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Internet Marketing Failing? Let’s Take a Look at What You’re Doing Wrong

StrategyDriven Internet Marketing Article
 
Even the strongest businesses in the world have had their weak moments. Maybe things aren’t going so well with your business at the moment. Perhaps it’s just one factor of your business that isn’t performing as well as it should be. If we look at the most common elements that come into play when things aren’t going amazingly for any given business, it quite often has to do with poor Internet marketing.

Many business owners are becoming cognizant of just how important Internet marketing is. But a lot of them are making a bunch of mistakes. One of those mistakes was assuming that Internet marketing would bring them immediate success and riches. This sort of attitude betrays a sort of ignorance about how Internet marketing really works and how it should be approached. This can cause a lot of errors when it comes to the marketing campaign as a whole.

So perhaps it’s time that you took a serious look at your Internet marketing campaign! If your marketing hasn’t brought you the return you were hoping for, then it’s crucial that you take a close look at things and perhaps rethink your approach. After all, most digital marketing methods out there aren’t exactly cheap. And that’s fine, as long as it can actually bring results, right?

StrategyDriven Internet Marketing Article
 
Internet marketing isn’t the magic wand that a lot of businesses seem to think it is. It needs to be done properly. You can throw all the money you want at your campaign, but if it’s going in the wrong direction then you might as well be throwing your cash into a black hole. We’re going to take a look at some of the most common and severe fundamental problems that many modern businesses have with their digital marketing approach. If you start to get feelings of recognition as you read through this article, then it might be time for you to make some serious changes to your marketing techniques!

Overestimation

I made a brief mention of this above, but it’s worth going into a little more detail. Essentially, a lot of businesses out there massively overestimate the power of Internet marketing. Yes, if done right, it can be very powerful. But the fact of the matter is that Internet marketing is vulnerable to many of the same sort of flaws you see in any other medium.

StrategyDriven Internet Marketing Article
Photo courtesy of Infusionsoft Sales & Marketing via flickr

Internet marketing isn’t going to guarantee you a truckload of new customers. A lot of people understand this when it comes to working with advertising in other media, because they’re more used to have ineffective, say, a television advert or a newspaper advert can be. Most people will probably overlook those sorts of ads, right? Well, the same goes for most kinds of Internet marketing. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t invest in them! It just means that you have to be careful not to commit one of the most common mistakes in this field: that of overestimating the results you’re going to get.

Temper your expectations! You may even have started reading this article because you thought you would get hundreds of thousands of new customers from your campaign. This sort of thinking may have given you a false impression of the success of your campaign: it might be that it’s working as good as it can – it’s just that your expectations are unrealistic!

The DIY approach

A lot of business owners seem to be working under the assumption that Internet marketing is easy. They’re also looking for any way they can find to save some money. Well, it’s true that it’s possible to do your own Internet marketing. And, with that in mind, you can cut a lot of costs if you do take this approach. But the fact is that Internet marketing is much more complex than many of these business owners realize.

StrategyDriven Internet Marketing Article
 
If you want to take on this task by yourself, then you should really be an expert at this sort of thing. If you’re not, you could be wasting a lot of time with ineffective marketing techniques. Remember that the right Internet marketing company has a lot of connections in the marketing industry, whereas you’re likely to have none at all. If you do want to take this approach, then you should make sure you really know what you’re doing. Look into taking an online course in digital marketing to boost your skills and knowledge.

The substandard marketing company

Having said all of this, working with a bad marketing company could be even worse than taking the reigns yourself! While there’s a lot to be said about the many problems that overconfidence in your own abilities can bring, there is also much to be said about putting too much confidence in the hands of those who claim to be experts. Just as in any other industry, there are companies in this field that simply don’t know what they’re doing. Not every Internet marketing business is some angel that will be able to save your business.

StrategyDriven Internet Marketing Article
 
You need to make sure that you’re signing up to work with an incredibly good Internet marketing company. These guys don’t come cheap, after all! You need to keep an eye out when it comes to these companies, because there are a bunch of potential problems that could really put a spanner in the works. What if their customer service is terrible? What if the methods they use to get results work only in the short term? And what if they’re using ‘black’ techniques? (More on that in just a moment!) You should ensure that you’re checking the online reputation of these companies, as well as the feedback they’ve received from previous clients.

Villainous techniques

Perhaps you’ve heard the term “black hat” before when you’ve explored the realm of Internet marketing. You may even know that it’s bad, though you’re not entirely sure why exactly that is. As clichéd as it may be, “black” Internet marketing techniques are bad and “white” Internet marketing techniques are good – or, perhaps, to be more accurate, “black” is illegal and “white” is legal. (And we’re talking in terms of search engine rules, not the actual judiciary reality of the real world!)

StrategyDriven Internet Marketing Article
Photo courtesy of freezelight via flickr

Essentially, “black hat” or “black label” Internet marketing methods (and they’re usually SEO-based) actively use the sort of techniques that spam search engine algorithms with the sort of content that used to provide shortcuts to the very top of search engine rankings. Keyword stuffing, false leads, and unethical link sharing and selling are all parts of this game. Of course, black hat and black label SEO don’t often produce results, because companies like Google are very wise to their games these days. So you need to ensure that you’re looking into white hat and white label SEO if you want your campaign to go anywhere in the long-term.

“SEO” and “social media” are just buzzwords, right?

An alarmingly common problem is that business owners often find themselves trying a little too hard to go against the grain. Yes, you should be unique in your approach. But it’s possible to take that too far. If you’re of the opinion that SEO and social media are mere buzzwords as opposed to things that can actually help your marketing in big ways, then you’ve definitely gone a little too far from the beaten track!

StrategyDriven Internet Marketing Article
 
Without the use of SEO and social media, you’re throttling the efficacy of your digital marketing campaign. And I mean really throttling. Like, Homer-Simpson-choking-Bart-Simpson level throttling. SEO and social media are what help your digital marketing breathe and expand to new corners of the Internet. Don’t try to be so unconventional that you don’t use these at all.

Problems with your business

And so we come to the least fun possibility of the lot. The one that’s probably the hardest the solve of all of them. Let’s say your marketing isn’t actually flawed. Perhaps you’re working with the best Internet marketing company in the business. You’ve invested in all the correct tools and employees, and at a reasonable price, too. You have all the data you need to make the right decisions. But business still doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. An SEO audit didn’t reveal any problems with your marketing approach, so what could the problem be?

StrategyDriven Internet Marketing Article
 
Unfortunately, it could very well be the case that the problem is with your business. After all, all the great marketing in the world simply isn’t going to help you out that much if your website, product, or service really isn’t that up to scratch.

But how exactly can you tell if this is the problem? Well, this is why you need powerful analytics for your website and Internet marketing campaign. If people are being directed to your business in droves, then you should be able to tell. If they are, but not enough people are actually clicking through to complete a purchase, then this is a sign that something is wrong with what you’re offering, or how you’re offering it, as opposed to something being wrong with the marketing itself. In this case, you’re going to have to do some market and customer research in order to pinpoint the problems you’re having!

Building Residual Income By Franchising Your Business

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship ArticleThe vision for every entrepreneur is to eventually figure out how to scale to the point where the day to day business isn’t reliant on the owner every minute of every day.  For many, this objective never comes to fruition as the business is structured in a way where the business owner is consumed and literally devoured by the entity.  The business owner becomes an employee in reality and the business never grows beyond what that business owner is able to accomplish with their own two hands.  The E-Myth, by Michael Gerber, says it best, to build a business, one must figure out how to get themselves OUT of the business before they can start to work ON the business.  Franchising is a the ultimate definition of scale where a business owner removes themselves completely from operational responsibilities in order to become a coach to others who wish to enter the world of entrepreneurship.  The reason why franchising lends itself to scalable, high-residual income is the same reason that Larry Ellison has a net worth of $49.6 billion and a boat that is larger than some countries.  Once you are able to create the formula for what you do and replicate that formula through scaled growth, you have achieved the ability to generate income for your intellectual property.

Franchising is a unique vehicle in that it allows businesses that traditionally are not scalable, such as restaurants, retail and service businesses to become scaled through franchisee’s investment and willingness to manage the local business.  When you franchise a business, you create a vehicle that supports residual income through long term relationships with independent franchise ownership and contiguous brand equity.  Franchisees pay a fee to you as the franchisor for the rights to your intellectual property and brand recognition in addition to making the investment in opening the new franchise location of your business model.  Where the residual income is derived from franchising is that a franchisee typically commits to a 10-20 year relationship where they are agreeing to pay a percentage of their revenues on a weekly or monthly basis.  In addition, many Franchises also require franchisees to purchase products and business items from the franchisor as well which may be sold at a profit to the franchise network.  This is where residual income is generated and at the time where a franchise system becomes self-sufficient is when the business owner can step out of day to day operations entirely and focus on building the business and moving the company forward.  Visionary entrepreneurs who leveraged franchising to expand such as John Hewitt in the tax preparation business or Ray Kroc in the hamburger business were most likely not the best tax preparers or burger flippers, they were great at finding scale and achieving residual income for their ideas.

To franchise a business one must be in a position where they have the right formula in place, systems, processes and procedures to be able to teach a third party how to do what you do.  In many cases, I’ve found that business owners don’t realize that franchising is a viable expansion model and that they could achieve this residual income sooner than expected.  My advice is always to let the market drive this decision of whether to franchise your business, if people are asking for what you do in their market and how to invest in your business, the franchise expansion model needs to be on the table.

For more information on how to franchise your business, visit Franchise Marketing Systems: www.fmsfranchise.com/


About the Author

Christopher James ConnerChristopher Conner, President of Franchise Marketing Systems has been in the franchise industry since 2002 working with several hundred different franchise systems in management, franchise sales and franchise development work. His experience ranges across all fields of franchise expertise with a focus in franchise marketing and franchise sales but includes work in franchise strategic planning, franchise research and franchise operations consulting.  To read Christopher’s complete biography, click here.

This Is How You Can Grow Your E-commerce Store

If you have an E-commerce store, chances are, you’d like to expand and grow. Everybody wants to make more money and get more conversions, right? Here are a few ideas that can help you to achieve the success you want:

Make It As Easy To Check Out As Possible

Make it as easy as you possibly can during the check out process. Just because somebody is checking out, doesn’t mean they won’t change their mind if it’s taking too long. Go through it yourself and make it as simplified as possible to stop people from abandoning their cart and going elsewhere. This could mean offering a guest check out rather than forcing people to sign up with you, for example. However, there are a few things you might need to change.

Show Complementary Products

Make sure you find a way to show complementary products on the page as a way of up-selling. Show the customer what others have bought, or what goes well with what they’ve bought. This can help you to achieve more sales. If you’re a clothing company, you could show complementary shoes with a particular dress, for example.

Offer Coupons And Discounts

Offer coupons and discounts for certain things. For example, signing up to your newsletter, or even birthday discounts to loyal customers. You could even offer discounts when somebody recommends a friend. Many stores are also offering point systems, so customers can earn themselves a free product after so many purchases. The following infographic can give you even more useful information!


Infographic Created By Red Stag Fulfillment

9 Keys to Success Strategy Guide

1. Start with a Clear Purpose.

Successful entrepreneurs are driven by a purpose bigger than themselves. While they realize they need to make money to be sustainable, none of the 100 entrepreneurs we interviewed mentioned money as a primary driver. It is not what motivates them. Instead, they want to do something they are passionate about, solve a problem that intrigues them, create jobs in their town, provide phenomenal customer service, and change the world in their own way.

2. Build on What You Know.

Successful entrepreneurs build companies in industries they understand. About one-third of the entrepreneurs we interviewed worked in the industry in which they started their business. Another third had worked in a related industry. The remaining third were serious and frequent users of the products, so they understood the industry from the customer’s perspective. The better you know your industry, the greater your chances for success.

3. Launch Opportunities Not Ideas.

Ideas and business opportunities are not the same thing. Our business failure rate is high because people launch ideas. A true business opportunity meets the conditions of the NERCM test: (1) Need, (2) Experience, (3) Resources, (4) Customers, and (5) Model. Your chances for success go up significantly when you prove there is a need for your product, you have adequate experience, you bring together sufficient resources, you have customers committed to buy, and your business model is sound.

4. Develop Your Supporting Cast.

Successful entrepreneurs thrive on the experience of others. They recruit talented individuals to fill in the gaps in their skill set. They build teamwork at three levels: (1) they create a “Brain Trust” of mentors with expertise they need, (2) they build a core team of partners who join them in the venture, and (3) they develop strategic partnerships with individuals and companies who can help them grow their business. Talented teams can go further and faster than any individual working alone.

5.Maximize All Available Resources.

Effectiveness is achieving important company objectives. Efficiency is doing it with as few resources as possible. Successful entrepreneurs are masters of efficiency – they have a real knack for finding and utilizing a host of resources other than money. They borrow rather than buy, defer compensation, partner with their first customers, negotiate excellent terms with suppliers, and use someone else’s plant rather than build one – they think resources first, cash second.

6. Work with a Zealous Tenacity.

Successful entrepreneurs are high energy people. They have two related and vital qualities: (1) a tremendous zeal for their business, and (2) a dogged tenacity to win. Zeal is the fire that fuels the venture, and tenacity is the trait that produces the results. These two qualities combined get you through the challenges of building a business and dramatically increase your chances for success.

7. Build a Community of Raving Fans.

Customers approach companies with preconceived notions of how they should be treated. If their expectations are met, they are basically satisfied. The problem is, satisfied customers are not always loyal customers – they will patronize competitors’ businesses as well. Giving customers more than they expect to receive will set you apart from your competitors and help you create a community of raving fans that love your business.

8. Pivot to Multiple Revenue Streams

Winning entrepreneurs continue to seek out and develop multiple streams of revenue. They do this by (1) offering related products to their growing customer base, (2) finding new markets for their growing product line, and (3) utilizing their growing resources to create new ventures. Over time, they end up juggling a reasonable number of projects in the same or related industries. Having multiple revenue streams reduces the vulnerability of a single product line, and increases the chances for long-term success.

9. Serve Your Broader Community

Successful entrepreneurs are intimately involved in the fabric of their communities. They are using their resources to assist individuals and organizations that need their skills, experience and expertise. They are addressing issues in education, literacy, health care, and the environment. Their communities end up saying, “This business supports us, so let’s support this business,” even though this was not the original intent of the service offered. Serving communities is good for everyone.


About the Author

Mike GlauserMike Glauser is an entrepreneur, business consultant and university professor who has built successful companies in the retail, wholesale, and consulting industries. His passion is helping people create successful businesses, gain financial freedom, and live the life of their dreams. His latest book, Main Street Entrepreneur: Build Your Dream Company Doing What You Love Where You Live (Entrepreneur Press), is a roadmap for doing exactly that. Learn more about Mike at: www.mikeglauser.com.

4 Failure Points that Can Undermine Your Business – Failure Point 4: Don’t Close Your Ears to Experts

When I launched my second business, a publishing company called Sigma Communications, I was filled with passion but knew next to nothing about publishing a magazine. Without proven competence, I desperately needed guidance. Sure enough, I came to learn that the Chairman Emeritus of Time Warner, Dick Munro, was in the neighboring office. I could not imagine a better advisor for our startup publication and decided to introduce myself.

As I walked down the hall for our initial meeting, I wondered if someone of his stature would take the time to speak to an entrepreneur new to publishing. It turned out that Dick was more than willing to open up to me. He listened carefully as I told him about my idea for my magazine. But I was surprised when he cautioned me that publications usually take a long time to become profitable.

“You’ve got very lofty goals,” Dick said. “When we started Sports Illustrated, we didn’t make a profit for six years. Are you prepared to wait that long? Do you have enough funding to last six years, if necessary?”

I assured Dick that we would do whatever was needed to make our journal successful. In the back of my mind, I had a different thought: We had launched USI and turned a profit in four months. Why couldn’t we accomplish the same with Sigma? I was determined to beat the normal ramp-up to profitability in the publishing industry.

By the close of our discussion, Dick agreed to be our advisor. He immediately started reaching out to his network and introduced us to the publisher of Garden Design magazine. Garden Design‘s publisher was amazingly friendly and generous with his time and knowledge.

As he took us through the mechanics of starting a publication, he, too, explained that magazines take a long time to make money. First, we would need to build an audience. Then, we’d have to sell advertising space. He warned us that revenue from advertising would not start flowing immediately, and even then, it could be just a trickle for several years as we built our subscriber base.

Garden Design‘s publisher was straightforward and very honest. He shared that publishing a magazine was an ongoing challenge. Achieving profitability was a constant struggle with progress measured in years, not months. Because I was used to moving at breakneck speed and expecting immediate returns, I felt we could outperform the publishing industry norm. Rather than listening to my advisors, I allowed my passion for our magazine to distort my views about timing, funding, and reaching breakeven – a fatal mistake.

My unbridled enthusiasm for becoming a publisher, combined with my lack of distinctive competence, put blinders on me. I did not heed the advice of industry experts with superlative track records. Allowing my passion to overrun the common sense of listening to my advisors was Failure Point #4.

4 Failure Points that Can Undermine Your Business

In this series we have shared four failure points that can undermine the efforts of even the most seasoned entrepreneurs. Why not learn from my mistakes?

  • Failure Point #1: Starting a business based on your passion, rather than building a business based on your distinctive competence.
  • Failure Point #2: Convincing yourself that “the world will beat a path to your doorstep” without securing preorders to prove your business model.
  • Failure Point #3: Taking the risk to launch a business without sufficient funding to reach breakeven.
  • Failure Point #4: Allowing your passion to overrun the common sense of listening to your advisors

About the Authors

Ed “Skip” McLaughlinEd “Skip” McLaughlin is the founder of four businesses and is currently running Blue Sunsets LLC, a real estate and angel investment firm. He bootstrapped his first business, United Systems Integrators (USI) Corporation, a corporate real estate outsourcing firm, and grew it into an Inc. 500 company. In 2001, Ed earned Entrepreneur of the Year honors from Ernst & Young. In 2005, he sold USI to Johnson Controls, a Fortune 100 company, and at that point, became CEO of JCI’s Global Workplace Business for the Americas. A member of the Board of Governors for Tufts Medical Center, Ed founded its David E. Wazer Breast Cancer Research Fund. He graduated from the College of the Holy Cross, where he is a member of the Board of Trustees. Active in philanthropy, Ed lives with his wife in Connecticut and has three adult children. Contact Ed at [email protected] or connect with him on Twitter @purposeisprofit.

Wyn LydeckerWyn Lydecker is the founder of Upstart Business Planning, where she works with entrepreneurs to develop plans that answer the questions investors ask most often. Previously, she was Managing Director of Business Plans International in New York and Co-Director of the Small Business Resource Center at Norwalk Community College. Wyn has an MBA in finance and marketing from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a BA in economics from the University of California at Santa Barbara. She serves on the board of a local nonprofit she helped found, At Home In Darien. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and has two adult children. Contact Wyn at [email protected] or connect with her on Twitter @upstartwyn.