324: Jann Mirchandani—To Build A Great Presence Online You Must Begin With Your Website

Hear how to make your website your best marketing tool

We’re going to do three things today for my audience as you’re listening in or watching. First, Jann Mirchandani will tell you about her own journey as a marketing maven. Then we’re going to talk about what Google has done to change the way we search for what we want to buy or answers to what we want to know. For solutions to what you need, you start by asking Google. Have a physical ailment? You ask Dr. Google. Second, do you know why that is so important for your business and its image, identity, brand, presence and what you communicate in the marketplace? And third, what do you need to do to build a brand identity? How can you create the story you want for your business? If you have a company or want to start one, this is for you!

Watch and listen to our conversation here

Jann video
Can Jann help you?

I have known Jann Mirchandani for a long time, and she has built several websites for our clients. While she was speaking at a Westchester Business Council event, her panelists were talking about LinkedIn, Instagram and social media. I am sure that you may be worried about that as well. Jann focused on building a great website foundation for your social presence because without a good foundation you don’t exist.

Where should you focus if you want to build your digital presence?

Listen in as Jann and I talk about something we believe to be an essential part of our personal and professional lives: how we show up online. How are you? If you want to contact Jann directly, you can find her on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, or you can send her an email at jann@westchestermarketingcafe.com. And check out her own website Westchester Marketing Café.

To know more about building a terrific website that will work hard for you:  

Additional resources for you

Read the transcript of our podcast here

Andi Simon: Welcome to On the Brink With Andi Simon. Hi, I’m Andi Simon. I’m your host and your guide. Can you believe it, this is our 324th podcast. We’ve been ranked in the top 5% of global podcasts and the top 20 of futurists podcasts. So to you, our listeners and our audience, I can’t thank you enough for listening and sharing. And today I have a fantastic woman I want you to meet: Jann Mirchandani is a fantastic website designer, and understands the internet and the SEO of things. We’ve had her create several websites for our clients and they are fantastic. And it’s fun to work with Jann because she really understands what Google has done. They’ve transformed the buyer’s journey. The first thing you’re going to think about when you have a need is to go online and search for it. And there is Jann’s website waiting for you. Jann, thank you so much for joining me today.

Jann Mirchandani: Oh, it’s a pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me.

Andi Simon: We’re going to do three things today for my audience as you’re listening in or watching. First, I want Jann to tell you about her own journey. You know how important that is to set the stage. Then we’re going to talk about what Google has done to change the way we search, buy and find solutions to what we need. And why that is so important for your identity, your brand, your presence and what you communicate in the marketplace.

Now at a Westchester Business Council event where Jann was speaking, the others were talking about LinkedIn and social and Instagram. You may be worried about that as well. But without a good foundation on your website, with your content, with your blogs, you don’t exist. And the first thing someone will do if they see an Instagram thing is cool. So why aren’t you thinking web first and that website is so important. Jann, thank you for being here.

Jann Mirchandani: Pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me.

Andi Simon: Tell them about yourself. Who is Jann?

Jann Mirchandani: So I actually started my career back in the day, really, before websites were even a thing. In fact, it’s just kind of a funny aside, I remember when I was in high school, and they brought in one of the first desktop computers, and I was like, I was never going to use that thing. And so I clearly can’t say that I was very forward thinking back then. But obviously, over the many years, my actual career kind of started in marketing. In corporate, I worked for several large asset management companies back in the day. And then my company was merging with another company, and I was fortunate enough to get a package. And they actually became my first client. It was just such a funny kind of coincidence.

My intention really was at the time I was working, to keep in marketing. I was sort of specializing in that. Back then, it was desktop publishing. So I started and then I started my family around that same time. It was very difficult to balance the two. So I really started changing my focus to working with smaller organizations and smaller businesses. And what I realized in fairly short order was that it was really the technology, it was really the internet of things, that businesses and small business owners were saying, “We really need to understand this. It’s supposed to be the end-all and be-all and it’s easy, and we should be able to get in here, but I’m afraid.”

And there’s just really a dearth of experts to sherpa the small business owners and nonprofit organizations through getting a website up and running and all of that. So I really did a complete pivot and went all in on just the digital and website design. And I taught myself. I took what I had learned over a decade-plus of marketing, and then taught myself the technology. And that, to me, is really the beauty of it. It’s that sweet spot between communicating your unique selling proposition and what makes you special, with also the nerdy, geeky things of how we can communicate that effectively online. That was sort of a not-so-straight path to where I got to where I am now.

Andi Simon: Well, I bet you can also reflect out to our audience about what your clients are asking for or thinking about, and perhaps missing, because searches become the way people find things. I had a great client in Texas, he had a foundry and his clients stopped picking up the telephone. And the sales guys were having a terrible time getting inside to buyers who they used to use. And so when I went out to find out what was happening, Boomer buyers had retired and the 30-somethings didn’t use the telephone. And they laughed. They said, Well, we don’t pick up the phone, we go online, we go searching. And he said to me, That’s how they buy now. I said, Yes, that’s how people buy now. So that gives us a little of the evolution of both search and the web.

Jann Mirchandani: You know, it’s interesting, because I had a conversation not that long ago with a client that was very similar. He found me on Google, and wasn’t anybody that I had any experience with. He says, “I’m not getting any phone calls. I’m not getting any inquiries from my website, what’s going on?” And I went in, and sure enough, he wasn’t getting found on any of the search engines, so we won’t get into that whole nonsense, because it was a mistake that had been made by his previous developer. That was both phone calls, and emails, and warm inquiries.

And statistics show, even if somebody has a friend and business card, the first thing that they’re going to do is look you up online. They’re going to go to your website and check you out even before they pick up the phone or send an email inquiry. Statistics and surveys have borne that out. So they’re definitely going to your website, even if those are just the referrals. What about all of the people who don’t even know that you exist, and don’t know anybody who’s going to refer you?

People who are doing a Google search if they’re looking for an attorney, if they’re looking for any kind of service provider, they’re going to do a Google search. They’re doing their due diligence, that is where they start. We are living in the age of educated consumers. So to try and swim upstream, to me, just does not make sense. So I always tell clients when they say, We need to joog up our website, we need to make it look a little bit nicer. And I’m like, Well, that’s part of it, but the reality is, you need to think about what you’re saying. Who are you communicating with? Are you really attracting your best customers? Or are you just trying to throw spaghetti against the wall and say, These are all of our list of services. You know, it’s a little bit more nuanced than that. So you really do need to think about your audience first, and not just features and benefits.

Andi Simon: Well, it’s not a brochure. And the problem is, when you think of it as an online brochure, it’s flat, and it offers you no value. And quite frankly, like a brochure, you hope people read it, maybe. But it doesn’t provide any service. So my pitch always is, What’s your value? Because it comes through before anyone has come to you, or even after it’s on your web. So at SAMC we make sure there are 10 areas where we score highly. So you want to Google corporate anthropologist, on the first page on my blog about why culture change is essential if you’re going to change, is on the first page and may not be the first one. But it’s down within the first few. Blue Ocean Strategy® expert. I can’t beat the book, but I’m on that second page. Sometimes my stuff’s on the first page.

Think through one of the keywords that you want to be known for. What’s your authority? Because search is looking for an authority. And the second thing that we’ve learned, and I’m sure you tell this to your clients, is, Google’s already gone local to ask, Who’s a good attorney near me? What’s a restaurant near me? It already knows you want to go near me. 

Jann Mirchandani: Right, it’s a numbers game. 100%. And, what you said too about which search terms. What do you want to be known for? One of the first things that I counsel my clients on is, it’s not necessarily how you identify yourself, because many of us fall into, “I do website design and development.” We get very jargony, very quickly, because that’s the language of our profession. That’s not necessarily what our best clientele are looking for. Because they don’t know the language of our profession. So you got to throw the jargon out the window to a large extent.

It goes back to what I was saying before about your audience first, what are they looking for, and it may not be the very professional jargon terms that you think of yourself in terms of.  You just are always going back to clients first, and then what you’re talking about in terms of local search. It’s a numbers game. So if you’re getting 100,000 visits to your website and of those, 1% is your ideal client, versus 1000 visits to your website and 50% of those are your ideal client. The point you really want to make sure that you’re focusing on is your ideal client. If somebody’s doing a search for Apple, are they looking for going apple picking with their family, or are they looking for an iMac?

When you’re looking at the search, are you being found for the right terms, and is it what your audience is looking for. And it may be, it may be some of that jargon. If you’re looking for other professionals, and I certainly know clients and I have other industry professionals that refer business to me. So maybe you do want to attract people with some of that, and it goes right directly to what you’re talking about in terms of thought leadership and being really known for your expertise and being solid in your core expertise.

Andi Simon: It’s not all that different from life before the internet, because we forget that people buy from people. And so the whole process is, how do you make yourself come alive online. I had one client and he downloaded pages off my website underlined in yellow. I was in shock. He knew enough about me, he’d watched the videos. But that was how he bought it. But it was an interesting experience on my part because he was looking for content to pre-legitimize his decision to contact us.

Last week, we actually had somebody who found us online because they wanted to do a culture change project and needed the Organizational Cultural Assessment Instrument. Or conversely, they wanted to do culture change and found me with the OCAI. I’m never quite sure what it was. But all of this comes down to, once you have your website, think backwards. What are people searching for, not just a word. The word culture has millions of searches, but that’s not what you want. You want a culture change expert in New York or something that gives it a long tail that locks you in, and then you better have it on your website so that this wonderful person who’s looking for you can find you, which sounds so mysterious, but that’s how the world is working now.

Jann Mirchandani: You said long term keyword, which is how to think about: How do we own our own searches? We put in a question. It might be a very long question because that’s how we’re getting all of those little markers into the search engine to say, I’m looking for all of this. And the other thing that people don’t often realize in terms of the SEO on their website, and when I say SEO, I’m really just talking about the organic, I’m not talking about paid placement, I’m not talking about paid ads, or anything. It’s really just about people finding you organically. What people don’t realize is, they think, “I need to optimize my website,” which of course you do, but your website isn’t showing up for search results. A page on your website and an article that you have written, a video that you have shared, it’s showing up in the search results.

This is the other thing I see with clients a lot, especially on their home page is: We have to put everything on the home page because that’s where people are going to be coming in. We have to rethink why we call it a home page, but that’s only a percentage of your visitors. All of those other articles, all of that other material that you’re sharing on your website, is conveying your thought leadership and your expertise and your knowledge and your personality. And so that’s going to be a large part of it as well. And that’s what’s going to bubble to the surface for the search results.

Andi Simon: Now, let’s go a little further because there’s a whole world of backlinks. You know, your ranking depends on how others have linked back to you for something. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Jann Mirchandani: Yeah, I mean, it’s a great way. I share articles all the time about tools that I love to use for clients, and I will link to those sources. So that gives them sort of additional SEO tools too. When people share your information, whether we were not pushing too hard on social media, that’s a whole other animal, but sharing on social media, sharing on other websites, other credentialed websites, other really substantial websites, when they’re linking back and saying, “Here’s an interesting article that Andrea Simon wrote about creating change in your organization.” That all lends credence and lends authority to your information and your expertise.

So to the extent that you can guest blog somewhere, do a podcast somewhere, all of that information then gets shared. Maybe shared in the original source, but then links back hopefully to your website, as well. You said something interesting earlier about it’s not so different than how it was in the ancient days, pre-internet. It really is the same how people behave. We have not evolved in the last 20 years, our tools have changed. Our tools have certainly evolved, but how we make decisions is very much the same. We base our decisions based on who we know, and trust, who we like, who we feel comfortable with, to the extent that networking with others now means connecting and collaborating with others and sharing others. “This is somebody that I know and trust, and I feel confident recommending them.” That all lends credibility, not only to the others, but to you as well.

Andi Simon: You know, as you’re talking, one of the websites you built for us was for a client, and they do a good deal of blogging, and I’m showcasing their customers on their site. Now, often when I’m working with clients, we have two leadership academies, and I talked about belonging cues. This builds trust because they become icons for others who are looking for people just like me, so that if you can do it for them, you might be able to do it for me. So even our podcasts and celebrating others, it’s not about us, it’s about collaborating, belonging. And these are the kinds of folks I want to share with our audience. They know that we’re good at whatever it is that we’re doing here.

But I do think the world of the web is mysterious. We set up small businesses, not-for-profits, and I’m not quite sure why they don’t realize that they go shopping the same way they want to find something. But they don’t really think of it for their own company in the same fashion, as if they would buy me as an attorney or an accounting firm or whatever. And well, why wouldn’t they? If you give them the right answers to the question of, How do I handle the new tax law?, what is it that matters? What matters isn’t the name of your company, maybe the logo, but really is it? Do you have an answer to my question? And if you do, then you must be trustworthy and I may belong to you.

So the buyer, you’re right, they haven’t evolved that much. It’s just the tools that we use to get there. It is interesting. We did say something about social. At SAMC when we post something, we immediately go out (we’re HubSpot partners) and we post it on all the social, and then we email it to all of our friends and family who are on our CRM. And we then follow up a week later with, In case you missed it.” We’re gonna talk a little bit about how to leverage social as opposed to depend on it. If you want to have content, and social doesn’t give you much, it’s a vehicle for talking to people. What are your thoughts?

Jann Mirchandani: I couldn’t agree more. Clients often look at me, like, “Why?” I say, “Well, do you do social media? I can work with you on your social media, but I will not execute social media on your behalf.” So they’re like, “But you do digital marketing.” I say, “Yeah, do you know social media is great if you have great content, but you have to have content. That’s rented space.”

I always tell clients, You know what: Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram…all of these channels. Tik Tok is the newest hot thing. They can change their algorithms. They can change their user agreements anytime without your permission, without your agreement. You have no say in it. They can take your content as soon as you upload it. It’s there as if it no longer belongs to you. You’re in a rented space there, as opposed to your website. You own that real estate. You can take your website and you can move it from one hosting platform to another. I’ve done it plenty of times with clients. And they’re like, “What is set up over here, it’s not meeting our needs anymore.” We take it and it will live somewhere else. Your domain you own means that you can move it forward from one registrar to another. And all of that is as you make those decisions for your business, your organization.

So it’s really important to understand that difference between what you really control versus what somebody else controls for your organization. This is not to say that it doesn’t have any meaning because again, we all go to networking events. Say I haven’t seen someone for a while, I should reach out. Those platforms have their uses, certainly LinkedIn, especially to stay in touch with colleagues as they move from one job to the next and you might not necessarily have their home phone number. So it is important, but it is also important to understand what the value is where one is a tool for networking and the other one is a tool for really having that conversation with your clients, in terms of your prospective clients, in terms of, This is really our expertise. You shouldn’t be selling on social media but on your website, it’s perfectly appropriate to be a little bit more sales that you really don’t want to do on social media. So again, what are the tools and why are you using them?

Andi Simon: It is interesting as I’m listening to you because the world of LinkedIn is a science all unto itself, and Instagram as well. But 65-70% of the traffic to our website comes from organic. And Twitter is much more effective as a generator of leads to our website then the others are. I mean, I can see it in the data. You have to feed the ones that feed you. And you play with the others to be present. But forget whoever is listening, what is your strategy? And what are you offering? And to whom? And what do you know about what’s working, because it’s all in the data. And if you’re not watching your Google Analytics, you don’t see where the sources are, you’re missing what the world is giving you, which is a platform to know how to build your business organically on the internet.

Now, for those who aren’t up on a good website yet, I urge you to talk to a Jann or someone like Jann, because you’re missing the way the world is buying. The first thing people do if they’re curious about something is, they search. And if you don’t come up on the first couple of pages, you don’t exist. And unless someone’s referring them to you, you got a lot of work to build a market in a changing buyer’s journey now, but we are about ready to wrap ourselves up. So Miss Jann, what are two or three things you want to make sure our audience doesn’t forget and leaves knowing about?

Jann Mirchandani: Well, the first thing is what I said right at the beginning. It’s absolutely essential that you really get out of your own head and think about what your prospective clients are looking for. One thing that I always say to new clients is, Think about the 10 questions that you get most often when you start with a new project or a new client. They’re telling you everything that you need to know about what any other prospective client is going to be asking you. Because that’s the same question. So that’s really the first thing that you want to do is, What are those prospective clients looking for?

Then in terms of overall presence and how you’re presenting yourself online, it goes back to, we haven’t really talked about branding, but the branding experience. Hopefully people have watched and listened to us today and when they go to my website, that tracks with what I saw on Andi’s podcast. Then if they pick up the phone or send me an email, that experience should be the same as well. Back in the day, when I first started, it was like, Oh, I have to be very buttoned up and I have to be very professional. I kind of subjugated my own personality to a large extent and over time, I’m like, you know what, that’s hard to sustain over time. So, let that personality show because in many, many instances, that is going to be your sales differentiator. So I think that’s important also.

Don’t set your website and forget it and say, Okay, we just dusted it off, and we just did a new website and now we’re done for another five years. You shouldn’t be really taking a look at it regularly. You should be adding articles regularly. I have the same issue that every one of my clients have on my blog. But again, go back to what you have and bring in guest bloggers, but definitely make sure that you are paying attention regularly to your website to add new content so those questions that your prospective clients are asking you, or you know what your clients are asking you. So that’s sort of it in a nutshell.

Andi Simon: I’m going to have Jann tell you where you can reach her. But one of the things that I do just as a tip is that we like to post three times a week. We like to post on our list of longtail keywords, and make sure the URL and the subheads are all the right ones for people searching for that. So there’s a little science to how to do those. But after awhile, you’re building on the story so that the blogs that we put up two or three years ago have set the stage for what we’re adding onto currently. And sometimes I look back and forward and say, It really has grown into a storybook. That’s what you are, a storybook. And the story is like a movie set in your head in your next year. And think about the year in terms of content you want to share. You don’t have to be long, 800 words, three paragraphs, and the right keywords get you content so the search engines know you’re the expert in that particular field. But don’t wait. Because if you wait five years, you’re a worthless website.

Jann Mirchandani: Months, honestly, I mean, six months. Everything else is now and I’ll add a little bonus that you just reminded me of: Is it okay to go back to an article or a post that you wrote three years ago, a year ago? Things change. So dust that off, rewrite. Depending on how much you’ve changed the original article, you can either update the date on it, or just leave it with a little note that you updated it so that you’re not always having to craft new content, you really can go back to what you have. It might be interesting for your readers to see originally, back in 2011, Jann said these were her favorite tools. And she’s added three new ones since then and that’s kind of interesting how the technology has changed. So I mean, you can certainly do that to update what you’ve already got.

Andi Simon: And when you get launching that new website, don’t forget to tell everybody on your email list. They are a rich source for, “Hi, we’ve just updated our website and we can’t wait for you to read the new articles on there. Or let us know what you need.”

Jann Mirchandani: I haven’t even touched on email. Email is a great way to share your content from your website to your audience, and that drives traffic back to your website. We’re talking about SEO, all of that traffic that you’re generating through the people that you’re already connected with, is a great source for SEO as well.

Andi Simon: Jann, where can people reach you?

Jann Mirchandani: I can be reached at Westchestermarketingcafe.com That’s the easiest way. You can fill out the online form there. Or you can reach me directly at Jann@Westchestermarketing cafe.com Or give me a call 914-806-7720 and I’d be happy to chat.

Andi Simon: And she’s a happy chatter and she does beautiful work. It’s a pleasure to see you today. Thank you for joining me. Now, for all of our listeners and our audience who are watching, I can’t tell you what fun it is to share great people with you. And as you know, my job is to help you see, feel and think in new ways, which is just what we’ve done today with Jann. But don’t underestimate the power of the internet, your website, and the kinds of ways it tells a story. We’re all story makers and storytellers. And that’s what’s so powerful today. You have a platform, and nobody’s controlling you, so tell that story in a great fashion. And keep telling it over and over so that you can rise in those rankings because they matter.

I’m Andi Simon, I’m your host and your guide. My two books are out there at Amazon waiting for you. It’s so much fun. I did a book club the other day on Rethink: Smashing The Myths of Women in Business. And these were really wonderful high-powered women in the commercial real estate world. And I was fascinated about how they had read the book and how it had touched them differently than I might have thought. And that’s always so interesting when you read a book because you put your story into it. And they were all wanting to know how could their stories be like these stories? So I urge you to read it and get a hold of me if you want me to talk at your book club or your organization. I’d love to share both the origin myth of this book,Rethink, as well as the women who are inside it who were so gracious to share their stories like Jann has done today. It’s been such fun. But take care. Remember, find me at info@Andisimon.com and we’re always here to help you see, feel and think in new ways. Change your organization or change yourself. It’s been wonderful, thanks again.