6 Tips for Small Business Marketing Success

I met some great people and attended some awesome sessions at SES San Jose, but the highlight for me was keynote speaker Dan Heath. His concepts and thought processes were the perfect mesh for my quest to find a glimmer of small business marketing in a sea of corporate suits.

In many cases, keynote speakers don’t talk about anything I can apply to my life as a search engine marketer. I’m not looking to sell a company for $23 million. My clients aren’t on the Fortune 500 list. I work with small clients and small budgets.

That’s why Heath was much different. He and his brother, Chip, wrote a book called “Made to Stick.” I scored a free copy in my conference bag and I’m in the process of devouring it. The full video of the keynote is available in the SEW members section, while the audio version is at WebmasterRadio.fm. Give it a watch or listen.

Although “Made to Stick” wasn’t written for the SEM industry, the main tenets can be translated — and scaled — for use in campaigns that run from $100 to $1 million a month. The best part of the book: it’s entertaining, which alone makes the book “stick.” But how can the success of the sticky idea be analyzed, and repeated? For my small-business brain, the real inspiration came in Heath’s explanation of S.U.C.C.E.S.

Basically, there are six components of a sticky idea. They use a handy acronym to describe those components:

S: Simple
U: Unexpected
C: Concrete
C: Credible
E: Emotional
S: Stories

1. Simple

If you’re looking for a way to sell products that people will relate to, keep your Web site ideas (or content) simple. Crowding pages with text links, image links, Flash item photos, a zillion items, different colors, and animation can lead to “decision paralysis,” which means that the more choices a user is given, the less likely it is they’ll make a decision at all.

The natural tendency of a small business Web site owner is to cram every speck of information into every nook and cranny. However, this causes information overload, and you’re much less likely to achieve “conversion.”

2. Unexpected

Make your Web site visitors pay attention. Draw attention to your content by offering it in an unexpected fashion. What can you do with your site to make it unique from every other site that sells or offers the same thing? If you’re a brick and mortar, use your Web site to show how unique your product, service, and location are.

The Heaths’ solution for keeping people engaged over a period of time is to plant ideas that form questions, and then answer those questions. Does your shopper really need that product? Well, if you suggest they need the product to do “x” and “y” because no other product will do both “x” and “y,” then they know they need to buy that product from you. You’ve shown them the problem, and offered them a solution in one easy step.

3. Concrete

Use concrete images to describe your products. Avoid abstract descriptions, inane descriptions, and “buzzwords.” Instead, describe your services and products using concrete words. For example:

  • Good: “Red, round apple”
  • Bad: “Circular-shaped nutritionally significant food product”

4. Credibility

Add credibility to your content by appealing to what your visitors relate to. The Heaths contend that using numbers and statistics to lend credibility is the wrong approach. Sure, you’ll look smart, but you might alienate people who don’t relate to numbers. Instead, let your online guests decide for themselves: “Would I rather pay more for this product and higher shipping costs at a competitor’s Web site?”

5. Emotional

Most shoppers are emotional creatures. Once they need or want something, your Web site must fulfill that need better than the competition. Think about showing a cute little girl wearing the Easter bonnet you made for her, happy and smiling as she fills her little basket. This visual is much more effective than a picture of a hat sitting on a table.

6. Stories

Telling a story about your product, or using your product to tell a story, will endear the “idea” of buying from you. Using Web site content to tell a story is one of the most effective forms of selling online. Sell an experience, not just an item.

This is only a quick overview of the book. You’ll get so much more from reading it. Buy a copy, read it, and share it with everyone in your office, shop, or store. It will inspire you to think more deeply about how you sell to your visitors, and how you use your Web site as a tool to make your brand “stick” with them to encourage repeat business.

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