To become a savvy Internet marketer, you must first find ways to develop and expand your use of the Internet and build stronger bonds with the aide of technology. By mastering the use of technology, you will be able to discover new skills to advance your marketing techniques, effectively increase sales, strengthen and build new relationships, increase customer service, and amplify your free time. They say the sky is the limit when you jump into Internet marketing. I say, “Check to see if your chute is working.” Be sure to minimize all the risks associated with Internet marketing with strategic planning and by being prepared. Futurist John Nesbitt coined the phrase, “High tech, High touch,” over 15 years ago. It is the paradox for this virtual age, the age of the “Technology Revolution.” Are you working a network or being worked by a network? Should you use “traditional” ways of networking in spheres of influence, groups, organizations, etc., or should you choose to market on the Internet? Keep in mind that merely obtaining a Web site is not the ultimate solution to sitting back, picking up your feet and waiting for the dough to roll in. It won’t happen! The theory of, “If you build it, they will come,” doesn’t hold true with Web sites. The chance of someone surfing to your site is like finding a needle in a haystack, unless you have properly built your site, then you may reduce it to a brick in a haystack. You have to be network savvy and follow some key steps to ensure the success of your Internet marketing plans. First, do you own your own domain name, or are you sharing one? It is extremely inexpensive to own your name and register it. The cost of registering is about $15 annually. Try Directnic.com to see if your desired domain name is available for purchase. Then there is the name thing. Lauralynnburke.com or [email protected]? Which name makes a better first impression? I believe the first one that sounds like you own the whole project and you’re not clipping off of someone else’s. Second, is your site a stand-alone site? Ask yourself, “What will bring others to my site? How will they know my Internet address and what will bring them to my site out of the millions and millions of sites posted in today’s market?” It’s simple: You must market your Web site. The following strategies will show you how you can become more productive and obtain higher efficiency through networking. Promote your Web address It’s imperative that you print your Web site on your business cards. In fact, all printed materials that you hand out must have your Web address on it. Get opinions Ask everyone you come into contact with, the question, “Have you seen my new Web site? If not, please check it out. I’m really proud of it and I value your opinion.” You may have already asked family, friends, co-workers and neighbors to go to your site to not just peek at it, but to fully check it out because you value their opinion. Although you may or may not utilize their suggestions, you may receive valuable pointers and it’s a way to get them to check out your site without selling them and without pressure. Also, if they read it, they may find themselves interested in your products or services. Offer them a discount for assisting you in checking out your site. Hyperlinking and partnering with other sites By hyperlinking together with other Web sites to assist in marketing your products or services, you can quantify your marketing efforts. Partnering is very critical to your Web site’s traffic and bringing in new sources of clients. Your customers/clients are looking for ways to partner and build strategic relationships, learn how to analyze these relationships, determine the benefits and outweigh what could be potential pitfalls. It becomes extremely important to hone your personal networking skills because you need to partner with high-profile Web sites to bring your clients to other sites. This can make or break your Internet sales. The stronger your links to other sites are, or theirs to yours, will command how many qualified site seers you bring to your site. Linking do’s and don’ts Daniel Harris stated in Kinko’s Impress, “One of the most common violations involving hyperlinking is using a trademark or logo without permission.” Another issue he mentions is framing. Framing allows the user to return to your site after visiting another site. This can lead to confusion as to whether the linkage is an endorsement or an affiliation. This goes without saying, but don’t link to any site that fringes on being unethical, immoral or illegal. Harris also noted, “Because the laws protecting intellectual property were passed long before there was an Internet, the application of those laws to hyperlinks is being made on a case-by-case basis by judges trying to apply the statutes to the new technology.” Do you have meta tags? Does your Web site have, what the industry techies call, “meta tags?” What a meta tag is, is a hidden electronic tickler system for your Web site. It is how search engines locate your site. You choose approximately 40 words or so that make reference to your site. By attaching these keywords to your site with the use of meta tags, it allows these keywords to act like reticular activators or “ears” for every person who enters one of those words when searching for information. When someone is looking for your information, your site’s Web address will come up as a match. These can be one of your most valuable features. A Web page without meta tags is like having a dictionary without letters on the top of the pages guiding you to the precise word you are looking for. Effectively handle leads How you handle your leads is extremely important. Do you treat them with value? These leads are as important as any other sales leads. They must be broken down into two categories—qualified and not qualified. The qualified lead is a warm lead and a much easier lead to convert into a sale. It’s also much more valuable. These leads are derived from specific questions asked and answered at your site. For example, if you are selling notions for high schools and your Web address is marketing for someone interested in making extra money versus a site that states, “Are you interested in earning extra funds by assisting in the following sale of notions to local high schools in your area?” The former one is a more specific site. Responses off of this type of site are much easier to convert into a sale or representative, because the client will already have the basic information and knowledge about what it is you’re looking for or selling. The first one doesn’t say much and could cover a whole array of opportunities, so these responses will be less serious and more of the inquisitive nature. Concentrate on image Site image is important! You have 10 sec. to capture their attention. The design and layout of the site represents you! It is the first impression one entering your site forms about you, your company, your product, your service or opportunity. You don’t need all the bells and whistles, but you do need a professional-looking Web site. Professionalism goes a long way. You are on your way. You have obtained your own domain name, you’ve had it professionally designed together with your influence, and you have partnered and co-linked products/plans. You are ready to go! Profile of an Internet user Women also search online differently than men. Statistics demonstrate that women seek Web sites with heavy content in quality of life and health issues. Men shop primarily for information about finances and sports. This is changing, as women are head of households more frequently. What has not changed for women is that they still shoulder the burden of the second shift, taking care of household duties, as well as earning an income, as documented by Neilson, Netratings statistics. “Most Internet marketers miss the boat when it comes to women. Women are multi-taskers. The average woman has 10 min. to surf. She needs to be able to find and review about three new sources, instead of sorting through thousands of things that aren’t relevant to her,” according to Wigdahl-Hahn Melody, founder of Womensnet.net. Melody also notes, “Anyone who wants to market services to women on the Internet had better keep time, ease of use, and multi-function in mind.” Women will also use the Internet during the late evening hours when they have a few moments of free time. Remember, you also have a statistically higher percentage of Generation Xers using the Internet. It’s their playground and something they feel very comfortable with. Many grew up with the Internet. They are confident with its value and view it as an integral part of the way business is conducted. Professions and income will also play a factoring role into the profile of an Internet user. Again, I have to go back to the Generation Xers whose are statistically making an income qualifying them to afford technology as a basic necessity. Instant communication Technology is making it possible to attend meetings, receive information and place orders, all without leaving the home. People at distant separate locations can all share a common experience. Representatives, agents and salespeople can all create and manage national and international Web sites, utilizing technology to assist in every facet of sales and management. People can communicate with one another around the globe quickly and efficiently. In addition, there is tremendous convenience and flexibility in being able to access information 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is “the ease” of communicating, shopping, and researching that makes the Internet so appealing. The “high touch” of technology Technology is not meant to replace live interaction between sales representatives/agents and their customers, prospects and past clients. It is meant to enhance relationships, and save time and money, but not replace the personal (human) touch. Integrated marketing is a strategy of incorporating different marketing methods that complement and reinforce one another. Many mass techniques can be integrated into personal one-on-one approaches. Companies and representatives have discovered that it is most often more powerful to use the comprehensive marketing approach of integrated marketing than a more limited strategy. Laura Lynn Burke has been selected from a nationwide search to be featured in Stepping Stones to Success, a highly successful book series. The book features best-selling authors Deepak Chopra (The Power of Purpose), Jack Canfield (Chicken Soup for the Soul), Dr. Denis Waitley (featured in The Secret) and Laura Lynn Burke (Networkolog) who are joined by other well-known authors each offering time-tested strategies for success in frank and intimate interviews. Laura is also the CEO and founder of Footprints International d/b/a The Mortgage Institute, a training and consulting company designed with you in mind. For more information, call (708) 692-6199.