Everything Is Incremental

The bad economy has generated desperate calls from owners who are begging for the Internet to save their business.

I wish it were that simple. When I talk to these potential clients, I first have to set their expectations.

Internet MagicThe fact is that a web site and the Internet are not magic. They very, very, very rarely make a site owner a lot of money quickly.

Even if you plot, plan, and work to optimize your web site to return high on Google’s search results, you’re not likely to get rich overnight.

Distrust anyone who promises riches if you hire them to promote, design, or advertise for your business on the Internet. (Or anywhere else!)

Like every other real-world marketing effort, each action you take to market on the Internet will yield incremental results. This is not bad, but it is not magic. For every step you take, you’ll get a few more calls, a few more visitors to your business.

Want a marketing push? Then commit yourself to play in as many of these areas as you can:

  • Create or update your web site.
    Your web site is your primary electronic calling card. Potential clients check it for your style and personality, in addition to looking for concrete information like services offered. People expect your business to have a site, and they expect it to look like 2010 and not 1999.
  • Optimize your web site for search engines (also called “Search Engine Optimization” or “SEO”).
    You’ll want to do some research or hire a professional for this step, but showing up better in Google is well worth it.
  • Advertise your goods or services on Craigslist.
    Really! Craigslist listings are free, and you can use them to point to your web site for more information. Don’t forget to repost the listing or update it every three days so that you’re not lost too deep in the clutter.
  • Identify a target client group and create a direct mail campaign.
    Really, again! This low-tech approach to an identified group of potential customers should get their attention and invite them to check you out on your web site. Start off by use your local chamber of commerce address list or even the membership list of an affinity group (such as a business exchange network like BNI.)
  • Claim and spruce up your local business listing in Google and Bing.
    These are the two major search engines which show maps of businesses when people search for goods and services. You want a link to your business on the map — this is especially important if you’re selling impulse or food items like pizza.
  • Run a Google Adwords campaign.
    Adwords are the “sponsored listings” which show up on the top and right of the normal search results. You can get new visitors to your site for a couple dollars each.
  • Send out a monthly electronic magazine.
    Even if you’re not selling anything people can click on and buy, touching your clients regularly is essential to growing your business. Your monthly message doesn’t have to be very long, and it should not be about you! You want to give your contacts some helpful information that will get them to smile and remember that you’re available to help them. Of course you can help them with a special or coupon in the newsletter, but don’t talk too much about you, your services, or your own wonderfulness.
  • Join and attend regularly a business referral group.
    The best new clients can be the ones that people who know you and your business pre-screen and send to you. So, spend a couple hours each week talking with other business owners. In addition to the straight-forward benefits of a referral, you’ll learn about your strengths and weaknesses when you answer standards questions — such as who is a perfect referral for you — as part of the program. Moreover, you’ll learn about trends and area-wide concerns of people outside your industry. Valuable stuff!

There’s more, of course. Almost all of the pre-Internet marketing options remain marketing weapons in your fight for profit.

Each action is helpful. And, none of they is enough by itself!

2 Replies to “Everything Is Incremental”

  1. Nice post…yes today everybody want to earn from internet and want to become rich in one night…is it possible?
    Answer is obvious “NO”.

    As said, Internet is not magic, it is a process, just follow the above process and you can earn good amount of money from internet.

    Thanks,
    Saurabh

  2. Hi Ozdachs,

    I am in complete agreement that local business listings are the way to go for any local business dependent upon the local consumer for their revenue. This is a good point in time in which the Internet is a good local marketing tool to be found on web searches and mobile searches.

    You made a point regarding only Google and Bing. I’d like to carry that portion of the conversation a bit further.

    What I am most concerned about are small and local businesses having to contend with multiple websites when it comes to their local listing. What I’m really talking about are “time resources”.

    Afterall, there are over 60 websites in four different categories specifically geared towards local listings. How can a local or small business have the time resources to cover this space?

    Even if you made a conscious decision to not manage all 60, there are well more than Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Ask. The space goes to Local.com (they went public), Yelp, Merchant Circle, and many others.

    Consumers will be the ones deciding which of these local listing websites they will go and post their experience through consumer reviews. This adds to the burden that no one single local listing website will do the trick.

    A local business listing management services was reviewed at KillerStartUps. You can read about this at KillerStartUps here:

    http://www.killerstartups.com/Search/smartfindslocallisting-com-be-found-online

    It is a changing world and the local business will benefit. Good information from your post and hopefully varying opinions help give perspective.

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