Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Searching IRL (In Real Life)

A few days ago I was chatting with a small business owner who is trying to sell an independent pack and ship store.

I mentioned that—since their store is located on the far side of the parking lot—that I thought the fact they were using valuable advertising real estate, in the form of sign space above their store, to promote the name of their business rather than their trade, may not be telling potential customers who drive in an out of the plaza what the business does.

She replied that branding is important, and while I agree with that, in most cases, people who are not familiar with your business, will have no clue as to what your d/b/a means or what it is you do.

Just like we do online, we scan. We do not read. We have a million things going on in our minds as we drive around, and the last thing anyone will do is say: "Gee, I wonder what that store over there, with the cool-looking sign, sells." No, we are busy thinking about our stuff.

Having said that, if you are a cyclist, for example, and you see a big sign that reads "BICYCLES," even for a split second, you automatically know what they do. And the same applies to "SHOE REPAIR," "NAILS," "BARBER," "PACK & SHIP," and a million other trades.

The only exception to that rule is for established national (or regional) brands, where very few people will wonder what "GREAT CLIPS," "UPS," FEDEX," "WALMART," etc., stand for. Such companies can talk about branding with plenty of authority and without explanation and/or validation required. I am sure that when I say "WE ARE FARMERS..." you can finish that slogan with no trouble whatsoever (getting the jingle out of your head may be harder).

For the rest of us, the simplest word that describes our business or service is the best bet.

Search applies to real life as much as it applies to the online world. We are always searching for something familiar, convenient, and easy to understand. Finding a way to describe the core of a brick & mortar business in one or two words is, in my opinion, just as important as choosing the right keywords when it comes to Pay-Per-Click advertising.

Choose the wrong words, and potential customers will cruise on by without giving you a second thought.