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February 13, 2008

Recession Marketing Part 2: Beating the Recession

Last time, we talked about the four major categories of marketing and the importance of balancing your marketing effort. So where do you begin? If you had the time and resources to only pursue one avenue of marketing, make it internet marketing; it’s one of the least expensive and most effective ways to get your name out there and it has the potential to reach the full spectrum of your client demographic.

There are four crucial investments you need to make to ensure a long-lasting return on your internet marketing. These include a professionally designed website, press releases, articles, and social media marketing.

Think of your website just like you would a brick-and-mortar location. What are some of the most important considerations when opening a store?

  1. You want a good location that’s easy for your customers to find. 
  2. The storefront should have good curb appeal; it should capture the attention of prospective customers and be pleasing to the eye.
  3. The interior of the store should be easy to navigate, and customers should be able to find what they want quickly and easily
  4. Maximize your layout by positioning items so that customers can find other products or services on the way to their original objectives.
  5. You should have a quick and painless means of capturing customer information so that you can follow up with them in the future. (Ever given your name and phone number to a sales rep while checking out?)

The same timeless principles above apply just as readily to your website.
Location: Your domain name should be short and to the point. The longer and more difficult it is to spell or remember, the less likely it is that the customer will ever make it there.

“Curb appeal”: Your front page is your image. It should convey the order and professionalism you want your company to convey to your customers.

Layout/Navigation: Your website must be easy to navigate. Customers who can’t find what they want generally leave a website after SIX SECONDS, never to return.

Optimization: Buddy up your products. If you have a product that sells very well and a product that’s suffered in the past, place them close together in your site navigation. Coupling a popular product with a lesser-known product will dramatically boost your traffic and sales for less popular lines.

Lead capturing: Placing your company’s phone number in a highly visible location on your front page and placing a tasteful contact form in a prominent location will increase the amount of leads you get by as much as 300% in many cases. Better still, offer coupons, a free quote, a free newsletter packed with useful tips, or a chance to win a product or service to entice visitors to complete contact information.

Now that you’ve finished your website, you need to get the word out to customers. Of course, you’ll want to do this in the most powerful, long lasting way possible for the least amount of money.

Well written, internet optimized press releases and articles are an incredibly powerful means of getting publicity, generating buzz, and attaining highly qualified leads for your business. Unlike running an article or a press release in a print publication, press releases and articles on the internet stay on the web permanently, getting you traffic and qualified leads for months or even years to come.

An experienced PR firm will get your press releases into venues such as Google News, Yahoo News, MSN News, and Reuters, and your articles into high traffic information sites such as about.com, ehow.com, and work.com. If the pieces are properly optimized, they’ll include a link back to your website and tastefully include keywords related to your business to boost search engine results.

Lastly, we have social media marketing. Think of it as business networking online. By utilizing pre-existing networks such as Face Book, MySpace, LinkedIn, and business forums, and even creating your own business blog, you can forge partnerships, acquire affiliates, and generate word of mouth with thousands of prospects and business owners. Better still, you can repurpose all of those excellent articles and press releases as blog content.

Author:  Jonathan Cox is a marketing analyst and consultant for Xeal Precision Marketing. He has ten years experience in the marketing, design, and IT industries. www.xeal.com

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