One of the first things that many of my new clients have said to me, is that they don’t really understand what digital marketing is or how it works.

They know that marketing is about finding clients for their business, but beyond that, they’re not really sure what it’s supposed to look like in the context of their business.

Most have seen and probably deleted emails that have landed in their inbox from people they’ve never heard of, offering to build them a website or get them onto the front page of Google. They’ve probably heard people talk about SEO, Google ads and Facebook ads, but they’re not sure which, if any of those things, they should be doing and who they should be doing them with.

As with most things, I tend to focus on the basics before overcomplicating things with the details.

Before a business owner should be thinking about which of the tools of digital marketing – websites, SEO, Google or adverts of any kind – they should be investing in, they should first have a clear understanding of what they’re aiming for.

What marketing is

There are various definitions of marketing, but the one I like best is that it’s the art of anticipating someone’s objections to a proposition and resolving those objections until the next logical step is a yes to whatever’s being proposed. Or said even more simply, the process of helping someone decide.

We do that by working with the in-built decision-making processes that are standard in almost every human brain.

How marketing works

Straight out of the womb, the human brain comes factory fitted with sophisticated decision-making capabilities which help it sort through the vast amount of information it’s presented with, every moment of every day. Information about its environment and the body it’s in, but most importantly, the safety of that body.

Our brains make these decisions so automatically that we’re not even aware that it’s happening and we genuinely believe that the decisions are made of our own free will or through the application of logic. But our decisions aren’t our own and to quote behavioural economist Dan Ariely, they are predictably irrational. If we want to be effective at digital marketing, we need to consider the irrational rules that affect our decision-making processes and those of the people we want to work with.

In a nutshell, our decision-making shortcuts are centred around two main principles, sticking together and sticking to what we know. You can’t argue with the effectiveness of this simple formula which has helped humans become the evolutionary success story we are today, but that same formula makes change of any kind harder for us than we think it’s going to be.

How digital marketing works

So back to the question at hand, which is what digital marketing is and how it works.

Regardless of which methods we use to look for the answers to our problems, like needing a bookkeeper or a web designer for our business, some or all of our customers may be looking for solutions to their problems online through Google searches or on social media. It follows that digital marketing is about helping them find what they’re looking for, or more accurately, find someone like us.

We do this by using language designed to attract their attention and visuals designed to identify us as someone appropriate to their needs (more about that another time).

Why our language will attract their attention

We said earlier that marketing is the art of anticipating someone’s objections to a proposition and resolving each one until the next logical step is a yes to whatever’s being proposed.

When we use language which describes their situation or problem, they are likely to notice. When that language is on the cover of a website or in a social media post, they are likely to notice and start reading. When they read content that they resonate with or that answers their questions, they may see as someone they’d like to work with.

Common objections

The kinds of objections to a proposition we’re talking about are things like this.

  • Does this person/business do what I’m looking for?
  • Can I trust this person?
  • Will I be safe with them?
  • How does what they’re suggesting work?
  • What will I get for my money?
  • Are they someone who values the same things as I do?
  • Do they work with people like me?
  • Is what they’re offering worth the money?
  • Will it work?
  • Will I look foolish?
  • I don’t know what to do first or next.

Ways to resolve those objections

The way we can overcome those objections with digital marketing is in ways like this.

  • Does this person/business do what I’m looking for? We can be crystal clear about the specifics of what we do and include information in our tagline, social profiles and website, to make it easy for potential clients to work out if we do exactly what they’re looking for.
  • Can I trust this person? We can include examples of previous work, accreditations and qualifications in places that people can easily find, like on our website, social media profiles or email signature. We can interact with people online in a visible and helpful way so that others can see how we’re likely to interact with them.
  • Will I be safe with them? We can let people decide for themselves if they’re likely to feel safe with us by giving them the option of seeing pictures of our face, watching videos of us talking or reading our interactions with others online.
  • How does what they’re suggesting work? We can describe our processes and philosophies in detail on our website and show examples of how they have worked for others.
  • What will I get for my money? We can offer easy-to-understand information about our services and prices on our website or our social media pages.
  • Are they someone who values the same things as I do? We can be transparent about the sort of person we are, our lifestyle and what’s important to us.
  • Do they work with people like me? We can talk about the sort of person we are, the kinds of people we work with and their age/gender/stage of business etc.
  • Is what they’re offering worth the money? In the services section of our website, we can talk about what they will actually be getting – peace of mind, solutions, new skills or habits, transformations – so they can decide whether those things are worth paying for.
  • Will it work? We can share case studies on our website or in our social media posts showing how it worked for other people.
  • Can I find out more before I have to decide? We can give people free or low-commitment options for hearing what we’ve got to say before they must commit to anything, by giving them the option of following our blog or social media accounts or having an obligation-free conversation with us.
  • Will I look foolish? We include testimonials from satisfied customers on our website, social media accounts, Google My Business profile and everywhere else that we’re present.
  • I don’t know what to do first/next. We make it easy and obvious for people to move forward from wherever they are right now. By giving them the option of staying in touch if they’re not ready to get started yet, by giving them options for getting answers to specific questions if they’re still making up their mind or by making it easy to get in touch or get the ball rolling if they’re ready to go.

Could your relationship with digital marketing do with some improvement?

As you can see, the principles of digital marketing are fairly simple and once it really sinks in that digital marketing isn’t about us at all, but about whether what we have to offer is a match for the experience that a potential client is looking for, the process of creating a website or social media posts becomes much easier and a whole lot more fun.

If you’d like to get some help with digital marketing in your business either so that you can do it yourself or have it done for you, get in touch today for an obligation-free conversation.


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