Small Business Online Marketing
...A Startling Fact About Going Broke On The Web
This week I was giving small business online marketing advice to a Westerner who lives in Asia. He built a website that has been producing enough money for him not to have a job.
He had been following a very successful website development program since 2004 and arrived early enough to the online business creation frenzy in the last decade to benefit from the early run up.
Away in Malaysia, he was living his passion and writing about it - biking as a way of life and making a living with it. Then the air went out of his tires.
In the last couple of years his main provider of traffic to his online business decided to change software logic and now, from one day to the next for all intended purposes, his websites have disappeared from sight. You cannot find them anymore in search results if you're interested in cycling in Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, where they sat atop numerous competition just a few months ago. None of his exclusive travel tour guidelines show up for biking through Laos and exotic Malaysian islands. His over 650 web pages and nearly 1 million words of travel advice for one particular site - POOF! - gone, as if from existence.
Business has dried up. "I have been working my butt off the last 3 months to get the bicycle site back on the rails and, as a result, last weekend almost all my pages have been slammed," he recounts. This month he generated a grand total of $38 in advertising revenue for all of his websites. "This year the queries for our tours have also been slammed down. There's little money for me in my Chinese bank account. The future is ink black. I see virtually no light at all...I have no faith in it anymore... I have my days being depressed, have nights I can't sleep."
This is the reality of building an online company without a sound small business online marketing strategy to begin with.
What Does A Small Business Online Marketing Strategy Look Like?Your small business online marketing strategy must pivot NOT around the subject of finance, sales, production, management, legal permits or employees. It must pivot around the subject of leadership. Know where you're headed before you start executing on any strategy. In marketing what matters most is the direction of innovation. When you know what makes you new, it is then easier to make you shiny.
Shiny and new is easy to promote.
What makes you the innovator in your market space? What is going on in the mind of your ideal customer whom you aim to target for your commercial offers? Have you become part of this person's dialogue? Can you verbalize what this person is thinking to make him think, "Goodness! It's as if you're reading my mind!"
A small business online marketing strategy that works stars with intimately knowing the mind of your target audience. It does not begin with conventional or even innovative tactics for communicating your offers to these individuals, such as via phone, postcards, press releases, email, social networks, etc. These are important but secondary. What is most critical is understanding the context in which your conversation with this individual is going to take place and how you can distinguish yourself from the crowd to make the dialogue of supreme value to this ideal person.
If for 8 years, as I told this business owner, your site has been making money because there was demand for your information, and now the only change that has turned things upside down for you is that a search engine has put you on the back shelf over an algorithmic regulation that made you disappear, then in no way does that mean that those who used to be interested in you are no longer there, right? They're simply no longer accessible to you via that search engine in the same way they were before.
I know this is obvious, but often the most obvious things are not so obvious to the one being affected by catastrophic change. So, the question ought to be, how do you regain access to the original crowd of prospects that were interested in you before, without having exclusively to use solely one source for all of your traffic? How do you tap the great world network of computers to regain access to all those eyeballs without relying entirely on just one source ever again?
Regrettably he had never built a sizable enough list of contacts in 8 years to keep himself afloat. Had he done so, I wager he'd still be in business because the customer is the business and the customer list is the tangible information asset that defines the business. But there was salvation for him still in spite of these small business online marketing strategy mistakes. It's just that it's harder to get up from a near knock out punch than from an unexpected jab.
So, if you actually have a viable set of information - viable because people, for instance, still want to bike their way through the islands of Malaysia, etc., whether an old website is still online or not to tell them how best to do it - then the issue here is how do we get this business to reposition its marketing assets to regain some leverage? How can you repurpose all the knowledge you have on record to produce business for yourself again?
You do this initially via perceived differentiation.
You start with entering the conversation that is already going on in your customers' minds and then finding new places where to share your innovative distinctiveness to benefit them most. That's where the "new and shiny you" can make its best and most lasting impact. The soundness of your small business online marketing strategy hinges on this.
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