It’s obvious that business owners are a huge target for advertising companies.
And as print media continues to produce dropping response rates (generally speaking), with Yellow Pages’ print business struggling for survival, the focus has switched to online marketing.
In my experience, it’s common for sales people from advertising companies to use a strong mix of guilt, fear and pressure to get business owners to part with $5,000 to $20,000…normally without asking many questions about the business they’re trying to sell to.
Problem is, most of these websites will never generate an income – let alone earn back the money invested in them by the business owner.
If you’re in a situation where you’re looking to “explore internet marketing”, here’s some quick pointers:
- Forget the silver bullet - Yes, I know you’re too smart to listen to the “build it and they will come” sales message commonly used. But to be clear, just having a website does not online profits make! Online marketing is rarely a “set and forget” arrangement.
- Know the purpose of your site – Are you wanting to sell products or services directly from the site, via shopping cart or instant pay system such as PayPal? Are you looking to offer a free bonus / report / sample, in exchange for contact information? Are you simply wanting an “online brochure” which you can refer your customers & prospects too for further information about what you do? Knowing this information up front is essential, before you spend any money on a new website or online marketing
- Is your website a direct marketing website, or purely a “pretty picture” – Assuming you do have a website already, any online marketing driving traffic to your site MUST have lead capture ability. That is, similar to the previous point, it must have a place where visitors can leave their email address (minimum) and name, along with other contact details as necessary. Rough rule of thumb, ask for just name & email address first to maximise response (people are still very hesitant to leave more than this info before they know you, like you and trust you!) A pretty website will NOT let you maximise your return from any marketing effort you do, as your visitors will be lost forever!
- Do you have a follow-up system in place - it’s one thing to capture the information from your visitors, it’s another thing to stay in touch with them. Ideally you’d be offering a multi-step marketing system, whereby a visitor can be educated in automated emails… given examples of how you’ve helped previous clients… hints on how to overcome some of the problems they may be facing related to your industry… and maybe (ideally!) an offline direct marketing package or postcard
- If looking to advertise in an online business directory, what options do you have - there are plenty of online “portals”… websites developed by smart marketing companies targeting a specific industry (eg carpet cleaning), with directory listings sold to such business owners for $200 to $1,000. My personal view on these sites: if you’ve got the ability to post videos, backlinks to your website(s), “free text” about your business, additional images etc, then you may find value in such sites. But… and it’s a big but… it’s important to remember you’ll be competing on a very level playing field with these sites & often only able to compete on price. A dangerous place to be, and a bigger problem than I can explain in this post!
- Don’t be pressured – if the offer “won’t be good unless you say yes right now”, walk away. Seriously! Online or offline, you don’t want to find yourself in a situation we’re you’ve agreed to spend good money on something you don’t understand (technically or even the true benefits). If a company has to resort to high pressure / guilt / manipulation to get you to spend money with them, they do not care about you or your business… just their sale. They will not be around to answer your questions 5 minutes after the sale
So before you jump in & waste money on any kind of advertising online, be sure you’re doing so from a position of confidence, trust & knowledge – without those things you’re making yourself a more vulnerable target for quick-sale-and-move-on-to-the-next-victim salespeople.
Better still, put a strategy together with the help of a trusted business advisor for your entire online marketing approach, and implement different aspects as your confidence (and profits) grow.
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