The question used to be, Do you have a website? Now, the more relevant question is, How do you market your website? It truly isn't a "Build it and they will come" scenario.
If people don't know about your website, they can't visit--and learn about what you have to offer. That's why marketing your website online and offline is just as important as marketing your product or service.
Promoting your site can be simpler than you think. Here are some suggestions:
Many website owners forget about the offline options for marketing. But you need to make yourself visible in the places your target market lives and that means the offline world as well.
- All marketing communication materials should emphasize your URL and entice readers to visit your site. This includes business cards, letterhead, envelopes, brochures, flyers, folders and newsletters.
- Print your web address boldly on the front side of direct mail postcards. Sometimes simply printing your URL in a large, attention-getting style will cause the recipient to turn the postcard over and read the other information you want to share with them.
- You can issue a press release announcing anything new or newsworthy on your site. Maybe you're offering a free report, a free e-course or a unique approach to the marketplace that the media will be interested in.
- On-hold messages are now very popular for directing people to a website, especially with phone systems that use automatic attendants. But live attendants can direct people to your website, too. Make sure they know what information is available and relevant for the caller.
- If you ever get the opportunity to be interviewed on the radio, make sure you find ways to drop your URL. You can say things like, "On my website, www.market-for-profits.com, I offer free marketing articles and products for sale to help grow businesses." Don't just say, "On my website ..." without mentioning the URL. This applies to any interviews you might do with a reporter, editor or producer.
- Some publications will ask you to write a guest column or a feature article related to your expertise. At the end of the column or article they'll usually let you include a few sentences related to your experience and ways to contact you. Obviously mention your website and e-mail there.
- Advertising specialties are great ways to distribute your web address. They include key chains, coffee mugs, mouse pads, pens and pencils, as well as any apparel that might carry your logo or identity.
- You can also promote your URL offline with the following: fax cover sheets, vehicles, billboards, license plate frames, Yellow Page ads, other printed ads, T-shirts, and golf balls and bags.
Online marketing should be done in conjunction with the offline marketing mentioned above. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Even though people are at your site, mention it often within the text of your web copy. This will reinforce it in the readers' minds and help with search engine optimization.
- Mention your website or include it in your signature for all news group, discussion group or forum postings.
- Ask your fusion marketing partners, board members, advisors or other business partners to mention your website on their sites.
- Use online press releases and articles just like the offline method mentioned above.
- Pay-per-click marketing
- Banner advertising on your site, as well as other related sites that your target market visits
- Online directories
- E-mail signatures
Be creative with both your offline and online marketing. Sometimes the best marketing comes from the wild, crazy, extreme or unique ideas that your competition hasn't thought of. Remember the guy who auctioned off his forehead as advertising space for a URL, or the pregnant lady who offered her pronounced stomach for URL placement for a Super Bowl ad website? Now that's guerrilla marketing.
Al Lautenslager is an award-winning marketing and PR consultant and direct-mail promotion specialist. He's also the principle of Market For Profits, a Chicago-based marketing consulting firm. His two latest books, Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days and The Ultimate Guide to Direct Marketing are available at www.entrepreneurpress.com.