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DEADLY SMALL BUSINESS MARKETING MISTAKES - PART 1

by: Cary Christian

Small business resources are frequently far too scarce and valuable to waste. Yet, we see companies wasting money on a grand scale every single day when it comes to marketing. The waste is not necessarily in the marketing method chosen, although it frequently is, but in the execution.

Sometimes the marketing mistake is really a problem with the website. Effective marketing is useless if your website kills the sale.

What do we mean by this? Let's list some of the more prevalent errors and look at some examples.

1. SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION THAT STOPS SHORT

The company painstakingly determines the very best keywords for their site and carefully follows all the rules for creating effective meta tags for their home page. This company may even create several versions of their home page to take into account the supposed requirements of different search engines. Sounds good so far. Right?

Then they blow it by ignoring content! The content of the home page is so geared toward search engine optimization that it does little to make the reader who visits want to visit the rest of the website. Getting the visitor is merely the first step and becomes a worthless effort if they do not want to stick around for awhile and see what the company has to offer.

Notice also that we stated the optimization effort was geared toward the home page. What about the rest of the site? Companies often forget that the purpose of search engine optimization is to attract targeted visitors. More often than not the products companies want to attract visitors to are not located on the home page, but on other pages within the site. Far too frequently, nothing has been done to optimize and submit these interior pages.

2. FORCING VISITORS TO VIEW A FLASH PRESENTATION BEFORE ENTERING THE SITE.

Yes, Flash presentations can be very cool and impressive. But only about 21 percent of surfers have DSL or broadband connections and Flash can take a while to load over a dial up connection. People WILL NOT wait unless they are so sold on the content they are ultimately going to be able to access that they don't mind you wasting their time.

First of all, if you use Flash at all, hire a professional who knows how to optimize the presentation for the fastest possible load times.

Second, make the Flash presentation optional. If the visitor is interested, he or she will load it and wait. If not, they can go about their business on your site and will be pleased that you gave them the option.

3. INEFFECTIVE USE OF GUARANTEED HITS AND SURF FOR HITS PROGRAMS.

It could be argued that using these types of programs is a waste in and of itself, and often it is. But if you want to try them or use them as supplemental advertising, don't just send the hits to your home page or directly to a product sales page. Create a special page just for these programs and don't try to sell directly. Get people to sign up for an informational autoresponder or to a newsletter so you can use more effective marketing techniques on those who respond.

You'll also have better luck if you use a script-based subscription technique that automatically captures the visitor's information without them having to enter it. You'll get more signups and better email addresses this way.

4. PURCHASING GUARANTEED HITS FROM A COMPANY THAT SUPPLIES THE HITS USING POP-UPS, POP-UNDERS, LOTTO VALIDATIONS AND SIMILAR SOURCES.

No matter how well you prepare yourself for using guaranteed hits programs, your campaign will not be effective if the hits come from these sources. Most surfers use software that suppresses pop-ups and pop-unders so you might be paying for phantom hits. Hits from lotto and other gaming sites are not targeted and do not represent hits from visitors who have the slightest interest in what you're selling. Always know the source of the hits you're buying and let common sense be your guide.

5. FAILURE TO PREQUALIFY VISITORS WHEN USING PAY-PER-CLICK SEARCH ENGINES.

Pay-per-click search engines are terrific sources of targeted traffic to your site. However, your marketing tactics need to change a little when using them. Your goal is not to drive the maximum amount of traffic to your site. That's wasting money! Include in your description information that will weed out the tire kickers. If your product costs $299, say so. This will prevent your paying for visitors who aren't interested if the price is over $50.

Take a look at your marketing efforts and make sure you aren't making any of the above mistakes. If you are, commit to fixing the problem as soon as you can. Next week, I'll give you some others to work on.



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