Differentiate, Don’t Imitate

Ever went to a website and read hollow marketing messages which didn’t mean a thing but sounded like they meant something if only you could find out what? I am sure you can recall plenty! What’s a hollow marketing message? How about:

“We are well-positioned to use cutting-edge technologies to provide the best quality services to our global customers.”

“Our exceptional quality and promise of excellence is our assurance to you.”

Empty marketing messages on websites are annoying to read and don’t communicate anything to customers. This also happens when most companies take the lazy way out – they just copy whatever text is found on their brochure or flyer and put it online.

It is such a waste because you are supposed to differentiate your business online, not imitate what the rest of the world is doing and spouting! (Speaking of which, I do know many business owners who can’t stop copying what their competitors are doing. Don’t do what everyone else is doing. That’s the surest way to bore your customers.)

Don’t waste your precious website space by putting sheer marketese/empty marketing messages online. Customers are turned off.

As I often advise would-be clients, a website is not designed to stand alone. It should be part of a well-thought out marketing strategy which incorporates online and offline methods.

Use your offline promotions to draw people to visit your website.

Use your website to draw people to visit your brick-and-mortar store, if you have one.

Use your website to show why they should do business with you; in short, how unique your business proposition is, not show the same-old, same-old.

For instance, if you are in the services business, say you’re an architect, use your website to showcase your best portfolio pieces instead of lugging your heavy portfolio around town to show prospects.

Using a website, you weed out the time-wasters who are just looking for the lowest priced architect (unless you really are a low priced architect!). Only those who like your style would be prompted to contact you. If prospects ask about your portfolio, just give them your website address and ask them to view your work online. If they’re truly interested, then you can set up a proper meeting to discuss. Isn’t it a better way to do business?

If you sell products such as stationery or mobile phones or luxury cars, you can also use a website to help you sell such items. You can help your customers choose you as their supplier of choice in a number of ways. Update new items regularly. Share tips on buying such items (people are forever trying to decide if they should buy this or that). Tell them how your customers used your products. Highlight some key products. Explain the features and benefits of such products.

The possibilities are endless (and at times much easier to market) because you have products people can see, touch and feel. Encourage them to visit your retail store by using your website as a touch point to connect and give them what they need. See yourself as a person who can help solve your customers’ problems.

It is not easy to sit down and figure out what you are good at or why people do business with you. But that’s crucial if you want to show online how exceptional you are, the quality you produce (just don’t spout the word ‘quality’ all across your website), and how wonderful it is to work with you. But you simply must if you want to differentiate your website online.

If not, your website will be just another of the million websites online with nothing special to show for it.

So the key is: differentiate, don’t imitate. And use your website to help you reduce your workload and market to more people. Use it smartly and you’ll be amazed at how much money and time you can save!

To your web success,

Nic

By the way, here are some facts to chew on, excerpts from Morgan Stanley’s report.

1. There are 36% of Internet users are in Asia compared to 24% in Europe.

2. There are some 605 million Internet users worldwide (2002) and this figure has grown 18% per year since then.

3. China is tops with the world’s largest number of mobile users and Internet users, comparatively more than US, Japan, Korea, Italy, UK or Germany.

4. Broadband changes the way how the game is played.

5. User generated content changes how content is used and seen online. This can be seen in the way people use blogs (WordPress, Blogger,etc.) and how they socialise online (instant messaging, social bookmarkers such as Del.icio.us, MySpace, Flickr).

6. Internet advertising is set to increase.

What does this mean for you and me? It means the Internet is going to be even more important in the future. And the future is probably now.

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