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What do you do for your customers?

Michael Port, in his excellent book, “Book Yourself Solid,” advises consultants to give a great deal of thought to how they answer the cocktail party question, “And so what do you do?” Now, I don’t know if cocktail parties exist anymore, but being asked what you do for a living is an opening that no consultant can afford to give up. Instead of saying, “I’m a consultant,” Michael would advise me to say, “I teach companies how to grow their businesses using the Internet.” By answering the question in a way that shows the value of what you do, you open up a conversation where people want to hear more. This advice is good for anyone doing Internet marketing, not just consultants.


One of the secrets of Internet marketing is to make your company the go-to expert on a customer’s problem. So, your Internet marketing messages should constantly reinforce the value you provide in solving a customer’s problem.
Your Web site, and all of your digital marketing, should reflect what you do for your customers, not some category name for your company. So, stop saying that you’re a travel agent. Start saying that you help people find their dream vacation. Or that you make the busy business traveler’s schedule work. Or that you save businesses money on travel. Be specific. Pick the thing that you are really good at–the one thing–and hammer away at it.
Now, sure, you’re Web site should have “travel agent” in its title. Certainly you can still call yourself a travel agent. But don’t stop there.
And, please don’t list off all the vague stuff that make you special (“We have the widest selection, the lowest prices, the friendliest service…)–all of your competitors can invoke those same worn platitudes. Instead be very specific about what it is you are incredibly good at.
And keep telling stories using specifics that prove it. Decide that you are going to write a blog post every week for the next three months telling story after story about how you solved this knotty problem for a dozen separate customers. Or, better yet, have your customers write the stories.
Or explain the ins and outs of how you do what you do. Don’t just tell people that you find their dream vacation–explain your process so they can see that it’s repeatable. Better yet, if you can use video to show what you do, post that. People believe a lot more of what they see than what they hear.
Don’t settle for anything less than being a known expert in your field. It’s OK if it’s a small filed–start out being the best there and expand later if you can.
So, what do you do for your customers?

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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