Just like in the 'real world', where you have the choice of newspaper,
radio, business card at the bulletin board at the library, word
of mouth, referrals from various suppliers, etc., on the internet
you also have various options for advertising. Search enging rankings
are one of them.
One client doesn't care about search engine rankings. She makes
horse trailers, built a website, painted it on the side of her
own horse trailer, and goes to horse shows. This is effective
for her, and she doesn't spend time/money trying to rank on search
In our case, web design is a very competitive search phrase,
and we rarely pay to be included in search engines on the phrase
'web design'. We will bid for 'affiliate software' (something
we sell), or 'spinning popup generator' (something else we sell)
and find that ALSO attracts web design clients to our site.
We also make a lot of use of banner exchanges, click exchanges,
and ebay. Ebay doesn't bring clicks to our site, but we do sell
web site packages, and often develop long-term relationships with
the customers who buy one package from us, initially through ebay.
I'm not advising any client to ignore search engines. But, just
as I would not recommend you ONLY advertise on radio, when perhaps
newspapers and flyers would also bring you customers, I am reminding
you that there are a number of advertising alternatives in addition
to search engines. You may find these a great ADDITION to the
traffic you are able to get from search engines, or as a great
replacement while you are working to get search engine rankings.
your web site address (your domain name) on all your correspondence,
including stationery, business cards, literature, brochures, email
your domain name and phone number on promotional items that will
reach your intended customers: magnets, t-shirts, baseball hats,
Most of our housesitting clients are pet owners. We took a
clean empty milk jug, cut a hole in it the size of a fist, then
filled the milk jug with plastic grocery bags, which are always
needed at dog parks. We wrote our website address on the milk
jug, "Compliments of Housesitter.ca" and hung the
milk jug at the entrance/exit of local dog parks. When pet-owners
thought about leaving town, they thought of www.housesitter.ca
and checked us out.
is amazingly inexpensive to have vinyl lettering made to put your
website address on the back window, or sides, of your cars.
the signature attachment in your e-mail messages to list your
web site address.
you have a product or new development that is newsworthy, issue
a news or press release.
your domain name in any written advertising: magazines, newsletters,
a free ebook you can give away, free industry advice you can offer,
a free sample, something, in order to get visitors to give your
email to them, and cause others to recommend your site. (However,
this tactic must be mixed with other tactics; if you only offer
the free advice or ebook, and have no other way to attract visitors,
no one will even know about the free offer.)
visitor e-mail addresses (especially if you are offering the free
ebook or free advice) and request permission to send updates or
you have a regular mailing that goes to your customers or potential
customers, include your website address in it.
a 'Tell a friend' link in your website so, when people do find
your website, they can tell their friends.
a birthday club for your website visitors or their children.
a contest and, in your advertising, mention that the details are
on your web site.
customers who hear your telephone hold message or
voice mail to special features they may want to see on your company
be shy to TALK about your website
your web site regularly to encourage repeat visits look
at how populr blogs are on the internet. Why? Because their content
is updated regularly.
your current customers a referral fee for sending you new customers.
As of October 1, 2005, 31% of our work comes from ebay, 21% comes
from repeat customers, 12% comes from search engines, 7% comes
from unknown sources, and 29% comes from client referrals. We
create (for free) a referral page like this one:
for any client who wants one, code it so we can tell from where
the new customer came, and pay our clients for referring clients
to us. We have found that this advertising is LESS expensive than
most of the advertising we had tried previously (besides ebay).
I offer this affiliate program only to my clients. Justify the
expense by telling yourself that you are hiring dozens of salës
people and paying them only when they sell.
repeat visitors. You know, people coming to your site who have
already been there before. This is something you used to hear
marketing experts talk about a lot. Nowadays, it seems that the
value of repeat visitors has been overlooked. Yet repeat visitors
are usually the people who end up making purchases at your site.
And there are lots of ways to get these valuable repeat visitors.
We get most of ours through updating the content on our website
regularly, by providing follow-up service with clients, and by
giving clients good value for their money.
other websites to link to your starts with content. You write
articles based on your niche, post the content at your site and
share the content with other webmasters. You can do this "on-the-fly"
by including a short footer after your content that tells webmasters
they have permission to reprint your article at their website
or in their newsletter. Be sure to let them know that they need
to include a live link to your site. You may even want to tell
them exactly how to link to your site. (Preferably with a short
description of your site and a hyper linked keyword or two. This
will help search engines determine that the sites are related
and give the link more relevance.)
a product or free membershïp to a competition on another
try, again. If you try something that doesn't work, don't sweat
it. Try something else. I have
(a) advertised in a local newspaper and gotten no calls
(b) done trade shows (and, for my time, made about 10 cents per
(c) ran a contest that NO ONE entered
(d) started a forum (free) that only one person joined
and a number of other things that didn't work. But as we found
things that didn't work, we found things that DID work. Don't
be afraid to fail. Be afraid of not trying, and be afraid of not
adapting as you find what people are and are not responding to.
For our housesitting website, we print business cards and flyers
which we post at community boards and grocery stores, liquor
stores, and, most importantly, pet supply stores in neighbourhoods
where we would like to housesit. You can buy blank business
cards at Staples or Office Depot and make your own at home for
very little money. Most of these get replaced weekly or every
two weeks, so you may want to make a plan where you do this
every other week.
You can go to your local Home Depot and buy corrugated plastic
very inexpensively, cut it to the size you need to make 'Burma
Shave' signs (those of you who are younger can go to http://www.fiftiesweb.com/burma.htm
to find out what a Burma Shave sign is) and post them in neighbourhoods
with high traffic. For instance, for our housesitting business,
ours just say, "Going away? See housesitter.ca".
These are fast and cheap to make and post (but watch out for
city by-laws; if you aren't allowed to post them in public areas,
ask some of your friends in high-traffic areas if you can post
them in their yard). Also, some small business service place
may make these signs for you for a great price. In Calgary,
we have a business called Digital Post that will make the signs
for a very inexpensive price, in a wide variety of color combinations,
if you order 10 at a time.
We mention it to everyone we know that we do housesitting,
and encourage them to let others know about us if their friends,
neighbours, or relatives are talking about going away.
(On a personal note: Denise has taken this too far! :-) I
buy something at a garage sale and somehow, the next thing you
know, the owners of the garage sale know (a) I own a miniature
schnauzer, (b) my husband and I have finally fulfilled our dream
of living full time in our RV, (c) I am a webmaster and a housesitter.
business cards on you
Come on! Admit it! You have had the nerve to talk to someone
about your business, they ask for your number and you don't
have your card on you! Always keep a couple of business cards
in your wallet. They aren't doing any good being in your desk
drawer (and make certain they have your domain name on them.
In Calgary, there is a newspaper (different than the church
bulletin) that is distributed to all city churches, and it takes
classified and display advertising -- at very affordable rates.
There may be one in your town.
For instance, if you live in the Salt Lake City area, you
might want to list in this directory, where you can list your
website for free, http://slsites.com/dir.html
There are a few directories on the internet that cover multiple
cities, such as http://foundlocally.com/, which provides listings
for all of the major cities in Canada, or http://www.worldcitypages.net/
or there may be one for just your state, such as the http://www.michiganbusiness.us/.
You will probably find lots of them if you search on the internet
for the town, city, area, or state where you want to do business.