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Reinvent customer relationships online


March 9, 2010
By Heather Lutze

Topics



heatherlutzethumbMarch 9, 2010 – Companies spend millions each year asking
agencies and marketers to brand their companies in order to reach more
prospects. But how often do these same companies look carefully at the brand
that is already built for them by their loyal, current customers?



Like it or not, your “fan base" has
already built your brand and holds your company's reputation in the palms of
their hands through an aggregate of blog posts, review sites, videos and social
media platforms stating what they love and hate about your brand. In the event
that this is prominently positive, how do you get everyone to collectively
support your brand as a community of evangelists for your company? The answer
is to start loving your devotees and give them what they want, which is a place
to network, talk, share advice and continue to preach about your brand. In end,
this is what large corporations pay the big bucks for: Reverse marketing by and
for your already loyal customers and it’s something you can do yourself.

Take for example a small company in a
predicament. Company founders had built a tremendous brand and had a huge
following. However, the brand was fragmented and uncontrolled online. For years
the owners had been known for their passion and love of their business but they
had struggled to produce a website that would support their loyal fans as well
as perpetuate a brand that would speak to new prospective customers.

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Their problems sat with an incomplete vision
of their online audience and potential reach. Their website spoke to current
brand enthusiasts but could not provide enough of forum for their fans to
express their devotion.

YouTube videos, blogs, unofficial Facebook
fanpages, etc. were appearing across the web and were, in many cases, pulling
away from the core values and mission of their business.  Additionally, unless a prospect knew to
search for their specific company name or slogan they would not find any
official webpages in search results.

How do you build and feed a community of
loyal customers to continue to build your brand from the inside out as well as
open the market and build brand awareness to new, valuable prospects?

Sometimes you need to go big or go home! In
an effort to establish your online brand, sometimes you have to decided to
redesign your web site, rewrite all the content for SEO (search engine
optimization or making it easier to find you online) and start aggressively
utilizing social media to congregate followers. It can be a big job with a big
payoff.

Love your domain name and show the search
engines you care by selecting a domain name for findability because it matters.
What is your current domain name and does it reflect who you are and what you
do? Does it reflect how your customers are trying to find you? Does it include
any of your key words for SEO?

If you are building a new website, ensure
the look and feel is consistent with your mission. Does your old site lacked
focus with too much going on? The example company included over 60
"options" immediately of what the user could do, so essentially the
clear action for a user to take was to "do everything … now." Also,
their home page would be used as a clearinghouse for products on sale, giving
them the image of being the Wal-Mart of their industry. People who came to the
home page who needed help with a specific subject would have to search over
several pages to find the answer. It created a very confusing messaging overall
and was not consistent with their mission.

Their new site has cleared out the clutter
and cuts to the chase. Four primary conversion opportunities are presented on every page of the website. Additionally,
their background is consistent with their other product lines on the home page
and every interior page. The goal is to present a cohesive user experience that
appeals to both the long time devotee, as well as the first time visitor
looking for guidance.

Setup social media for a huge community of
followers that are waiting for your lead. Large communities of devoted
followers are building their own Facebook pages and are looking for someone
like your company who already has a presence. Establish yourself as the
credible, official place on social media sites your followers can trust.

Taking the dive and reinventing yourself or
your business is scary, but even more scary is the inability to adapt and
change over time. The internet is a very fast paced environment and you must
stay in touch with mistakes you may have made in your branding and be willing
to make it right. Ultimately, you'll see big payoffs and great findabilty for
being bold and taking a stand for who you are as a company.

Heather
Lutze has spent the last 10 years as CEO of The Findability Group, formerly
Lutze Consulting, – a Search Engine Marketing firm that works with companies to
attain maximum Internet exposure. A nationally recognized speaker, she is the
author of, "The FindAbility Formula: The Simple and Non-Technical Approach
To Search Engine Marketing" (Wiley and Sons). Heather is a lead speaker
for Pay Per Click Summit, and previously spent two years speaking for Yahoo!
Search Marketing. For more information, visit www.FindabilityGroup.com.