In order to succeed at online anything - you have to know and apply the basics of marketing.
Hit me like a brick today. Attended an online course by Sam Clark of Authority Site Center yesterday and it took me off everything else for the rest of the day.
Because it was full of basics and very intense (took almost 3 hours).
He's doing a great job with this. (I'd love to redesign his handouts, but I'm a trained designer, so that's my way of helping - his stuff is fine and readable.)
But then this am (after a good night's sleep) I log on to clear off my emails. and see this really obnoxious one which I somehow opted-in to. Mainly, they had invented a term, were selling services and didn't have a clue. (If you need a clue about modern Internet Marketing, read "ClueTrain Manifesto.) Old style "hit-over-the-head-until-you-pay" marketing - which simply doesn't work in this day of feedback (and traditionally has had only a 2-4% success rate).
These two events prompted this blog post.
Basics of Marketing
1. Purpose of marketing is to create a market - build the channels so commerce can occur, not make the sale happen or convert page-views to buying customers or anything else. You are simply building the channels so they can buy something if they want to.
2. Your sales depend on your ability to hold a conversation. ClueTrain again. You are telling people, "Hey, I've got a solution to your problem - because I had that problem once, too." And if they are interested, and like your value, and think it's worth it - they'll buy your product. If your product is any good, they won't return it. If your product is great, they'll use it and tell their friends about it. If your product is excellent - and you have similar products to offer - they'll be back to try out your other solutions. (Beating someone over the head about how great you are isn't a conversation - it's an argument.)
3. The first step is to build trust - and the second is to let people know you exist. That seems backward, but you have to offer something valuable for free to begin with. Give a valuable gift - this tells people you want to help them. Now, on the Internet, this is often just giving out some good information on your website that they can use. It might be just going into a forum and answering some questions others have - and dropping your link. But that link has to have something valuable there. Some place to go, something to do. So you build something - like a blog with a link which tells someone how to get your product. That simple. And then you promote it by helping people.
4. Your ongoing work is how to keep helping people while organizing it better. That's the core of all marketing and sales and delivery. Those products which continue to sell are ones which continue to help people. But as you get flooded with orders, you have to be able to deliver the goods and meanwhile keep finding more people to help. So that takes some organization. (I like digital products and delivery for just that reason... like print-on-demand books.)
Now, out of those above points, you see how the whole thing holds together. And you can read into these all the SEO and social media and PPC stuff you want to. I'm just talking basics here. What you do with it is your choice (mileage may vary).
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