Reading time ( words)
I will soon perform my annual review of PCB manufacturers' use of social media and I have to tell you: I'm not looking forward to examining those 100 websites again. I don’t know if "cringe-worthy” is a real word, but it sums up how I feel about most of them.
Let’s start by asking the fundamental question: Why does someone visit a company’s website? At the most basic level, people visit because they have a problem they think they may find answers to or help with on the website. In the business-to-business (B2B) world, what problem does the typical website visitor have? A problem with their current vendor or supplier. Business people look for new suppliers for two basic reasons: Either they have so much business to hand out they are worried their current supplier or suppliers can’t handle it, or their current suppliers have quality or technical capability issues which make looking elsewhere a necessity.
So a business person has come to your company website to see if you might be able to help with their problem (Where can I get someone who can work with really high voltages? Where can I get 24-hour turnaround with absolutely no excuses or quality issues? Where can I find someone who can work with [insert really arcane material here}?). If you're like 80% of the vendors out there, what do you give this person? An equipment list. A history of the company. A couple of customer testimonials so vague they're worthless. A news section you stopped populating with news six months ago.
And where does this website visitor go? Elsewhere. He needs to keep searching because the answers sure weren’t on your website. What he's really looking for is a company to demonstrate it understands the problem and is capable of helping with that problem.
Okay, this idea is all well and good, but how do you do sway a customer? Easy. Provide content, white papers, case studies, success stories, blog posts--a slow and steady stream of content. Why slow and steady? Three reasons:
- First, keep it up. It's always easier to write content and find you have more to say and want to posts content more often than to have resources or ideas dry up and have to grind out mediocre stuff.
- Second, so you don’t quit and look like you’ve gone out of business. A number of conclusions can be drawn from a company that discontinues their blog or stops posting to their website--they ran out of ideas, they fired the marketing staff, or they have issues allocating resources--all of which are bad.
- And lastly, so that people come back for more. If you've posted something interesting every three weeks for the past six months, readers will start following your posts and content. They will come to you for answers and will make it a habit.
So this is addressed to all the company executives who fail the content test and have boring, static, dreary websites: You've been in business for (choose from: 20, 30, 40) years. You're obviously good at what you do. You're a specialist with a specialist’s knowledge. Why are you keeping it a secret?
When you're perceived as being the guy with the answers, you win. Your website is the place to demonstrate your knowledge. Don’t be that guy with the equipment list. Be the guy with the answers.
Bruce Johnston is a sales consultant specializing in social media and especially LinkedIn. He has over 25 years experience in high-tech sales and management. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his profile on LinkedIn.