Our Need For Marketing
I had the following sent to me last night regarding 2 organizations I know are active. I sent this person the links to gather information to give to a large organization looking to donate.
Leslie, I took a look at those two Hands and Citizen Action Team and while it is wonderful that they still have the websites up and running they have not updated them since January of this year. There is a lot of progress that has been made since then but there is still a huge amount of things that I could not even begin to list. I have noticed that with a lot of the websites that they have not been recently updated. Perhaps the 6 months of Katrina was enough and they have assumed the worst is over and the rest will take care of itself eventually. I happen to think that this snowball effect has only come to light. The first 6 months everyone was still in a survival mode. And if I may gently remind it took us almost a full year to remove the debris and clean the roads. Now is the time to help...because finally you can come to the area without worrying about how you will travel the roads.
I sent this note to everyone I thought was a leader of a volunteer organization. Most replies were positive, but weak. A few were argumentative. That's fine. I'll take it point for point and not mind at all. This is far too important to let go to waste.
First - I went through the thesaurus looking for words other than marketing. It seems people are having a hard time with "marketing". Well, to me, it sounds better than "advertising", but maybe I'm a distinct minority in that regard. "Advertise" took me to "Announce". Here are those results:
Main Entry: announce
Text: to make known openly or publicly
Synonyms: advertise, blaze, broadcast, declare, enunciate, placard, post, proclaim, promulgate, publicize, publish, sound
Related words: advise, apprise, inform, notify; communicate, impart, intimate; disclose, divulge, report, reveal; disseminate, spread
Near Antonyms: conceal, hush (up), silence, suppress, withhold; recall, recant, retract, revoke
If you are not actively working the synonyms or related words, you are actively working the near antonyms. Do you really want to conceal, suppress or withhold your work from getting the attention it needs to continue?
"...dedicated people who have spent thousands of their own money (unpaid--no salaries here), spent 40-60-80 hours weekly working on relief efforts, missed time with their families, worked through hospitalizations, given up paying jobs to the dismay of their families, and basically have devoted their lives to this effort. So it is not a conscious effort to ignore or overlook updates, it is just a matter of no time and/or resources."
So all of you, who have put your heart and soul into this work, are willing to let it languish, suffer and die, than dedicate even just 2 hours per MONTH to keeping just one part of your website updated?? You would rather see all of these thousands of dollars spent, all of this sacrifice, go extinguished from not putting any emphasis on letting people know you're here?
Tomorrow, I'm going to add more to this - a suggested series of SOLUTIONS, as I have written in the past, but have more to add - in hopes that even just a few of you take them. As one person who wished to argue this point stated We need people to identify problems and then offer to find and implement solutions. I have been. And I will continue. Because this is so important for the survival of the groups and of the recovery process that I won't stop.
Times seem to be lean again with needing funding, volunteers, materials, (L)INK. Without (L)INK, we don't get those funds, volunteers or materials.
So, I found the following, will add a little different wording to help show how this information applies to all of our organizations and possible solutions to the issues. All of the following was presented by Entrepreneur.com.
So what do you have to do to get quality links that will actually count for something with the search engines? Here's Google's answer to the question:
“Make sure all the sites that should know about your pages are aware your site is online.” (Get more tips from Google here.)
1. Search for organizations that are already established within your industry. Most have a directory that lists companies like yours (you’ll probably see some of your top-ranking competitors already listed there!).
2. Scour your competitors’ sites and see if they're affiliated with any associations you should be connected with but aren't yet.
3. Commit to writing an article (or having one written) at least once a month. Then:
Upload it to your site.
Get it crawled by adding it to your Google and Yahoo! sitemaps.
Make a blog post about it, and link to it. (Waddaya mean you don’t have a blog yet?!)
A few weeks after the article's lived on your site and has been cached, submit it to some of the organizations you contacted earlier. In the “About the author” section, or biography, at the end of the article, add the link to that specific article on your site and on your blog.
This will help establish your business as the authoritative source of the article. It will also build link popularity to that specific page and allow readers to post comments about it on your blog. If you have a forum on your site, mention it there, too, and point users to it with a link.
It wouldn’t hurt to issue a press release about the article you wrote either. Make sure you link to the exact page where your article resides on your site as well as to your home page.
Essential Element #1: An Attention-Grabbing Headline. The first thing people see when they visit your site should be a compelling headline that describes the most important benefit your product or service offers. The headline is the key element of your site. It's what will persuade visitors to stick around and check out what you have to offer.
Most of us have this, but not all. Basically, you need to tell people the W/W/W/W/H - who what when where how of your organization in 1 sentance that usually shows up in the text of the search engines.
Essential Element #2: User-Friendly Navigation. Nothing will drive customers away faster than confusing or complicated navigation! Your customers should be able to know where they are on your site at all times, and should easily be able to find pages they've already visited.
When you look at "professional sites", they have a "back to home" button, or "back to previous page" button and a great index on the side bar to navigate between specific groups of information.
#3 Your salescopy should:
Immediately draw the reader in with exciting benefits and enticing copy so you can lead them toward the sale.
Establish your credibility--nobody will buy from you if they don't feel they can trust you.
Describe the benefits of your product or service and explain why your visitors need it.
Salescopy is basically the extended version of your Headline. But - it needs to be very brief. People don't really care who was sitting next to you on the plane when you had the epiphany of a lifetime. You started the organization when and why and what you've done since then.
Essential Element #4: A Clear "Call to Action." If you want people to buy your products or services, you have to tell them how to do it. Don't leave them guessing. You have to explain exactly what you want them to do, and you have to make it easy for them to do it.
Essential Element #5: Well-Chosen Images. Images can really help people visualize your products or services and their benefits. Be sure to include photos of every product you sell. Attractive product shots can really boost your sales.
Pictures really ARE worth a 1000 words. Logos are great, faces are better. Scenes are best.
#6 Strong Opt In Offer
In order to pursue a relationship with these potential customers, you should collect their e-mail addresses by encouraging them to subscribe to a free newsletter or a free download. This will give you the chance to send them updates and information, develop relationships with them, and enable them to trust you enough to buy from you.
Do you have enough bandwidth to put a short video on? Do you have a way of collecting email addresses in order to send out occasional updates? This will keep people interested in what you do, even if you have little access to update your website. This is also where the blog comes into play - you can set the blog up and people can look to that for the updates - which you can steer them toward in an email notice, or just hope they keep coming back to it. The main thing is to send out regular updates - blog, website or email.
Essential Element #7: Testimonials. The best way to establish credibility is to provide evidence that your product or service really works. And the best way to do that is to include testimonials from satisfied customers that explain how your product or service has helped improve their lives.
We are all working with individuals during the recovery process. And while it's hard to remain humbly in your service while posting people singing your praises, it has to be done. It shows you ARE actually doing the work you claim to be doing. This is as much about assuring people you are real and not a huckster as it is keeping people interesting in the recovery effort.
Essential Element #8: An "About Us" page. People are often hesitant to buy things online because they miss the personal interaction of doing business face to face. The best way to overcome their reluctance is to include an "About Us" page that provides information about you, your staff and your business. Be sure to include pictures of yourself and your staff members. This shows your customers they're doing business with real people and will help ease any worries they might have.
This is where you can talk about where the epiphany occured and who was sitting next to you babbling about the weather. It's always difficult to say what readers will like it and what readers will be bored by it. But, the key is, the ones who are bored by it can steer away - they have read enough to figure out who you are and those who ARE interested will read every word on your site.
Essential Element #9: An FAQ Page. It's a good idea to include a "Frequently Asked Questions" page on your site. This is where you'll list the questions most commonly asked by your customers and provide answers to them. It allows your visitors immediate access to the answers they need before they'll consider buying your product or service.
Think of this as "whole part whole" teaching. Each page has part of what you are telling everyone. The FAQ page goes through and answers the basic question of each page. You break down each topic that was covered indepth on the pages into a synopsis paragraph. If possible, link the answer back to the original page so the person can see the detailed answer.
Essential Element #10: Your Contact Info. In order to close sales and establish your credibility, you have to provide full contact information on your site. This includes your mailing address as well as fax and phone numbers. Businesses that only post e-mail addresses on their sites come across as unprofessional and possibly even disreputable.
This part can be difficult for many of us. Like me, we are an information clearing house only and have no reason to post more than our email contact. But those of us who are actively travelling to and from the Gulf, or are actively trying to raise money/materials/volunteers MUST have their contact information in as many places as possible. My pet peeve is that many sites - and I'm not saying just within the relief circle - don't have their contact information in an easily accessible place. I would strongly suggest that you place your information at the bottom of every page - similar to a footer - Organization name, mailing address, phone number and email address. This makes life SO much easier for people to contact you - and they will far more if they don't have to search out your contact information.
What I'm proposing is that we all put links of each other's sites on our own. This shows solidarity for Hancock County as well as the recovery effort in general. Plus, it gives us all at least 40 other sites our link can be found on, making our information for more likely to show up in the first to pages of a web search.
With me having so many separate blogs (sites), this will give all of you several more links than just through an individual organization would. I'll post the HTML for how blogger does it in hopes of it working on other sites, cutting down on the work you'll have for placing the information on your sidebar.
If you do not see your site on my side bar and would like to be included, please contact me at KatrinaCoalition @ aol.com. All I ask is that you include my sites as well.