Ask Judi: Launch a Website?
Q: “I’m great at my work. I dedicate long hours to doing it right. But how do I make my community realize I can solve tough problems—and thereby grow my practice? Should I start by focusing on developing an online presence?”
A: Here I’m paraphrasing a question I fielded from an advisor who attended my Behringer True program keynote presentation about personal branding:
Although self-deprecating and pleasant, this guy is fiercely independent, a sole practitioner all the way. He emphasized how busy he stays just taking care of the day’s business; he doesn’t have time for promotion. His situation is so common; it’s likely you can relate to him very well.
A Silicon Valley resident, he wanted to target high-end technology executives. “Wealthy people know I’m in the business,” he explained. “But they don’t do business with me.” Mostly, he communicated by Blackberry—and realized he was a bit behind on 21st Century communications trends.
He was energized by the idea of identifying his ideal client and customizing his marketing plan. When I asked about his strategy, he announced he was going to launch a terrific website. This way, tech-savvy people in his area would easily find him online and see that he was up to their speed.
First problem: this approach is tactical. When I pushed back with a short question, “Why?” his silence indicated he didn’t yet know his brand voice and target market. That’s the strategic horse that must precede the tactical cart.
You can’t start designing a website, or rolling out a Twitter feed, Facebook page, et al without doing two things:
• Identifying exactly who you are targeting with this outreach; and
• Knowing whether this ideal audience would actually value a website, tweets or clever Facebook page.
So don’t sit pat if you’ve mastered Snapchat: the medium isn’t the message here. The first step for this gentleman was an upfront investment in his user—that is, his ideal client.
I coached him to dig deeper. Launching a site can be a good tactic, but it can’t replace soul searching and connection to the thoughts of his target audience. He needed a cohesive, unique strategy for not just being known, but being engaged with those potential clients. Then it will be easier, not just to meet their needs, but even to anticipate them. They’ll seek him out once he manages that.