When I meet with business owners who are preparing to sell their businesses, it is not uncommon to find that their marketing hasn’t changed much for several years. They still pay for the yellow pages. They may not have a website – or, if they do, they don’t know how to use it. They don’t use Google Adwords. They are probably not using social media.
It is easy to be overwhelmed by the marketing choices today and not do anything different. But, reaching customers has changed tremendously over the past 20 years and any business that hasn’t changed its marketing is losing out on many potential customers. It isn’t as difficult as you may think. Here are some easy ideas for updating your marketing.
For starters, you must have a website. The first thing a potential customer will do to check you out is look at your website. The website should have an up-to-date appearance. It should be “responsive”. What that means is that it automatically looks good on whatever device – computer, tablet, or smartphone – someone is using to view the website. Be sure your website has your contact information and contact forms on most pages so it is easy for a potential customer to contact you.
Your website should be optimized for search engines. Try to use a URL that relates to the products or services you sell – not just for the home page, but for internal pages. Focusing each page on a term or topic that people will be searching for will help that page to be ranked higher on the search engines.
When people do searches on the Internet, there are two types of results that appear. At the top and side of the page are “Sponsored Links”. These are “pay per click” ads; about 30% of people click on these. The rest of the results, which 70% of people click on, are “natural” results. These are chosen by the search engine’s software as the website pages that are most relevant to the search terms entered. Although it doesn’t cost anything to appear in the natural results, it can be difficult to be listed on the first page of the search results. That is as much as most people look at.
Google Adwords, and BingAds, serve up the “Sponsored Links” that you see at the top and side of search results. This is a very good way to market your website and, consequently, your business. Although it costs money to advertise this way, you have more ability to be seen on the first page of the search results. One of the best features of this advertising is the ability to target your advertising. The most basic targeting is by geography. Your ads are not shown outside of the area you specify. You can also adjust your advertising over time as you see what works, and what doesn’t. I’ve found that it makes sense to pay more to be listed in the search results at the top of the page rather than the side. I would also suggest that, rather than sending everyone to your homepage, you create landing pages tailored to the ads you are running.
What about social media? If you are a retail business, it probably makes sense to have a Facebook page. Be sure to keep it up. If you are doing business to business sales, LinkedIn may be better for you. Some people find that participating in groups on LinkedIn can be an effective way to attract customers.
How do you find someone to create the website and Adwords marketing? You can search for them using the search engines. You can also go to websites where free-lancers are offering their services. Some popular websites are www.elance.com, www.guru.com, or www.mosaichub.com.
If you are preparing to sell your business, don’t forget to have an up-to-date marketing program. Of course, the other benefit is that while you own the business, you should get more leads, more sales, and more income. If you need to update your marketing, start with the basics. Create, or update, your website and do some Adwords marketing. These are likely to get you the most “bang for the buck” and the best results for the efforts.