There is no such thing as a set it and forget it successful web site

I try to use Fridays as a day to manage my business.  Well, things have been REALLY hopping around here for the past few months, and I haven’t checked on some of my babies… my now ORPHANED web sites, in apparently a VERY long time. I’m truly embarassed as to the state of disrepair of these web sites.  What’s really, really sad is two of these sites used to pull in NICE traffic.  Now, they’re mere shadows of their former glory. 

I blame blogs. 

My blogs in particular… including this one!  It’s all their fault really.  They’re just so DARNED EASY to manage.  I can log in, write a bit and click "publish".  VIOLA!  I’m in and out in a fraction of the time it takes to upload a big file via FTP. 

But it’s not just the ease of posting the content that makes me blog over creating HTML pages.  For example, on one HTML site I had created to experiment with affiliate income generation… there were CJ banner ads scattered all over the place.  Managing those banner ads was ALWAYS a chore… just from the HTML side.   Keeping up on who was still USING CJ as their affiliate manager and who wasn’t was yet another dreaded task.  If someone I was signed up with dropped CJ, their links went dead and I got to go searching through the site to find all the instances of that advertiser’s links.  Admittedly, that’s just part of playing the affiliate game. 

Another part of playing the affiliate game is attracting traffic. Without traffic, you won’t be making any affiliate sales and you won’t get traffic until you get some inbound links.  You can do everything right, but if you don’t have some inbound links, well… you’ll be working very hard for a very puny return.  

In HTML land, creating those inbound links was virtually impossible!  I mean sure, I published articles which helped a little… but I’ve found that if you’re publishing a web site outside the traditional "web developer" network, getting people to hire their webmaster to add a link to your site is difficult for most of us.  So difficult that I recently received a $20 bribe if I would link one of my more popular sites to another site!

In blog land, those bribes are called "pay per post".  However, in blog land you can generate those inbound links easily (in comparison)  by using trackbacks.  PLUS you can exchange links with your fellow bloggers, confident in the fact that 7 times out of 10, they’re going to approve your trackback link to their blog.  (After all, they like that inbound link as much as you do!)

The moral to the story:

There is no such thing as a set it and forget it web site. 

Your Word Press blog based web site makes web maintenance SO much easier for the average business person.  You can see incoming links come in as you sign in to your dashboard.  You can visit the person’s blog and easily create a link from your next blog post to that nice blogger who linked to you.  Sometimes, it’s as easy as saying , "Hey, thanks for linking to my post!"

My experience has been that when I go to check my stats on my ACTIVE blog sites, I’m pleasantly surprised by what I see…. in stark contrast to the sinking feeling I got seeing the triple digit traffic figures for my "forgotten" web sites.  

Which is why, when people contact me about creating a web site for them, I let them know that I am PASSIONATE about blogging.  I am quick to regale them with my own personal experience and  after today, I’ll be able to clearly illustrate how pathetic the traffic numbers are for the "set it and forget it " web site!

 

Choosing the Messenger

So, now that I have my end user in mind, the next step is to choose the messenger, because my messenger is going to dictate my content.

In the film Ghostbusters, Gozer (a powerful being from another dimension) stands atop an apartment building on Central Park West in New York City, and informs the Ghostbusters that the next thing they think of will be the form that of the Destroyer, one whose mission is to destroy the world. While all the other members of the team clear their minds, Dan Akroyd’s character Ray allows his mind to wander to an innocuous memory of his youth: the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

For many who spend their days on the internet, and in my case in particular, it would appear this would be an easy decision…. pick up a domain name and either set up a blog or a web site. VIOLA! However, for my campaign, choosing the internet as my SOLE delivery device would be an equally poor choice.

asleepatcomputer.jpgThere are just times when your target audience just isn’t looking for your product or service on the internet.

This may be shocking for some of you. It’s okay. Breathe.

This revelation doesn’t mean that a web presence can’t act as a powerful marketing tool. What it does mean is that when your audience isn’t searching on the internet for your solution to their problem, you have to find another way to BRING them to your internet presence.

And that is where I find myself as I plan the marketing campaign for my own product.

I can CLEARLY see how my product can benefit my intended audience, but if I try to reach them solely via the internet, then I won’t be reaching a significant number of them to even justify the time/expense of putting up a specific web site for the campaign.

See, my target audience doesn’t KNOW that someone has created a solution to their problem!

Now, I can sit back and wait for them to stumble to the internet and type in the words I think they’ll use when they head to the internet seeking a solution to their problem. That would be the “easy” way for me at least. However, from my analysis of keyword searches, it doesn’t appear that my target market is heading to the internet for answers.

The lack of search on the keywords doesn’t mean my target audience isn’t EXPERIENCING this problem, it just means they aren’t searching for a solution on the internet.

Because I know my target audience so well, I know that the lack of keyword searches doesn’t mean I shouldn’t launch the product or even set up a web site. It simply means I can’t count on the web site to attract heavy traffic from my target audience.

I have to find another way to drive my potential customers to my web site!

Fortunately, I have one clear advantage in choosing the form of my messenger: I have a very tightly targeted audience in mind.

Because I have such a TIGHTLY targeted audience, I can reach them cost effectively via Direct Mail.

Because I’m going to have a web site to direct them to, I can rely on a relatively inexpensive method of Direct Mail called Postcard Marketing.

By using Postcard Marketing ,

  • I can tightly target my message
  • I can choose an eye catching graphic
  • I don’t have to play games trying to get my prospects to open the envelope.
  • AND I can provide a web site for them to learn more or even place an order.

If you’ve got a product/service and you’ve been disappointed in your web site traffic and sales, it may be that your prospective customers either:

  • Don’t know they have a problem.
  • Don’t know YOU have a solution.
  • Aren’t searching the internet FOR the solutions you offer.

In either case, you may have to reach out and touch them and bring them TO your internet web site.

In my case, I can purchase a mailing list that goes ONLY to my targeted audience. SWEET! I then plan on creating a piece that brings my target audience to my shiny new web site where they will find a tightly targeted message created JUST for them.

The role of your product or service in your marketing campaign

Since this is a record of the process of marketing a product or service, I should probably start at the beginning with product development.

In my case, my product is my book Beyond the Niche: Essential Tools You Need to Create Marketing Messages that Deliver Results . 

LESSON ONE: Develop your product with the distribution channel in mind

I wrote the book with an end audience in mind and even with a potential distribution channel in mind. 

Never in my most sleep deprived state did I EVER expect my book to become a best seller merely by it’s appearance on Amazon.  That meant I was faced with deciding BEFORE I WROTE A SINGLE WORD on how I would get my book into the hands of my intended audience.

One way of reaching prospective buyers was to launch my Beyond Niche Marketing blog. 

At this point, I’ll go on the record as stating mistakes were made in the NAMING of my product.  I am horribly jealous of Jefferey Fox’s book’s name HOW TO BECOME A MARKETING SUPERSTAR: UNEXPECTED RULES THAT RING THE CASH REGISTER.  This is, in my opinion, the BEST title I’ve EVER seen PERIOD!  Also, for the record, Rosemary Davies-Janes wanted to change the name of my book when I hired her to create the book’s cover, but by then the chapters had been named and the book had been through three rounds of editing with two different editors and it was really too late to fix my naming mistake.

LESSON TWO:   Sometimes you have to FIDO: Forget It and Drive On

The poor naming of my book damned my chances of selling it "virally" via traditional channels, (bookstores both on and offline).

However, I had in mind from the beginning a plan for selling books in quantities larger than 1-2 at a time and THAT is the basis of this "project".

IMPORTANT TAKE AWAY INFORMATION:

Don’t kid yourself!  Marketing begins during product development.

The marketing process began as I was writing my book.  I wrote my book with my target audience in mind.  I wrote it focusing upon problems that audience faces and in the book, I provide solutions to those problems.

When you’re creating your product, service or even a logo it’s a really good idea to create it with the end user in mind.  It seems so basic, yet often it gets overlooked.

In my talkes with clients I’ve seen this critical issue overlooked time and time again.  Whether it’s product development or even writing a book, begin with the end in mind. 

Once you have the end user in mind, it’s easier to create engaging and compelling copy.

Fear as a Factor in Marketing & Advertising

Fear of failure is perhaps the biggest threat you’ll face when launching a marketing/advertising campaign.

See, promoting your product or services (marketing) is all about making mistakes.  As a matter of fact, failure in marketing and advertising – to a degree –  is to be EXPECTED!

Many business owners fear blogging for their business because they fear that they will “make a mistake”.

When it comes to traditional media campaigns, only after running a campaign and then going back, fixing mistakes and launching a subsequent campaign can you expect to achieve advertising and marketing success.

The same is true of business blogging.  Write a post and see how it lands with your target audience.  Then, try – try again.

The cycle for both marketing and blogging is simple – “TEST-LAUNCH-TEST-FIX”…. just like the cycle for washing your hair is to “lather, rinse and repeat.”

Anyone who enters into a marketing or advertising campaign expecting perfection should probably reconsider playing the game because, by it’s nature, marketing communication is ALL about improving the performance of your last campaign.

A perfect example of obsessively measuring performance of advertising messages is Nutri-System.   Nutri-System carefully tracks each and every marketing message they create.  They experiment with different testimonials in different media, seeing with customer story performs the best.  In the hyper-competitive and lucrative market of weight loss,  it’s essential that you keep improving on your latest success.

The key to overcoming fear as a factor in your marketing – whether it’s business blogging or traditional advertising –  is to bite the bullet and put that marketing message it out there…. then measure the results.

Marketing your business is a JOURNEY and you have to choose to begin somewhere.

One of the most common frustrations I have with clients are the ones who insist upon tweaking and tuning their marketing messages in a vacuum.  They will change the the colors of their theme – the font – and the images repeatedly – without creating a single blog post.  It’s almost as if they’re afraid to actually take their message to their target audience to see whether this marketing message ‘connects” with their target audience.

Trying to create the “perfect” marketing message before you launch means you’ll tweaking and waiting forever.  It’s infinitely better to post a poorly written marketing message to your business blog than to spend years crafting the perfect one in a vacuum.

Marketing Case Study

Over the past decade, I have worked with some truly brilliant marketing experts on marketing their products and services.

That statement may seem odd to someone who is not a "marketing guru" but it makes sense if you think about it.  (There’s a reason you rarely see ads advertising an advertising agency’s services!) 

shutterstock_154410.jpgSee, it’s easy for me to listen to you describe your product or service and pull from those conversations essential elements that need to be communicated to your potential clients or customers.  Even someone who is not particularly gifted in the "marketing craft" can still provide VALUABLE assistance by merely offering a fresh and objective eye on your business.

Looking at my own business with a fresh and objective eye is almost impossible … a phenomenon my high profile marketing clients have also experienced. One of those clients frequently says to me after I’ve helped to give her direction, "Why can’t I do for myself what I do for my clients?" 

Why indeed!  A better question to ask is, why when I have so much experience guiding other brilliant marketing minds would I try to market my own product without outside help? 

I guess the answer would have to be for kicks and giggles.  

Maybe I’m doing this because I’m in need of blog fodder or perhaps I just don’t have enough stress in my life (NOT).  What ever the reason, I’m going to embark on this, my own marketing campaign, solo and the "official" reason of record  is that I’m doing so in the interest of education and edification. 

That’s my story and I’m sticking with it! 

Next up… overcoming fear!