Thursday, February 7, 2013

Marketing 3; choosing a direction.

     I've covered some of the very basics in marketing up till now and even though you may think what we've talked about so far has little to do with marketing, it is very important to lay a good foundation to build the rest of your marketing on.

     Marketing can actually direct prospective customer in one direction or another and it's good to understand why you may choose one form of marketing over another and why you may want to direct a customer one way or another. It all boils down to selling and how we want to go about it. We use marketing to let people know about us and what we do, but more importantly to get someone to buy from us.  The different directions I'm talking about in marketing refers to where and how you would like that customer to purchase your products.

     How you market depends largely on how you want to sell your product.  Do you want to be the one actually doing the selling or would you rather have someone else do the selling for you?  I've meet a lot of woodworkers over the years that love to woodwork, but hate having to deal with the selling part.  They're not comfortable selling or dealing with people and would rather have someone else do it for them.  If that's the case for you, then you need to focus your marketing on directing customers to somewhere other then to you.   What I mean by that is, you may be more interested in marketing through the internet like an on-line store or having your products in a gallery or consignment shop so they do the actual selling to the consumer instead of you.  You may use your web-site for selling or finding a retail store that you could sell wholesale to and again, let them worry about selling to the general public.

     The other direction in marketing is directing a customer directly to you so you do the actual selling.  Maybe to your place of business, or a show that you display at or an exhibit you have. The one thing I would stress though, is you do not try to rely on only one source of marketing to create all the sales for your business.   The more ways you can find to market yourself and your product the better chance of creating sales.

     In this segment let's talk about different ways you can market using the internet.

Web-site:  A web-site for your company can be a valuable tool for marketing in a number of ways, but one of the first questions you should ask yourself about having a web-site is what do "you" expect from it and how do you want it to work for you?  Do you want to create sales directly from your web-site or use it more for your "411" information center for your business? 

    How do you create a Web-site? Unfortunately there's a huge misconception when it comes to creating a web-site.  We've been lead to believe that anyone can build their own web-site, and even though that is very true, what most fail to realize is it's not that easy to build an effective web-site.  There's a Hugh difference between a good looking site and an effective site that actually works for you.
     I'd like to use myself for an example to explain the difference.  When I first started my business, my son suggested that I get a web-site for the business.  Not knowing a thing about the internet, I was not interested in trying to build a site myself and I wasn't convinced enough of the value of a web-site to spend the money to have one done by a professional.   My son had a friend that had built a few different web-sites for herself and some other friends and she said she would be willing to do one for me.  I gave her all my information, some pictures and the basic idea of what I wanted and away she went.  A few weeks later she had a web-site up and going for me.   I was impressed!  It was an awesome looking site.  I was so proud of it and couldn't wait to show it everyone.

     I used that site for a few years and even though it never generated any business for me, it was a great place to send people to get information for my business.  One day I had a professional web developer talk to me about my site and took me behind the scenes to show me why my site wasn't generating any traffic.

     That's right; "behind the scenes"!.  I had no idea what was involved in developing a web-site that actually works.  Coding, optimization, key words, submitting to search engines, links, site report card, validation and the list went on and on.  Another words, I had a great looking web-site on the surface, but other than that, it didn't do a thing when it came to being found on the world wide web.
     The first thing the web-developer did for me so I could better understand what was happening(or should I say, "Not Happening") to my site was she set up a stat-counter so I could track the traffic that was finding my site and how they found it.   Very interesting, I found that I had virtually no traffic each month coming to my site other then the direct referrals I was doing by handing out my business cards with my web address on it or giving my web address to someone directly, which meant, I had already talked to the prospective customer before they ever went to my site, so what was the purpose of having the site?

     After a few months of following my traffic stats, I decided to talk to the developer again to see what I needed to do to improve traffic to my site.  For people that I didn't know be able to find my site without me giving them my address personally.   I let her design and build a new web-site for me (to start totally over) and when she was finished, the site looked great, but didn't see that big of a difference from the appearance of my original web-site.  The she took me behind the scenes again and showed me the difference between the two sites.

     Here's a few interesting facts I found out about my previous site and new site;  When the developer first finished designing my new site with all the information, pictures and coding complete, she did a site report card on it.  She printed that off for me before she made any changes and then showed me the final report card when she was totally done with the site.   On the first report card for the new site, it showed a number of "warnings" and a few "errors".  Most of which were simple coding errors that was simple to correct, but here is the huge difference between having a professional doing your site and you trying to do it yourself. My original site had a ton of warnings and errors and pictures not optimized, which made load times too long and of course none of this was every corrected.   If you do not find those errors and warnings and correct them, then your site is not right and the more problems there are with your site, the less chance you have of a search engine finding or recognizing you, they will just skip your site.

     It goes a lot deeper then that, but I'm not a developer and I can't tell you all the internal workings of a site and how sites are rated, but all you have to think about is the millions and millions of web-sites out there competing for placement on the first couple pages of any search and why would a site with a bunch of "errors" and "warnings" even be recognized or placed.
     The developer took me step by step through each process and helped me understand why a site can get traffic and others don't.  She warned me that it would take time to gain placement, but be patient and watch it grow.  We set-up another stat counter for my site and it was amazing to watch it grow from a few hits a month to thousands of hits per month.  Never had to pay for hits, but we did have to keep the site current and it is a never ending job.

     One more tid-bit of information I found working with my web-site over the years.  Never, ever let anything lapse.  You will be starting all over again.

     After all that being said, it really boils down to one thing, don't try to build you own web-site unless all you want it for is to show it to a few close friends and yourself.  If you decide to have someone professional do it for you, then you have to realize it is like any other business (maybe even worse) and that is you should always get references first and don't be afraid to ask questions.  If they don't want to take the time to explain how things work and what they do, them maybe you need to find someone else to help you with your web-site.

     A web-site can be a valuable marketing tool or simply a pretty picture mixed in with millions and millions of other sites.  Only you can decide what will work best for you.





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