Marketing Wisdom: Why Search Engines Alone Won’t Bring Leads

A couple of companies I’ve talked with recently write blogs every week. Their hope? Get leads through search engines.

It’s great to create content and hopefully, it will lead to search engine traffic and leads. But many companies are competing for that traffic and have been creating content for years or decades.

Rand Fishkin recently published an article called Why the Worst Search Marketers Start Content Strategy with “SEO Keywords”. Even though he’s been at the top of the search engine marketing world for a long time, Rand is taking a different approach to getting more visibility for his company and his clients through content marketing and that may or may not include going after leads in the search engines.

Search-Centric Content Strategy

When people start optimizing their websites for Google, they begin with keyword research. They look for keyword phrases with the following properties:

  • High volume searches
  • Highly relevant to their business
  • Low level of competition
  • Good projected click-through rate

With this information, the company will put together a prioritization chart of keyword phrases to pursue. This makes sense and every site should be optimized for search engines. .

The problem is they spend inordinate time trying to get search engine traffic when they should be figuring out who their ideal customers are and where they can be found. Maybe their potential customers aren’t even using search engines to find their product or service.

Google uses many factors to rank keyword phrases, such as the age of the domain, the quantity of content on the domain, and the number of links coming into the website. New websites don’t have any of this, so the likelihood of getting search engine traffic is minimal.

Instead of spending time and energy on SEO, Rand suggests stepping back and using a business-goal-centric strategy. You should figure out who your potential customers are, where you can find them, and what content you should create to connect with them.

Who is Your Customer?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is your customer residential, commercial, or both?
  • Are your customers local, national, or both?
  • Is your product/service a want or a need?
  • Does your customer frequently choose the least expensive option or are they willing to pay for value?

There isn’t a right or wrong answer to these questions – it’s just a matter of turning the spotlight inward and determining who is most likely to buy from you if you can get in front of them.

Let’s say you build custom dining tables. Your customer is residential. It’s more of a WANT than a NEED. People can live without it or can find a cheaper option at IKEA or Goodwill. They don’t have the time, skill, or tools to build a custom dining table. And you want a customer who can see the value of custom-built dining tables.

Where Can You Reach Your Customers?

After nailing down your ideal customer, you start building strategies about where you can reach them. Where do you find them?

Search engines: The search engines might be the best place to find people looking for your product or service. You could do regular SEO, paid ads, or build up your Google Business Profile if you are going after a local market.

Social media: You can do organic or paid social media marketing to get in front of potential buyers. This might not be your main marketing channel, but it’s always good to keep a steady presence on social media.

Strategic partners: You might find them through strategic partnerships or people in networking groups. Maybe you don’t have direct contact with the buyers but the people in your networking group do.

Word of Mouth: Ask your customers to share their experience on Facebook or even when they’re out at a party. For example, they’re chatting with someone and say, “Oh, I just had a big dining table made. Here, take a look at these pictures.”

In-person events:  Some woodworkers like to set up booths at farmer’s markets to sell smaller stuff to make a few bucks and make a connection with locals to market to. They bring larger pieces to show what they’re capable of creating or even a photo book of finished projects. They even try to get them to follow them on social media or sign up for an email newsletter.

Storefront: You could even find your customers who drive by your location. My wife and I stopped by Authentic Barnwood Design Center after an event up north. I’d met them at a networking event the year before. They have a storefront in Longmont, Colo., on a busy road, so they get a lot of drive-by traffic to get in front of people they want to sell to.

You can experiment to prioritize where you want to concentrate your content creation.

What Content Will You Create to Reach Your Customers?

You now know who your customers are and where to find them. And now you must figure out what you’re going to create to reach them.

Written content: For me, I’ve been creating content on my main website for more than 20 years. Having a ton of content was the main reason I ranked so highly on the search engines when I moved to Denver in 2002. I still create content on my websites through blog posts and projects to show what I’ve done and the story behind them. You can see some of this on my woodworking website, Green Chair Furniture + Art.

Video: You create a how-to video or a bio video to tell your story. And they get a minute or two, you put it on YouTube, you put it on your website. Then another one is a project highlight. It’s like showing a project from start to finish. And in a way, it’s a how-to. But it goes a little farther and shows where it ends up. You know, you have a discussion kind of show, it could be like a process video, this is what the process looks like.

Social Media: You can reach people by consistently creating content on the most appropriate social media platform and doing it with appropriate content. For example, I’ve been hearing complaints about people posting on LinkedIn things that would be better suited to Facebook.

Events: You can do both online and offline events. Let’s say it’s the beginning of November, and you create a bunch of Christmas stuff. You have an open house at your workshop or go in with other woodworkers to host a holiday mart. I follow a Mid Century Modern artist named Scooter on Facebook who does an online cocktail party before Christmas to show off things people can buy from him.

Sample of your product: You can create a sample of your product to donate to a silent auction or put in your booth at a market. When I worked for 4 Chick Furniture, we participated in a fundraiser for juvenile diabetes at a design center by creating a firepit table. There were four of us who hung around and chatted with attendees. They were the perfect audience for the projects we were trying to sell.

So that’s the whole thing. It’s not just putting up written content hoping people will come through the search engines. It’s determining who your customers are, where to reach them, and what content you’re going to create to reach them.

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