1001 Newbie - Friendly Tips by Bob McElwain - HTML preview

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I Built It, But Nobody Came; What Now?

"Build  it  and  they  will  come,"  worked  well  as  the  theme  in  the  movie  "Field  Of Dreams" in which Kevin Kostner turned a cornfield into a ballpark; they did come. But that was a tale. Nicely told, but still a tale. In real life, it just is not so. Why does this notion persist?

In the early days of the Web, it was almost true, for there was a far greater demand  for  information  than  supply.  Thus  if  one  put  up  some  half-way  decent content, some people did come. To whatever extent it was true back then, it is nothing but a myth now.

If you built your site believing in this myth, you have a problem. Nobody is coming. Can you change this? Maybe. In some cases, though, it may be best to start  over.  Check  out  the  following  to  see  where  you  stand,  then  take  it  from there.

Site Purpose

Why does the site exist? "To make a profit" is not sufficient. Exactly what is the  site  expected  to  do?  There  are  many  good  answers.  For  example:  To increase sales in my offline business. Or maybe: To grow an online business so that  it  becomes  my  full  time  job.  And  there  are  many  others.  But  "To  make  a profit" doesn't cut it.

How Do You Plan To Achieve This Goal?

You need a business plan of the same sort required in opening a store front on Main Street in your home town. This includes answering a host of questions, and preparing a statement sufficient to make your banker smile and reach for a pen when you ask for a loan. While you likely do not need a banker to open a website,  you  do  need  the  same  definitive  plan  required  of  any  soon-to-be shopkeeper. Some of the questions you need to answer are:

What is my target market? The more narrowly you can focus, the more likely you are to succeed. For example, instead of "Dog Lovers," explore "Doberman Lovers."  The  narrower  the  focus,  the  easier  it  is  to  position  yourself,  and  your business, at the top of the heap.

How will I reach them? Search engines and mutual links are very helpful. But your marketing strategy is usually the key. Again, the narrower your focus, the easier it is to target your promotional efforts, including advertising.

What products will I market? (Please substitute services throughout, if that is what you will offer.) Note products you create will bring greater profits than those you market for others.

How will I position my products relative to the same or similar products? If you  have  narrowed  the  focus  sufficiently,  it  is  much  easier  to  position  yourself above your competition. If you sell better products, this becomes easy.

How will I demonstrate a perceived value in my products greater than that of my competitors? Perhaps by the special nature of the support you offer or your guarantees beyond those expected. Whatever, this must happen.

How will I keep my customers coming back for more? This is fundamental, but simple. Satisfied customers will return, provided you have additional products of interest.

While questions as suggested above need to be answered in all cases, there are others. More important, there are many specific to your particular business. The  answers  must  guide  every  step  so  that  it  is  in  accord  with  the  overall business plan. It is also important that no part of the plan conflict with another; all must lead interactively to the same goal.

An Aside

The  word  used  above  was  "products."  And  you  were  invited  to  substitute "services" for "products."

Note,  however,  that  both  are  plural.  In  this,  there  is  a  difference  between products and services. An artist who provides a graphic you like can expect you to return.

But in selling products, there is a fundamental difference. Some will disagree with me in this, but I am convinced one needs to sell a variety of products. For example, effective advertising opportunities for a single product are limited. Sales must exceed costs, or it's a losing proposition. Given multiple products, you may be able to afford a loss on a first sale that leads to others.

Most single-product sites do not provide a livable income. At best they bring in extra dollars. Which may be exactly what you want. If so, go for it. But if you want to grow your online efforts into a full-time business that provides substantial income, a single product is not usually sufficient.

You  do  not  need  a  shopping  mall,  however.  What  is  required  is  related groups of products that create multiple profit streams. Just as you would expect  one or more such centers to become less profitable over time, you also expect to add further products which become additional profit centers.

If you presently have a single-product site, consider adding additional profit centers  related  to  your  product.  There  is  more  profit  in  adding  products  you create, but you may find an affiliate program or two that work for you. Further, you may be able to create your own personal relationship with other firms. Given sufficient volume, some manufacturers will put your name on what they produce for you.

How To Build Or Modify Your Site

All begins with the domain and product names appropriate to your target. If you are not using names that clearly bring a focus and define a benefit, you may need  to  change  them.  In  any  case  this  will  be  the  initial  point  of  attack.  If  you doubt the importance of names, click here to visit my site.. There are two fine  pieces  on  this  page  by  Dr.  Michael  Fortin  that  will  convince  you  of  the importance of this aspect of opening a new business or fixing one that is broken.

As to the site itself, begin with pencil and paper. Rough out the content for each page including the ad copy which sells a specific product, or opens the door to  other  pages  featuring  separate  products  which  taken  together  are  a  single profit  center.  One  reason  for  organizing  in  this  way  is  that  if  it  becomes necessary, you can drop a profit center from your site without having to rebuild the whole of it.

Since people may enter your site through any page, each needs to sell the business  and  the  product  specific  to  the  page.  That  is,  each  page  must  grab reader attention, raise their interest and draw them quickly more deeply into the page and thus into the site. At any point interest lags, you may lose the visitor. So it is important to sustain, even increase intensity, as the page continues.

There is simply no point in creating even a single website page until your plan has been implemented on paper and the content for all pages ...

1) Is properly targeted

2) Effectively positions both you and the product

3) Grabs and sustains reader interest.

Even if you have a good idea of how you want your pages to look, obtain the help  of  an  artist.  A  good  one  can  indirectly  provide  powerful  support  by enhancing the key points of your plan in the art work itself.

Once your site is up and has been submitted to the search engines, the real task  begins.  Promotion.  A  never-ending  task.  But  if  your  original  plan  is  good, and it is implemented in your site, you have greatly increased the likelihood your promotional efforts will pay off handsomely.

So  back  to  the  point.  If  you  are  among  those  who  have  built  a  site  that  is  not working, or  not working well  enough,  there  are  really  only  two  options.  Build  a plan as suggested above, with your present site in mind. If you can find ways to modify and expand your site to fit the needs of a good plan, go for it. But if you can't, the only viable option is to start over.

I hate to admit it, but both my first and second tries were a total disaster, and have long since vanished. Ask others now successful, and you will find they have been down this road. But all was not in vain. Think of how much more you know about  the  Web  now.  How  much  you  know  about  putting  a  site  together.  And maintaining it. Hey, you're way ahead of another starting his first site. Take the time to build a good plan and a site to match, and you'll soon be right where you want to be: On top!