Why your website isn’t bringing in the business

Despite what many believe, a website is more than just a brochure site for you business. It’s the first thing people will look at when finding out more about your business. So whether you’re a swanky Deira restaurant or are just setting up shop in the Dubai Mall, avoid the following to boost your online presence.

Poor design

 

fractal

Crazy colours on your website can be a huge turn off...

There are few things more likely to put off customers than a badly designed website. Remember the old sales adage “dress like you’re going to meet your ideal customer”? Well the same goes for your website. Glaring colour schemes and images that are the wrong size for the space are akin to wearing a tatty suit and ultra loud tie. Find a website design agency you can work with, and meets your budget criteria, and give your site a thorough overhaul.

Broken Links

Even if your design is passable, just one broken link will put visitors off. Go through your site and make sure every single link on the site works. You may not have the time to do this yourself, but do ensure the person given the task is up to the job.

Terrible navigation

There are two standard ways to help visitors navigate through your website – and only one that really works. Some people still use a side navigation bar, but the way forward is quick links at the top of the page to the most important pages on your site.

The most important links are your home page button, the products or services button, and the contact page button. Secondary to this are the About Us page, offers (if that is something key to business), and support/help button (if you are the type of business whose customers are support orientated).

The modern way to place the rest of your navigation buttons is at the bottom of the page. This is called the footer and, as long as it’s well laid out, can contain a huge number of links to other parts of the website.

For a generation of people who’ve grown up with the web, great navigation is essential.

Media that makes you cringe

You’ll see a lot of video on homepages these days. The reason it that is people take in visual information more quickly than words. However, if you’re video doesn’t load properly, is in the wrong language, is badly produced and sounds tinny, the result will drive people away.

If you are going to have video on your homepage make it good. One problem some companies have is their market is multi-lingual. The way around this issue is to make two videos, one in the first language of your market, and the other in the second language. Not only does this get the message across to everyone you want it to, it also shows potential customers you care enough about them to make the effort.

Dreadful content

Only an amazing website will overcome the problem of dreadful content. Content ranges from the main pages on your website, your blog, your product descriptions and your service explanations. Take the time to write carefully, or employ a copywriter who’ll help you put across your message in the right way to attract customers.

Social Media fails

Content can also mean the social media you have on your site. Some businesses have their Twitter feed on their homepage. This is a great way of interacting with customers, but only if you are committed to updating your Twitter account regularly. A rolling feed from a year ago won’t inspire confidence.

The same goes for your blog. If you have one, you need to keep it up-to-date. A blog is a great place to tell customers what you’ve been doing, upload pictures and videos from events, and can show your industry knowledge.

 

Your website is an incredible sales tool. Make it the best it can be to attract customers and win more business.

Whether you have a small online shop or are a multinational corporation, your brand identity is one of the most important sales tools you have. So how do you make your brand work harder for your business?

There is only one place to start: take a good look at your product or service and figure out what it means to your customers. This knowledge gives you the ability to improve how your customers perceive your brand.

A great way to start this process is to use the four pillars of branding:

Differentiation – How is your brand different from your competitors?

Finding the difference can be a tough task. There are few examples of being totally unique. If you’re the only person in the world who can write a particular kind of software, you are unique.

However, if you are selling a bar of chocolate you have to create the difference. That could be achieved through using high quality ingredients, rare ingredients, making a healthier bar, or through a compelling back-story. Quite simply you have to find the difference.

Relevance – Do your customers find your product or service relevant in their lives?

malteser

Even squirrels have got the Malteser message...

If your product or service is something your customers can get anywhere you have find a way to make your customers think of you first. Using the chocolate bar as an example, why is it more relevant to someone? The Malteser’s slogan is ‘Let your lighter side out’. They’re telling their customers that they can enjoy their chocolate guilt free because it’s not a heavy indulgence.

Esteem ­– Is there a high level of respect for what you do or sell?

It’s important that your customers respect your brand. You have to be authentic with people because if you say you can do something and fail, you’ll lose respect. If you are selling your chocolate on the back of high quality ingredients, you must be able to support that claim.

Knowledge – Do your customer know what you stand for?

An educated customer base is more loyal. Give them the information to understand what your core values and beliefs are, what your products are and what you can do for them. Looking at the chocolate bar again, you have to ensure that people choose your bar because they know the ingredients are good. You can tell them through a mix of package design, and website information.

Armed with this new knowledge about your business, you can start to turn your brand into something bigger and stronger. Here are some simple ways to start the process:

  • Take the time to have a good logo designed because that will become synonymous with your brand.
  • Write a great slogan because this will help people quickly understand what makes you different from your competitors.
  • Make your packaging, marketing literature and website look great – everyone responds more positively to quality presentation.
  • If you’re using social media be active – a quiet Twitter account and empty Facebook page make you look like you don’t care about your customers.
  • Respond quickly to complaints because you’ll garner greater respect for being nice than for ignoring people.
  • Use your website – this is the perfect space for educating people about your brand and by making it a great space for people to visit, your brand will be able to grow in your customers minds.

 

 

There is an increasing amount of discussion about recession returning. All the media are gloomy about the continuing impact of recession on businesses.

This has an effect on businesses and their people, not only in terms of generating negative thoughts but believing them.  These negative thoughts affect the way in which businesses see their prospects of future survival.  It is vital, if you want to succeed in these conditions in any market to ensure that a positive outlook is maintained , essential marketing, sales and negotiation skills are energised and activities increased.  In times of recession it is tempting to cut sales activities which can only lead to further limitation of sales results.

Bill Levell for ISM Training

Bill mentors a delegate during an ISM Training Course

During such times customers place increasing importance on finding suppliers on whom they can rely and who provide them with valuable support.

When the going gets tough it’s not the time to withdraw but rather to become more proactive – increase marketing efforts, strengthen sales activities and sharpen negotiation skills. Even if the business potential is limited, it is essential to be even more active and more focused to ensure of being well placed to capitalise on the opportunities that will exist when recession is finally over.

Customers will be looking for ways to improve their profitability through negotiating better prices and value.  They will be spending more time in analysing the differences between competing offers, however, this will not be limited to price alone.  They will also be making comparisons of:-

  • Performance
  • Cost reductions
  • Delivery
  • Quality
  • Support
  • People and relationships
  • Financial stability

Customers/buyers are not committed to buying at the lowest price – they know that the lowest priced supplier does not have 100% of the market and they recognise that there is always price differentiation.  It is rare that the lowest priced offer secures the business.

What is more important, is for the customer to achieve the lowest cost of ownership of the product or service.  Attempting to negotiate a single variable such as price will almost certainly lead to suppliers having to concede part of their profit to the buyer.

Effective negotiation requires suppliers to thoroughly understand the value proposition of the competition compared to their own.  The implications are that it is essential to assess all of the variables on their values not just price.  Think about the factors that influence the customer’s evaluation e.g.

  • What are the costs and risk involved in changing supplier?
  • What is the long-term impact of building strategic relationships and support?
  • What will be the impact of the products and services on the the customer’s products and organisation?

When negotiating, it is in the interests of both parties to establish measurable, additional value by trading multiple variables simultaneously.  It is much more effective to avoid reacting to price reduction demands and to focus on demonstrating how to help the customer achieve their internal objectives whilst getting valuable concessions from them in return.

Market recession provides great opportunities to increase credibility and customer acceptance through demonstrating a thorough understanding of their value requirements and trading all variables effectively.

The ISM Training Dubai courses “ROI Selling Skills “and “Advanced Negotiation” provide high skill building which will contribute significantly to maintaining profitably and securing competitive advantage during recessionary times.

From its inception in 2005 when Lapitsky and Kim uploaded the first video ”Me at the Zoo”, You Tube has become the world’s most popular online video community with over 3 billion videos viewed each day.

It is a hub for communities and individuals to distribute original content to connect, enlighten and stimulate a global audience. It has a more diverse demographic than you might think with 20% of its viewers over the age of 55, it really is reaching out across all age groups.

It is proving to be a fertile ground for advertisers with producers of online videos making money as You Tube partners or individuals.  The largest advertising companies in the world are running campaigns on You Tube and display ads have increased 10 fold or more in the last year.

Whether you want to entertain, inform or persuade is a decision that will affect how much popular appeal your video has but your decision should be weighted by what your target audience wants or needs to know and appreciate how they prefer to find their information.

Susan Boyle

Viral marketing sensation!

For viral marketing you only have to look at the “Susan Boyle” effect. The UK advert Channel posted a video of her singing on ‘Britain’s got Talent’ which to date has had 75,681,181 views not accounting for  the myriads of video placements found associated with Susan Boyle, other performances, comments and interviews. What was incredible about this from a marketing perspective was the speed at which the video sharing occurred. Were you one of this millions that viewed or shared the video? I know I did.

So how should you approach You Tube as a company wishing to promote itself and what are the benefits of using it?

Approach

  • Identify your viewers and what they want, make it helpful and informative. Aim to become a trusted expert in your field.
  • Consider becoming a You Tube partner. This will help you become featured on their homepage.
  • Create your own channel and grow your viewer base which you can use to email about events or promotions.
  • Consider product placement in You Tube videos.
  • Be consistent with your message and publish engaging content on a frequent basis that has relevance for your audience.
  • Use YouTube tags so users can easily find you.Recognise that this is part of an overall marketing strategy , plan accordingly.
  • Realise that it is an opportunity to reach consumers who are searching for information about a brand or related products and services. This is even more relevant now given that Google owns YouTube.

Benefits

  • It can help increase your site visibility since videos can leap to the head of Google’s search engine.
  • It is a powerful direct marketing tool, when considered as part of the marketing mix.
  • YouTube tags help users easily find you.
  • You Tube now makes it easy to share video socially.
  • More than 500 tweets per minute contain a You Tube link. There are vibrant communities and specialist groups communicating and sharing.
  • Helps humanise your brand. Home Depot and Wholefoods are two examples.
  • It’s a bandwidth saver option for your website’s streaming content though your website links should highlight its availability if you choose this option.

Above all, what all You Tube business users need to realise is that it is a discriminating intelligent community .Whatever your meme or interest, open access content is providing us all with insight, entertainment or breaking news whether it be the recipe for the perfect Mayonnaise, watching Maradona attack an Al Wasl fan or learning how to use WordPress Blog. With Kuwait, Saudi and the UAE amongst the top global You Tube users video marketing cannot be neglected as part of the marketing mix.

If you want to learn more about how your company can leverage Social Media Marketing as part of their marketing mix, ISM are running their Social Media Marketing course in October.

This is my favourite Summer video,let’s hope Wii gave them some free goodies..

Are you reaching out to your potential market en masse or do you use the more subtle, effective method of relationship marketing? Your transactional customers may not sustain your business long term and according to Pareto’s Law approximately 20% of your customers are going to be responsible for 80% of your business. So do you know who these emotively loyal customers are and how are you engaging and communicating with them? Does your business adhere strictly to the traditional marketing mix approach focusing on markets and products or are you developing a more holistic approach and developing relationships with your customers? Is there synergy between your customer service departments, quality management and marketing team and does your strategy recognise that each employee has a marketing function? Are the customers that are initially loyal to your brand about to jump ship because you are not cementing your relationship with them?

Will he let his hair grow back now Steve Jobs has retired?

It is important to know who your customers are to retain their loyalty to your brand, they are the ones that have developed trust in your brand and need individual attention. Analysing your consumer database offers insights into their needs and demographics. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is about understanding who your customers are through long term study, improving the way you communicate with them and is aimed at creating relationships that can increase profitability. Vital information about customers such as frequency, recency, type and amount of purchase will help you develop a picture of their Life Time Value (LTV).  You can segment your markets and target them more effectively communicating with them about products they truly might be interested in, anticipate their needs and track their response to your personalized approach and promotions. The data from CRM programs should feed back to management to drive the marketing strategy forward and assess the most effective and convenient communication channel for your different customers whether it be point of sale or internet based. Indeed for this valued set of customers you should be acutely aware of how they prefer to be communicated to.

However, there is no point in having lots of data if you are not using it thoughtfully and allocating resources to maximize the return from your 20% of most profitable emotivally loyal customers.  Businesses can use free (for basic features) internet data analysers e.g. Google Analytics or invest more deeply by using services such as Omniture or Webtrends. Businesses that choose to use a paid service may already be ahead of the game since they have signaled a deeper commitment to the process of customer analytics.  CRM systems are the key to defining your customers; creating customer satisfaction; improving customer service brand loyalty; receiving their feedback; engaging them as brand ambassadors and can result in directed rather than mass marketing.

So how is brand Dubai doing these days? Well, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, set up the Dubai Media affairs office in 2009. One of its  purposes is to investigate and enhance Dubai’s image  and if recent reports are to be believed Dubai is rapidly overcoming the backlash the city saw in the wake of the debt crisis and more positive chat is appearing again . Sheikh Mohammed himself has 457,885 twitter followers and growing and it is clear that the relationship strategy for Brand Dubai has key leadership support.

ISM training will run the highly successful Marketing Masterclass public course from September 11th to 13th and also runs more focused Marketing Communications/Strategy courses both in-house and publicly.

The way we visualize our physical environment could be about to change thanks to progress made in applying augmented reality to our spaces. Augmented Reality allows information about your real environment to connect to a display interface (mobiles and eventually glasses) allowing added information (the augmented bit), multimedia, interaction and on-demand information to enhance your sensory experience of the world around you.  These enhanced AR systems can track and adjust to the users movements within their environment. It has already been around since the 90’s being used  in industries like the military, engineering, film and robotics but could it become the widespread and familiar experience to all of us?

Augmented raybans

Do you think my augmented Ray bans look OK?

Some of you may already be using geo-located AR through your mobiles overlaying information on your location to help you navigate your way around unfamiliar cities and choosing where to eat, gaming or watching sportscasts with an AR overlay but what are the prospects?

Ultimately it is envisaged that it  will change our cognitive experiences of space engaging us into it, helping  understand community, present and historical contexts allowing for greater interaction.There are some great examples of use and possible use e.g. Hoppola and Superimpose created a sensitive AR layer in Berlin bringing history back to life by recreating the Berlin Wall; the Oxford Natural History museum is working on their AR exploration of exhibits and an app may be soon available for i Phone to allow you to watch scenes from movies shot where you are located. Mass consumerism of this is not too far in the future and once a portable system has been developed combining display, tracking and hardware without any of the current issues there could be widespread application of AR. Current barriers include  getting the virtual world to map precisely with the real world (tracking) and merging seamlessly with user movements as well as creating a portable interface for the consumer that will be secure and universally operational .

So has AR arrived in Dubai yet and is there a market opportunity? I have been struggling to find examples but some Dubai residents and visitors may have seen the digital Memac Ogilvy’s Fanta Chase in Downtown Dubai earlier in 2011. Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) has a new i Phone application for visitors to promote tourism, do you know anyone using it? The recent release of Augmented Reality (AR) Platform for Android smart phones from Qualcomm will allow Dubai businesses, advertising agencies, gamers and educators to build applications based on their platform. What’s clear is that  Dubai marketeers will be using AR marketing more in the future.

Here are a few well known examples of innovative AR applications from around the world.

Heineken ( Taiwan)

Lego

Rayban Virtual Mirror Webcam

Generation X is a term used to stereotype adults in their 30’s and 40’s born in the late 60’s to early 80’s. Other terms used frequently are the lost generation; the 13th generation; the in-betweeners or just plain ‘slackers’. Whilst marketeers desperately tried to define this generation in order to be able to sell to these fervent anti-commercialists, Douglas Coupland ,  who popularised the term, denied there was one after all .He stated that the term had been co-opted as a marketing term. The term however, negatively Gen X er’s view labels, has stuck and has given birth to Gen Y, Z, Jones etc.

Generation X
Whatever your views are on stereotyping it is clear that Gen X are seen by marketers as one of today’s major consumers.
• They are seen as cynical seekers of value, their formative developmental years having developed a generational healthy scepticism.
• They trust peer reviews and third party review sites over brand messages and are tough customers.
• They use mass/social media for their own means by accumulating information to make buying decisions. They are likely to have researched the object of their desire and compared prices or reviews.
• They voice their concerns and have quiet power to influence peers.
• They are comfortable with buying online having grown up with technology.
• They like convenience and don’t want to spend all day shopping after all but instead prefer a short uncomplicated sales cycle. It gives them more time to achieve a life/work balance.
• They respect businesses that give back to communities and have a strong social/environmental conscience and value diversity.
• They have social-cultural triggers that will turn them off quickly and they will rapidly hit fast forward to the next option.
• They are not responsive to pushy salespeople or unethical marketing. They are looking for truth and authenticity; they are sceptics after all and like the sales person to be able to answer their product questions with honesty.
• They are open to trying out new ideas, they embrace new learning.
• They are quality seekers they like the small business brand, they like the corner coffee shop.
Reaching out to this generation from a marketing perspective requires listening to consumer demands and allowing them to become your brand ambassadors. You need to give them social proof and be transparent as a business since they are adept at discovering marketing fluff for what it is.
As Jeff Gordinier, the writer of “Generation X saves the world” puts it:
The generation that is doing the hard, quiet work of keeping America from sucking is the one that still gets pegged as a bunch of slackers: Generation X. Over the past twenty years, in fact, those slackers have irrevocably changed countless elements of our culture – from the way we watch movies to the way we make sense of a cracker political process to the way the whole world does business.
Whilst international brands are listening, respecting and responding to this demographic, is Dubai? Is there a Gen X in the cultural melting pot of this giant Middle Eastern consumerist economy or has this  generation truly been lost and swamped by the millennials already? Join the conversation.