Ten Steps to a Successful Internet Business on a Budget
Is your web site pulling
in the kind of traffic you hope for? If not, take a few steps
in the right direction.
by Joe Spataro
"...We have the latest
marketing data on your site and the board has approved your marketing
budget for the next fiscal year. Let's have a meeting to decide
when the next staff meeting should be."
- Your bedside alarm rings. Wake
Welcome to the real world.
You are short on cash and time,
and you need results as soon as possible.
You have only one reliable employee: YOU!
I have outlined ten "steps"
that you can use to help you be more successful on a shoestring
budget. I have used these ideas every day to build a successful
Internet business and perhaps you can too!!
Find your niche.
Try to identify something that
people need. Look into your own life and see what you
need; maybe other people might need the same thing. When I started
the Homeschool Zone,
my wife and I needed to find a way to educate our two daughters.
In gathering the information to do this, we found many other
people in the same boat. This was a real niche that was being
under served -- an opportunity we jumped at!
Know your product.
Whatever product or service you
are selling, know all about it. If you have found your niche
properly, you are probably already an expert in that area and
have developed expertise over many years. You will also have
passion about your product or service. Doing the marketing research
for your business is fun, because you love it anyway!
Have content, not just ads.
Most website have flashing lights
saying "new," "buy me," "ain't I cute"
-- but the bottom line is that they're just selling stuff.
If someone wants your product or service, give them a reason
to visit you. If you're selling cross-stitch kits, have some
cross-stitch tips and tricks that might be useful. They might
tell their cross-stitching friends, who may stop by, and perhaps
buy some kits.
Offer events and recurring themes.
Once you've persuaded someone
to visit your site, give them a reason to come back again.
You'd never buy a newspaper that always has the same headline
every day. A very successful program on our website is the Craft-of-the-Week,
where each week people can come by and see a new craft for free
that they can try. Since this is a constant feature that is always
changing, people get in the habit of dropping by. People also
get comfortable in visiting you and will develop trust.
Know your customers.
Give your customers an easy way
to give you feedback. When you were in grade school, you probably
preferred the "multiple choice" exam to the "essay
question." People haven't changed since they were kids.
If you just provide an e-mail address, they may not use it. People
like to use click boxes and forms to send you information. Use
this information to get a better idea of what your customers
Develop your community.
Reach out to people who have
already found you. Tell them what you're doing on a regular basis
without coming across as a blatant ad. Newsletters are a great
way to get people to read your material and perhaps re-visit
you. They provide for community building. People in your virtual
community may have good ideas. Your newsletter may provide the
vehicle for their ideas to get out and attract even more people.
A newsletter that serves a niche community is a great way to
fuel the passion you have (see Idea #3)
and to attract the people who feel the same way.
"Help" your way to success / Use the "Power of
As you go from place to place
on the net, see if there are people who have a problem that you
can solve. "Pull the thorn from their claw" and perhaps
they might become a new customer. Perhaps a newsgroup/mail-list
onlooker, with a similar problem, might see your solution. They
may become another customer for you. I find that some of my best
ideas come from the serendipity of interactions with people.
Perhaps you might identify a new way that you can use your core
competency to offer a new service, based on an idea you develop
while helping someone.
Be an expert.
No one knows more about your
business than you. Don't be shy. Expand on Idea #7
and write articles for your own newsletter and/or syndicated
articles in other people's newsletters, just like this one (you're
reading this, aren't you?). Go to newsgroups and listserv discussion
groups, but don't just spew ads for your product. That is such
a turn-off. If you are helpful and knowledgeable, your contact
info in the tag line (see Idea#10)
at the end may provide a route to new business contacts and sales.
Remember to be honest and courteous.
The beauty of the net is the
democratization of information -- allowing the little guy to
have access to a big audience. This is a double edged sword,
however. The "power of e-mail" could backfire, with
the "power of the CC:" rendering your campaign severely
tarnished. The old "Golden Rule" is very important
in any sustainable strategy. Treat people as you would want them
to treat you. Word of mouth is the most powerful marketing weapon
in our arsenal, and we are actually proud to wield it. Don't
throw it away.
Word of Mouth -- The "Signature File"
Help people find you and tell
their friends. Use a signature file for your e-mail. Most e-mail
programs let you create a small text file with
your name, e-mail address and maybe your website address &
motto. Please keep it small! I am often turned-off by a massive
and unwieldy signature file, bigger than the message itself,
which is more of an autobiographical sketch than a signature.
For many, these files have proliferated like the crab grass near
your mailbox. It should be no more than four lines and should
give people a short and easy concept to grasp.
I hope that you have enjoyed
these ideas. Incorporate them into your daily marketing activities.
They should help you develop more clients. Oh, by the way, when
people ask you how you became successful, tell them Joe Spataro
gave you some great ideas! (Idea #7) ;-)
- Joe Spataro is the creator of the Homeschool Zone, HomeBiz, and
many other inter-related family sites at http://www.homeschoolzone.com,
featuring FREE newsletters and many activities and events
for the whole family. You can contact Joe directly at: [email protected].