with social media or traditional media directs people to this focal point.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go shovel snow and mess up all the good work the massage therapist did on my back yesterday.
– Glenn May-Anderson is a Managing Director of Lumaro Group
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