by Jan Riley
If you are a business consultant or corporate trainer you no doubt understand the importance of developing referral relationships. In fact just about every service professional out there has one thing in common - a need for steady referrals and leads. That is why I am mystified that only a few experienced professionals choose to utilize the power of their website to capture and engage potential clients and referral sources. Did you know your website could create perfect referrals and attract new clients with people you haven't even met yet - automatically 24/7?
Is your website sitting out there like a dumb blonde - pretty but useless? "The biggest change is no longer focusing on user visits but rather the level of customer engagement." says John Squire, senior VP-product strategy, GM marketing services, at Coremetrics. Many professionals view their websites like an expensive brochure, which by the way, when was the last time a brochure got you a juicy consulting gig? Yes it is necessary to have a brochure style branding page but there are other ways to use the web to get clients - even if you are not technically savvy. First you must start to see the internet for what it is - a medium for sharing information, just like books, radio, TV and films.
The problem for many business people is that the medium is so huge and the tools that are available spring up and change rapidly. Businesses get lost in the sheer number of options available. Too many new technologies coupled with information overload stops many businesses from using internet tools at all. Don't let the vast array of technologies keep you from using the internet to get new clients. There are tool available to you right now that only 5 years ago would have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to create. You can use the same technologies to compete with any size competitor and win.
But which technologies? Should you focus on articles, SEO, email, websites, newsletters, banners, ezines, audio, RSS, video, blogs, vlogs, myspace, youtube, adwords, social networking or podcasting? How do you know which tools will really help your business capture qualified leads that turn into face to face meetings or jobs? You could literally spend all your time just researching the different options before you even begin to master just one of them. After all, you have a business to run as well, so it's important to choose a solution that fits into your business and lifestyle or no matter how good it is - it just won't work for you.
One reason consultants and trainers aren't utilizing internet technology to get leads is because it is simply too overwhelming. Yes, you know you should have a newsletter or free report and you've heard that a blog would be a good idea too. You might have even considered creating an ebook, audio series or video for sale but the problem is finding the time and motivation to learn the technology or you may consider it too expensive to implement.
If your website is still a very pretty paperweight let me suggest three things that will help you turn a static site into a magnet for new business. The first is to create an irresistible giveaway product. No, it doesn't have to be an all expense paid vacation to Tahiti because most likely what your target group really wants is great information - so give it to them. Write an ebook, special report or educational series.
Next, create a capture page that is designed to do only one thing - trade your irresistible giveaway for their name and email address. Ok, it's irritating, but if your info is juicy enough (include a teaser or table of contents) then your prospects will gladly participate and add a link to this page all over you site.
Thirdly, use an automated digital delivery system so the whole thing runs on autopilot. The most common for this purpose is an autoresponder service. This will allow you to set up the sign up box and automatically deliver your product. Best of all you can set up another sequence that will drip market your prospects. Once the system is set up, it literally runs by itself. All you do is direct people to your irresistible giveaway.
Don't let the vast array of online media tools stop you from jumping into the web to catch a few new clients. Start with something simpl