Small business owners find Internet marketing something of a two-edged sword. On the one hand it’s quick, relatively easy, and getting cheaper all the time; but on the other hand… Internet marketing simply isn’t working for most businesses in Ireland.
The temptation is, of course, to blame “the economy” or some other external factor you rather conveniently cannot control (and so cannot expect to take the blame for your own lack of success)… but reality has an irritating habit of sticking around and refusing to budge in the face of our denial.
So what’s the problem?
Well, for a start the problems small business owners have with Internet marketing are nothing to do with the technology or the concepts behind it; no, they’re almost always down to errors in implementation (and those errors themselves come about for a multitude of reasons, most of which seem to wend their way back to the same thing: lack of study and too much trust that the people they employ to handle their Internet marketing actually know what they’re doing).
I hate to sound all elitist and smug here, but it’s probably inevitable, because it’s human nature to bridle when someone tells you you’re an ass.
The Biggest Problem for Small Businesses and Their Internet Marketing Is Website Designers
A very unpopular view to hold when it seems every graphic designer and his aunt has upped the ante somewhat and added website design to their product and service portfolio.
Nothing wrong with this, of course, and both graphic designers and website designers have their place in the grand scheme of things. But as marketers, they suck unless they’ve actually studied real honest-to-goodness direct response marketing (and the vast majority haven’t because if they had, they’d be turning out vastly different websites).
Using an analogy with the offline-world, it’s like trusting your Yellow Pages rep to design your ad for you. I mean, they work in the “advertising business”, right? So it’s just common sense they should know something about advertising.
Well, yes. It does make sense.
But it’s also wrong. What they know is the business of selling advertising, not advertising itself.
By the same token, most website designers know the business of designing websites as platforms for Internet marketing, but they don’t usually understand Internet marketing itself (a surefire way to tell they’re talking a load of old mumbo-jumbo is when they try to tell you Internet marketing is somehow “different”, as if you were marketing to aliens or something).
Internet Marketing in a Nutshell
It’s the same as any other form of marketing: your profits depend on sales, and they in turn depend on getting a stream of people into your “funnel” and selling them stuff.
Or, to put it another way: it’s about traffic and conversions.
You can (and should) get the former from many different sources: keyword research, Search Engine Optimisation, Pay Per Click, Article Marketing, guest posts on other blogs, as well as from offline sources, too, like media advertising, direct mail, and so on.
And conversions come from putting the right message at the right time in front of the right person. Well, you have the right person, or at least a list containing some of the right people, from the efforts of your traffic generation and list-building; getting the right message is a matter of testing, and finding the right time is in effect a matter of luck (which is why we need to be marketing constantly and relentlessly).
There are countless disciplines in which you can educate yourself to make all these things happen, and much of the information you need is either freely available, or available at very low cost.
Yet still it seems business owners would rather trust the empty-headed words of website designers talking about how white-space and pretty layout sells than actually think for themselves and wonder why if the way “everyone knows” you should build a website has led to the situation where most websites don’t actually make any money and business owners find themselves trawling the net and finding sites like mine.
Surely, if the sites they’d had put together by website designers actually worked the way they were supposed to, then sites like mine would be unnecessary.
Or, to put it slightly differently… if you have a website and it’s not performing the way you think it should be… and you had it designed by a guy or gal who told claimed to know the ropes, but you now find yourself looking at my site for ways to make it better… don’t you think it’s possible you’ve been had?
Internet marketing isn’t actually hard and really just requires a bit of critical thinking and a willingness to try new things and, most important of all, get them wrong.