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Abbie's Column : Internet Marketing


Improve Your Online Small Business Profits
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5 Steps to Jump Start Your Marketing

By Abbie Drew
Jun 22, 2006

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Let me let you in on a little secret...

I love the summer:-) Living in the northeast of the USA, summer is definitely the best part of the year. Warm days, pleasant nights, green grass, blooming flowers, it is just so inviting to be outside!

This morning, I stared longingly through the window, wishing I could be outside when it hit me. I work for myself, I can go anywhere! So I grabbed my laptop and headed to the porch. Which is where I now happily sit!

Does your business give you the freedom to work where and when you like?

If not, now is the time to take steps to bring your business to the next level. Use your extra time over this summer to focus on your marketing and improve your results. Good marketing can have a huge impact on your bottom line.

What actions can you take?

Here are 5 steps you can follow to jump start your marketing. In fact, I’m using this checklist right now to evaluate our own businesses and find areas for improvement.

1) Review Competitors

What are other companies who directly or indirectly compete with you up to? What products /services are they offering? What marketing are they doing?

Use Search Engines to quickly find competitors to evaluate. In addition to Search Engines, check out some forums where your target marketplace visits. See what companies who sell your products /services are being discussed .

Why do you care about your competitors?

Analyzing your competitors first allows you to identify who you are up against. Could any of these other businesses drive you out of business? Or are your competitors the reason your business is not doing as well as it should?

When revieiwing the competition you want to determine the following:

* What weaknesses does your business have.
* What strength does your business have.
* What is your businesses Unique Selling Propostion (USP) – Is it unique or does a competitor have it as well.?

Once you know your areas of weakness you’ll know what to improve. And when you know your areas of strength you can emphasize them in your marketing and incorporate these strengths into your USP.

Let me share an example of how the competitor analysis can assist you from one of our sites. Our CustomLead service (http://www.customlead.com )provides businesses with email leads who respond specifically to their business offers.

In reviewing competitors I found a certain competitor was offering USA email leads. Using the IP address, they could determine the Internet Service Provider of each lead and thus the country location of the lead. Being able to offer USA email leads appears to be quite profitable for this competitor.

To be competitive our CustomLead service needs to offer targeted USA email leads. The analysis revealed what we needed to improve and we are now working on an update to provide USA email leads.


2) Web Review

How is your web site’s copy? Could your site be improved to convert more visitors to buyers? And what do you look at to determine if your web site is any good?

You should evalute 5 main points on your home page and/or landing pages.

a) Does your site and copy have one main purpose?

Frequently home pages are very disorganized. These pages offer every possible option, product, affiliate link and excessive amounts of information to the incoming visitors. As a result, visitors move on, perhaps going to one of the links without completing your desired purspose.

Change your site so that everything direct visitors to your one main objective and you’ll be amazed at the results.

b) Does your copy present a problem and a solution?

Good copy starts out by introducing a problem. It also often explains why the problem hasn’t been solved.

Only once the problem has been discussed, does the copy then reveal the solution. That solution being the product / service you’re selling.

Make sure your copy states the problem before the solution.

c) Do you have a good headline?

Your headline is crucial to getting the attention of your visitors. It must be prominently placed in the first screen of your page. Your headline has to grab the attention of your visitors in the first few seconds of their visit to your site otherwise they’ll move on.

What makes a good headline?

* Be Editorial
On the Internet a good headline should be more editorial than advertising. People are looking for information so you want your headline to read as informational rather than an ad. Some editorial headlines might be – “How To . . . “ or “ 10 Facts About . . . “ .

* Be Specific
Use exact numbers when possible in your headline. For example say: “Lose 13 lbs in a week” is more effective than “Lose weight fast”. Specifics are more believable.

* Be Targeted
If you can target your headline to your niche group you further improve results. For example if you want to reach moms – then put “Mom” in the headline or to advertise to real-estate agents – put real-estate agent in the headline.

d) Do you capture the email address of your prospects?

On every page of your site you want to request the contact information of your visitors. Following-up by email with potential prospects can make all the difference in the success or failure of your business.

To maximize your form’s effectiveness it should have the following elements:
* Catchy Headline
* Enticing Free Gift Offer
* Promise Immediate Delivery of Gift
* Privacy Assurance Statement


Wow, just going through the 2 steps I’ve outlined above will give your business a big jump start. I’ll leave you to work on improving these areas of your business so you’re ready for steps 3, 4 and 5.

What’s to come in steps 3, 4 and 5? You’ll discover how to evaluate your emails, your search engine position and more!

Stay tuned:-)

###
Abbie Drew
DEMC Editor



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