The Basics of Marketing Your Business on the Internet
by John Quill

Marketing on the Internet can be one of most mysterious and confusing things anyone can ever attempt. Unlike the real world, the Internet immediately connects you to a worldwide market. Your website is open 24/7 and can work for you while you do other things. What a fantastic gold mine! However, with millions upon millions of websites currently on the Internet (currently there are more websites than people on earth!) and millions more to come, how is anyone supposed to find your site? 

Effective marketing is the answer, but how do you market on the Internet? If you can, the answer would be an obvious "go for broke". Banner advertisements, PR companies, billboard ads; only your imagination is the limit. However, for those who don't have the same marketing funds as a Microsoft, for example, there must be more efficient ways. 

Press releases and word of mouth are the most common types of advertising that you don't have to pay for. Showing up in your local newspaper, or possibly a national one is excellent advertisement. It lends credibility to your operation that an advertisement just can't buy. Credibility is something that is needed for any type of business to succeed. Credibility is almost always gained by past customers' experiences. I am sure you have suggested a merchant, or a merchant has been suggested to you. So if your users feel that your site is worthy of a good mention, why not make this option available to your user? Word of mouth, or in this case word of "email", is something that can be very effective. 

The best type of advertising is where friends are referring friends to a service they need, and more importantly, want. This is precisely how Amazon.com became a success.

It is also important to have a product that users genuinely want. It is going to be pretty hard to sell refrigerators to Eskimos, and if you do, even harder to get their friends to do the same. Make sure your product appeals to the masses. 

The most effective way to bring traffic to your website is to have a good listing with the major search engines. Most people use the search engines to find what they are looking for. Nothing can pay off like being listed within the top 20 sites on a major search engine. There is actually software which will enable you to do this. (For more information on this subject, return to the main menu and click on the WebPosition Gold link.)

Incidentally, offers to list your site with hundreds of search engines are usually worthless. In fact, people make these offers just to get names to sell to "spammers." What is important is to have a top ranking in the 6-8 major search engines.

Lastly, no matter what you do, always make sure your business is mentioned at every opportunity. Always include business information in your signature of your e-mail. When you send a fax, make sure you use company letterhead. When you send snail-mail, make sure your company name and URL are displayed on the return address. The more people you can get to see your name, the more chance you have of them stopping by. 
 

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