Unwritten Business Rules for Internet Marketing
Disclaimer: In this article are the opinions of one person who has been marketing on the Internet since 1995. There are probably 100’s of other Unwritten Rules and these are just a few. I’d love to hear yours and your comments to the Rules below.
I think of this primarily for website development and website marketing. There are several unwritten rules that I will attempt to put into writing in plain English so there is an understanding on what one might expect.
Rule #1) There are no guarantees. Just like buying a used car from a stranger internet marketing has no guarantees. In the internet marketing game what works for one website or one business does not necessarily work for all. What needs to happen is your marketing team needs to develop a plan and an execution strategy that can be tested and changed over time. Some of your experiments may fail. You may lose money. You will lose money. But you will gain insights on what does and does not work so you can concentrate more resources on what does work. You will also make money if you have a product or a solution that solves a pain problem for customers are willing to pay for it.
Rule #2) Ongoing work means ongoing work, look at the contract. We (marketers) do not pause or stop work at the end of every 30 days. The internet and the web do not sleep. Successful internet marketing does not happen quickly, and requires a commitment of at least 6 to 12 months. If this is too big of a nut to swallow then you may be better served buying newspaper ads, television, radio or some other type of short term media.
Rule #3) Email is a lousy form of primary communication. It often gets misinterpreted, lost, stuck in a spam folder and loses a lot of communication momentum compared to inflection of voice or face to face body language. Email is a great form of supporting documentation and communication to personal face to face and telephone communication.
Rule #4) Change: If your competition is successful and you are not, then they are probably doing something that you are either not doing or not willing to do. At the same time, the rules would be reversed if you are successful and your competition is not. This is simple to fix but there are 3 points to this bullet.
1. Research your competition and find out what they are doing that is successful and mirror it. For example if there are 2 gas stations on a busy intersection corner then chances are that a 3rd will also do well on that busy corner.
2. Stay focused on your business and give what your clients are asking for vs. focusing too much on your competition. Yes, we want to know what they are up to but 98% of our energy needs to be focused on what we can control and that is our business.
3. If you competition is spending money on marketing to get people to their business then you know what you need to do as well.
Rule #5) Know how to ask the client for money. This can be a delicate endeavor. A lot of times if this is not done correctly relationships can crumble. It is a matter of communication and understanding of each client constraints and needs. Some businesses have a lot of bureaucracy and paperwork that need to be processed in order to be paid. Once those processes are adhered to it usually works out. In other cases some clients have cash flow issues and in the marketing business we have direct control and can have a positive impact to assist with this. Putting additional pressure on a client to pay invoices when you know they are struggling will only put more strain on a relationship. At the same time there comes a point that we have to either fish or cut bait with the client if they cannot pay their bills. We know if the client is generating enough cash to pay their bills, then knowing this helps a lot as far as strengthening the relationship. From a client perspective if a supplier is consistently difficult when it comes to money they will find a new supplier.
Rule #6) Momentum counts. When marketing it is helpful to keep momentum going. If you are building content and buying PPC ads don’t suddenly stop. Google does not like this. If you pause your PPC campaign often Google, in my experience, will punish you if you do it too frequently. They like rich campaigns that keep filling their bank accounts on a regular basis, so too on the organic side they want to see more original content filling their index. Google wants to know that your website(s) are active and maintained, and that high quality content is always being added to the site and other people are sharing it. If you stop this momentum you are sending a red flag to Google that your “website” might be abandoned at some point. I think you are much better off on slowing the momentum vs. stopping it abruptly.
Rule #7) Management of Relationship Management. Watch what people do vs. what they say. I find this very telling early in business relationships. Often if they say they will get back to you by such and such a date and that date comes and goes without communication, you can likely expect more of the same throughout the relationship. (A leopard does not change their spots). This is true with all relationships, but especially true in business and more so in the business of internet marketing. If the client or boss does not follow through on their promises then that needs to be noted. At the same time when they do follow through on their promises that too needs to be noted because the chances are you have found a really good long term partner that you are going to want to keep.
Rule #8) Be easy to do business with. Yes, we all would like the ideal business relationship where we can maximize our time and our dollars, but let’s face it, chances of finding the “perfect” relationship let alone many perfect relationships will be a challenge, we need to accept this. I have accepted it. I have one business partner who makes it so easy to business with that I will stay with her through thick and thin. She never complains, always is cheerful, always flexible and understanding my weaknesses and flaws. She is never judgmental at least from my vantage point. I will always want to do business with her because she has my back.
Rule #8a) Eliminate risk for your clients. Trust is what converts into dollars. Make their decisions easy. Give them your cell number. Be accessible. Show up in the Google search results with your name. Get LinkedIn recommendations. Get Google Places and Google Plus recommendations. Get published on other blogs and websites. Get cited by industry leaders and web sites. All this does is show your authority in your niche. The more authority the less risk in the buyers eyes.
Rule #9) Get a Paypal account and connect it with your bank account. If you plan on doing business on the Internet then Paypal is a must. It is an easy way to pay people and get paid. See Rule #8. Even if you don’t have the immediate need for Paypal today go ahead and get an account today because it takes some time to set up and get approved depending on your online banking configuration. NOT having a Paypal account screams “I’m a NEWBIE take advantage of me because I’m new to the Internet.”