Improving Online Brand Image in a Poor Economy

It is always surprising to see major brands and companies that have been around for decades that still have website built in the 90’s.  It is fairly common and many times this is simply not a priority especially if the company “doesn’t gain new business prospects via the web”.  The response to this kind of comment of course is “Of course you don’t if your website is old and invisible to Google”.

More large companies (across all industries) are starting to realize the importance of improving their online marketing capabilities.  For most, it is a matter of simply focusing on it, making the commitment, and having an internal team to head up the effort.  Even if the Internet marketing and website development initiatives are going to be outsourced, mostly companies will still need and internal marketing team leading the charge.

Some company owners and executives wonder if now is a good time to invest in improving their online exposure.  The answer of course is that it has never been a more crucial time.  During good economic times, consumers and potential customers do not scrutinize these types of things as much nor do they price compare a shop around as much as they do now.  You have one shot when someone visits your website.  This is important especially if your website is your key resource for providing information about your company and services.

So once you have decided that it is time to make the commitment, what is the next step?  Here are some tips for getting started:

  • Define your business and marketing strategy: Your business goals should drive your marketing strategy.  Look at what you are currently doing (or not doing) and set some benchmarks.  Research your competitors that are doing it better.  If your major competitors have a better website (that has been redesigned in the last 12 months), great rankings in the search engines, and an exciting social media campaign, then you have some work to do!  But don’t worry…the fact that they are doing it proves that you should be too.
  • Website redesign/redevelopment: Before launching the marketing strategy, you need to prepare your online platform for traffic and converting traffic into new business.  Think of this as having a house warming party.  You wouldn’t send out 100 invitations and make big plans to show off your home unless you have done spome “house cleaning” first.  Your website needs to be compelling, user-friendly, offer great value to your visitor, and have good calls to action so the user know what you want them to do.
  • Internet marketing strategy: Start with the basics.  A good search engine optimization (SEO) campaign is the right long term investment to make.  There is no point investing in a new website if noone is going to ever see it (or at least not many people).  Remember my comment above about companies saying that they do not gain new clients or business from the Internet?  Well this is meant to change that.  Great rankings relevant to your industry, business, and services, will eventually build traffic and foster new customers – if the website is set up to convert.  Pay per click (PPC) advertising can be a great way to get quick results in the search engines, target specific areas and consumers, and get faster results than you will with SEO.  PPC is advertising where as SEO is more like a true investment in the future of your business.  Other strategies include social media marketing, email marketing, display ads, retargeting, etc.

The best way to get the process started is to talk to people you trust who are currently doing it.  The most important thing to realize is that consumers in all industries are researching online and could find you if you take the time to “be found”.  The web is a trasparent place and people want to know who you really are.  The days of hiding behind a website that has limited information are over (if you want to survive).   Consider starting a blog and get the executives involved.  If the CEO of Ritz Cartlon can make time for blogging and Twitter, so can you!

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