Remember those Super Bowl and World Cup commercials where you saw talking hand puppets, scantily dressed women, cowboys herding cats and crude lettering on cardboard? Can you actually name one. com company that paid for these millions of dollar/eurodollars for brand awareness ads?
Doesn't this type of marketing remind you of a IPO. com frenzied "drunken sailor school of budgeting" - meaning, spend like a drunken sailor hitting his/her first port of call in years, with no thought other than "brand awareness" coming to mind? Got the picture yet? Want the cliff notes to the rest of my article? Three words repeated from my header - "target customers online."
Some do and don'ts, with the do's first:
Think digital marketing - use keywords your customers may punch in to a search engine to find your site throughout your overall online and offline marketing processes. This forces you to stay focused on your customer niche and ensures context relevancy for your web site. The latter is becoming critical to garner high rankings on Alta Vista, Google and Inktomi.
Feature opt-in e-mail as a centerpiece of your marketing campaign - now is the time to negotiate a 90-120 day media plan with some of the market leaders. Yes Mail (one of our favorites) is offering a discount of 10-30%. And, use HTML rich media, your ad copy will look much better, in turn driving a better click-through results; but only if you are a B2C if B2B then don't use HTML, just plain text.
Immerse your business with the online community - post to Newsgroups announcing a special online contest, promotion or giveaway that builds over a finite period of time. Get those geeks talking in the virtual world - remember the truism of good PR, any PR is better than no PR.
Ask your existing customers where they would recommend your advertising to reach them online. Everybody likes to have their opinions valued - so reach out and ask for their input, you'll be pleasantly surprised.
Ready for some don'ts?
Don't use TV, Radio or Billboards unless you have lots of money to spend (read millions typically). Yes, they work to develop brands, but be aware of the disconnect factor when you are trying to reach online customers. When was the last time you jumped up from the TV set to write down a URL you saw splashed across a screen or stopped your car driving down your local boulevard when you saw a billboard that caught your attention? Not very often!
Don't pay top dollar for banner advertising - negotiate a good deal for yourself and don't believe the sales rep when they tell you all inventory is sold out! There is lots of unsold inventory out there, just look at the number of "house ads" (done for the company who owns the site and published on their site) being run on many web sites. Do some old-fashioned digital horse-trading and leverage your media buy!
Don't base your business on the "high tide raises all boats model" - there is definitely a storm brewing and we don't mean just at your local movie theater with George Clooney starring (sorry ladies). We are telling our clients to batten down the hatches and leverage their marketing dollars as much as possible - the party is over, time to get down to building viable business models based on selling tangible goods and services.
Don't use biz speak verbiage in your marketing processes - if I see another site that has "first mover advantage" quoted throughout the site I am going back to the radio for news/information. Be real, tell people what you do, how you do it and what the value is based on - enabling them to quickly (it's the web ...) understand what your business is all about.