Never rely on search engine traffic to support the bulk of your marketing efforts. The risk of doing this a 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 Web sites that were #1 in the Google search engine for many years suddenly found themselves on page 10, 20, 30 or worse. (This actually happened in September through early November 2005 due to a change in the Google algorithm. )
It is crucial to remember that your “natural rankings" or “non-paid page placement results" in the major search engines of Google, Yahoo, MSN, AOL and Ask Jeeves are free. Search engines do not guarantee the inclusion of any Web site in its search results.
That's why a solid marketing plan will have diversity. In today’s advertising universe, media channels are converging. Television, radio and print are driving viewers to Web sites and Web sites are becoming 24/7 advertising mediums that supports them all. The World Wide Web allows us to re-experience commercials, music, messages and imagery.
The news media outlets and commercial broadcast companies use the World Wide Web to extend their reach into our homes and businesses. For example, after every HBO special of Rome, they drive viewers to the HBO series Web site to see 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 mass media communication including the federal, state and local governments. From the Wall Street Journal to the White House, Web sites have proliferated at an incredible rate of 10,000 new Web sites a day.
Global businesses are competing 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 business has a distinct advantage when targeting regional niche markets using mass media. Here’s how…/p>
1) Placing Ads in Print Media
Basically there are two kinds of print advertising; newspapers and magazines ‘classified and display’. Classifieds are the small ads towards the back of the publication, while display ads can be almost any size depending on the publication.
Advertising in the print media can be expensive, and for most home businesses it won't be economical. This is where you can really benefit from the expertise of a media or public relations specialist. My company contracted with David Rourk of www.rourkpr.com . David knows where my ad is going to get the most bang-for-the-buck. He also knows which local, regional or national publications reach the client base I want to target.
2) Buying Radio advertising
Once your business grows to a decent size, you may consider buying some radio time. But ad-buyer beware! You could get a big response. Maybe a little too big! Thanks to the immediacy of radio, you could get mobbed the next day, so make sure you have a support system in place to handle multiple inquires via the phone, Web site, emails and walk-ins. If you have a Webmaster or you can do this yourself, load a digital copy of your radio commercial in your Website for your customers to revisit. I did this for of my Web clients, Easy Money Now, featuring multiple radio and TV commercials. http://www.easymoneynow.com/tv_radio.htm
3) Advertising on the Television
Unless your business is getting big, this would be a bad idea. You'd have trouble producing and airing an ad even on local cable channels for less than $5,000. Of course, if there's a market for your product and you've got the budget for this, you could take the plunge and make a mint. Purchasing air-time or ‘media buys’ is a tricky business. Again, this is best left to a professional who has your best interests in mind. A public relations or advertising professional knows the best station and time slot in which to place your commercial. If you have a Webmaster or you can do this yourself, load a digital copy of your commercial in your Website for your customers to revisit.
4) Advertising on Billboards
If you do this right, a billboard campaign can be very effective. Billboard ads are relatively expensive, but they do generally stay up for a long time, and they can be specifically targeted to an area. Phone numbers and addresses are pretty useless, whereas your Web site address will extend your reach providing your URL or domain name is easy to spell and remember. If you have a domain name that is difficult to remember, consider acquiring a second domain name for advertising purposes. For example, www.baycreekgolfclub.com uses www.baycreek.net.
5) Advertising at the movies
One type of advertising that often gets overlooked is cinema advertising. If you arrive to the cinema early, you'll see local business ads followed by big-budget ads. This can be a great place to advertise relatively inexpensively in quite a high-profile way. Contact your local cinema chain and compare advertising rates.
6) Organic Advertising
There are multiple 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 mugs, coulees
2) Golf shorts, t-shirts and ball caps
3) Presentation folders, invoices, fax cover sheets and calendars
4) Bumper stickers, window stickers
5) Phone system ‘infomercial’ about your company for clients on-hold
7) ‘Grass Roots’ Advertising
Nothing beats the basic “meet and greet" or “smile and a hand-shake. " Get your name out in the business community. Check online and the 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) Press Release Advertising
PR is popular because it is cost-effective and it works. Sending out a press release is just one example of free PR. There are many reasons for sending out a release: introducing a new product or service, celebrating an anniversary, winning an award, reaching a milestone and so on. Doing this on a regular basis is key to keeping your name in front of your customers and prospects’ eyes and being on the top of their mind when it comes to awareness. Popular forms of PR for the World Wide Web and print are; Writing Articles, Newsletters, Letters to the Editor, Online Forum and Blog Participation and offering Free Reports or (white papers).
If you know how to craft your own press release there are many free outlets on the Web to broadcast your business. I have listed many of them here: http://www.visionefx.net/submit.htm . Look under the heading - Submit Your Press Release and Business Articles
9) Web Advertising (Web Marketing)
The most effective Web based advertising I've used is “targeted business directories" or business specific directories. For my business this would be any directory having to do or related to Web design and development. There are thousands of business specific directories to include: real estate, law, construction, engineering, flowers, bridal and so on. To find a directory that has top search engine presence on Google, Yahoo or MSN Search and type-in a ‘frequently used search phrase’ relating to your business, products or sevices.
Want to know where to list your company in similar directories? I maintain a list of search engines and directories here - http://www.visionefx.net/submit.htm
10) Web Site Development
When you surf the Internet, the first impression you get from a Web site is its design. Much like a storefront, it either looks attractive and professional, or it looks shoddy and questionable. A powerful Web site design creates a sense of trust and respect between you and your on-line visitors. The site explains its purpose clearly and quickly, and why a visitor should spend time browsing it.
A Web site is your 24-hours, 7-days-a-week advertising brochure. Take time to plan, research, design and implement your Web site 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. Following are some questions that will 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 designs of the home and interior pages will you provide?
- How are any design revisions handled?
- Do I get to keep all ordinal files and source code used to create my Web site? (Some of these ordinal files may include Photoshop files, Flash movie files and database files. )
- Do you charge for minor revisions once the Web site goes live?
- Do you provide a Web site maintenance plan? At what cost?
- Will you submit my Web site ‘manually’ to major search engines?
- Do you build ‘search-engine-friendly’ Web sites?
About the Author
Virginia Web Design – VISIONEFX President Ricardo Vidallon has been in the creative business of advertising, cable broadcast, animation and the World Wide Web for more than two decades. His work has been featured on the Christian Broadcasting Network, Inc. , Fox News and NBC Entertainment. His career track in Web consultancy includes the global companies of Reynolds and Reynolds, CMGI Solutions, and Automark, Inc.