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Marketing in a Virtual World

Before the Internet, small business owners like yourself were usually limited to a local market -resorting to expensive advertising and brochures, direct mail, cold-calling, networking at the local Chamber of Commerce or Rotary. You hoped customers found you through word- of- mouth or a Yellow Pages ad.

Today, you can work with a consultant, a financial planner, or a business coach across the country as easily as someone across town. In the Internet age, prospects often find you (instead of the other way around).

This is the age of the virtual customer. Yet, although the Internet has made it perfectly reasonable to land a major client you've never met in-person, it has also created new expectations among consumers.

Prospects now "Google" around to find someone with your skills. They expect you to make a good virtual "case" for yourself. If you don't pass the test, or make a bad impression, or appear lackluster compared to your competitors, you will lose the potential client.

The only way to be truly successful in business is by establishing a good reputation. And understanding the way business has shifted in the Internet age can help you bring the potential of marketing your business into the virtual world.

The Virtual First Impression

The Internet has increased the expectation among consumers that businesses will have a credible online presence.

Many of us now form "first impressions" of people and companies via our Internet browsers. From the moment your name and business appear in a Web browser to the moment your Web site loads, your first impression often means the difference between a shot at your prospect's business, or being shut out.

Think about it. You have probably used the Internet to research a company or a person you're considering doing business with. Certainly potential clients and customers are checking you out online, too.

Prospects you've never met are forming opinions about your business at the click of a mouse. Internet first impressions are not just influenced by how your Web site looks, but also by how often your business appears or how high it ranks in a web browser.

Become an Online Center of Influence

We all know people who command rapt attention whenever they speak. Others want to listen to, learn from, and emulate them. They are centers of influence, a distinction you can pursue online by developing the following qualities:

Share inside knowledge with your target market;

Participate, listen, contemplate, and offer thoughtful responses;

Be willing to voice an opinion;

Assume leadership positions in your industry

Certainly, experience counts. But this is not the only prerequisite to becoming an online center of influence that will earn you the distinction of 'trusted advisor' within your target market.

Start by making your Web site a resource for your industry. Feature lots of useful information, including articles, links, downloadable files, customer resources, and anything else of use to your target market. Be generous and give, give, give!

For more information about running a successful Internet
business, visit Diego Norte's blog here:
http://www.DiegoNorte.com/blog/

 


How to Be Successful During the Holidays

Here we are in December already and I am sure there are so many of you out there that are worried how can I build my business or will I still have a business during this major economic crisis in our country. These are very hard times for many people, but to be successful in business is a yearlong quest.

You have come so far, yet competition is getting in your way. You need to sit down and plan what you can do to survive and stay on top in your business.

First thing that you need to do is continue to focus on getting your name out there. Depending on your business, get a book of fax numbers for clients related to your field of business. Take the time and create a flyer that will be noticed. Create a catchy phrase, put clip art, whatever can bring attention to what you are trying to sell. Then fax these sale flyers to all prospective clients in your area and eventually expand to further areas.

If you have the money, send out post-cards to all local businesses that could use your business or service. Being as it is holiday time wish them "Happy Holidays" and have the post-card offer them something free or at a cheaper price. Post-cards are a good idea because you do not want anything too long as during these busy times people will not take the time to read what you are sending. Therefore, you need to make sure you keep what you are trying to say as simple but to the point as possible.

You might want to use slogans like "Holiday Special" you want to catch someone's attention, something that will make them think. If you are a phone person get out the phonebook and start making some calls. Wish them "Happy Holiday's," then tell them about the special you are running for a limited time. Explain why they will save time and money by buying or using whatever service it is that you are advertising.

Online businesses might want to send emails to prospective clients, using the same methods. Find a create phrase, offer something to them that will catch their attention. Be creative and if you take the time to make it right they just might take the time to try you or your items.

Unfortunately, to make money you need to spend money. Most of the ways that I have mentioned are not that expensive, but all it takes is that one account or sale to make it worth the investment. You are in control of your destiny and with everyone suffering money trouble you need to be competitive. Find out what other places like yours are offering and make sure you can beat their pricing. Research is the key here. Know what is out there and figure out ways that you can do better for the client.

In summary, get out there however you can, get your name noticed, use different resources. Take the time you need to research. You don't want to just do something and then not have it work out to your advantage.  Be confident and persistent and good will always follow.

Best of luck on your quest for success during this holiday season and economic crisis. Have the confidence that you will succeed.

For more information about running a successful Internet
business, visit Diego Norte's blog here:
http://www.DiegoNorte.com/blog/

 


Analyzing Traffic to Your Website

Figuring out traffic statistics is a necessary part of your marketing responsibilities if you want to succeed online. It's an obvious course of action but one that many webmasters fail to act upon. Taking advantage of other people's neglect will help you dominate the competition.

There really isn't any excuse not to be proactive in evaluating the amount of traffic your are receiving, what target audience is visiting and what areas of concern you need to improve to ensure you are bringing in the right people.  This also helps you work on getting more quality traffic.

Here are 3 tips that will help you understand the criteria for analyzing website traffic.

Tip#1: begin by examining the most basic data which would be the average visitors to your site on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. These figures amount to the most precise measure of your site's activity. It would show on the surface the more traffic recorded the better you can assume your website is doing, but that is a mistaken perception. You must also look at the actions of your visitors once they visit your site to accurately determine the effectiveness of your website.

Tip#2: determine how long on average your visitors spend on your site and if they are spending a relatively short time while visiting, it usually indicates an underlying issue. Then the challenge is to figure out what that issue is. Making the slightest change to your campaign or site's structure could do wonders. It could be that your keywords are targeting the wrong type of visitors, or your graphics are baffling and/or daunting which is causing the visitor to exit hastily. You would be surprised what some minor touches can do to enhance your visitor's experience at your website.

Tip#3: do not get hung up on how many "hits" your site receives. This can often mislead site owners to believe that if they have a good amount of hits they can consider those numbers a success which is very far from the truth. Quality traffic is much more important than a bunch of hits to your site. Hits simply means the amount of information requests received by the server. It's much more productive to measure the amount of visitors that visit your website and the actions they are taking when they are there.

Web traffic stats can help you determine your site's effective and ineffective areas and after you have analyzed your visitor statistics you can take action accordingly by taking advantage of what is working and improving or removing what is not. Some competitors are way ahead of the curve because they are always analyzing website traffic statistics and subsequently integrating techniques helping them leave their competition in the dust.

For more information about running a successful Internet
business, visit Diego Norte's blog here:
http://www.DiegoNorte.com/blog/

 


5 Free Techniques for Generating Website Traffic

If there is one absolute rule for making money from your website it's that you need visitors or "traffic" as it is commonly called. If hardly anyone visits your site the chances of it generating an income are slim to none.

Many people think that they need to spend a lot of money to generate a steady stream of website traffic. This is not true at all. Yes, there are plenty of ways to pay for traffic but there are also a lot of free traffic techniques that work very well.

Here are 5 free techniques for generating traffic to your website:

1) Article Marketing

There are countless article directories, ezines, and websites on the internet that need a constant supply of content so they are willing to accept article submissions from others. This is a great opportunity for you to create free website traffic by writing and submitting articles.

All you have to do is write articles that are themed along with the niche of your site. Write on topics that you have some knowledge on so that when people read your articles, they can see your expertise on the subject and will want visit your site for more information. Your articles should be well written, informative, and useful. The higher the quality, the better your chances of gaining traffic and making money.

At the end of each article include an "about the author" box with a little information about you or your business and a link to your website. This is how you will get traffic from the article.

2) Link Exchanges

This technique has been proven for years as a great free traffic method. Exchanging links isn't nearly as effective as it once was but it's still more than worth doing. Rarely will you ever see a site where there is no links other sites. Many webmasters are willing to exchange links with one another so that they can provide more options for their visitors and get traffic from the other site. After a few months of link exchanges you will begin to notice the steady increase traffic coming to your site from other sites.

Link exchanges also boost your rankings in the search engines such as Google or Yahoo. It's well known that search engines rank websites higher that have a large amount of inbound links. With a good ranking position in the search engines, you will generate more free traffic to your website than with virtually any other method.

One thing you need to make sure of before you exchange links with any site is that it's a quality site and at least somewhat related to yours. Exchanging with just any old site can do more harm than help to your site.

3) Traffic Exchanges

I'm not a big advocate of traffic exchanges because I haven't ever had great results considering the time you have to put in. However, some people do well with traffic exchanges and they are free.

Basically what you do with these is view another person's website in exchange for a view of yours by somebody. You both benefit from each others efforts to generate free website traffic. The other sites visitors can visit your pages and see your site as well as theirs. The conversion rates aren't usually very high but if you can get enough free traffic from this method then it may be worth trying.

4) Build a List

This can be one of the most difficult free traffic techniques but it's certainly possible to do and will reward you many times over for your hard work. Offering a free ebook, a free report, or a free informative newsletter are a few of the best ways to build a list of subscribers. Plus, there are many people who are willing to provide free content for your newsletter as long as they can get their name in it. Be sure to provide valuable information for your subscribers and as your list grows you will be able to make money from sending them an affiliate promotion every once in a while.

4) Internet Marketing and Online Business Forums

This really only requires your time and no money at all. You just share your knowledge and expertise in online business forums, with a link to your website in your signature, and you can get a lot of free traffic over time.

For more information about running a successful Internet business, visit Diego Norte's site here:
http://www.DiegoNorte.com/

 


Build It and They Will Come

The images on your website can drive a lot of free and targeted traffic to your website. You should have a strategy for using images and a description of your unique business to drive traffic to your website.  When choosing a name think carefully about what searchers will be typing into the image search engine to find pictures like the one you are publishing.

The first thing that I would do is brainstorm all of the images that I think my potential prospects might look for. Then I would take a look at all my existing web pages to see where I could add new relevant images. Don't just add images as eye candy. Add them to improve the overall content of the page. Creating an image gallery which links to individual picture pages can work well and is a quick way to add dozens of searchable images to your website.  It is also worth putting a brief description under each image to attract normal searchers.

I really can't stress enough how important a professional looking design is for attracting sales.  Many people will just not trust a website that is poorly designed.  You want your customers to feel that every aspect of your business is taken seriously so they can feel secure and confident that you will not rip them off. Presenting your business in a sloppy manner is just not the way to build the confidence of your potential clients.

The usability of the website ties right in with the design.  Make sure the design of you site allows for easy navigation for your customers and makes the process of checking out as hassle free as possible.

Search Engine Optimization can be the difference between a small, barley profitable or visible website and a traffic magnet website.  There are so many ways, both good and bad to acquire links to be able to drag traffic to your sites.  Some sites react to certain strategies better than others. 

Buying text ads in E-magazines is also a good way to gain exposure.  Some of the best buys are small text ads in e-mail newsletters targeted at audiences likely to be interested in the same or similar fields.  Many small publishers don't have sophisticated advertising and offer attractive rates.

Make sure that they can find anything that they would be looking for easily.  Remember that your competition is just a few clicks away, and they can just as easily go some where else.  It is important to manage your online reputation to the best of your ability.  Blogs have gone a long way when it comes to marketing strategies.  This tool is the latest buzz in the industry.  If you want quality links to your site, then start a business blog.  If you offer excellent content and regular industry news, people are likely to link to it increasing your sites traffic numbers. 

Always make sure when you are sending e-mails to include your site's URL with your signature, as it helps potential customers to keep in touch with you.  Most e-mail programs such as AOL, NETSCAPE and Outlook allow you to designate a "signature" to appear at the end of each message you send.  Limit it to 6-8 lines: Company name, address, phone number, URL, e-mail address, and a  company phrase.

You will do well in your endeavors if you remember the above points when starting your online business.  Just because you have a website does not mean that you will get all the business you were hoping for.

For more information about running a successful Internet business, visit Diego Norte's site here:
http://www.DiegoNorte.com/

 


Time to Quit Your Day Job?

It's a scary thought.  You may find yourself facing this decision at some point in the life of your online business.  So how do you know if you're ready to make the leap and quit your day job?

Some things to watch for:

1. Is your business consistently paying you enough to live on?  If your business has great months, followed by a dramatic downturn in sales on a regular basis, you will have to do the math to find out if you are making enough money to support yourself without the added income of the extra job.  If you find yourself in a situation where you have dedicated yourself full time to job that will not support you, you may end up losing the online business too.

2.  Do you want to do this full-time?  If you started your business with the ultimate goal of making it a full-time job and your sole source of income, this question is already answered.  If you started it for extra income, you will need to decide if this is something you want to do full-time.  The step forward in relying on this job may turn it from a fun hobby to a headache.  Before you make the leap, decide if this is something you genuinely love to do.

3. Consider your product and the future of your success.  If you are selling a product or service for a seasonal or short-term issue (such as a trendy Christmas item or a product that addresses a temporary event) you may want to consider what will happen to your sales once the event or season has passed.  There may no longer be a need for your item or service.  You obviously would not want to rely on such a projection as a full-time job.

4.  Is it more work than you will be able to handle, even if you dedicate yourself to it full-time?  If this is the case, you are faced with two options:  You could quit your day job and work more hours than you'd intended to be able to support the company or you could keep your day job and hire help for your current work load.  This is not an ideal position to be in, but it may be a situation you face at one point.

5. If your sales plummet, do you have a back-up plan?  You may want to wait until you have money to support yourself for several month in case unforeseen events happen.  It also does not hurt to have a few job ideas in mind in case the need arises.  Owning a small business is a risk, but it should be a calculated risk.

I hope this helps in your decision to quit the day job or not.  It is a big step in the life of any small business.  Do not go into it without lots of consideration and planning.

For more information about running a successful Internet business, visit Diego Norte's site here:
http://www.DiegoNorte.com/

 


Promoting Your Business

New companies seem to have trouble obtaining the business of their target clients. There are many ways to attract a potential client, especially with the advances made by the internet. I will tell you several ways you can increase the success of your web ad when posting on the internet.

Where to begin...

Typically a company would want to post on well known and well used sites such as, Google, Yahoo, and Hotmail. These sorts of places will maximize the amount of people to see your ad. This is the first step to attracting potential customers. Being seen out in the front is one of the biggest problems new companies have. This is a good beginning but not nearly enough people that are looking for hair supplies will most likely not care about your car parts. So you need to find more than just mainstream places to post your ads online.

How to maximize the effect...

You can maximize the effect of your ad by placing a banner on a relevant site. For instance if you post your add for classis car parts on a site that pertains to classic cars there is a good chance someone might be interested and stop by your site. You can also advertise to a new audience by posting your add on a similar site. An example would be a racing videogame being posted on a site about NASCAR could get you some interested customers. But think outside the box you could post an add on a site about hair dressing to promote novelty hair ties. The places you can advertise online are endless.

Caution...

Many web advertisers seem to think flashing ads with five pictures cycling at the speed of light will attract attention. This is false. All that will accomplish is deterring a potential customer away from your business. You want to use a logo doing something interesting. A good example is a globe turning into a light bulb for a company that makes lighting appliances. Simple designs with clear meanings are a much better way to post your advertisement.

Diversity...

Your company wants to stand out from the rest when posting advertisements online. A good way to do that is to look different. If you are a company that sells shoes you want to make your shoes stand out from the rest. Make the shoes talk or fly into space while showing off how they look. Being the company that looks and feels different and that the rest catches the customers eye will make them curious. You want your customer to think "Wow i have never seen something like this before." If you can accomplish that then you have hooked yourself a customer.

For more information about running a successful Internet
business, visit Diego Norte's blog here:
http://www.DiegoNorte.com/blog/


 

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