Ever since we crawled out of the slime (sorry creationists) there has been someone waiting to sell us a towel. It’s human nature to see an opportunity and think what’s in it for me?Now there are the Ethical entrepreneurs and business people who recognise this and position their products and services cleverly in a way that attracts their clients, and of course there are the unethical few who try to trick and game the market with things like spam and black hat SEO.
The hardest thing for a business person or marketer starting out online today is to decide which path to follow and believe me, the right thing to do is not always clear.
1) The viral video – Everyone wants a Viral Video, look at Kony and Old Spice, Gangnam Style, Dollar Shave Club, the list goes on. If your marketing plan includes the words viral and not a whole lot else, then there is a good chance you are setting yourself up to fail. For every minute that goes by, another 48 hours’ worth of video is being uploaded to YouTube. To stand out in the face of this requires clever strategy thought and planning. Content is King, Viral is just a court jester trying desperately to distract you.
2) Social Media is the answer to everything – No… just no. I don’t have anything against Social
Media and I love a good If Facebook were a countrypresentation as much as anyone but social media will:
a) Only work as a business driver if that is where your market is prepared to engage with you
b) Take as much time and effort as actual physical relationship building if you want to achieve quality connections.
c) Still need to be supported by hard work and clever strategy. It is called Social Media and not Business Media for a reason.
– Again think about content. If you create and share great content you are always going to add value online.
3) People love daily emails – While it is acceptable for some businesses to send a daily email it is only a small few who provide, and here is that word again… Content and value that keep their subscribers. Ask yourself if you’re selling, or providing value before you send your next email to your database. (please note: it is possible to do both, daily deals etc, but again you need a well thought out strategy)
4) Misleading a click – I know people are looking for X so I am going to tell them I can do X or offer X as a prize, before grabbing their details or trying to sell them Y. Bad YouTube Videos and PPC Banner Ads seem to do this a lot. We’ve all seen the congratulations you’ve won banners and garish ads that encourage you to submit to win and videos with a misleading title or thumbnail. These companies operate on attrition, they accept that they will slowly slash and burn their market before moving on to other things. The world needs more of these like a fish needs a unicycle.
5) Turnkey or Hands free marketing online – While there are lots of great tools online to automate certain processes, running a completely autonomous online operation (especially if you are supporting a physical business that operates in the real world), is next to impossible. Do not attempt to go down this path unless you are prepared to alienate your entire existing online customer base.
The secret to doing business online is surprisingly the same as doing business off-line. Research, Hard Work, Good Processes, Clever and Thoughtful Strategies, Hard Work a Good Product or Service and Hard Work.
In short there are no magic beans, no mysterious formula, no short cuts and no secrets worth subscribing to a 10 part webinar series for. The key to the internet is content, create it and they will come, but only if the content ads value. So when considering your next web based marketing initiative or thinking about how to grow your business online, ask for advice from people you trust and look at the list above. If you have any doubts then there’s a good chance you might be getting sucked in to another dodgy online marketing practice.