29 years ago I moved to the United States from Sweden. I ventured out on the trip with a bit of trepidation, because of a previous experience.
I met my husband in Sweden, when he was there for a visit. We fell in love, but I was not in any way inclined to tear up stakes and move to another country. So he was the one who made the sacrifice and came to stay in Sweden.
My first trip to the US
We got married within 6 months of meeting each other, and truth be told, we thought that would help him get his permanent residence permit in Sweden. As it turned out, a couple of weeks after the wedding, we got a letter in the mail from the authorities telling us George had to be out of Sweden within a month, and that he had to apply for permanent residence from OUTSIDE of Sweden.
Of course I was not about to be left behind, so we took off for California together, and I was traveling on a visitor visa. That was where the trouble started. The US immigration officer was sure that George was trying to illegally get me into the country by getting married. For a while there it looked like I was going to get shipped right back to Sweden.
The immigration officer looked at my husband and said: “Why did you do that?” (in reference to getting married) to which George simply responded “Because I love her”. The officer then shook his head and said, “You know that is illegal right?” He was quite convinced that we were trying to pull a scam, and frankly, I can see why it looked that way to him.
The next thing out of my husbands mouth seemed to turn the tide. He blurted out “We have a horse and 3 cats over there. We don’t want to stay here.” You could just see the change happen in the man’s face. He stood up and told us to wait, and then left the room. I forget how long we waited, but when he came back he gruffly let us know that I would be allowed to stay on a visitor’s visa, as I had planned, but that I had better be out of the country before the time was up.
My second trip to the US
Fast forward a couple of years, and here I was, immigrating for real. We had been married long enough at this time that getting the permits for me to immigrate was not a problem. But the big difference now was that we were also bringing with us our beloved four footed family members, our 3 cats. (I had to bid my beloved horse farewell.)
I was worried about everything: from the trip itself being hard on them, to running into any kind of trouble in the immigration process.
We chose the shortest possible trip plan, with only one stop. The personnel at the airport in Sweden were extremely helpful and friendly, and there were many ohs and ah’s over the cats. Luckily, I was able to see the cat carriers get loaded on the second plane, after our one stop-over, as we were waiting to board. That made for a much more peaceful trip as I knew they were all indeed on the same plane with us.
Once on the ground in LA we were directed to the service elevators to pick up the cats. The elevator doors opened, followed by a huge meeeee-aaaa-oooooww from our cat Emma when she saw us. She seemed to say “What the … did you just put me through?? From that moment on, going through the immigration process was an amazing experience. Just like in Sweden, all personnel went out of their way to help us, to make the process as fast and easy as possible, so we could get through the paperwork expeditiously. Everybody was all smiles, peeking at the cats, commenting on how cute they were, and what a hard journey they’d had.
How this applies to your website marketing strategy
I would not blame you, if by now you might be wondering how this can possibly have anything to do with how you can make your website more effective.
Here is the thing: If you were paying attention, the cats played a role in both immigration processes. In the first instance, they were just mentioned. In the second instant they were actually there.
The cats set me apart from all the other faceless people that come through the airport every single day, whether to immigrate or traveling on a visitor’s visa.
And the fact that I was set apart, resulted in a different treatment. In the first instance, the statement was outrageous enough to make the man in charge think that maybe this young couple actually were exactly what they said they were. Who pulls a statement about 1 horse and 3 cats as a reason for not wanting to immigrate, unless it’s true?
In the second instance, the cats created that connection that animals can create instantly between strangers. Put an animal in the picture, and the energy shift is monumental.
Set yourself apart
Much like I would have been just another anonymous person moving through the US immigration if I had not had my cats, your website stands a good chance of drowning in the masses of websites on the internet that promote the same or similar services to you. What can you do to stand apart? To make people stop and want to connect with you, just as surely as if you were picking up your cats from Sweden, at the LA airport elevator.
The number one way to accomplish this is by blogging.
There are a couple of reasons that blogging can make you stand out from the overcrowded environment that is the internet.
Google loves new fresh content, and there is no better way to make sure your website constantly gets new content added, than to be blogging.
Your website without a blog typically will have a few pages, such as your home page, about page, services/products, contact, FAQ. More than likely those pages are not regularly edited or changed, nor should they be. Every time you publish a blog post however, you create a whole new page for your website, one more page that the search engine spiders can crawl, more opportunities to be found.
The readers: You have a chance to connect with your website readers in a way you never can with just your static website. And you can make this connection a lasting one, by using optin forms that add visitors to your email list. (if you don’t have an email list, you should start building one now)
Website owners tend to want traffic. But this is not only about getting traffic, because traffic alone will not build your business, if you don’t have a strategy for that traffic when it arrives.
Not all website visitors are going to take action that makes them a client or customers on their first visit. If they don’t see something that captures their attention, they leave and you may never see that visitor again.
Imagine on the other hand that they came in through reading one of your blog posts, detailing how to deal with an issue that is of great concern to them, an issue with which your business can help.
Blogging increases your chances of finding connection points with your visitors. Lets say you are in the health field: One person may be attracted by your article about alleviating chronic arthritis pain, another person may be hooked by your article about “tech-neck” and yet another person might be pulled in by your article about sports injuries. All of those articles focus on your expertise in pain management, but they target different segments of your target audience – those suffering chronic conditions, those suffering pain due to certain work or lifestyle habits, and active athletes who have injured themselves. When you get specific you increase the chance of effectively connecting with your visitors.
Convert readers and visitors into leads
This is a critical part of blogging that should never be neglected. You put a lot of work into creating your blog articles. You are rewarded with traffic. That traffic won’t do you any good unless you can convert the visitors. The first step towards conversion is in making the connection, but if your website visitor just reads the blog post and then moves on, they did not become a lead.
To turn them into a lead, you need to get them to subscribe to your blog or to your newsletter. You do this by offering something in exchange for them giving you their name and contact information. (20 examples of what you could be using as a give-away)
Once they sign up for the free gift and your newsletter, you now have a lead that you are connected to over the long term, and your chances of eventually converting them to a customer just went up dramatically.