Simple Steps to Success
The one thing that I am asked the most is: "How does one successfully market on the web?" The answer that I usually give, one that is as effective, as precise and yet as straightforward as possible, is this (read carefully because it's the big one)...
Marketing, both online and off, comes down to three basic, foundational processes -- no more, no less (although since I wrote this article, I did add a fourth one in my latest book in order to reflect some of the changes we've seen in the last few years, especially online).
Nevertheless, if you follow these three basic rules, you've got it made pure and simple -- and ironically, they are also the ones that are the most often ignored. What are they? Here they are, in order:
- Target, and
To be short, let me give you a brief explanation of each one. "Focus" means to "niche-pick." Niche marketing is incredibly important and especially on the web. Narrow your focus to a single, central theme and, as the paradox goes, you'll find more with less. The narrower your market, the more people will visit your site -- and oftentimes almost effortlessly. I've dealt on this in my article http://SuccessDoctor.com/articles/article42.htm , so I won't go any further.
Second, "target" means to promote your site in front of those people who will not only have a genuine interest in your offer or business but also likely have greater chances of becoming your clients. I'm specifically referring to your business' demographics and psychographics.
Demographics are the basic characteristics of your target market. For example, they include age, income level, sex, nationality, geographic location, employment, industry, marital status, and so on. Basically, they are the qualities of those who *need* your product or service -- they are not prospects but "suspects," for you only suspect that will become your clients.
On the other hand, psychographics are the behavioral qualities of your target market. For example, they include buying histories, emotional qualities, personality types, other similar purchases, special interests, hobbies, and so on. In other words, they are the qualities of those who not only need your product or service but also *want* it -- they are your "expects" since you not only suspect that they will buy but also expect that they will.
Once you've clearly defined the psychographics of your core (and most likely) market, you've isolated the true prospects from your suspects. You then target that market. You find out where they are and market your offer to that specific audience more than any other -- and as often as possible.
For example, I often consult hair transplant surgeons. The demographics are obviously made up of those who have hairloss, which typically are men. Now, we can only assume that they need more hair, since not all bald men want more hair (it's a question of personal priorities, of course). Therefore, finding ways of marketing to those who may want more hair is much better than trying to target everyone with hairloss let alone the public at large.
While I agree that it is somewhat difficult to find such an exclusive market, the trick is to place your marketing message (e.g., buy banners, publish articles, post classified ads, participate in discussion lists, and so on) in locations where bald men seeking (or interested in) hair replacement alternatives will likely congregate. Here are some examples.
Write articles and submit them to ezines read by men who are looking for ways to replace their lost hair. Or advertise in newsletters catering to, say, men who have unsuccessfully tried some fancy hair growth potion and, being dissatisfied, offer each other support -- trust me, they do exist! Mailing list suppliers described in http://SuccessDoctor.com/articles/article44.htm provide some great starting points -- many offer searchable online list archives.
Place banners and classified ads on sites or other locations that are visited by such a specific audience. For example, men who feel that they "suffer" from hairloss are those who also feel less self-confident or those who are self-conscious about their image. Therefore, place ads in ezines or on web sites dealing with such topics -- like male self-esteem, for example.
Focus also on sites, newsgroups, discussion lists, forums, and ezines focusing on men's health, sexuality, or grooming. Besides hair and image, I ask doctors: "What other common characteristics do these men have?" Some work in image-based industries (like the sales, media or entertainment fields), and others are recently divorced men who seek to court a new partner. Therefore, advertise in locations that appeal to those areas as well.
The third and final element, or "multiply," is the viral marketing process I often discuss in my work. And it is a great tool since no one knows your audience more than... Your audience! In other words, "multiply" means to leverage your marketing efforts in such a way that the knowledge of your presence propagates easily and literally by itself.
To that end, you can set up strategic marketing alliances with other website owners, ezine publishers, forum administrators or discussion list moderators that cater to a market that logically fits into your own (and do not directly compete with you). Using the same example above, you can create a joint venture or exchange special offers with a website selling shampoos, cologne, men's vitamins, self-confidence courses, or image consulting services.
Also, joint ventures, affiliate programs, reciprocal links and strategic alliances developed in concert with others that fit together nicely with your site will thus increase your hits and your sales. Whether you're in the hair field or not, this also includes specific tools that you can implement on your site for helping your current visitors (who literally act like your network of independent salespeople) to refer your site to others let alone to return again.
For instance, you can offer free reports, provide free samples, distribute gift certificates and even use automated referral systems like "Let 'Em Know!" at ../forms/referral.htm . Creating your own affiliate program in which others can sell your wares for you is another great example. There are also contests, quizzes, games, polls, article archives, greeting cards, continually updated, in-demand content, and ezine subscriptions.
I could go on, and on, and on... And I do have several "other" steps that you can follow. But it all boils down to those three. Follow those three simple steps, and success is virtually guaranteed.
Michel Fortin is a direct response copywriter and consultant dedicated to turning sales messages into powerful magnets. Get a free copy of his book, "The 10 Commandments of Power Positioning," when you subscribe to his free monthly ezine, "The Profit Pill." See http://SuccessDoctor.com/ now!
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