Never rely on search engine traffic to support most of your marketing efforts. The risk of doing this is greater than you think.
Search engines are constantly changing and evolving to stay one step ahead of spammers and unethical optimization practices. Recently thousands of websites that were #1 on Google search engine for many years suddenly found themselves on page 10, 20, 30 or worse. (This actually happened between September and early November 2005 due to a change in Google’s algorithm.)
It’s crucial to remember that your “natural rankings” or “unpaid page placement results” in the major search engines Google, Yahoo, MSN, AOL and Ask Jeeves are free. Search engines do not guarantee the inclusion of any website in their search results.
That is why a strong marketing plan will have diversity. In today’s advertising universe, media channels are converging. TV, radio and print are bringing viewers to websites and websites are becoming 24/7 advertising outlets supporting them all. The World Wide Web allows us to re-experience advertisements, music, messages, and images.
The media and commercial broadcasting companies use the World Wide Web to extend their reach into our homes and businesses. For example, after each HBO Rome special, viewers are taken to the HBO series website to view additional clips and features. Fox Broadcasting did this with their popular military series “Over There.”
Think about it: The World Wide Web supports and extends 99.9% of all media communications, including federal, state, and local governments. From the Wall Street Journal to the White House, websites have proliferated at an incredible rate of 10,000 new websites per day.
Global companies compete 24/7 for their fair share of your attention with millions of dollars at stake. How in the world can small businesses compete? Fortunately, emerging technologies and the Internet have helped level the playing field. Small businesses have a clear advantage when targeting regional niche markets using mass media. That is how…
1) Placement of advertisements in print media
Basically there are two types of print advertising; newspapers and magazines ‘classified and display’. Classified ads are the small ads on the back of the publication, while display ads can be almost any size depending on the publication.
Advertising in print media can be expensive, and for most home-based businesses, it won’t be cheap. This is where you can really benefit from the expertise of a media or public relations specialist. My company hired David Rourk from Rourk Public Relations. David knows where my ad will get the most returns. He also knows which local, regional or national publications reach the client base I want to target.
2) Buy radio advertising
Once your business grows to a decent size, you may want to consider buying some radio time. Purpose ad-buyer beware! You might get a great response. Maybe a little too big! Thanks to the immediacy of radio, you may be mugged the next day, so make sure you have a support system in place to handle multiple inquiries via phone, website, emails, and walk-ins. If you have a webmaster or can do it yourself, upload a digital copy of your radio commercial to your website for your customers to visit again. I did this for one of my web clients, Easy Money Now, with multiple TV and radio commercials.
3) Advertising on Television
Unless your business is getting big, this would be a bad idea. You would have trouble producing and airing an ad even on local cable channels for less than $5,000. Of course, if there is a market for your product and you have the budget for it, you can take the plunge and make a mint. Buying airtime or ‘media buying’ is a tricky business. Again, this is best left to a professional who has your best interest in mind. A public relations or advertising professional knows the best season and time slot in which to place your commercial. If you have a webmaster or can do it yourself, upload a digital copy of your commercial to your website for your customers to visit again.
4) Advertising on billboards
If you do this right, an advertising campaign can be very effective. Billboard ads are relatively expensive, but they usually stick around for a long time and can be specifically targeted to one area. Phone numbers and addresses are pretty useless, while your website address will broaden your reach as long as your URL or domain name is easy to spell and remember. If you have a domain name that is difficult to remember, consider purchasing a second domain name for advertising purposes.
5) Advertising in the cinema
One type of advertising that is often overlooked is film advertising. If you get to the theater early, you’ll see ads for local businesses followed by big-budget ads. This can be a great place to advertise relatively cheaply and with a fairly high profile. Contact your local movie chain and compare advertising rates.
6) Organic Advertising
There are several types of collateral advertising that help “brand” your business. These include printing, stamping or embroidering your business name and web address on the following;
1) Pens, pencils, coffee cups, pours
2) Golf shorts, t-shirts and caps
3) Presentation folders, invoices, fax cover sheets and calendars
4) Bumper stickers, window stickers
5) ‘Infomercial’ phone system about your company for waiting customers
7) ‘Grassroots’ Advertising
There’s nothing better than the basic “meet and greet” or “smile and shake hands.” Get your name out there in the business community. Check online and in local newspapers for business networking groups. Your local Chamber of Commerce would be a good place to start. Talk to community leaders, private business schools, and associations about business programs and events in your area.
8) Advertising Press Releases
Public relations is popular because it is profitable and it works. Sending out a press release is just one example of free public relations. There are many reasons to send a communication: introduce a new product or service, celebrate an anniversary, win an award, reach a milestone, etc. Doing this regularly is key to keeping your name in the eyes of your customers and prospects and top of mind when it comes to awareness. Popular forms of public relations for the World Wide Web and print are; Writing articles, newsletters, letters to the editor, participating in online forums and blogs and offering free reports or (white papers).
9) Web advertising (Web Marketing)
The most effective web-based advertising I have used is “targeted business directories” or specific business directories. For my business, this would be any directory that has to do with or is related to web design and development. There are thousands of business specific directories including: real estate, law, construction, engineering, flowers, weddings, etc. To find a directory that has a presence on major search engines go to Google, Yahoo or MSN Search and type in a ‘frequently used search phrase’ related to your business, products or services.
10) Website Development
When you browse the Internet, the first impression you get of a website is its design. Like a storefront, it looks attractive and professional, or it looks shoddy and questionable. A powerful website design creates a sense of trust and respect between you and your online visitors. The site explains its purpose clearly and quickly, and why a visitor should spend time browsing it.
A website is your 24/7 advertising brochure. Take the time to plan, research, design and implement your website with a professional firm.
As you go through the process of selecting a web design company, one of the keys to success will be the questions you ask. Here are some questions to ask to help you find the best company at the best price:
Important web design questions to ask
– How do you maintain communication with the client?
– How many home and inner page layouts will you provide?
– How are design reviews handled?
– Can I keep all the ordinal files and source code used to create my website? (Some of these ordinal files may include Photoshop files, Flash movie files, and database files.)
– Do you charge for minor revisions once the website is live?
– Do you provide a website maintenance plan? at what cost?
– Will you ‘manually’ submit my website to the major search engines?
– Do you build ‘search engine friendly’ websites?