Direct Marketing Tips for Consumers in 2011

In looking ahead to 2011 and the brewing economic recovery, it is essential to understand what happened in 2010 and how it will shape the next 12 months.

  1. Don’t take a one size fits all approach – For decades now companies large and small have invested millions of dollars in targeting their audience with messaging that their “gut” tells them will resonate with their target consumer. They fail to do their research and take a homogenous all approach to marketing. Even large global brands like Chevrolet tried marketing their Nova around the world without taking into account regional interpretations of the word. The net result was a sales disaster in South America where the model name roughly translated to “No Go”.
  2. Do your research – Market research is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Today’s consumer base is highly fickle and they often times know your product or your marketplace better than you do. Spending a few extra weeks in your marketing process to understand what makes your customers tick, their likes and dislikes and their perception of your brand can be the difference between an overwhelming success and an utter failure when your product goes to market. When possible involve the target as early in the product development lifecycle as possible, even simple Facebook polls on your brand website can derive valuable information at no cost.
  3. Be where your consumers are – Let’s face facts, the days of targeting the masses via a 30 second spot on NBC or a print buy in the NY Times have long since passed. The last 10 years have created an incredibly fragmented marketplace and the next 10 are likely to increase fragmentation exponentially. With a litany of methods for content distribution, it is now more important than ever that your message is carefully crafted, delivered at the right time and via the right channel. Working with technology that can manipulate your message and deliver it across multiple platforms, in multiple languages is no longer an expense you can’t justify, it is a technology you must justify.
  4. Social isn’t going anywhere – With Facebook being the second most visited site on the web your website alone isn’t going to cut it anymore. Consumers are spending more time engaging, promoting and complaining about brands on Twitter and Facebook now more than ever before. Consumers expect to be heard, they expect to play a role in choosing the next flavor (Mountain Dew’s Dew Nation), they want to participate in helping raise awareness (Susan G. Komen), they want to buy within Facebook (Target, Sephora, 1-800-Flowers), they want to get a great deal (@DellOutlet, @JetBlue), they want to find your mobile coffee, Korean BBQ or gourmet cupcake truck (@kogibbq, @coffeegroundz, @sprinkles), they want to broadcast their problems and get them solved(@bofa, @frontier). Listen, innovate and engage.
  5. Go mobile – Seems that every year since 2005 has been heralded as “The Year of Mobile”, 2011 might be the year. In 2011, the iPhone will become available on Verizon (USA’s largest carrier) and Google Android will shatter the 300,000 units activated per day number. Add the launch of Honeycomb (Android 3.0 OS) to support a variety of iPad competitors coming online and the mobile opportunity looms large. Retailers will be able to sell directly through QR codes, barcode scans and mobile storefronts. Location aware ads will become a reality, imagine getting a 20% off mobile coupon from Macy’s valid for 60 minutes when you enter the mall or a coupon for a free small cup of coffee at the airport food court.

2011 promises to be an exciting year for consumers and advertisers alike. A well-rounded marketing strategy inclusive of targeted campaigns, increased consumer dialogue and a focus on more efficient technology will make you a more effective marketer.

Article Marketing – The Easiest Way To Make Money Online

Internet marketing is full of complicated technical things that keep most people from succeeding online. But there is a very simple way to drive traffic to your sites and generate online income. It’s called article marketing.

Article marketing promotion is the easiest way to generate free traffic and back links to your sites. It’s been around since the dawn of man and it continues to work no matter what happens to technology. People love good content.

When I started in online marketing, I overlooked article marketing because I think it was too obvious for me to see the logic in it. You get caught up in the hype of shiny products and new technology and lose sight of the fact that good content attracts people. Once they see some good content, they will look for more.

If you are willing to do a little work on a consistent basis, you can grow your business with every written word. Even if you end up doing other things to grow your business, you will always benefit from article marketing.

So how exactly do you use this simple technique to actually grow your online business? It’s not difficult, but there are a few things that you need to know in order to really take full advantage of the process

How many articles should you write and submit?

The short answer is as many as you can. The more the merrier it’s just a good idea to make sure you spread them out when you submit them.

Like everything in online marketing you want the search engines to look at your content creation and submission as “natural” and not automated.

If you do this intelligently you can get a steady stream of direct traffic as well as back links. Good articles stay out there forever and often get republished with attribution on other related high traffic sites.

You can queue up articles just like blog posts so that they upload and publish on certain dates in the future, so you can write a bunch at once and then spread the submissions out.

Even if you can only write a few, any articles are better than none and the effect is cumulative so don’t get discouraged if you can’t write a bunch all the time. Just keep doing it and you will benefit from it.

How many article sites can you submit the same article to?

Opinions differ on this one, but in my opinion at least one and no more than five at a time. Look for the article sites with the highest Alexa rank and just pick 3 or 4. This will give you the biggest bang for your buck and it won’t dilute your message in the eyes of the search engines.

More sites will drive more direct traffic and fewer quality sites will probably be better for your SEO.

How do you get people to find your articles?

You can do this in a couple of ways. As we already know, the more popular the article directory, the more likely it is to be seen-simple. The quality of the title is huge as well. Having a short interesting and even controversial title will attract readers. Asking a question or using a title with “5 steps to..” or “7 ways to…” are always effective.

The other trick is to use your keyword phrase in your title and then twice for every 100 words in the article with positioning in the first sentence and the last sentence of the article. Just make sure you never sacrifice “readability” just to sneak in a keyword phrase

How do you get people to go from your article to your site?

Every article directory allows you to put links at the end of your article in what is usually called your “Resource Box”. This is a kind of signature area where you place one or two links to wherever you want your reader to go.

Engage your reader with good content but not necessarily everything he needs to know in your article…

Then you direct him in the resource box with something like…”If you enjoyed this article and would like to learn everything else there is to know about… then come on over to…. and get all the answers you need to know about….” There are a million ways to say this, but you get the point.

How long should your articles be?

You can win with as few as 350 words, but 400 to 500 is about perfect. Long enough to warrant syndication by others and short enough to keep peoples attention. Most people think you have to write 1000′s of words, but actually the opposite is true. Now days people want information quickly and they won’t finish long articles.

What article sites should you use?

EzineArticles is the king of article directories and as I said earlier, you can look up article directories by Alexa rank and pick 2 through 5 to round out your list. There are some sites that are easier to use than others so play around a bit at you’ll find a short list that works for your style and preference.

All these tips and tricks will make article marketing easier and more effective for you, but the most important thing is to just write. The internet marketer who consistently writes decent articles and submits them regularly, will ALWAYS beat the perfect article writer who publishes every once in a while.

On top of that, the more you write and publish, the better you will get at article marketing, so don’t worry at the start. Just begin and publish and you’ll look back later and thank me:-)

Small Business Internet Marketing – 2 Costly Web Design Mistakes All Business Owners Should Avoid

Did you know that many small businesses sabotage their online marketing efforts before they ever begin?

They do this by either overspending, or underspending, on website design services. In either circumstance, these websites rarely realize a positive return on investment. This very often leads business owners to mistakenly conclude that their business cannot benefit from online marketing.This article will show why these websites should be avoided by business owners who want to market their goods or services online.

Mistake #1: Hiring Overpriced Web Designers The first mistake that many businesses make is wasting their marketing budget on website creation.

Web designers regularly charge small businesses as much is $5000 or more to for websites that offer little or no marketing value. And while web designers often create beautiful websites, the costs can be astronomical. In the worst case scenarios, small business owners will spend their entire online budget just building a website. Once small businesses fall into this trap they end up with a nice looking site that gets no traffic and makes no sales.Remember, website creation and online marketing are two entirely different things.

Mistake #2: Signing up for free website, often through large directory services that sell advertising:

Free websites usually perform just as poorly as overpriced ones. Very common problems include:Free sites usually include paid advertisements that distract visitors from and derail the sales process. Most people visits small business websites because they are at least considering spending money on their services. The last thing any small business wants is to have visitors click on ads and leave the website before that visitor becomes a customer.Also, free websites are usually very poorly optimized for search engines…so they attract very little traffic and convert very few visitors into customers. The offer of a free web-page can be tempting to many business owners. But it is important to remember that without targeted traffic any website is nothing more than a business expense. A website needs to be optimized to get traffic and also to help turn visitors into customers.

Effective websites get real results. When small business approach web design from a marketing point of view they get better results. Online marketers understand that websites must be positioned to attract targeted traffic. Effective websites also incorporate direct marketing principles by including a strong call to action of every page. Lastly, these sites are reasonably prices so small businesses can invest their marketing budgets on actual marketing activities instead of site design!

Effective marketing websites are positioned to attract targeted visitors (traffic – usually by showing up at the top of the search engines for relevant search terms). They also have a strong call to action on every page. Each call to action invites a direct response, moving visitors through a sales funnel designed to get more customers.

To recap, spending several thousand dollars or more on website design is counterproductive for many businesses when the sites are designed without any consideration given to marketing effectiveness. Web design alone is not a profitable marketing expense. Rather than spending $5000 to build a website, most small businesses are better off spending $1000 on website design and $4000 to drive targeted prospects and convert those prospects into hanging customers.Free websites are also counterproductive most of the time They are usually rank very poorly for important keywords limiting their ability to rank high in the search engine. As a result, many business remain virtually invisible to potential customers searching for their services online.

Investing in a high-quality, reasonably priced direct response marketing website is usually the most profitable approach for small businesses. With a proper website in place, a businesses invest in marketing activities that help it grow.