Ok… you’ve “opened the virtual doors” to your business/blog by telling your friends, family and anyone else who would listen. So what now? (Maybe you’re seeing flashbacks of Kevin Costner in “Field of Dreams”… “if you build it, he will come”.) As reality sets in, and you’re not seeing an increase in the number of visitors (or commenters) or more importantly you’re not seeing the results that you’re looking for (sales, email addresses, attention…), you may start asking yourself what next? Well, there are lots of things you can do like using the Google Webmaster tools, submitting your URL to directories, commenting on blogs and optimizing for search engines but…
Let’s just get back to the basics here…
1) Who are you?
Do people know who you are? Are they aware of your website/blog? Are they getting to recognize and trust you? When you leave comments on blogs (like this one) do you have a globally recognized Gravatar so that we see you (either your picture or logo) and not the default, generic grey icon? When you send emails, are you using an email address with your domain name? Does your signature line in your emails give your contact information, the URL to your website (including “http://” to make it clickable!) and info like your Twitter name?
2) Are you where your customers are?
I’m sure you already know who your niche target customer is. Do you know what social networks they hang out on? Are they business people looking to network online? If so, you may want to join me on LinkedIn. If your demographic is a younger crowd, you may want to build an online presence on MySpace. And can you really go wrong with Facebook? I just heard on the news that they reached 500-million members this week. (Although, I wonder if my target customer were a nuclear scientist if that would be the best place to network with them. – Maybe, maybe not.)
3) Are you building your brand?
In tip #1, I mentioned creating a globally recognized avatar using Gravatar. I also recommended using an email address from your website domain. In tip #2, I talked about creating a presence on social networking sites where your niche target customers are. It’s equally important to create a recognizable and meaningful user nameand consistently use it whenever you participate. This user ID should be the same one that you register your Gravatar with. (I’m associated with the user ID “KeepUpWeb”.)
As a general rule of thumb, I recommend registering your user name on as many social networking sites as possible. Granted, you can’t maintain them all but you do want to ensure that no one else registers your user name. You need to protect your brand. After you’ve registered your user name, pick 2 or 3 social networking sites (or whatever number you can feasibly manage) and build an online presence there.
Bottom line, are you doing all you can to build awareness? Are you establishing yourself/your business as a brand? Does your niche target customer know who you are, what you have to say (or sell) and how to find you?
I’m sure that many of you who are reading this have experiences to share. Who is your target customer and how are you reaching them online? What words of advice do you have to share?