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The Internet & World Wide Web


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ADVERTISING & MARKETING


Marketing is Marketing, No Matter What The Media!

Marketing Is Marketing!  As with all other media, the Internet is a way to get our products and services sold, or at the very least noticed (marketed). In short, marketing is nothing more than delivering results!  And, the Internet is a technological way to do it. Standard marketing methods and principals apply to the Internet as readily as they do for radio, television, print advertising, etc.

Value Added Marketing: A web site should represent the primary essence of your business. However, it should also impart and present more than a business offers away from the Internet. By that I mean a certain portion of a commercial site's content should be "free" and useful. This is particularly true of smaller business sites. In fact, most small and large businesses that share an "unknown" factor should only concentrate 20% to 30% of their web site to revenue generation. Shopping Malls and Catalogue sites would be the exception.  Please understand that these figures can and will change upwardly, as the Internet continues to expand and grow.

A web site should be developed to get your message to the targeted audience and visitors alike. This means, both the "revenue" and "free & useful" segments of your site. If the "free" segment contains useful and interesting information of value, it can lead to increased revenue generation. I am referring to referral business and even free publicity if your web site is promoted/recommended/linked to by other online and offline media. Specifically, the "free" segment needs to compliment the revenue generating segment by including direct and useful information that relates to the service and product you are offering. One way of doing this is by reciprocal (synergistic) links to other related or complimentary sites or that may simply be of interest to visitors.  Another is the example utilized right here on our web site:  "free" advertising and marketing information and advice.

Try this exercise: Not including their revenue generating portion, think about the web sites you have already visited and enjoyed while "surfing-the-net". Now think about why you visited them, or book marked them for return visits. These may very well be the reasons that originally took you to their site, led you to make a purchase, utilize their services, or will bring you back to their web pages. Even if you did not make a purchase the first time, there's a possibility that you or someone you have referred to that site may make a purchase on a future visit.

As I stated in the opening paragraph "Marketing is Marketing". I stand by this statement. And just like any other marketing/advertising media campaign, the Internet Plan must be designed and developed to obtain maximum "bang for the buck".  I should also mention that if there is evidence that a site is not being maintained, then it will surely lose repeat traffic.   Please...  keep your site up-to-date.

As with any offline business, your marketing plan and advertising & promotional campaigns must be set up correctly.  Your web site creation must have purpose and a marketing focus, and it MUST be well-written and designed. If it is not, the message will be lost or even ignored. This is where continuity or synergy is of vital importance. Every component of your web site should concentrate on and contribute to the marketing presentation.

First, your body copy must be right on target! The message - grammar, spelling and font style are critical. There's no need to spend good money on great graphics, design and advertising, if you miss the target by a poorly written message. Take the time, or spend the money necessary to ensure the message grabs the clients interest. Well written copy not only gets their interest, but encourages them to learn more. Of course the message must be accompanied by good graphics, interesting links and easy site navigation, that satisfies the targeted audiences need, or better yet, creates the impulse to buy!  Synergy and continuity are all these components blended together to establish an efficient and effective Internet marketing presentation

Effective Online marketing also means using a combination of a number of tools and tactics to sell your services and products.  This can include: search engine placement, Online & Offline publicity coverage, sales promotions, contests, quizzes, surveys, coupons, Online & Offline newsletters, opt-in (targeted & requested) e-mailings, discounts, newsgroups, discussion list participation and sponsorship, discussion group forums, events, awards, how-to information, reciprocal links, etc.

Benchmark Communications can help you decide which of these tools and tactics are best suited to your online business and budget, designed to obtain solid exposure for your company.  For a detailed list of our services, please click here.

Employing the right mix of tools and tactics will also go a long way to establishing branding.  Branding is the word you want consumers to use when thinking about your business.  Words like: quality, service, trustworthy, honest, reliable, fast, fun, healthy, sexy or cool, etc.  Branding is created essentially by effective, skillful and targeted marketing, but branding takes time to build.  Two great examples of branding success: Most people ask for Kleenex not tissue; When you say cola, most people think Coke.

"The Internet"

Given the incredible pace of technological change, the world is becoming a much different place.  The Internet is a big part of that change.  The fun stuff is arriving -- full motion colour pictures, sound, inter-active capabilities, secure online shopping and many more wondrous experiences and technological achievements -- all available from the privacy of your home or office.  The scope and future of the Internet are unlike anything we've ever experienced.  The Internet is a road that must be crossed by companies wishing to conduct business in this new Millennium called the 21st Century.  It is both simple and relatively inexpensive to use. 

Investigate the Internet today...for tomorrow is upon us.   Having said this, the Web is not for everyone.   Is the World Wide Web right for your business?


-- MARKETING SPOTS ON THE WEB --

There are a number of sites that supply "Freebies & Information" of value to their targeted audience and other web site visitors.  Here are few examples of how Online businesses get visitors to their web site, and get them to return.

The above businesses offer services, but the important factor is that they have an excellent grasp of the marketing process required for the Web. They understand the importance of marketing and promoting their companies on the Internet. As an owner or marketing manager of a company that has products and/or services available, it is prudent to determine exactly how he/she is going to get their target audience and other visitors to their web sites. This can include utilizing everything from Cross-Merchandising Links and Give-aways, to Sweepstakes and Contests, or any other free content tools to get people to your site. Remember: 'Value Added'!

-- ADVERTISING STRATEGIES --

Like any other medium, a strong, well planned advertising strategy is necessary to be successful. It is understood that financial constraints sometimes limit what a smaller business can do. However, careful, selective use of the Internet, and other media can be rewarding.

Let's look at a few suggestions that even the small business enterprise should be able to work with financially:

  • Include your domain name (URL) and e-mail address on all offline collateral materials such as, Point of Sale signage, Letterhead & Business cards, Advertising (electronic & Print) and any other marketing tools. You MUST do this!
  • Use direct word-of-mouth to inform clients/customers/friends about your web site. It does work!
  • Sponsor newsletters, awards or discussion lists. Include a signature file (with URL and e-mail address with company name and brief ad line.  In short... "build credibility!"
  • Use targeted opt-in e-mail, but do not get into spamming. Spamming will have a strong negative effect.
  • Try Free Banner Exchange Services. They can be effective. So see how they might work for your business.
  • Paid Banner Advertising. This is a very viable option with the right products and services. The financial commitment can be expensive. Therefore, I suggest consulting qualified people for professional advice before proceeding.

If your company has the financial resources, and you do not have brand or name recognition, you should spend your ad dollars wisely. Beware that you do not spend in a miserly manner and you will maximize your chances of obtaining web site sales revenues. Remember, if you are really committed to advertising and marketing success, you MUST market your site effectively to maximize business on the Net!

However you MUST promote your site on and offline.  With each announcement, you will notice a rush of curious visitors.  Therefore, it is recommended you market your site in stages.  The initial visits will be by casual surfers. Your long term clients will come from publicity via traditional media and the quality products and services you supply them.  For more information about Online Marketing click here.

-- EXPERTS AND CONSULTANTS --

You owe it to yourself to utilize experts/consultants, where applicable.

Professionals can be of enormous assistance in achieving your Internet business goals, particularly with regard to the evaluation, creation & development and hosting of your web site. It is one of the best investments you can make, in that the results of all your efforts and financial outlay will be impacted by this decision.

But beware! There are a number of "fly-by-night" operators out there. Check them out. Get a client list and investigate the quality of their services, creativity and integrity. Establish what they can and cannot do. Testimonials are an effective way of screening out the good from the bad. Determine if they are prepared to commit to you long term, and in writing. Remember, if it sounds to good to be true, it generally is!

I am generally reluctant to highly recommend people and businesses. However, I'm extremely secure in recommending the services of Prudens Consulting Ltd. Regardless of where you are located, give them a call at (416) 214-0010, or visit their web site and e-mail them for information. They'll be only to happy to assist you with exceptional site hosting services or sophisticated Web page design. You'll be glad you contacted them!

A couple of closing points:

  • First, and this may surprise you - the Internet isn't for everyone!  The Internet can be an incredibly powerful marketing, communications, and customer interaction tool, providing you're ready for it.
  • Second, a web site, when it is properly integrated with your business and marketing strategy, can be the premier marketing, sales and customer service representative.   It works for you 24 hours a day - everyday without rest or complaints, BUT...it does make demands on your company and your business process.  Usually this fact is understood and accounted for prior to a web site's activation, but too frequently, it is not.

The Internet has great potential for enhancing your business and sales & marketing activities.  It will even move your business into the global arena.   However, it can be detrimental if you do not have a good understanding of the medium's strengths and limitations, as well as the demands it may place on your business.    These demands generally come in the form of business process issues and customer expectations; expectations that will be continuously evolving as the Internet matures.

The Internet is immediate, interactive, global, but different.  It is a powerful medium.  If you understand it and exploit it's strengths, it can become a powerful tool for enhancing your business.

One final reminder: Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Media augmentation and integration is vital! Find the right media mix for your business.  Benchmark Communications would be pleased to assist you in this regard at reasonable cost.  And even if you chose to not utilize our advertising or marketing services  -- please utilize a solid Marketing Plan for your Online business... and Advertise!

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