I know that it's hard to be creative. I know that it's hard to be unique. Get over it. On the Internet, merely copying your competitors works far less well than it does in offline marketing. Unfortunately, Google bares all. If you do the same stuff as everyone else, count on the ones who did it before you to reap the benefits, with your results bringing up the rear.
Why do I say that? Because many small businesses don't like to admit it to themselves, but their biggest edge over the years is that they were local. They were close to where the customers were. There wasn't anything about their business that customers would miss if they moved 50 miles away, because there is another business just like theirs in that town.
I've been talking to a small auto repair shop owner who fixes any kind of car and has a great reputation locally, but on the Internet, he can't break through the clutter. He has always skated by with his local business, but now he needs to realize that specializing is what wins on the Web.
So, if you just see what others do, and say "Ditto," it is unlikely to make you the destination site for your customers on the Web. Because on the Web everyone is equally close, so you need some other to way to be unique besides geography.
Time for you to stare at your navel and decide exactly what is it that you do better than everyone else. The one thing. It's likely to be just one of the dozens of things that you do in your business. It's fine to keep selling all that other stuff, but online, you need to specialize in something. You might even need a separate site.
Our auto repair shop owner is realizing that, online, he needs to trumpet his work on restoring classic cars. It's not the biggest part of his business, but it is the thing that will make people drive an hour to see him, because they won't do that for an oil change on their 2007 Taurus. He might even want to put together a separate Web site just for his vintage car restoration business, to get the best search results.
So what about you? Do you have a "Ditto business"? If you do, you'll never get credit for what you do if someone else is known for having done it first. And Google won't have any reason to single you out. Instead, pick something you really do in a unique way, and bring that to the fore of your Internet marketing. Specializing will break your business out of the mass of clutter and give Google and your customers a reason to separate you from the pack.
Mike is an expert in search marketing, search technology, social media, publishing, text analytics, and web metrics, who regularly makes speaking appearances.
Mike's previous appearances include Text Analytics World, Rutgers Business School, SEMRush webinar, ClickZ Live.
Mike also founded and writes for Biznology, is the co-author of Outside-In Marketing (with James Mathewson) and the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (now in its 3rd edition, and sole author of Do It Wrong Quickly, named by the Miami Herald as one of the 11 best business books of 2007.
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