Are you standing out? 8 examples on getting found!

Photo by Adam Pniak

These days more than ever it’s critical that your business stands out from the crowd (for the right reasons).

Recent studies show that an ever growing majority of people are turning to the internet first to solve their problems and buy solutions, services and products.  Specifically they’re using search engines like Google.

They’re looking for you, but if they can’t find you…if you’re not standing out, then they’ll go with who ever they can find and you’ll be out a customer opportunity (and an easy one at that since they were ready to buy when they started looking).

The good news is that most small businesses aren’t doing a very good job at building an online presence.  For most businesses owners the bar is pretty low – if you do just a couple of things on purpose you could find yourself on the first page of Search Engine results when those customers come a searching.  A little creativity and some focus could be all it takes to really ramp up your lead generation.

Below are 8 examples of different ways to stand out online – real businesses, real examples that you can steal borrow from.  What could you start doing with your business to stand out?

1.  Develop a viral video!

Blendtec makes high end blenders.  A few years ago, the CEO of Blendtec noticed some of his R&D engineers cleaning up a huge mess.  It turns out they had decided to try blending some wood (2×4’s) just to see what would happen.  The end result was a mess of sawdust and very blended wood!  Sensing some cool possibilities, the CEO asked them to do it again – this time with a camera running and the WillItBlend campaign was born. 

Over the years they’ve blended everything from an iPhone to a bunch of glow sticks with 90 videos posted to date (each at about 3 minutes or less and many of them will millions of views).  This is the only marketing that Blendtec has done for several years and despite a tough economy and an expensive product, their sales have gone up steadily every single year!

2. Move up in the search rankings with a blog!

Search engines love blogs – a blog will supply your website with fresh content that’s (ideally) built around keywords and ideas that your customers are looking for.  In fact one study discovered websites with blogs are getting 55% more traffic than their blogless counterparts.

One great example is the Signal Integrity blog written by Colin Warwick, a product manager with Agilent.  Signal Integrity is the premium keyword for the product that Colin is responsible for, but unfortunately his company website was showing up on page 5 of the Google search results – prompting him to jump into his own blog to start improving the search results.  And improve they did, moving from spot 44 up to the top 5 spots.  You can read more details on all the benefits on an interview he did at WebInkNow.

3.  Educate the old fashioned way

Social Media marketing doesn’t have to be about high tech – Lehman’s is a catalog company that’s been around for 54 years and started out targeting the Amish community in Ohio.  Here’s how Multichannel Merchant describes Lehman’s product lines:

The Kidron, OH-based marketer sells old-fashioned, non-electric merchandise from oil lamps and Amish-made wood toys to soap-making supplies and butter churns.

The starting point is the Lehman’s Country Life blog, the single largest driver of traffic to the website, augmented by educational videos on Youtube and a Facebook group that’s used as a focus group for the business.

4.  Promote your product via Twitter

Kogi BBQ in Los Angeles is one of my favorite Social Media success stories.  It’s self described as Korean BBQ but with a twist of Mexican and just an overall unusual menu.  To make things even more fun – the primary way to get Kogi BBQ is from one of their two trucks that cover metropolitan LA.  And the best way to know where the trucks are going to be?  You have to follow them on Twitter

They have over 45,000 followers, and more importantly their trucks typically have a 1 to 2 hour long line waiting for them when ever they show up!

Here’s a great write-up from the LA Times with more details.

5.  Get more traffic than you can handle…literally! is a cool story – it’s an online t-shirt store where the designs are submitted by artists / wanna be artists around the world and voted on by customers and members of the community for contests and to decide which shirts actually get made.  However this isn’t some small time thing – Threadless has over 1.2 Million followers on their twitter feed and they recently ran into the nice to have problem (but still a problem) of crashing their servers when they ended up with too much traffic

It takes a lot of traffic to bring down a server like the one that they’ve been using.  All of that traffic was driven by an online campaign!

6.  Break the rules!

Ask anyone in Financial Services and they’ll tell you that marketing is a huge challenge because of all of the regulatory issues they have to deal with.  In fact they’ll generally tell you it can’t be done.  Anything they share with the public has to be reviewed by seemingly dozens of people before it can see the light of day – making Social Media an impractical marketing opportunity…or so everyone thought!

Putnam Investments is rocking the boat when it comes to participating on social media.  Their CEO is on Twitter.  They’ve built a blog focused on the Retirement Savings Challenge.  It’s not about their products (which would get them in trouble with the SEC and likely wouldn’t be very effective anyway).  Instead they focus on educating and discussing the challenge that all of us face as we try to figure out how retirement planning works in the first place.  By educating and not selling, they set them
lves up as progressive, helpful and experts to turn to.  As David Meerman Scott points out Putnam is a great example – it’s fear that’s holding other companies back.

7.  Give away great educational content!

Infusionsoft is a software company that sells an automated marketing solution aimed at small to medium sized businesses.  They do several things well when it comes to marketing themselves, but the thing that stands out is their focused effort to create really strong free educational materials (reports and ebooks).  What’s great about the eb00ks is that they specifically don’t focus on the Infusionsoft products, instead they focus on the problems that their target market have and offer solutions.  Then they encourage sharing those materials out to a wide audience through contests and email campaigns.

I’m not a client of theirs, but I continue to be impressed with their educational approach and how they position themselves in a challenging marketplace.

8.  Increase your leads by 850%!

Few things suggest cutting edge online marketing and social media practices less than a 116 year old company that manufactures Fencing materials in Massachusetts.  However looks  can be deceiving – Louis Page is in a niche, blue collar market that most would think of as old school – in fact, they only put up a website about 5 years ago.   However when they launched their blog (The Fence Post), last December they started seeing a dramatic increase in traffic and leads for their products.

In fact as the owner Duncan Page describes to a local news station – his leads have increased by over 850% in just a few months.  People have been drawn to his educational approach and a focus on writing about topics that their customers are struggling with or interested in.

It doesn’t have to be that hard to stand out!

Although these are all impressive stories, looking at them collectively, none of these companies is doing anything that most small business owners couldn’t do. 

They’re doing the basic technical things around search engine optimization that anyone can do (I’m a perfect example – I’m not an SEO specialist, but if you do a search on Kansas City Business Coach on Google, I’m at the top of the list – because I’m doing a few basic things consistently).

They’re in touch with what they’re customers want and they’re willing to take the extra steps to make themselves available and to share valuable content to make it worthwhile to search them out.

What could you do today to start standing out online?  I’d love to hear your thoughts or questions – or let me know if you have some other great examples.  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Shawn Kinkade – Kansas City Business Coach

4 thoughts on “Are you standing out? 8 examples on getting found!”

  1. kevindervin says:

    Great post Shawn and GREAT examples of what pretty much any business can do. I love the fact that as you point out, none of these examples is of a business doing something terribly complex. The fact is they are just doing it and doing it consistently.

    Thanks for sharing.

    All my Best!

  2. davidsoxman says:

    Thanks for the post Shawn. I subscribe to the theory that by giving something away, you ultimately receive something in return, later on. By sharing knowledge that is helpful and of value, these companies are creating a trusted brand that brings loyalty and yes, sales.

  3. Joseph Manna says:

    Shawn, this was a helpful post. Thanks for mentioning us and our marketing at Infusionsoft. I would want to add to #7, that free reports and eBooks aren't the only ways marketers can collect leads.

    You can check it out on our blog, The Death of the Free Report (and the eBook).

    To me, the best way a business can stand out is to engage, interact and show a little personality. We all have one and the more they show it, the more unique they become.


  4. skinkade says:

    Joseph – Thanks for totally invalidating my point! 😉 (just kidding).

    I agree that Reports and ebooks can (and may be) overdone, but for those industries or businesses that aren't heavily online, it's still a good place to start…as long as they're engaging and add value – which I think was your point as well. To me it's less about lead generation and more about establishing value and expertise.

    Good stuff – thanks.


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