Nov 12

Unless you've been under a rock for the past year you probably noticed that the economy has been a little rocky.  Understatement?  Maybe, but times like these remind me of a wise old man I once knew.

My Grandfather used to say…"When the going gets tough, the tough get…creative!"

An example of this creativity is the use of websites in a commercial manner by individuals who don't own or control the company for which they work.  Let's look at someone who does outside sales for some sort of manufacturer.  Obviously the company will have a website.  But, this salesperson probably won't have any input on what goes onto the website.

So, why not set up her own website?  If she was in the valve business, for example, she could buy a domain name like www.greatvalvesolutions.com.  Then she could put a blog onto her domain and start adding content.  She could write articles about her industry…companies, upcoming changes, the impact of legislative rulings, etc.

Now, the question is why in the world would she want to do something like that?  To make more money, of course.

Here's how it would work…

1.  She sets up the technical pieces of her website and starts writing articles.  Creating high-quality, unique contact does a couple of things for her.  First, it improves the overall quality of her site in the eyes of search engines.  Second, it establishes her as an expert in her field by demonstrating her knowledge.  This is very similar to off-line business practices such as networking functions.  Remember, people do business with those they know, like and trust.

2.  She creates something of value that she can give to prospects.  It can be a white paper, a video, an audio lesson, etc.  It needs to be something that is valuable to the customer but that does not give away all of her secrets.  The idea is that if she gives her prospect this gift they will think…wow if she gave this away for free, her paid stuff must be fantastic!

3.  She begins doing market research by setting up a survey on her website.  At the same time she would start doing some keyword research to see what her customers and prospects are looking for.

4.  Now, using the keywords she researched earlier, she sets up a Google Adwords account and drives traffic to the page where the survey is located.  She offers her visitors the free white paper or dvd in exchange for filling out the survey.  She is gathering valuable marketing data AND building an email list.  Note that this email list is not just a random list, but a treasure chest of potential customers.

5.  It's time to do some data mining.  She will look at the surveys and get a feel for what people are looking for.  This data helps in two ways.  First, she can get an idea of what people will and wont buy.  Second, she can get a feel for the "lingo" of the market.

6. Assuming her feedback was mostly positive, now she can begin building a landing page on her domain.  She will refer often to the data she received from her surveys.  For instance, if several people noted that "left handed valves" were better than "right handed valves" she would play that up in her ad copy. 

7.  She will create another Adwords campaign, using what she learned from the earlier one, and drive traffic to her new landing page.  From there she either sends her visitors to her corporate site to make a purchase or has them contact her (depending on how her sale cycle works).

8.  Now she just fine tunes everything…her ads, her keywords, her landing pages, etc.

Done correctly, this website will provide the salesperson several important benefits.

Obviously, she should generate a steady stream of leads and hopefully get more sales.  Also, she creates something of value that does not belong to her employer.  So, if things don't work out, as they often don't, she can move on to another manufacturer…taking her entire business with her.