I don't go to Target to buy things. - Michelle Schneider
I don’t go to Target to buy things.

I go to Target to heal my soul.

That sounds a bit dramatic, but it’s true. The problem is that they happen to sell things there, and I can’t help but buy them.

Whenever I’m having a blah day or need an escape, my mind goes to, “I wonder if I need anything at Target?” It’s a chance to get out of my house and have some me-time. Especially this time of year, it’s something about twine pumpkins and faux leaf arrangements that really warm my heart. Everything is design-savvy, it’s clean, relatively quiet with no music blaring, and the end-caps are usually filled with enticing discounts.

It’s a young woman’s paradise. So why does this matter?

Can you imagine having a business where someone goes to feel better and not necessarily to make a purchase? An oasis for a potential customer. There’s power in that. Like big fucking power.

The environment of a store can leave a lasting impression. It builds a relationship between the store and the buyer. This is known as a business reputation. It’s all about how you feel about the business and what that business hopes others feel about the company. In short, you could call it a vibe.

So if you are a business owner, what vibe does your business have? How much of the environment contributes to that vibe? And with a lot of companies moving to the online realm, what contributes to the environmental experience?

You can probably guess that if your business is online, then the vibe you put out is created by your website and your social media presence. And if your website and social media suck, then your “vibe” probably does as well.

So how do you make sure that the presence you are putting out contributes to your success? Are you forever stuck with the image that you put out there into the world, or can you make changes to your online assets to transform someone’s perspective? If you are a little shaky on the information you are showcasing to the online world, here are a few tips you could implement on your website to make sure you are putting your best foot forward. Having been in marketing for over a decade, I realize now more than ever that the relationships you build with your customers are the most valuable thing you could do.

Be clear and concise.

When a viewer goes to your website, they should know what you offer, how you help people, and how someone can get your services within five seconds. If your copy is elusive and it feels like you are sending someone on a mysterious journey to figure out what you do, that is not good.

Many people think they need to launch into their personal back history to make others understand why they offer what they do. Not the case. No one needs to know how you made it to this point. They only want to see how you can benefit them.

For example, if you sell hiking shoes, don’t lead with: “25 Years of Successfully Selling Shoes.”

Instead, go with “High Performace Boots to Take You To New Heights.”

Which headline makes you feel more compelled to part with your money? I want the fancy boots that are going to make me a badass hiker and climb higher.

Being concise will get your point across quicker. Don’t launch into lengthy paragraphs that no one will ever read. If you keep your copy short, then your website will be scannable and more accessible for people to consume. If you make your website a comfortable and enjoyable experience, that will put out those good vibes I was mentioning earlier.

Invite people into a story.

Are you able to get people to see themselves using your product or services? Spell out what life could look like if they did business with you. Highlight the benefits and a little bit of what’s at stake if they don’t engage. Connecting to the emotions of the potential customer could be the factor that gets them to lean in your direction. It’s true. People need solutions to their problems, but they also want to feel good about the decisions they make to solve those problems.

Inviting viewers into a story can look a little different for every business. Let’s talk about Target’s website, for example. We already know what Target is and that they offer a ton of products. When you go to the website, you want to see what new things they have to benefit your life.

Since it is autumn, if you go to the Target website right now, they basically say, “Hey, it’s fall. Here are some pumpkin spice products that might bring you joy.” And you know what? I’m here for it, and I am putting my shoes on as we speak. It’s not going to connect with every person, but for some, joy will definitely be sparked.

Let’s look at another real-life example. Thinking about those hiking boots from earlier, I wanted to see an example related to performance shoes. It took me a while to find a headline that invites people into a story. Most retail sites displayed, “Hey, we have a sale.” It’s a good tactic, but it doesn’t stir any emotions inside, and it definitely doesn’t invite anyone into a story.

The reason you want to invite viewers into a story is to build a relationship with them. Potential customers should feel like you care about them and that what you offer is beneficial to their lives. Cue the term business reputation I mentioned earlier. Here is what I found. The outdoor retail shop REI featured a headline stating, “How to Adventure Awesomely: Run like a runner.” It’s simple, but it makes a connection with the viewer. It conveys that if you want to have an adventure, then you need to run like an experienced runner. You need to get the gear that professionals use and love, and REI has precisely the equipment you need.

Consider emotions stirred. These people sound like they believe in their products, and they know what they are doing.

Call someone to take action.

Telling someone how to do business with you is an essential factor on your website. Make it very clear how someone can take action. If you are selling a product, makes sure you have a button similar to “Buy Now,” or if you offer services, it could be something like “Schedule Appointment.”

If you make purchasing your goods a mystery adventure, don’t expect a lot of sales. If a viewer has to click through two or three pages to get to your offer, that’s a terrible user experience. Have multiple calls to action throughout your page. And if someone isn’t ready to buy, make sure there is an alternative option to stay engaged.

That alternative engagement can look a few different ways. It could be a pop-up on your site that offers a discount, free information, or a weekly sales newsletter. All in all, it should add value to your potential buyer and allow them to stay connected, so when they are ready to buy, they are more likely to engage with your business.

And if they close that pop-up as fast as it appears, make sure there are static options that allow users to input their information in exchange for your alternative engagement offer.

When you offer continued engagement, you usually do it in exchange for an email address, and that is extremely valuable to your company as long as you continue to nurture these new prospects. An email list isn’t something you “set and forget.” You must continually provide content that adds to your viewer’s lives and build the relationship between the two of you. You never know. If you establish the relationship right, those potential customers might just come to you when they need to heal their soul.

Here’s to putting out those good online vibes.

If you are a business owner and you have ever questioned the presence you put out there (whether in a storefront or online), know that simple marketing strategies can make all the difference. Marketing doesn’t have to be a complicated science that frustrates you, and it is more than an ad promoting a sale. It’s the story you tell and invite others to take part in. It’s the reputation you build and the relationships you establish. Your brand is who you are. Marketing is how you communicate that message.

If you are confused about the story you are telling, then your customers are going to be confused as well. Your reputation is impacted by everything you do. It’s how you get customers to fall in love with what you offer and get others to be brand ambassadors without them realizing it.

So no matter what, if you own a business, make sure that you love the products and services you put out. Communicate your message clearly and with pride. If you believe in it, others will too. If it makes your soul happy, it might have the same effect on someone else.

After all, it’s a vibe.