By David H. Martin
Today the hottest buzzword in marketing is content. But what does that mean? And more pointedly, what does it mean to a water treatment dealer and to his or her customers? It means pictures and words, the stuff that makes up the messages in every website, email and blog. Content is king. Yes, it is even more important than all the technology that threads it together and sends it magically on its way to the PCs, iPhones® and iPads® around the world—and more importantly, all over your marketing area. Good content can be original or borrowed (with permission). One great thing we all share with each other and our customers is an unquenchable interest in water. Consider making your website a font of ready information about water.
About Us page
The information you provide on the About Us page should tell your company story. It should include brief information on the scope of your business from residential to commercial/industrial products and services, key industry affiliations, certifications of key employees as well as short bios and how long you have been in business. This is the place to explain your company philosophy.
Contact Us page
Even if you show your phone number, email and fax numbers on every page of your website, it’s still important to have a full page dedicated to this same exact information. Strangely enough, many people will overlook this information on the page they are viewing! You need to provide a prominent Contact Us link on your home page. Offer several ways to reach you. Include a web form to capture visitor information, including email addresses.
Product and Services pages
Allow ample page space to tell a complete story on each product, using more than one page. Explain and show important features and benefits. Use demo videos that you shoot or, better still, can access from suppliers. The presence of video on your site aids search-engine optimization (SEO) that can raise your SEO rank on Google and other search engines. Your product and service pages can never have too much information, provided it’s laid out in a user-friendly format.
Most-asked questions and answers about water problems in your area. Be sure to raise questions about local concerns such as lead, sulfur, iron or other contaminants. Water shortage and water rate information are other subjects that can be efficiently covered in a Q&A format.
A word about website navigation
Content is king, but it isn’t everything. A website is far more than the sum of its parts. A properly constructed navigation scheme can help visitors move easily from page to page, finding everything they are looking for quickly and easily. Use clear section headings, perhaps the same ones listed here. Include logical links to other pages. Each component or page should complement the others.
Water issues as content
Today, water is in the news every day with stories on the extended drought, potable water shortages, rising water costs and contamination. Your task is to localize these stories for possible content on your website. By doing this, you will be accomplishing several important business-building objectives:
- To establish yourself as a local water expert
- To polish your water authority image for local print and broadcast media to generate valuable publicity
- To create content that gains additional search-engine attention to your site
Seven days a week, every day of the year, a Google RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed emails a fresh list of water problems to my inbox. The stories are compiled for me automatically. Why not arrange for Google to feed your company website water news from around the world? Why wouldn’t you? There’s no cost and no work for you!
Borrow content with permission
You can access a world of free online content on water-related subjects of interest to your visitors, but be sure to get permission from the original publishers. Some resources for borrowed content on water:
- Water association websites
- Agricultural Extension Service websites
- US EPA websites (state and federal)
- State Department of Natural Resources website
- Health and fitness websites
- Newspaper and magazine articles
- It is standard practice to include an attribution note with borrowed content: “Reprinted with permission of (publication or author) for material originally published in (source) on (date.)”
Do not borrow material (words or images) from other dealers’ websites. Make sure your actions are both legal and ethical. And don’t forget that your main sources for product-specific content are your key suppliers.
Many dealers have a dedicated tab and page for special offers. Be sure to keep your offers fresh so that visitors will check in repeatedly when reminded via email, Facebook and Twitter. Some dealers find online, printable coupons effective.
What customers say
Word of mouth is still your most effective marketing tool, whether online or on the street. But it just doesn’t happen by itself. You need to cultivate customer testimonials after every installation. Written testimonials are fine to post on a special page of your website, especially if you add a photo of the happy customer. Video testimonials are even better because video is the most powerful content of all. Keep them brief, one or two minutes in length. Figure to spend about 30 minutes to tape. Develop five or six questions in advance, ones that will encourage positive responses relating to customers’ experience with your products or services.
Embrace new electronic technology
Don’t overlook integrating interactive technologies designed to link viewers back to your website. Develop a presence on Facebook, Twitter and even YouTube. Consider an interactive blog on water problems. And make sure your website is formatted for mobile smart phones, to reach the fastest growing segment of Internet users. Even automated online web surveys can be mobile-optimized to present questions and receive answers—with no compromise. (www.websurveycreator.com)
Content means many things
Content can mean images, video, audio and textual content (or words). For marketing and SEO, textual content is still king. It’s important to realize that you likely already have a lot of valuable content that you could repurpose; then there’s borrowed content. So don’t assume that you have to re-invent the wheel. Focus on content that speaks to your audience, presents your professional credentials, as well as your product and service capabilities, and finally, on content that projects your concerns and knowledge of water.
About the author
David H. Martin is President of Lenzi Martin Marketing, Oak Park, IL, a firm specializing in water improvement and environmental marketing that integrates old and new media. He can be reached at (708) 848-8404 or by email at dmartin@lenzimartin.