A lot of people seem to get the idea there's something inherently “different” about marketing a website when compared to “traditional” marketing for brick-and-mortar businesses. The result of this is that they end up making the idea of online marketing a lot more complicated than it needs to be.

They spend a lot of time worrying about how to define “relevant” (because they only want links from relevant pages), or trying to figure out how to best channel Google PageRank throughout their site, or obsessing over whether they have the ideal keyword density to get high search engine rankings for their “perfect” key phrase.

Well, the web is a different medium, but you know what? The basic principles of promoting your business are still the same.

For some great marketing ideas, look to what successful local brick-and-mortar businesses do. They get their message out to where their prospects are. They don't worry about whether the advertising venue is related to their company's “theme.” They care about whether it's where their target audience is.

It's like what gangster Willie Sutton is purported to have said about why he robbed banks: “Because that's where the money is.” That's how smart marketers select their advertising and marketing venues: they find the ones where their potential customers are.

For instance, a restaurant might make a deal with a nearby bed & breakfast to place a brochure or copies of their menu in the B&B's lobby. That just makes sense, you know — it's a pretty good bet that many of the patrons of the B&B will need somewhere to eat lunch or dinner, after all. On the other hand, it would be less useful for the restaurant to get their brochure on the counter of other restaurants, or restaurant supply companies, even though they might on the surface seem to be relevant to the “theme” of restaurant.

Okay, so let's say you run an online site selling dress shoes. Think about trying to get links from sites that sell socks and hosiery, belts and handbags. If you also sell athletic shoes, links from sites selling sporting goods, fitness equipment and exercise wear might be useful.

A coffee shop might get the local performing arts center to print on the back of their tickets a coupon for a discount on any dessert or beverage for after the show. So let's say you sell baby items online. Find a membership site or forum for new moms. Offer them a discount code their members can use to save money on purchases made from your site. They get a valuable membership perk to help encourage more people to sign up. You get more sales. It's a classic win-win situation!

In my small town, one of our area veterinarians writes a column in the local newspaper with informative articles and answers to reader-submitted questions. Let's say you offer accounting services to small businesses. Find informational websites that focuses on small business issues, and offer them free content on topics such as how to minimize business taxes, in return for a link to your site on each article.

So now it's your turn. Get creative. Think of ways of translating good offline marketing practices to your online business. Who is your target audience? What services or products offered online are complimentary to yours? How can you and a purveyor of those services/products work together to promote both your online businesses? Where do your prospects congregate online? And what can you do to reach them there?

July 28, 2007

Learn more about the ways Diane can help improve the performance and profitability of your business web site, or request a no-obligation personal consultation, by visiting www.NineYards.com.

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Search Engine Guide > Diane Aull > Because That's Where the Customers Are