When somebody goes to Google and they search for a topic, they’re asking themselves the question, “How do I find out about xyz?” rather than, “How do I buy something about xyz?” When they click on a link they find in Google, they’re really looking for information, not necessarily to buy.
This is an important difference, but many Web site owners forget it. So keep this in mind when planning and designing your Web site. When people first stumble across it, chances are they’re looking for information first.
So what should you do? Give them information, of course!
This is especially true now, where Internet users are so spoiled by getting everything free that they’ll expect it from you as well. And you can’t just offer them junk or low-value stuff; it has to be high quality and valuable.
Be an expert!
One of my favourite actors, Steve Martin, put it this way when asked for his secret to success:
“Be so good they can’t ignore you.”
The one thing that sets you apart from others is your expertise.
Are you an acknowledged expert in your field? Or are you just the same as every other “expert” in your industry? The more you can establish yourself as an expert (and even better, as the expert), the greater leverage you have in your business.
If you’re just the same as everybody else, you’ll be compared with everybody else – on price, quality, speed of delivery, customer service, and so on. But when you position yourself as an expert, your expertise will count for more than any of these other factors (If you need a heart transplant, you don’t say, “Get me the cheapest heart surgeon”!)
Why become an expert?
Your expertise gives you the ability to leverage yourself into a position of choice with your customers – for a number of reasons:
- You stop competing on price. Your customers choose you because of your expertise, not because of the price of your products and services.
- You deliver value. When you establish a clear and direct connection between your fee and the increased value you bring to your customers, your fee becomes an investment rather than a cost.
- You stamp out the competition. Most businesses set themselves up as “shops”, not as “resource centres”. If you’re one of the few that delivers expertise rather than pushing products, you’ll have a clear competitive advantage.
- You work with your customers, not for them. Being an expert puts you in a different position in your customer’s mind. An expert is a trusted adviser who helps the customer to make a buying decision, not one of the many outsiders selling their wares.
- You solve problems rather than pushing products. Customers seeking your products and services are asking themselves the question, “How can I solve problem X?”, not “Where can I buy product/service Y?” Salespeople and order takers address the latter question, but experts make the real connections, because they answer the former.
So even if you’ve never thought of yourself as an expert before, it’s time to start thinking that way now!
If you were the world’s leading expert in this area, what would you know? What would you say? How would you communicate with people in that market? What would you read? What would you write? Then act as if you were that expert! This is not about faking it or deceiving your customers; it’s about your attitude and mindset when dealing with them.
Demonstrate that expertise.
You can demonstrate your expertise on your Web site in a number of ways – for example:
- On your home page, identify the typical problems of your site visitors.
- Write high-content articles that address those problems.
- Publish a high-quality newsletter every month (or every two weeks).
- Post regularly to your blog.
- Write a special report or “white paper” discussing the key problems of your target market.