(I initially presented this material on a teleseminar with Peri Courtney Enkin of Creator’s Choice. Check out the audio replay on Freedom Call Three. My segment is an hour into the call, but I recommended listening to the first hour since Peri dishes on how to stand out offline too.)
The web is a massive place. Where else can you find 2,095,006,005 people hanging out? That’s way more than the population of China. With the tools we have available, there’s no reason you can’t do and be anything you want to. If you choose to leverage the internet, you can make a really good living doing what you love to do, what you’re called to do.
The problem is it can be hard to stand out in such a crowded marketplace. There are over 133,692,966 million websites online. And just today another 84,946 new websites came on the scene. In this world, you’re always just one click away from being found and being abandoned. If you don’t capture someone’s attention in 3 seconds, they’ll leave your website and chances are they’re not coming back. Afterall, they have another 133,692,965 websites to choose from.
So how do you begin? How do you stand out online? After years of helping clients build their web presence, I’ve put together 7 secrets for standing out online.
SECRET#1: KNOW YOUR MESSAGE. It’s really easy to put the cart ahead of the horse and let the technology drive you. Everyone says you have to be on Facebook, you have to be Twitter, you have to do this you have to do that. But the truth is. You have to know without a shadow of a doubt what you do, who you serve, why you’re different, and how you transform people’s lives. And, what’s even more important is you have to believe it. And sometimes that requires going out and doing thing, seeing what works, seeing what doesn’t work, fine-tuning and putting it back out there.
If you don’t have this clarity, you’re not going to see a lot of results online. You may be working hard, but chances are you’re not seeing a return on your investment. Because if your not clear, your audience won’t be clear and they’re going to stick around to try and figure it out. So before you invest a lot of time and money in building a website or building up your social media, I’d recommend mastering your foundation.
SECRET #2: GO DEEP, NOT BROAD. This is the classic “I’m a life coach. I help everyone with everything” syndrome. Unfortunately, the more you try to serve everyone the less likely you’ll be to help anyone. You audience wants to feel like you understand them and what they’re going through. You have to understand them so well that you speak their language and remind them of their challenges and aspirations in a way that hits them at the core. And the only way to do this is to really focus in on who you serve.
Who’s your ideal client? This goes beyond demographics such as age, gender, income and profession and really hits at the psychographic characteristics of your customers. What are they really like? And what do you they really want? The best way to figure this is out is to get out there and talk to your ideal clients whether or not they’re already your customers. Find out what makes them tick. Ask them what their biggest stumbling blocks are. Ask them what they’re trying to achieve this year. What you find out will be invaluable not just for marketing your services but for developing programs that really align with the people you want to help.
The other tendency in going broad is to create offerings that try to do too much. This is the classic “giving away everything and the kitchen sink” approach and seems to strike most often when you’re developing that very first program. This tendency comes out of good intentions. You genuinely want to help. But sometimes the more you give, the more you overwhelm your customers. Oftentimes the most successful programs focus on a very specific problem and offer a very specific result or transformation. How can you chunk your material down into bite-sized pieces?
You can see a laser in broad daylight but sometimes you can’t see the sun. The more focused and deep you go, the more your marketing will stand out to your ideal clients as the solution they’ve been looking for.
SECRET #3: YOU. I want to challenge you to be you. To be fully expressed in what you do and not try to copy everyone else out there. If your website and your materials look exactly like everyone else’s, no one’s going to pay attention to you because they’ve already seen it before, been there, done that. The vast majority of websites look the same, especially since these days everyone is using the same themes and templates to create their design. While it might take a bit of elbow grease to stand out, it’s worth it.
Think about the experience you want to create for people online. Ask your customers how they perceive you and why they decided to work with you in the first place. Your brand is the sum total of everything you put out – every word you speak or write, how you show up in person, and how your website and social media profiles look. You want a create an authentic and consistent experience in all your touch points that really aligns with who you are as a person and why you do the work that you do. But you also want to create an experience that resonates with your ideal clients, so they see you or your website and say “I want to work with that person.” This feels right.
Because the reality is there are many other people who do what you do. Your customers choose to work with you because of you. They want to enjoy the process, enjoy the ride. So I dare you to be your juiciest most expressed self and see who you attract. I guarantee it’s going to be a lot more fun for you and your clients.
SECRET #4: WORDS MATTER. It’s really easy to get fixated on design. Does my site look good? Is this the right profile photo? And forget that your words are the single most powerful force in getting you business. While design is essential in grabbing someone’s attention and getting them interested enough to read your words in the first place, it’s your words that will draw them in deeper or push them away. Without the right words, everything else you do will be an empty shell. It’s your words that will tell someone if you’re a match.
It’s also your words that will help people find you on Google. It’s really important to know what your ideal clients are searching for when they need your help. What are the actual words they’re using to find you or someone like you? The best place to figure this out is through the Google Keyword Tool (it’s free). Every time I write a blog post, I open the Google Keyword Tool to research how to title my blog post and what words I should be using throughout the post. By regularly producing content around these words, I’m actively attracting people to me who are interested in what I do and more likely to buy my offerings.
If you’re producing content without defining your keywords, chances are you’re spending a lot of time writing about things that aren’t helping you grow your business. Either you’re not the using the right words so people can’t find your content or you’re writing about things that aren’t directly related to what you do so you’re building audience around the wrong topics.
SECRET #5: PROVIDE VALUE. In order to build your list, grow your fanbase and establish yourself as an expert, you have to provide value on a regular basis. As they say online, you have to give to get. The more you put out content that relates to the needs and struggles of your target market, the more they’ll pay attention to you and start to see you as the person who can solve their problems.
Providing value starts with the free opt-in gift you give people when they sign up for your newsletter and I recommend giving away your best stuff right out of the gate. Really take the time to identify what you have that can help your ideal client the most. If you could give them one thing that would really move the needle, what would that be? Once you’ve identified what you want to give away, produce this gift with high quality standards since you want this to reflect your brand and build interest in your paid offerings.
The key to providing value in a focused way is to create a content strategy around the area or topic you want to be known for. That way every post, every tweet, and every email is building interest in your topic and your offerings. That also ensures that you’re growing an audience who cares specifically about what you do.
SECRET #6: ENGAGEMENT. The web is not a bullhorn for you to shout your message to the world. It works best when you invite dialogue and ask questions. Social networks are massively popular because they allow you to engage and interact with your friends, gurus and mentors.
I can’t tell you how often I go to a website where there’s nothing to do. I’ll read some text, but then there’s no next step or call-to-action. Every page of your website should be structured to encourage the action you want your visitor to take on that particular page – whether that’s signing up for your email list, buying a product, liking you on Facebook or calling you. You have to specifically let people know what to do and make it as obvious as possible.
If you want comments on your blog or your YouTube video, ask people a specific question and tell them to post their answer in the comments section below.
If you’re not seeing a lot of interaction or activity on Facebook or Twitter that’s probably because you’re not engaging your audience. You’re not asking questions. You’re not reaching out beyond your page or profile and dialoguing with your audience where they’re already hanging out. You’re not tagging or acknowledging them. You’re not commenting on their posts and their tweets. Remember, this is a 2-way street. You have to give to get.
SECRET #7: KEEP PEOPLE IN YOUR WORLD THROUGH CONSISTENT MARKETING. One of the amazing things about the internet is that people can enter your world through so many different doors. Someone may find you first on YouTube or land on the about page of your website or get one of your emails forwarded from a friend. This presents both a challenge and an opportunity.
The challenge is that you need to put yourself in front of your audience where they’re already hanging out and that may mean finally figuring out social media. It may mean sending regular weekly emails out to your list and blogging 1-2 times a week. It also means that every single touch point or door into your world has to provide a consistent experience that represents your brand. If your website looks great but your Facebook page or Twitter profile could really use some TLC, then you’ve still got some work to do.
While there’s no way around the work. Marketing does take effort and many of the most successful online entrepreneurs spend 25-50% of their time marketing. There’s tremendous opportunity once you connect the dots between your website, your social media accounts, your blog and your email. By sending people from your email to your Facebook page and from your Facebook page to your blog, you keep them in your world. You give them more opportunities to find and engage with your content so you stay top of mind. It takes 5-7 impressions before your message really sinks in, so the more you put your content out there the better.
People are more likely to buy from you if your message or offer hits them at the right time. If that email you send or tweet you post arrives right when someone is looking for a solution to the problem you solve, then there’s a good chance they’ll buy from you instead of looking around. That may sound like a crapshoot, but it’s not. If you’re posting content across your online channels daily or at least once a week, chances are good that your message or offer will hit someone at the right time.
All right. We’ve covered a lot. Just to summarize, the 7 secrets to standing out online are:
#1 KNOW YOUR MESSAGE
#2 GO DEEP NOT BROAD
#3 BE YOU
#4 CHOOSE YOUR WORDS CAREFULLY
#5 ALWAYS PROVIDE VALUE
#6 ENGAGE YOUR AUDIENCE
#7 KEEP PEOPLE IN YOUR WORLD THROUGH CONSISTENT MARKETING
If you want more, remember to check out the free teleseminar version of this content. (NOTE: It’s an hour into Freedom Call Three.)