Exploiting the Internet for Marketing Purposes
There are far more astute Internet experts than I writing about web marketing. The problem is that most engage in “overkill.” They see the world only through technological glasses, and insist on total immersion in the medium. I’ve found the Internet to be a great marketing tool when used in intelligent doses, so this may be “Internet Marketing for Dummies” or some such thing, but I like to think of my approach as “Internet Lite.”
The more sophisticated your consulting areas, the less likely you’ll encounter true buyers on the Internet. But the web is nonetheless a great place to sell products, ancillary services (e.g., remote coaching), influence recommenders, and build brand. Here are some simple, cost effective alternatives which you shouldn’t miss.
- A “slap in the face” web site.
Most consultants sites drone on about methodology and credentials, and expect the visitor to find charm and warmth in four hundred pages of dry text. Instead, immediately-on you front page-provide a dramatic testimonial or two and tell the visitor how he or she benefits from working with you. There are only three things you need on your web site to make it stand out in the crowd: a) What’s in it for the potential buyer (typical results); b) Assurances that it’s true (testimonials); and c) value, to compel people to return and to tell others (position papers and articles). Anything else is deep background that may be accessed but shouldn’t be promoted.
- A pithy signature file on email.
People won’t read advertising broadsides, but it’s very effective to say just below your normal signature information, “Visit our web site to subscribe to our newsletter,” or “Call our toll-free number for out latest management briefing. (If you’re not using a signature file with your full contact information, you’re an amateur.)
- Electronic newsletter.
Yes, I know that people are overwhelmed with information, but the web is the place where the most highly selective content decision of all are made. That is, you can find a site for left-handed rodeo riders, or expert witnesses for amusement park law suits. Thus, there are people who will appreciate a brief (one screen), high value (pragmatic techniques), consistent (monthly or bi-monthly) insight into their profession and world. Use this as “soft” promotion, with your contact information featured prominently.
- Synergistic sites.
Sites such as http://www.bulkworks.com specialize in providing products to mass marketers, such as Wal-Mart or Sears. You can provide books, tapes, and other products for a modest fee which can result in large orders from outlets which otherwise wouldn’t know of you. (Take a look at the amount of business books and tapes sold in a typical Staples, for example.)
You can take out an ad for very small amounts in highly targeted web newsletters and offerings. Many chapters of the Institute of Management Consultants, National Speakers Association, Society of Human Resource Management, and American Society for Training and Development have their own monthly newsletters, notices, and/or web sites. You can reach highly qualified audiences for as little as $100 a month.
- Amazon.com, et. al.
Amazon has the Amazon Advantage program for self-published authors. All you need is an ISBN number for your book or album and you can sell it on Amazon (though they’ll take their profit, of course). You can profit from favorable reviews or stack the deck and ask your friends to do the reviewing.
- Non-spam email announcements.
With care and patience, you can build an email list of people who are clients, prospects, friendly “others,” past product purchasers, and so on who will not object to infrequent announcements from you about new product and service offerings. These mailing can have a response rate of over 10%, which is phenomenal, since they are so carefully targeted. Don’t put strangers on the list and always provide an “unsubscribe” option prominently.
You don’t have to be an “expert” to use the web in an expert manner for your marketing.