13 November 2006
Linda Fisher
Linda Fisher

In the last article, we discussed the necessity for an underlying business strategy, in order to use the Internet effectively as a marketing tool. We also shared valuable information on setting up an effective B2B website. In Part 2, we will turn our attention to driving traffic to that site.

Driving Traffic to Your Website
Back to our point about having a strategic marketing plan: can you take the same announcements, press releases, newsletters and e-mails that are part of your overall marketing strategy, send them to past, current and prospective clients, and drive them to your website? Likewise, do you post press releases, articles and announcements on your website? How effective are you at generating traffic to your site? How many hits are you getting? Do you know?

Speaking of generating traffic: do you know about search engine optimization? Will your firm pop up for prospects if they launch a search on Google, or another of the top search engines? Do you even have to be listed with them--after all, it is costly. Not necessarily. Key words can be very effective tools. Using key words specific to the clients' industry you are trying to reach, makes great sense. Ask current and past clients about the key words they plug into search engines to find creative services. Again, look at the business language they are using, and utilize it throughout your website. Your site is them more likely to come up when prospects initiate a search for design firms that specifically work within their industry, and they will feel encouraged to contact you.

E-mail Marketing
E-mail can be a very effective marketing tool. Design firm leaders send past, current and prospective clients short press releases, news bulletins or copies of articles they have written, or directed their PR firms to write. If you haven't got anything that is currently newsworthy, how about sending a compelling case study with metrics to clients? Or, how about sending out a brief article about your firm's unique proprietary process, with clearly demonstrated success stories as to its efficacious application?

When done on a timetable, once every few weeks, this can keep your firm top of mind with your key publics. In our opinion, this should not be overdone. Nor should insignificant information be sent. Otherwise, your firm's e-mails will be considered "spam" and deleted, rather than read. Consider the bombardment of junk mail you get, and be discreet and sensitive to your clients' needs!

Inviting e-mail inquiries from prospects is a wonderful idea for your website. Provided you answer these inquiries promptly and professionally, that is. This can help you create a great online experience for your prospects. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a topic unto itself. Your firm's e-mail and direct phone communications are part of that scenario. Make certain your firm mines the most it can from these contact opportunities.

Building Your Brand--Online
There is real opportunity in effectively marketing your design firm online. It isn't only in the sale of its services to its targeted audience, either. Firms who think about their brand promise and enhance the delivery of that brand can then boost the premium that their brand commands. Of course, going back to the first statements we made in this article: you can't have a brand identity, or properly convey it, without a strategic marketing plan. "Without such a plan, you cannot define the mission and position of your firm. You haven't got a clear, concise brand message." Remember those words?

Why the Internet for Building Brand Equity?
1. Deals with increased business pressures due to the commoditization of products and services.
2. Deals with increased competition--on a global scale.
3. Understands the shift away from traditional advertising to website development and investment.
4. Acknowledges the emergence of the Internet as a key factor in building brand equity for business.
5. Focuses on opportunities to improve your clients' economics. Remember to under promise and over deliver. Always.
6. Allows your design firm to affirm its value proposition and build a brand-consistent client experience.
7. Reinforces your status as the "service supplier" of choice to a specific industry, or specific industries.

Harness the mighty power of the Internet, and design E-marketing into your website to build your brand awareness, your brand equity and your brand as the Brand in a crowded, global marketplace!

For more information, contact:

Design Management Resources
Post Office Box 423
Thompson, CT 06277
T: +1 800 230 3603
F: +1 860 923 3800
W: www.DesignManagementResources.com

About the article
This article was written with the assistance of Claire Ratushny

About Linda Fisher
Linda Fisher is founder and president of Design Management Resources, Inc. She forms strategic partnerships with her clients by consulting with design firm principals to define their mission, position and business goals. Ms. Fisher is a regular on the speaking circuit and conducts intensive workshops to educate design firms about sound business tenets. She has written numerous articles for internationally recognized publications, including How Magazine and Communication Arts. She also writes an international newsletter, "Marketing + PR Exclusively for Design Firms", which is read in over 40 countries.

About Design Management Resources, Inc.
Design Management Resources provides strategic consulting for design firms who are global leaders - or aim to be. The company specializes in:
- Living Marketing Plans
- Public Relations
- Positioning: Differentiating Strategies to Compete in the Global Marketplace

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