Bob DeStefano: Seven Online Ideas to Embrace Now

Turn your website into a customer-focused sales machine!

Bob DeStefano is an online marketing strategist and marketing speaker with more than 18 years experience helping manufacturers and distributors leverage online marketing to produce results.

To ensure your company’s success, you must continually evaluate and evolve how you do business to grow revenue and profits in the coming year. Online marketing represents a tremendous opportunity for growth for your company, as more business is conducted online now more than ever before. Here are seven online marketing ideas you should embrace to be successful.

1. Ignore your website at your own peril
You’ve put it off long enough; it’s time to get serious about your website. As the endorsed online marketing consultant for STAFDA, as well as a variety of B2B associations, I review hundreds of distribution websites each year.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of them are just awful. While you may have been able to get away with this in the past, you will not get away with it going forward. The changing face and needs of your customers, combined with the rise of online technologies in the workplace, have rendered your neglected website inadequate.

If you use Google on a daily basis to research products and companies, don’t you think your customers do too? Make it a priority to turn your website into a customer-focused sales machine. If you want to see an example of a distributor website that “gets it,” check out

2. Abandon “Megaphone Marketing” Tactics
Successful companies are realizing that megaphone marketing tactics just don’t work. Megaphone marketing is shouting at many with the hopes of attracting a few. Examples of megaphone tactics include untargeted print advertising, yellow page advertising, untargeted directory and banner advertising, cold calls and mass e-mail blasts — any effort that is not directly aimed at your specific audience.  

Megaphone marketing tactics no longer work because of a fundamental shift in customer behavior. Customers don’t want to be interrupted — and megaphone marketing is an interruption. Customers want to be in control of the information they receive. With megaphone marketing, the company is in control. So, what should you do?

3. Embrace “Magnet Marketing” Tactics
Magnet marketing overcomes the problems of megaphone marketing by putting the customer in control.  Magnet marketing helps you get found by customers at the very moment they have a need for your products and services. It allows you to earn trust by providing customers with information they value to attract them to your website to do business.  

Examples of magnet marketing tactics include content marketing, search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising and social media marketing. Not only do magnet marketing tactics generate more leads and sales, but they are also less expensive. According to research, companies that focus on magnet marketing tactics have a 62 percent lower cost-per-lead than companies that focus on megaphone marketing tactics.

4. Content Marketing is Becoming the New Advertising
Search engines, blogs, social networking sites and other online platforms offer you a tremendous opportunity to engage directly with customers. However, to get in front of them in the first place, you need great content. Spend less time focusing on traditional "megaphone" advertising and more time creating great content.

People don’t choose to do business with you just because you offer the right products at the right price. They choose you because you and your team have valuable, specialized knowledge about the applications of your products. Lead with that specialized knowledge in your marketing by writing best practice articles, filming “how to” videos, producing an insightful blog and creating educational guides and white papers. By marketing your knowledge instead of just marketing your products, you create a unique differentiation in the marketplace.

5. Prepare for the Mobile Marketing Revolution
According to research, 2014 is the year that mobile devices will pass desktop computers to be most common way people access the Web. Are you prepared for the mobile marketing revolution? Check out your website on a smart phone. If it’s difficult to read, you may want to consider creating a mobile version. You can build a custom mobile website yourself or take advantage of innovative services like Duda Mobile to create a mobile version of your website in minutes. Also, include more video content on your website, because it’s easier to view than text.

Perhaps you should create an app to help your customers and salespeople be more effective. Whatever your strategy, start thinking about how you should optimize your business for the small screen.

6. Personal Online Branding is Hitting the Mainstream
More and more these days, people are “googling” names of people they deal with before they do business. What will they find when they search on your name? If you haven’t started building your personal online brand, it may be time to start. It will come in handy when you’re trying to make a sale, find a job or form a business partnership.  

Begin by creating a content-rich LinkedIn profile for yourself. Consider registering a domain name with your name (e.g., and start producing a blog. Start writing articles and submit them to online trade publications. You have an online brand whether you like it or not, so you might as well take charge of it.   

7. Make Marketing Accountable for Revenue and Profits
It’s time to stop relying on gut feel or subjective measures when evaluating the return on your marketing investments. Marketing needs to be accountable for revenue and profits so you can easily identify the activities that are working and not working. The best way to
accomplish this is by embracing analytics.  

One of the great things about online marketing is you can measure everything. So, leverage web analytics, trackable phone numbers and a CRM system to track leads and sales generated by each marketing activity. With this process in place, you will know what to cut and what to continue.

Ensure your company’s success by putting these ideas into action. Which ideas are you going to start with? CS

Bob DeStefano is an online marketing strategist and marketing speaker with more than 18 years experience helping manufacturers and distributors leverage online marketing to produce results. Bob is STAFDA’s online marketing consultant and a member of the University of Industrial Distribution faculty. Contact Bob at, or call 877-786-3249.