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3 Rules to Follow to Avoid Cyber Monday Webmaster Traps

Today is Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving when all of America supposedly sits in front of their computers and shops online for Christmas deals. This focus on electronic commerce has caught the attention of fraudsters, too, and they’re out in force trying to separate you from your wallet.

Owners of web sites have to be doubly cautious because the come-on artists will be going after your web site at the same time as they go after your personal money.

As a webmaster, you need to watch out for Get Rich Quick schemes:

Make Your Fortune on the Internet Today!

Shop at Amazon.comMy mailbox is filled with ideas of how I can make my million dollars by sitting at home in front of my computer.  It strikes me as odd that the people sending me these emails are themselves still working instead of enjoying a tropical resort, but why am I be such a skeptic?

At best the “Get Rich on the Internet” emails are trying to get you to spend a lot of your time for very little cash.  At worse, these come-ons are completely bogus and sent with the hope that you’ll give a crook your bank account and social security numbers.

You can make money on the Internet, but unless you come up with a hot product or marketing idea, you’re going to earn only a modest amount of change.  Legitimate affiliate programs exist, but unless you have a hugely popular site, you are not going to get rich when you feature someone else’s products.

Really!

I am an affiliate of Amazon.com and a handful of other services that I use myself.  If you click on the link above and then buy something while you’re at Amazon.com, I’ll earn a very small commission. So, if you’re going to Amazon, please do use the link.

However, I am not counting on getting rich from affiliate money.  I initially became an affiliate because I wanted to be to display copyrighted material (book covers, etc.) on my website.

In all of 2010 through yesterday noon, I earned $196.20 in affiliate payments from all vendors. I suspect that you’ll have a similar experience.

Whether you share my realistic approach to affiliate marketing or you have dollar signs in your eyes, before you respond to the offers in your in-box to jump aboard the Internet Gravy Train, here’s my advice:

  1. Never pay money to sell a product online.  Never. There is no reason to.  Legitimate companies offer you free ways to earn a commission selling their product.
  2. Show ads only for those products and services you use yourself.  Face it.  If you’re taking in $196.20 a year, then your personal reputation is worth more to you than the affiliate check.
  3. Be very, very careful signing up for affiliate programs. Never respond to email affiliate offers.  Only sign up on web pages whose address you’ve typed into your browser and with companies you’ve researched. Why? Because you have to provide the companies with your bank account number (to get direct deposits) and your Social Security Number (so that the IRS gets its share).  This is exactly the information identify thieves need to rip you off.Personally I am an affiliate and sharing my financial information only with Amazon.com and Commission Junction.

My bottom lines is, “Yes, please shop Ozdachs!”

I recommend online back-up services, stock photos services, newsletter services, web hosting services, spam fighting services, and web development software. Click on the links to buy the quality stuff I use.

But, it’s okay of you’re not stuffing the stockings with Internet tools or Amazon.com books. I’m a smart webmaster and know that affiliate links belong on my site only if they make my web pages more valuable to my visitors.

By |2010-11-29T06:41:54-07:00November 29th, 2010|Web Design|0 Comments

Will You Do a Magazine Ad for Me?

Certified Public Accountant ad campaign post cardA client asked me to help him submit an ad for the premiere industry magazine of his client base. He’d recently redone his web site, and now he wanted to announce his available to take on new work by buying a full-color ad that mirrored the colors of his web presence. Could I help?

Well yes. And no.

Yes, I could help him prepare the ad to the specifications of the magazine. I looked at their ad guidelines, and I can put my client’s material into a format that the magazine wants.

My focus is on web design and Internet marketing, but I have created print advertisements for clients and have also designed direct marketing campaigns. The card pictured with this post was the first salvo in a five-part mail barrage sent out by one of my clients.

The “five-part mail barrage” is where the “no” comes in. My client has good instincts about buying an ad in an industry magazine. But, his chances of gaining business from a single ad are pretty slim. The blue bird of happiness may strike, and a prospective client could see the ad and jump to the phone. Frankly, though, that’s an unlikely scenario.

Successful marketing ad campaigns involve repetition.  Prospects have to get used to seeing your name, your product, your service, your offer.

An elementary school teacher friend says that kids have to be exposed to a fact five times before they can recall seeing it.  That principle holds for adults and advertisements.

Rather than have my client blow his budget on a one-shot-wonder ad, we talked about how to make the appearance in the magazine part of a barrage of information.  It turns out that he has been asked to present workshops at the major annual conference for his clients’ industry next spring.

Perfect!  We talked about how to leverage his seminar appearance to make his single ad effective.  By the time prospective clients see his name in the event announcement, see his name in the program, see his name on the presentation room doorway, and see his panel name card, his magazine ad can be memorable.  “Oh, yeah. Wasn’t he the guy from the conference?”

Yes, I would be delighted to craft a print or direct mail ad for you.  Of course.  But, before you spend your money with me and the publisher, let’s have an effective, multiple mention campaign mapped out.

By |2010-10-05T13:39:11-07:00October 5th, 2010|Marketing|0 Comments

Electronic Marketing is Marketing

I have been working with some new clients this month.  Not only are they new to me, but they’re new to using the Internet for their own business.

My task has been to reassure them that everything they thought they know about marketing and sales still applies.  The medium may be unfamiliar, but the basics of marketing are constant.

Stamps.com Home Page

"Get Postage" is the Winning Phrase


It’s been fun explaining to them that nothing fundamental is different.  Here’s a great example from Inc.com.

Stamps.com found that using the phrase “sign up” was actually a negative; customers saw it as a high-pressure sales tactic. Once the site replaced that phrase with “Get Postage,” sales increased.

When the web site was focusing on what Stamps.com wanted (a new subscriber), visitors resisted.  When the wording was rephrased to focus on delivering what the clients wanted (postage), people responded.

This is basic, brick-and-mortar, pre-Internet, pre-electricity marketing.   You focus on meeting a need of your potential client and not on the needs of the business owner. Getting the prospect to sign-up will follow naturally once you’ve addressed his or her needs.

Your prospect’s time is valuable! They want to see that you’re going to solve their problem with little or no risk to them. They want to see this quickly.

So, on the Internet, just like in print, be direct, be catchy, and don’t waste anyone’s time or space.

“Welcome to our Website” is a very common — and very stupid — sight on the Internet. It’s like buying an ad in Time magazine that shouts in big type, “Welcome to our Ad”. Instead, spend your valuable screen real estate grabbing the prospect by his needs.

Don’t “welcome” or talk about yourself. Instead, make your visitors an offer they cannot refuse. Something like:

Let your web site earn you money!
Contact Ozdachs for a FREE site analysis.

We’re at www.ozdachs.biz and 415.347.6479.
By |2010-03-16T06:48:21-07:00March 16th, 2010|Marketing|0 Comments