Any experienced angler knows that if they want to catch big fish then they need to go where the big fish swim and offer them an attractive bait.
It is unlikely one can hook, let alone land, a shark with bread on a small hook and fly-fishing rod.
The same holds true for businesses seeking customers, yet it seems to me that many founders seem to keep looking in the wrong pond with the wrong equipment.
For the sake of simplicity, there are two major models for successful businesses. The first is one with a high volume of low-value transactions from a wide group of clients (let’s call it Model “A”) while the second comprises a low(er) volume of high(er) value transactions from a small(er) group of clients (Model “B”).
Model “A” clients are more likely to use the internet (Google, eBay, etc) to locate a product/service they want and broadly speaking buy on availability and price, more than the specific vendor. Examples are electrical goods, food and wine or DIY equipment.
In my fishing analogy, these clients are the small fish and a business depending on them needs to ensure that it can be found easily and that having been found, that they maximise the chance that the searcher “clicks” through to somewhere they can “buy” the product/service and then does just that - buys. It is not difficult to see how good website design, search engine optimisation, and “pay per click” advertising support this and there is a whole ecosystem of other companies happy to supply this - for a price.
The industry serving websites, online advertising, e-commerce, etc. loves to provide landing pages statistics, visitor “stickiness”, conversion rates, and so on. There is nothing wrong with this if you are fishing for small fish, but what are the chances that they will land a big fish?
In contrast, many startups are looking for a different clientele in a Model "B" scenario. They want fewer, higher-value sales or contracts. The buying decision will be made by a CXO (CEO, COO, CTO,….) and influenced by other leaders. It is unlikely to be made quickly.
Yes, price will be a factor but the specific offering, fit between the two businesses, reputation, etc will probably be as or more important. It is also unlikely that they will buy online, but rather at the end of a more extended courtship. That said, the end result of a successful transaction could well be a relationship that leads to more valuable business.
It is much less likely that these Model "B" buyers will go to Google or other e-commerce sites if they want something. They will more likely go to someone they know already or ask for recommendations from trusted advisors. Their interest will initially be piqued more by reputation, relevance and fit, than price. The key is to be positioned ready for these (fewer) opportunities.
Of course, a good website is useful, but it is largely a hygiene factor. Instead demonstrable thought leadership, company presence and reputation are key and these are built from strong material posted (to the right places) online, visible presence at conferences and events (real life and online), media coverage (ie information in news feeds and publications) of successes, personal and product profiles, case studies, and focussed networking, etc.. These big fish usually have information coming to them, rather than having to search it out.
These are the waters where the big fish swim and the sort of bait and tackle to attract and hook them. Of course, landing them is another matter, but until you have one on the hook that is a moot point.
My key point is that it is important to set yourself up to win the clients you really want. The promise from outsourced marketing teams to provide X leads at a price of £Y per lead (and all the other statistics that go with this) can seem to be an attractive option, but just be sure that in the end, they will reach the people you want to be talking to. Otherwise, it will be wasted money and lost time.