Helping Your Customers Find You
by Brent Leary
Business owners have a hunter's mentality. They need it to pursue and capture enough
new business to successfully compete in this challenging environment. They spend
thousands (dollars and hours) attending trade shows, conferences, seminars, and
networking events with the primary goal of cultivating new business relationships.
They make sales calls, send post cards, and blast e-mail messages, all in pursuit
of their most desired prey: new customers. These time-tested tools have served the
business hunter well. But times, they are a-changing. Now, when people are ready
to buy, they morph into hunters, with their tool of choice being Google's search
engine. So it's vital for businesses to understand the importance of making it easy
for prospects to hunt them down in their pursuit of the products and services they
desire. Here are a few easy ways to raise your GQ (Google Quotient) and pass "The
Google Test" given by prospective buyers on the prowl.
Commenting online drives traffic
One quick way to boost your GQ is to leave well-written comments on popular industry
blogs. You'd be surprised at the contacts you can make by writing thoughtful, concise
responses to interesting blog posts. Also think about leaving book reviews and creating
book lists for popular industry books on Amazon.com. When people read a good review
they tend to check out your Amazon.com profile, so include your website address
and other information that could drive them to you. You may also want to find a
wiki that is related to your industry and begin participating in it. This is a also
great way to build credibility online, network with others in your industry, and
bring new opportunities to yourself and your business.
Don't stop at just commenting on other people's blogs: create your own. According
to Technorati's latest "State of the Blogoshpere" report, 120K new blogs
come online every day, meaning roughly 1.4 blogs get created every second. Each
day, 1.5 million posts are written, equating to more than 61K posts every hour.
And, because it takes next to nothing to get started, blogs continue to be a great
way to gain exposure. Many people and business owners are making use of low- or
no-cost blogging services to do so.
Participate in a few online networks
Speaking of profiles, creating a profile on business networking sites like LinkedIn
(www.linkedin.com), FastPitch! Networking (www.fastpitchnetworking.com), and JumpUp
(www.jumpup.com) can help expand your reach and raise your GQ. For example, FastPitch!
is an online business community that is a great compliment to the more established
LinkedIn.com. What makes FastPitch! so compelling is the ability to include links
in your user profile to your blogs, press releases, podcasts, and other content
you create. You can even include links to your training and demonstration videos.
As you create blog posts in tools like TypePad or Blogger, FastPitch! uses RSS to
automatically incorporate them into your profile. Press releases you create using
FastPitch! are syndicated to the search engines and begin showing up in results
lists. And the best part is, when people view your FastPitch! profile, they can
see every press release, blog entry, and other content you've created, all in one
Share your slides with the web
Slideshare.net can be viewed as the YouTube for PowerPoint presentations. Just about
every business person has created a slide deck at some point. Why not use this content
to drive traffic. If you've put together an interesting presentation, you can upload
it to Slideshare.net and have people view and comment on it, and even mark it as
their favorite. Once uploaded, Slideshare generates code that can easily be cut
and pasted into a page on your site. Slideshare.net even makes it easy for those
people who like your presentation to incorporate it into their blog or website.
And each time someone views your presentation, SlideShare.net keeps track of it.
If it's really popular, your presentation can show up on the Slideshare.net homepage,
bringing your site a whole bunch of traffic and potential customers. SlideShare
also helps you pass the Google Test as your uploaded presentations can show up in
YouTube, iPods, and your business
I already know what you're thinking. YouTube is for teenagers and people who have
plenty of time to watch exploding Coke bottles. But you can no longer dismiss social
networking sites like these and others as being strictly for fun and games. Businesses
of all sizes are starting to utilize these tools to help them find new customers.
YouTube serves up over 100 million film clips a day…and is growing rapidly. The
most popular videos are definitely on the entertainment side, but there are a growing
number of businesses using YouTube to build awareness for their companies. You can
find out how to change a spark plug, configure a Cisco router, or create a Web page
using Adobe Photoshop. And each video invites the viewer to learn more by stopping
by the clip creator's website.
Like YouTube, the fun side of the iPod is easy to see, but there is an increasingly
important business side to consider. More and more professional/business content
is being created for the professional on-the-go, and the iPod is leading the charge.
Podcasting may have started with individuals sharing their private thoughts, but
now companies of all sizes are using iPods to communicate with customers and prospects.
These are a few inexpensive, easy ways to raise your GQ and begin building a good
rep on the Web. With the cost and complexity of creating and distributing content
coming way down, it's time to figure out what makes sense for you and your business.
After all, when it comes to the Web, it's not just who you know, but who knows you
AND what they know about you, that makes the difference.
About the Author:
Brent Leary is Co-founder and Partner of CRM Essentials, a consulting/advisory firm
focused on helping small businesses leverage Web 2.0 technologies to find, catch,
and keep good customers. He's the host of "Technology...for Business Sake,"
a weekly radio program on
www.businesstechnologyradio.com. Leary received CRM Magazine's Most Influential
Leader Award. His popular blog can be found at http://crm2.typepad.com/.