By Trond Lyngbø
For decades, the music industry thrived on a successful model — selling physical copies of song collections (CDs, tapes, records, etc.). Then, the internet changed everything.
The ability to download digital mp3 files transformed the music industry and paved the way for the iTunes revolution. That was a consumer-driven shift that forever altered the way music was packaged and sold.
In a similar manner, online search is transforming conventional selling models. While Google is innovating at warp speed, the sales process of many businesses remains stuck in the 1990s, relying on outdated and ineffective strategies.
Just think about how buyer behavior has changed in recent times. When you decide to buy a car, do you rush straight to the car dealer? Of course not! You’ll spend hours online, researching various car makes and models.
Google Is Guiding You
Search engines have become an integral part of the buying process.
Whether it’s the restaurant where you’re having dinner or the business colleague you’re meeting there, you use Google to learn more – and that affects your perception of the experience.
Businesses that “get” this concept can profit massively… and that’s why sellers need a new rule book.
Prospects are sick and tired of cold calling, unsolicited email and intrusive advertising on social media. Busy sales people can’t find time to be helpful and educate prospects.
In this climate, the old style of passing out generic information and trying to shoehorn everyone into a “one-size-fits-all” culture just doesn’t work.
A more strategic approach to selling involves:
- Sharing information about products and services
- Assisting clients with buying decisions
- Managing feedback on social networks
Consumers want everything they need right at their fingertips. Your only task is to be found — by offering your audience what it’s looking for!
- You can’t push products, only educate and inform
- Don’t interrupt; instead, share value
- Do it on your customer’s timetable, not your own
- Focus on what your buyers want and need
- Stop “selling,” and you’ll make more sales!
Content becomes the link connecting businesses to customers. Storytelling sets the tone for their engagement. Blogs, social networks and video-sharing sites inform, entertain and empower your best prospects and clients.
The smartest sellers deliver proprietary information in the form of white papers and research reports. They also scour the web for other helpful content to share with their audience.
Not “Selling Cycle” But “Buying Cycle”
Control has shifted to the customer — and to search engines, which help them find your business.
Google wants to give searchers the best possible experience. Where you are and what your customers say about you will influence whether or not you are visible on a Google search to your ideal buyer at the time she is ready to make a purchase!
Local businesses and stores are the most heavily affected by this shift. They need a strong, local-centered, mobile-specific SEO strategy to survive and thrive in this brave new world of e-commerce.
Your Customers Are Empowered
While many business leaders have reluctantly accepted the need for an online presence to compete effectively, most haven’t a clue about how things work behind the scenes. Uninformed, unaware, and unwilling to change, they make critical decisions about their company’s future… where the wrong choices can be self-destructive!
Why play Russian Roulette with your business future, especially when there is a solution to stay ahead?
That solution is the content you share with your prospects. People want to talk to specialists. They are your new sales force. Intelligent content is their powerful marketing tool. That’s what generates new sales 24/7, all year long.
Don’t hide your specialists away. Showcase them. Display them front and center. Let them share their knowledge, help people, and become the marketing beacon that draws informed buyers into your sales funnel.
This isn’t a sterile theory… it actually works! I’m getting new, highly qualified leads on a weekly basis just through sharing my expertise.
Strategy Isn’t The Icing — It’s The Cake!
The battle for your customer might loom ahead in the distance, seemingly far away… but it can be lost overnight, unless you prepare in advance!
The problem often begins long before a website goes live. Deals are signed with web designers and content producers. Mobile apps and cool scripts are programmed. Graphics and video are created. And just before launch, I’m asked to sprinkle SEO pixie-dust — and magically have it rank on Google’s front page.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Painting over the cracks might make a building look better , but it won’t fix structural defects beneath the surface.
Restoring a business’ search rankings is harder work than preventing the slide in the first place. It is also more expensive.
Until things are fixed, your business will move at a snail’s pace, limping around, losing money, underperforming, and being overtaken by competitors.
Organic Search Is Ubiquitous
The popularity and growth of organic search is hard to deny. According to the Pew Internet & American Life’s Search Engine Use 2012 report:
In January 2002, 52% of all Americans used search engines. In February 2012, that figure grew to 73% of all Americans. On any given day in early 2012, more than half of adults using the internet used a search engine (59%). That is double the 30% of internet users who were using search engines on a typical day in 2004. And people’s frequency of using search engines has jumped dramatically.
Organic search impacts nearly everything your customers do today, and it will only become more ubiquitous in the years to come. Now is the time to position yourself to take advantage of this shift. The action you take must be professional, strategic and meaningful – cosmetic changes aren’t enough.
You must integrate organic search into your marketing strategy in a manner that connects it to all other business processes. Make it the heart of your customer acquisition — because just as the heart pumps blood to every part of your body, organic search will pump customers and cash into each section of your business!
Mobile Search: A New Frontier
Mobile search has created a paradigm shift as well. When I use my smartphone to search for sushi, Google shows me results for Nydalen in Oslo where I live, not in Bergen (which is another part of the country).
Even within Oslo, my search result rankings change as I move around. That’s because Google is tracking where searchers are (through GPS) and serving up results from the vicinity.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a pure online business or a brick-and-mortar store. Mobile search with a local flavor has changed the game, and organic search results have never been more critical.
It’s no longer 10 blue links on a page. You must start thinking differently to dominate the results so your best customers and prospects can find you.
Things like how well you treat customers, how delighted buyers are with your service, and even apparently trivial things like whether your restaurant smells of cigarette smoke, could influence customer reviews… and in turn impact your search rankings.
Consumers have made organic search an integral part of their lives, and businesses and the economy have been deeply transformed as a result. Some are calling this a revolution. I think of it as an evolution of how businesses have changed to better serve their clients.
Because ultimately, this isn’t Google dictating terms to you – it’s your customers who are really driving the shift. And If you don’t listen to them, you won’t survive.
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