Your online presence – through your website, social media, customer reviews, and email marketing efforts – has the power to define your company in the eyes of the consumer. This is good and bad; it means great marketing can easily sway your clients to purchase whatever it is you offer while poor marketing efforts or marketing snafus can easily tarnish your reputation overnight. How can you leverage the power of online marketing to not only successfully nab new customers, but influence the buying criteria? Here, we’ll discuss several tips and tricks.

Step 1 – Craft Your Message

Every potential buyer who navigates to your page is there with questions. All want to know if you can meet their needs, most want to know if you care about them as a customer, and some need to know how you’ll use their purchase for good.

What message does the homepage of your website convey through words and imagery? How have you demonstrated to the customer that you exist to serve? How have you shared your promise to deliver excellence?

Step 2 – Transcend the Competition

Once you’ve answered the intrinsic customer needs, you have to take your website up a notch to make yourself memorable. Are you providing just the facts or creating a memorable experience for every potential customer who lands upon your site? Here are some great examples of companies who have transcendence mastered:

What can you do to transcend the competitors in your industry and create a connection with those who visit your website? Is it compassion? Humor? A focus on the individual? A commitment to the greater good? The biggest way to fail in marketing is to – consciously or unconsciously – respond with, “None of the above.”

Step 3 – Address the Buying Criteria

Now that you have their attention, you have the privilege of defining the buying criteria yourself, which is a pretty remarkable privilege that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Take this opportunity to tell the buyer that what you offer that differentiates you from the competition is exactly what they deserve as a consumer.

For example, consider Toms Shoes and their Buy One Give One model. Consumers love the shoes and they love the model, but has anyone ever told them that they deserve to know they’re giving back every time they make a purchase and that any competitor who isn’t also using their power for good in the world doesn’t deserve their business? That’s defining the buying criteria, and you can do it in every industry so long as you have the trust and attention of your market.

After hearing that message, consumers come to expect a Buy One Give One model and start making their purchasing decisions based on that criteria. This means that once consumers hear the message from Toms Shoes, they suddenly have limited shopping options and begin making all of their purchases at Toms Shoes and a handful of other retailers who give back with every purchase. The result? More sales for Toms Shoes and pressure on the rest of the industry to use their power for good.

Key takeaways: craft a message that matters and consistently share it; transcend the competition with something extra; and never overlook your ability to affect the buying criteria.