Wednesday, September 09, 2009

9 Ways to Make Your Business More Findable than a Smile at a Nudist Colony

Marketing is simple:

Create a product that customers can stumble upon, obsess over, fall in love with, become addicted to and tell their friends about.

Fine. But HOW?

Well, if you want customers to stumble upon you, you need to become more findable.

Here are ten strategies to boost your findability:

1. Definition. Peter Morville is the father of findability. He first defined the term in 2005 in his book Ambient Findability, as “The ability of users to identify an appropriate website and navigate the pages of the site to discover and retrieve relevant information resources.”

Ease and comfort. That’s the secret. And, being findable isn’t just limited to online. When I emailed Peter for a more recent quotation on the topic, his answer blew me away:

“For every company that's been flushing money down the toilet – by sending radio messages to people on iPods, sending TV messages to people zapping by TiVo, placing ads in death-spiral newspapers, running ads in Yellow Pages that nobody under 70 uses – it's about time to reconsider the budgets for outbound messages versus making yourself findable by real people in the real world.”

Relevancy and realness. There’s your next secret. And that’s only the beginning.

FIND OUT: Are you winking in the dark?

2. Purpose. “The fundamental goal of findability is to persistently connect your audience with the stuff you write, design, and build,” explained author and blogger Aaron Walter from A List Apart Magazine. So, by persistent he means constantly showing up on people’s radars. By connect he means making your company the conduit. And by audience he means customers, readers, viewers or whomever comprises your constituency.

Walter also wrote, “When you create relevant and valuable content, presented in a machine readable format, and provide tools that facilitate content exchange and portability, you’ll help ensure that the folks you’re trying to reach get your message.”

There’s that word again: Relevancy. I hope you’re noticing a trend.

FIND OUT: What content do you want to become known for?

3. Motive. Here’s the deal: People go to Google for one reason: Pornography. And second, to solve a problem. Your mission is to figure out what your customers are SICK of doing, position your expertise as the key to NEVER doing that again, then make it easy and quick to find. So, take some time to think: What problem do you solve? What is your business the answer to? What is your business the shortcut for?

Find the answers to those questions and the right people will find YOU.

FIND OUT: When someone googles your name, what do you want to happen?

4. Survey yourself. Speaking of solving problems: How did YOU “find” the last five websites, stores, restaurants, products or businesspeople that you absolutely fell in love with? What were the exact steps that took you to those sites? And how did those businesses solve your problem? I challenge you to make a list, extract the commonalities of findability and then emulate those attributes in your own business.

You might be shocked at how findable (or not findable) you already are.

FIND OUT: How do YOU usually find things?

5. Take every interview. As a small business owner myself, the biggest contributing factor to my findability (aside from writing) are the 500+ interviews I’ve done since 2002. From major media appearances on The Today Show, CNN and 20/20, to expert opinion pieces published in WSJ, COSMO, FastCompany & Investor’s Business Daily, to more casual interviews with niche bloggers and podcasters, the point is: Interviews are highly findable. Period. What’s more, interviews position you in a thought leadership role. That way, when people DO find you – you’re perceived as the expert.

My suggestion: Take every single one of them. It doesn’t matter if it’s USA Today, some blogger in Taiwan or a local high school journalism class. If somebody wants to interview you, your answer is, “What time is good for you?”

Interviews lead to more interviews. Interviews get traffic. Interviews are great practice talking about your product. Interviews make you findable. (By the way, if you're reading this and you'd like to interview me, send an email! I'm yours.)

FIND OUT: How many interviews have you turned down because the publication didn’t have the words, “New York Times” in the title?

6. Divorce your ego. Heather Lutze, author of The Findability Formula, says the key reason why businesspeople fail at findability is that they do not take ownership of how they want to be found, nor do they understand what buying customers are typing into the search engines when looking for that company’s product or service.

“Business owners often hold tight to a concept I call Ego Keywords. These are the broad search terms owners get a physical rush over when thinking about seeing their name listed on the first page of that search results page, such as ‘television,’ ‘stationary,’ florist, etc. These terms get searched hundreds of thousands of times each month, and they get dizzy thinking about all that fantastic exposure.”

Lesson learned: You aren’t your customer. It doesn’t matter what YOU love; it matters what THEY’RE searching for. After all, you can't spell "google" without "ego."

FIND OUT: What’s standing in the way of YOUR findability?

7. Research. Speaking of keywords, meet Adam Kreitman. He’s a colleague of mine and the owner of the Internet marketing consultancy, Words That Click. Building off of Heather’s comment, Adam suggests we ask three questions to boost findability:

• Which search terms are the people you want to discover you typing into Google?
• How many people are typing them in each day?
• How many competitors would you be competing with if you targeted those keywords?

Sure, answering these questions will take some thought and some research, Adam says, but taking the time to do so is essential to making yourself more findable.

FIND OUT: What keywords are the tickets to overflowing with Google juice?

8. Nichify yourself. “If you're a financial planner, it's going to be tough to get people to discover your generic financial planning blog in the sea of generic financial planning blogs,” Adam warned.

“But, if you blog about small cap international stocks in limerick form, then you're sure to stand alone.” So, he’s not suggesting becoming a poet. Rather, to think about whatever everyone who does what you do is already doing – then do the opposite. Remember: The more rules you are the exception to, the more findable you become.

FIND OUT: Are you a “same-old-lame-old” business?

9. Demonstrate to people that you're worth being found. When Adam first offered me this suggestion, I nearly peed myself. What a concept! Be worthy of being found. Wow.

“The best strategy for accomplishing this is to push out a steady stream of original, quality, remarkable content. Make it worthwhile for people to overcome their ‘click inertia,’ visit your website, watch your video (and then, more importantly) come back for more.”

FIND OUT: Do you have something worth finding?

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REMEMBER: Create a product that customers can stumble upon, obsess over, fall in love with, become addicted to and tell their friends about.

Make yourself more findable today.

Of course, that’s only the beginning.

Then you have to ask the bigger question: “What happens AFTER people find you?”

But that’s a different topic altogether.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
How are you boosting your findability?

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* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

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