Standing out from the crowd
Note: This thread is not only my advice but a large collection of resources written by others. If the mods see this as a 'copycat' thread then feel free to remove it but I would stress that I have given credit where credit is due throughout the thread and have posed my reasons below for building up this knowledgebase.
I would hope that others could post helpful articles to supplement this thread, relating to internet marketing for the new comer
Okay, so anyone with a bit of techno savvy or experience and a bit of money can start up a hosting service of some
kind. However, what does it take to stand out in a market which is already flooded with competition? That is the question I will try to attempt to answer and hopefully resolve.
This tutorial is more of a brief introduction with links to resources but can still be used as a basic basis for your marketing strategy. Most of it is commonn sense, but I find that sometimes common sense doesn't come naturally!
I would like to stress that this tutorial is primarily for 'noobs', noobies','noobes', 'new guys', anyone new to the hosting industry. I did not write most of the material and i'm certainly not intending to claim that I did.
I just wanted ti provide a knowledgbase because I know how hard it was for me when I first started out on my 'path of discovery' in the web hosting business. I have tried to included source credits where at all possible.
It should be seen as a small knowledgebase thread.
Since that is the spirit in which it is given.
Look at my attractive banner..Please look....Please? Anyone?
A modern, attractive, stylish and humourous banner is okay, but it is useless if it doesn't attract click-thru's. You need to strike what is a fine balance between stylism and minimalism. Recently, minimialism has become popular amongst hosts and so you may do well to go for a more stylish banner style. In this way, you are immediately standing out from the general hosting crowd.
Bannner placement is critical, hosting forums, popular commmunties and portals often attract those looking for hosting and so would be good places for banner placement. However, keep in mind that most members of such communities are either already hosts themselves or have some experience as a customer. Don't patronise them, chances are that they have already been let down by a host before, - they won't allow that to happen again.
Instead (or as a sumpplemental platform) , you may want to consider targeting the inexperienced market, banner placement in this case should play to the interest of the viewer. eg. A Gardening website may have quite a few members that do not know anything about hosting, why not place a banner giving them an oppurtunity to expand their interest?
In doing so, i'm not suggesting that you fix your hosting upon a gardening niche, but as far as the customer is concerned - you help host gardening poeple.
Don't just offer "hosting" to gardening people, offer them solutions and uses they could employ with their hosting. ie. 'Start your own e-plant shop' or 'Start your very own gardening community'. In this way, you conjure up both intrigue and set a basis for self-inspiration on the part of the banner viewer.
Niches, niches, niches
Niches have three obvious effects - firstly, they limit your target audience. Secondly, they make members of that niche feel part of a more 'inclusive' community. Lastly, it provides an obvious theme on which you can effortlessly expand.
As for the latter, think about it, if you only offer hosting to cake makers then your hosting site can have a caking theme. It is then easier to make spin-offs of your services and make additions to the theme. ie. The 'Icing on the cake' package or the 'Soft Sponge' package. Remember, when using a niche - make the packages inclusive in the idea. It's no good having 'Froglover's hosting world' and then having a package called 'Ultra Pro 2000'. Make it relevant.
Where niches are involved communities are critical, forums give users of your service the oppurtunity to not only confer about the hosting but also about their favourite subject! (cakes, frogs, or plants)
Niches are an interesting business and more information regarding them can be found at the following resource links:
Click-thru ads and traffic hit marketing
It is a proven fact that such systems are subject to heavy abuse and it is an opinion of mine that they are generally ineffective unless you pay alot, (in which case profit is normally not an outcome).
Again, here are some links to resources as I am not very knowledgeable on this type of thing:
Yep, well thats about it from me, I know very little about advertising but just wanted to soften the blow and basically be helpful for any people new to the industry or even the internet. I hope I have helped in some way.
The remainder of the article will be extracts from other atricles with all the appropriate source links at the end.
Develop a website using these principles
Who already needs what you have to sell?
You should have a pretty good idea about what the potential users of your product want and need, and how "on target" your product promotion is to this need. There are some GREAT sites that discuss "Solution Selling" techniques. These techniques focus on hooking prospect pain issues, so that you can grab and retain their attention. Once you have their attention, if you have built a product and find that it does not meet all of the needs, or enough of the needs, of your market when compared to your competition, then you must seriously review your product promotion strategy. Search engine optimization cannot make up for a market-product mismatch.
Additionally, it is important to consider the features of your competition in performing this review. You want to be "first among equals" in all areas, if not distinctly first in most. Be equivalent then better, not just different. If the consumer feels that they have a good solution with a competitor, tell them you are the same before you tell them that you are better. If you cannot match their current "solution vision" then you cannot upgrade their vision to be your solution. Your promotion materials need to adapt for this conversion to your solution.
What will they pay for what you have to sell?
If you have any competition, now is the time to absolutely know what they do to sell their products on the Web, and at what price. There are several steps:
Study the latest demographics by visiting Jupiter Research for information about Web usage patterns. These reports are certainly interesting, and provide audience demographics that might be essential to pricing decisions.
If you offer a product (rather than a service), start with generic keyword searches by visiting the search engines and searching for products in your category. If you follow the link to the product description page you find the statistics and description for the products in your keyword groups. Make a note of the company name so that you can visit their websites later. This only finds web products available from this dominant site, and may miss some products available through company web pages or Malls. Specific steps:
Use your favorite search engine (try the major engines (click on the engine name)) and look for your keywords. This is a little more tedious since you may get articles in the list. Identify products that are not already on your list (these may not be available for demo, but they are probably available for sale).
Repeat this process at the major Internet Mall sites. Even eBay would be good.
Repeat this process at the ZDNET site.
You may visit the above sites directly while you have their links available in the search results, or enter the names from your list, but you must visit each website on your list.
Their Web pages should also have a Products page with a description of their products, and an Order Page with detailed pricing information. All of this information is necessary for you to complete a features and pricing comparison chart. If you have any concerns that they might be serious competition for you, then download and evaluate the trial copies of these products. Know thy competition.
Perform a review of all product features, pricing and value.
Try to consider yourself in the role of VP of Marketing for your competition. What is their search engine placement, channel focus, and sales strategy? Who do they consider their competition and why? Consider that your competition may have brand name recognition, and thus can command a higher price for their product. If you know and understand your competition's strategy, you may survive.
If the competition sells their product in a retail channel, they may not be able to compete on a price-point basis. Use this to your advantage.
There are obviously "things" that a Web architect must know. Much of this is contained in this site and many others linked to this site below. You still need to have a minds-eye image of what is possible before you spend too much money doing it. We recommend that for optimal search engine placement that you start by reviewing this site once, then on the second pass spend more time on the Web by "surfing" my links, and those linked from our links.
Write the text and "storyboard" your site much like creating a good product specification. Use a word processor to lay-out all of your pages. Make sure that the flow is simple for the novice Internet user. Try to keep the body content each Web page to one to two 8½ x 11 sheets of paper, or if heavy information, minimize graphics and limit the size to no more than six pages. Focus on making the message clear. Creativity, and how quickly the page loads, is more important than the use of extra artwork for the sake of "cute". And when this is done, call a Marketing Consultant first, definitely before you call a web page designer. Message and Placement sell on the web. For artwork, we recommend JupiterImages.
It is important to consider some aspects of eCommerce: web-based commerce with a human touch is very effective in most cases, especially with 60% to 70% of all shopping carts being abandoned. Do not design around human contact if it increases the ability to sell your products. Factor it into your design. While this may be against the Amazon.com hands-off model, some firms like FaceTime Communications are integrating AOL Instant Messager with their website eCommerce applications to answer last minute questions. Reports are that buy decisions increase six-fold if questions are answered. Customer Service is evolving, and it is alive and well on the web.
Double check the site architectural concepts.
For all sites that you identify, go to their website and visit their home page. Choose the browser option to view their Home Page HTML source (this might be a complex process). Scan these sites for search engine placement keywords and terms to make sure that your list is as complete. The steps needed to determine what may work best for your site are on our Search Engine Optimization Tools page. Do This Now!
Marketing is everything. It brings potential buyers to your door. But proper design is vital, because without effective design the buyers who see your home page will leave before it finishes loading. The average home page loads in 48 seconds at 28.8, and the average visitor stays at a home page for 35 seconds, obviously many leave before the page finishes loading. We can learn from this.
Create/Design the site by taking content and art, mixing it with navigation and style, testing it on family and friends, and always listen to comments, grunts, pregnant pauses, and blank stares. Specific advice on development of a page is at our Quality Site Criteria page and we suggest that you visit it now, before you code your first Web page! Try not to copy a page layout from another site. Use your own words, ideas, and artwork whenever possible, making sure that the message in the image matches your text. Make sure that the visitor knows what you are saying/selling at all times.
Carefully consider the use of database tools, visual tools, and java tools. These are areas receiving a lot of interest, and technology work, and they might be right for your site. Carefully consider your options since some could adversely affect search engine placement.
Use the smallest graphics that you can to relay your message. It is estimated that 20% of all Web users surf the Web without graphics enabled! But always have graphics if it helps sell your product. Don't add graphics just to be neat -- an animated mail box is really not something to add to a commercial site.
Follow these rules (mandatory for Free Site Listings):
Make sure the site is rated for Family Viewing (keep it clean)
Be courteous to other authors at all times -- respect their copyrights, trademarks, and intellectual property.
Make sure the site is NOT a multi-level marketing site, a network marketing site, or a get rich quick site (although some MLM sites can get into the free lists if they are not moderated).
Make sure the site is NOT graphically overburdened. Minimize the use of CAPITAL letters, large fonts, and extensive graphics, especially animation.
Make sure the site Home Page loads quickly and informs the visitor what you have to offer them right up front. If using sounds, use MIDI files whenever possible instead or WAV files, and default to off unless sounds are short. Be careful, some browsers crash with sound enabled.
If you entice visitors with a FREE OFFER or CONTEST, make sure you explain how to obtain the gift or prize in an obvious manner. (FREE is good, but contests usually don't work and there may be legal problems).
Always choose to communicate information rather than to display wiz-bang nifty technical skills. These gadgets are a no-no to many free sites even if mandatory for some award sites. Animation, although exciting to see sometimes, is a real distraction on most pages and actually decreases sales. Avoid it unless there is a purpose.
If you are going to be selling a service or product, take the time to establish a merchant account and accept credit cards. The good news is that this is easily implemented with or without a store. The bad news is that it takes effort to set it up. It is strongly suggested that you visit our page on e-commerce considerations and follow those instructions carefully!
Consider a page of Testimonials. We find that it helps with prospects, award applications, and maybe even with free site reviewers.
You must visit a few sites to appreciate the range of artistic contribution a website can make. Browse your competition. Look at Award Sites (discussed later)
You must visit NetMechanic and get a FREE site Tune-up! This is not an optional step! If you alter your content on a regular basis and you think you are going to be active on the Web for a long time, we suggest that you subscribe to this service.
Invite critiques. This is most easily done by joining a critique site such as coder.com.
"Clay's site exemplifies the perceived trust, reliability and credibility that result from giving away free expert advice on the Web. At first glance unprepossessing and text heavy, this site nonetheless offers comprehensive, stellar information on effective website design, promotion and search engine registration. Clay's site is a must-visit for Internet marketers, for both the quality of its information and its modeling of what works on the Web." - Larry Chase, Web Digest for Marketers
How to obtain a domain name and website host (ISSP)
Like it or not, this step in search engine placement needs an Internet Server Solutions Provider (ISSP) and Internic registration. [An ISP usually does email and connections versus an ISSP that offers full-service site hosting.] As an agent, most consultants can get this process arranged in minutes. To see if your desired domain name is available, click here. It is VITAL that you obtain a domain name. If you ever need to change ISSP's, the process of changing registrations with hundreds of directories and search engines is more than a career! And since search engines may register each page in your site, the number of entries increases times the number of pages you have. We strongly suggest that you get a domain name NOW!
As the owner of the site, you can certainly shop for price and features, but at an average monthly cost of under $25 per month, what counts is ONLY how clean the site is (no spam penalties), reliability, speed, and core support services. In well over 99 percent of all cases, the owner of the website has never visited their ISSP. Why? Because it isn't cost effective to do that. The ISSP can be anywhere in the world and provide suitable services. And if you don't like the ISSP, change! Our site offers free debugging of your cgi-bin scripts in private cgi-bin libraries as well as unlimited email aliasing and autoresponders.
Now would be a great time to order new stationary and business cards with this updated information. Revise your FAX cover sheet, and perhaps your phone messages once the site is live.
SOURCE CREDIT - http://www.bruceclay.com/web_pt.htm
Marketing is not an event, but a process. How long does the process last?
An insight for you to embrace is that a guerrilla marketing attack is neverending. It has a beginning, a middle but never an end, for it is a process. You improve it, perfect it, change it, even pause in it. But you never stop it completely.
Of all the steps in succeeding with a guerrilla marketing attack, maintaining it takes the most time. You spend a relatively brief time developing the attack and inaugurating it, but you spend the life of your business maintaining, monitoring and improving your attack. At no point should you ever take anything for granted. At no point should you fall into the pit of self-satisfaction because your attack is working. Never forget that others, very smart and motivated competitors, are studying you and doing their utmost to surpass you in the marketing arena.
Guerrillas thrive and prosper because they understand the deeper meanings of the phrases “customer base” and “long term commitment.” This enables them to reinvent their marketing -- just as long as they are firm in their commitment to their existing customers and prospects. An attack without flexibility is in danger of failing. But that flexibility does not allow you to take your eyes off the needs of your customers.
Keep alert for new niches at which you can aim your attack. Large companies don’t have the luxury of profiting from a narrow niche. No matter how successful your attack, never lose contact with your customers. If you do, you lose your competitive advantage over huge companies that have too many layers of bureaucracy for personal contact. Guerrilla marketing is always authentic marketing and never acts or feels to be impersonal, by-the-number marketing. It never feels like selling.
“Marketing Management” author Philip Kotler, says “Authentic marketing is not the art of selling what you make but knowing what to make. It is the art of identifying and understanding customer needs and creating solutions that deliver satisfaction to the customers, profits to the producers and benefits for the stakeholders. Market innovation is gained by creating customer satisfaction through product innovation, product quality and customer service. It these are absent, no amount of advertising, sales promotion or salesmanship can compensate.”
Your attack must be characterized by a very strong tie with your own target audience. You know them. You serve them. They know it. Guerrilla attacks do not suffer from your lack of resources, but instead prosper because lack of capital makes them more willing to try new and innovative ideas, concepts ripe for guerrillas but not for huge companies.
Your attack will succeed in direct relationship to how narrow-minded you can be. Guerrillas have the insight that precision strengthens an attack. They know the enormous difference between their prospects and their prime prospects. They are aware of the gigantic chasm separating their customers from their best customers. This perspective enables them to narrow their aim only to the best prospects that marketing money can buy and the finest customers ever to grace their customer list.
They are fully cognizant that it doesn’t take much more work to sell a subscription to a magazine than to sell a single issue. That’s why their marketing attack is devoted to motivating people to subscribe to their businesses mentally.
Once they have a customer, they do all they can to intensify the relationship, and they do not treat all customers and prospects equally. Consider the menswear chain with a database of 47,000 names. Mailings are never more than 3,000 at a time. Who receives the mail? Says the owner, “Only the people appropriate to mail to.” When he received trousers of a specific style, he mailed only to those customers to whom he was certain they’d appeal -- and enjoyed a 30% response rate.
The cost of his mailing was a tiny fraction of the size of his profits. There’s not a chance of reveling in a healthy response like that unless you’re targeting your mailing with absolute precision. It’s something you’re going to have to do in a world where postal charges and paper prices are both slated to increase. Unless you’re hitting the bullseye, you’re wasting your marketing investment. And unless you’re treating your marketing as a continuing process, you’re wasting everybody’s time, including your own.
About the Author: Jay Conrad Levinson is the author of the "Guerrilla Marketing" series of books, the most popular marketing series in history with 14 million sold, now in 39 languages. At his new http://www.GuerrillaMarketingAssociation.com,
you’ll find lots of profit-producing ideas plus a list of 100 marketing weapons. Join up for phone and online access to The Father of Guerrilla Marketing.
SOURCE CREDIT = http://www.marketing-magic.biz/archi...-marketing.htm
The Rule of Repetition is very powerful, yet overlooked by many businesses and entrepreneurs.
Simply put, it means that any marketing communication is most effective when repeatedly brought to the attention of your target market.
Why is repetition in your marketing so critical? Because most of your prospects won't take action the first time exposed to it, no matter how good it is.
There are various reasons for this:
Your prospects aren't familiar enough with you yet.
Repetition helps build familiarity, which in turn helps build trust and credibility. Some prospects will start to recognize your company and products only after repeated exposure.
Gradually more will come to recognize that your company is not just another fly-by-night operation, and will then start to do business with you.
Your prospects are bombarded with myriad distractions in their busy lives.
You see, your typical prospect does not sit idle each day waiting for your marketing materials to make their grand entrance so he/she can eagerly read them over and over again, savoring each and every word. Hardly!
Your prospect is likely a busy, time-pressured person with a wide array of things competing with your sales message for their time and attention.
Even when your marketing communications win the attention of a prospect, and even if they decide they want your product or service, other distractions in their busy lives can cause them to delay action, and soon forget all about you and your wonderful widgets.
Your prospects may not yet have made a decision in your favor.
Understandably, some prospects need more time than others to decide whether or not to act on your offer. Instead of making a decision, most will often do the easiest thing - procrastinate. But time works against you: the more time passes, the less chance you'll make the sale.
The timing of your offer may be bad for a given prospect.
Many prospects will miss your marketing message the first time around. Perhaps because they were on vacation, it didn't sink in, they were distracted by other events in their lives, temporarily couldn't afford it, weren't interested at the time, or countless other reasons.
Other unfortunate things can happen.
While your marketing communications are important to you, they're less important to prospects (even if they asked for them). They may lose or misplace them, throw them away, or accidentally destroy them.
Further, perhaps you haven't encouraged them to take immediate action, or maybe they just haven't yet realized how your offer can benefit them. Regardless of the cause, the unfortunate result is that they don't (or can't) do business with you.
As we've just considered, your marketing communications are competing with so many other things contending for the time, money, and attention of your prospects.
To convert the highest percentage of those who don't act immediately on your sales messages into buyers, you must present it to them repeatedly.
As an example of the effectiveness of this approach, one highly successful direct marketer said jokingly that his company keeps sending direct mail to prospects "until they buy, or die."
Of course, this doesn't mean that you should bombard untargeted, disinterested prospects with your marketing when avoidable. That's just inefficient and wasteful.
But when you conduct your marketing campaigns by the Rule of Repetition to the extent possible, you won't just present your message to prospects one time and rest on your laurels.
Instead, you'll be persistent in your marketing efforts, ideally targeting only interested prospects who are in a position to do business with you.
Done properly, you'll overcome many obstacles mentioned above, and will increase sales as a result.
About the Author: Marty Foley's "Convert More Traffic" private members site helps web sites generate more traffic and turn more of it into buyers, leads, and higher profit: http://ConvertMoreTraffic.com
Use Marty's "Adwords Profit Info Course" to earn multiple income streams and generate more web traffic, with Google Adwords: http://AdwordsProfitInfo.com
SOURCE CREDIT = http://www.marketing-magic.biz/archi...repetition.htm
Many more similar topics can be found on these subjects:
Marketing With Postcards - The 2-Step Method
The Process of Marketing
Clean Up Your Marketing
10 Important Marketing Tips
Focus On Benefits Not Features
Powerful Direct Marketing Numbers
The Power of Buzz
Your Business Card is a Marketing Tool
Utilizing the Power of Other People's Markets
The Rule of Repetition
Guide to a Profitable Marketing Mix
Adding value as a marketing strategy
Change your thinking - transform your business
Direct response marketing: some guerrilla insights
Gap analysis: spotting new niches in a market
Getting intimate with customers
How to give excellent service
Giving away free information and products
How to become a marketing genius
Know your customer
How to price test your market
How to sell at higher prices
Targeted marketing: how to do it
Targeted marketing: what is it?
Testimonials as a marketing tool
What's unique about a Unique Selling Point?
Using newspaper archives for market research
Six simple principles of viral marketing
from this page: http://www.marketing-magic.biz/archi...ting/index.htm
Many more internet related ones can be found here:
Pay Per Click Search Engines: Beginners Guide Part 1
Creative Commons - Getting Leverage For Your Articles
RSS vs Email: It's Not An Either-Or Question
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12 Website Design Decisions You Need To Make
PayPal: The Granddaddy Of Online Transactions
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How I Reached #1 in Yahoo! - Part Two
How I Reached #1 in Yahoo! - Part One
10 High-Impact Viral Marketing Strategies
How Marketing Articles Can Kickstart Your Business
The Money Is In The List
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Are You Utilising All The Features Of Google Adsense?
The Best Traffic Generation Tool Is Free!
How To Write Google AdWord Ads For Profit
Get Thousands of Dollars Worth of Advertising for Pennies
Networking Your Marketing Strategies
Build Massive Keyword Lists
The Money Is In The List
Google Adsense Program Expands With Web Search
15 Ways to Read an RSS Feed
Syndicate Your Headlines Using RSS
The Mystery of the Magical Keyword Density Formula
And you thought Google was just a search engine?
How to avoid being ripped off by Internet scams
Building linked web site networks
How to choose domain names
Compete online by building online communities
Customer relationship management in the digital world
Your email signature file
Finding advertisers for your web site
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Keep your website visitors
Key words and MetaTags
Marketing your web site through associations and societies
New thinking in the digital age
Online marketing vs 'real world' marketing - what's the difference?
Outbound internet marketing
Profit from pay-per-click programs
Quizzes and polls increase direct response
Reciprocal linking - click-for-click
Search engine ranking systems: is your web site ready?
Website tip - shrink your .gifs
Ten ways to build an effective web site
Using a transparent spacer .GIF to promote your web site
Using your web site statistics
Using web safe colors in your website
Make navigation on your website easier
What makes a website work?
So don't tell me theres no info for you out there!
Read and enjoy.........