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Marketing Your Internet Business

by Mario Carini, IAHBE Contributor

Marketing is such an integral part of business that without it, your business is dead before it starts. Everyone knows that the merchant who sits in his store and waits for customers to walk through his door is doomed if he doesn't advertise his business.

The Internet isn't any different, but the perception that all you need to do is set up a Website and everyone will come calling is believed by most people, particularly the newbie. The stories of instant Net millionaires affirms this belief. Many people soon discover, however, that the Internet is far from being one great slot machine.

Even in Vegas, if you ever hope to get any money out of the one-armed bandit, you have to deposit a coin and pull the lever. With the Internet, you have to deposit time, effort, and money, and then you have to market your business (pull the lever) if you want to get anything out of it.

Selling Versus Advertising

Inevitably, when we think of marketing, we always think of selling and/or advertising. Selling is just a small part of marketing. Take a look at television ads. Contrary to your belief, the ads you see are not trying to sell you anything. The ad is only meant to appeal to a targeted audience and hopefully motivate those people to get up and go to the store where the sale takes place.

Marketing means promoting your business, but traditional marketing techniques used for those with a storefront don't always apply. The Internet doesn't allow for face-to-face meetings unless you communicate with a camera attached to your computer. Most of the marketing you'll ever do is through the words that appear on your potential customer's screen and the visual content of your Website. If neither impresses a client, there's unlikely to be a sale forthcoming.

Assuming you already have a well-designed Website, your next job is to advertise. Your advertising should only appeal to and attract your target market. Selling comes later. How you frame your ad and where you put it determines the amount of traffic flow to your Website.

Where Should You Put Your Ad?

Since you're not advertising on TV or the radio, it's up to you to place your ad in those areas specifically targeted to the people for whom your product is meant. Trying to sell ice to Eskimos is a bad strategy, and so is tossing your ad willy-nilly across the Internet. Free classifieds and FFA's are the mainstay for the amateur businessperson. The chances of finding your clients this way is minimal. Yahoo, though, at which you can get an ad account and post up to 10 ads in different categories, may bring you a few responses, but your best bet is to post in ezines targeted to a specific group of people.

If you are promoting a business opportunity, you're in luck. There are hundreds of ezines targeted to opportunity seekers, but the competition from other business opportunities is fierce.

To help you locate the ezines to advertise in, I always suggest two sources:

1) The Classified Club gives you a wealth of information—from where you can place an ad, classifieds and ezines, to software that can make your advertising less time consuming: https://www.classifiedclub.com

2) The Directory of Ezines lists hundreds of ezines and gives minute details from who publishes the ezine to the type of ads they accept and the cost of placing an ad. The Directory is a valuable source for targeting your market: https://www.lifestylespub.com

Discussion Boards—Since exposure of your business is the name of the game, you should consider other activities, such as participating in discussion boards. Newsgroups are a good way to advertise your business, but be careful. Your message shouldn't come across like a blatant advertisement if you want to avoid being branded as a spammer.

Opt-in Lists—If you send email, send them to opt-in lists. Too many newbies buy lists of e-mail addresses without checking whether they're sending the kind of information requested by the people on those lists. It's a trap too easy to fall into when you're just starting out on the Web and can quickly deflate your interest in pursuing an Internet career. As anti-spam legislation picks up momentum, you can also get yourself in a lot of trouble unless you use opt-in lists. Use a search engine to find many sources for these.

Writing Articles To Boost Credibility

If you're a writer, consider writing about your specialty. Many ezines are short of material and often end up "borrowing" articles from one another. Most of them don't pay, but you do get the chance to post your business URL with your article. The advantage to this is that people will be more inclined to visit your site if they perceive you to be an expert in your subject.

How Do You Place An Effective Ad?

There are millions of ads, and quite a few advertise the same opportunity. Affiliate programs are great ways to start a new business, but your advertising competes with thousands of others advertising the same thing. One way to avoid this problem is to have a Web page or even a portal that directs the reader to your affiliate program. A site with a www.yourdomain.com will attract the curious surfer more than one that reads www.businessforthemasses.com/?xxxx.

Unless you're posting a sponsor ad or solo ad, your ad is usually limited to a few lines, usually with 65 characters per line. You need to make each word count if you hope to attract someone.

The title is the first thing people read. If it offers up a vague description like "Make Money Now," your customer will move on. There are just too many ads that offer the same thing.

Money isn't always the reason someone is looking for an opportunity. I once posted to FFAs through Link-o-Matic. FFAs give you enough room for a title and your business URL and no more. I didn't expect much from this advertising effort, but was surprised when I received an e-mail from someone who commented on the professionalism of my title. It only comprised two words: "Expose Yourself!"

Admittedly, such a title is appealing. It starts questions in the reader's mind: An ad from a strip club? Perhaps some advertising from a nudist colony? Or maybe a flasher in need of some companionship? Let's find out and surf over to the Website! Bingo, an effective title!

Next comes the body of the text. You simply don't have space to list all the benefits you offer. So your text should be short and direct. Here are some quick points to help you structure your ad:

  • Use action words. "FREE," "powerful," "discover," "breakthrough" and other such words make the reader want to read the rest of the ad. Words that end in "ly" sound too scientific and thus, boring.

  • Simple text: Your potential client isn't a linguist, so why pepper your ad with words he or she can't understand?

  • Appeal to the emotions: Fire up the reader's imagination as to what your product or service will do for him. People buy on emotion; reason comes later.

  • Stress the benefits: What the product or service can do for the customer is more important than the features you put into your product.

  • Stress what you're selling: If your ad rambles and doesn't give the reader a clue as to what you've got for sale, he'll ramble over to the next ad. If you have a business opportunity to offer, stress that and the benefits of joining.

  • Offer up a freebie: People like to get things that don't cost them anything. This alone explains why most people in affiliate programs never go on to do anything with their program. The only appeal is the freebie being offered.

  • Put in a deadline: This can be effective. "Respond NOW and you'll also receive…" is an appeal and a good reason to act.

  • Put in your contact information: Alas, it's not unusual to see an ad with no e-mail address or URL. Sometimes the URL leads to "Site not found" error messages. Take particular care to correctly spell your e-mail address and URL before posting your ad

If your ad is a solo offer or an exclusive ad, you have more room to add a few extras:

  • Keep it uncluttered: I don't feel like reading a 10-page thesis of black text with long sentences and few paragraphs. Neither does anyone else. Break up your text. Use white spaces. It's easier to read.

  • Add testimonials: They're powerful enough to turn your reader into a customer. If he knows he can contact the people who are using your products, he feels more at ease. Of course, you'd better check with your clients first before using their testimonials.

  • Achieve flow: If you have room for your advertising, your text should flow from one point to another. If it jumps from one subject to another, you lose your reader. With solo and exclusive ads, your text has to be more organized if it is to be effective.

These points apply equally to any ads you post, whether in your local paper or online.


MARKETING RESOURCES

Marketing involves much more than just advertising or selling. I've only covered some of the basic points on advertising. The subject is much larger than this article alone could provide. If you want more information, here is a list of places where you can go to further your marketing knowledge:

A resource center to assist you in your marketing efforts both on and off the Web: https://www.marketingsource.com/

Articles on marketing, glossary of terms, where to go for help and more: https://www.marketing.about.com/

Website promotion tools and software:
https://www.market-tek.com/

Mario Carini manages an apartment complex. When he's not tending to tenant complaints, he's running his online SFI business and writing for ezines. He is the Chairman of the Valley Writers' Guild of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, and is always searching for more writing assignments to fill in the gaps.





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