Saturday, April 15, 2006

Top 3 myths about internet marketing

I’m lucky to have a husband who is an internet business consultant! I use his tips all the time!

Top 3 Myths About Internet Marketing by John Geiger

Lack of understanding and old thinking has long cost small business owners their competitive edge and despite a steady stream of research proving the effectiveness of Internet marketing, yet again, it has mostly been larger firms taking advantage of this new advertising medium. According to projections by, online ad spending in 2005 grew by more than 30%, surpassing the $10 billion mark for the first time. But many small and medium-size business owners (SMEs) are still wary of introducing Internet marketing to their business plans. If you listen to their reasoning, the Internet might be considered as the fax machine once was: unnecessary, unproven and not cost effective. Well, today ignoring the benefits of an Internet marketing strategy can cost them far more in lost profits than choosing postal mail over faxes. Recently a study was done to determine the top 3 reasons small businesses have been reluctant to fully embrace the increasingly relevant Internet in their marketing plans. The results showed similar misconceptions on both sides of the Atlantic as to what Internet marketing is, and what it can do for their business. Myth #1: "My business doesn't need Internet marketing" Lack of perceived need was the most common reason offered up by the focus group participants, but few successful business owners would ever say that their business doesn't need to advertise. Internet search engine giant Yahoo!, whose advertising network reaches 80% of active Internet users (Nielsen/NetRatings, 2004) has hundreds of business categories in its directory right down to the smallest niche businesses. The reality is that if you have a product or service to sell, prospects are looking for it online, even if the actual purchase is made offline. The objective is that your website (or ad) be found when someone is looking to buy, and today's local search algorithms bring those local searches to you, the local business.
Myth #2: "Internet marketing is too expensive" It's well documented that small business owners are cost sensitive, but it's a misconception that Internet marketing is expensive. In fact, Internet marketing solutions are in many cases considerably less expensive than most traditional advertising media that business owners are more familiar with. For example, a modest display ad in a yellow page phone directory can cost a company thousands of dollars per year while offering virtually no way to target specific customers or track the quality of leads produced (if any). With that kind of budget--or in most cases considerably less--a Pay-for-Performance search engine marketing campaign can deliver precisely targeted (they are interested or they wouldn't click) leads to a business' website, while documenting which ads produce which sales, and even directly tying specific activities such as telephone calls, e-mails, and/or online forms directly to a specific ad for real-time analysis and action. Direct mail and print advertising can be replaced or supplemented with email marketing and online promotions for pennies on the dollar, again offering better customer targeting and performance tracking capability. And because Internet marketing solutions can be deployed far more quickly than other forms of advertising, business owners are better able to respond to changes in the marketplace and adjust on-the-fly.
Myth #3: "I don't know where to start" For those small business owners that do see the value in Internet marketing, not having an Internet marketing strategy comes down to a matter of choice--or too many choices. Unfamiliar with the topic, getting help can be quite daunting. They can't afford to make the wrong decision, so sometimes they play it safe and stay out of the game altogether. But that decision is shortsighted, and limits their potential in today's market. The best advice is to approach the situation the way you would when seeking out help in any other area: Ask around, get referrals from friends or acquaintances; don't make a decision based solely on price, and beware of offers that sound too good to be true. Ask questions about the company and their experience, and read through their own website. Find out how long they've been in business and ask for client testimonials and/or case studies. Also think about whether they are locally based - it is much easier to get help if they are close by and willing to visit your place of business.
As in the past, it's important that business owners become proactive and not let old thinking stifle their growth. The internet has been called the great equalizer, and in many respects epitomizes the very fabric of our free-market society. Companies who continue to ignore Internet marketing opportunities risk being left behind by competitors that have looked past the myths and discovered that sometimes changing the way things are done can be quite a profitable move.
John Geiger, owner of Webmasters ICE, has over five years experience helping small and medium-sized companies and organizations capitalize on the power of the internet through consulting, education, and supporting products and services. His focus and passion is the use of the internet in providing more effective overall marketing strategies and highly measurable levels of marketing success.

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