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Creative Marketing

Sandra Prior
Jul 21, 2008
Traditional methods aren't for everyone. They are expensive and therefore financially inaccessible to most small businesses. So if you have a limited budget, you will need to develop new strategies to attract potential customers and target them better than your competitors.

A good place to start is simply including your URL and email address on all external office correspondence, including employee business cards, email messages, letterheads and promotional items. Furthermore, your site should be registered with the top 10 search engines and you should have an emailing list for your site which you send out on a regular basis highlighting changes, updates, new products, or anything else that might be of interest.

If you want to employ online advertising, you need to think carefully about where you place that advertisement - particularly if you are on a tight budget. You can't just place an advertisement anywhere and expect it to work. It must appear on a site that has a high traffic flow, or on a site that is frequented by people who fit your Internet profile. Use other people's mistakes to develop a more effective method for your company.

Longer Term Strategies

Keeping the customers you've managed to attract - including building a recognized brand, and developing a strong community around that brand. If you treat your customers well and develop a relationship of trust with them, they will remain faithful to your brand.

The Money Model

Once you start developing your website and brand identity, you'll need to find a way to use it all to make money. Although still in their infancy, there are a few business models that are proving successful.

One model worth discussing is the practice of charging people for content. The most obvious and successful of this is pornography. People happily pay and keep paying.

Another good example is financial data. People are prepared to pay for financial information because they attach value to it, and believe that it is worth far more than actual expense incurred in acquiring it. Also, free financial information is not easy to come by, which means people are accustomed to paying for it. Consider the wonderful story about Joseph Kennedy pulling all his money out the stock market just before the Wall Street crash in 1929, because his shoeshine boy started discussing stock tips with him. He realized that if the ordinary man on the street was passing along stock tips, it wouldn't be long before something went very wrong. This is worth keeping in mind today.

If you are looking for financial information, you are more likely to trust information that you pay for. A casual investor is more likely to go after free advice that can be found on the Internet than to pay for information, which is why the financial sector has enjoyed such success with this model. It provides content that you know is reliable and useful, and, therefore, satisfied, you will keep returning credit cards waving.

Adapt or Die

So, how do you adapt this business model to suit your business needs? First off, you need to offer people content that they are willing to pay for, or at least convince them that paying for what you have is better than going elsewhere. Bear in mind that most of the content on the web is free and much of it is useful. Although this is slowly changing, many people are reluctant to pay for content, simply because they know they can get it for free elsewhere. In short, you need to give people a reason to visit your site. One way of doing this is to offer potential customers something unique, something that they can't get anywhere else.

However, to attract customers initially, you need to supply some free information or service. As customers become more familiar with your site, and a trust relationship develops, they will gravitate towards the paid for content.
About the Author
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