Auto Responders: The Magic Pill to Transform Your Web Site

The key component required to transform your current static web site into a marketing tool, is your auto responder. The service I use and recommend is Aweber, . It is by far the preferred service, and is used by most of the internet marketers I know.

While it’s possible to have a programmer develop an auto responder service on your own web site, using a professional service makes a lot more sense in the long run. First, it’s cheap. Rates will vary depending on how much traffic you generate, but as of my writing this, most small businesses will be able to start for well under $25 a month, even less if you take advantage of their annual payment plans.

There are a couple of things you should understand. Aweber uses what’s called a double opt in system. What this means is that when a person signs up to be on your mailing list, they are actually signing up on a form you create at Once Aweber gets their initial message, they send out a confirmation message to the email address registered. This asks your new subscriber to confirm that they want to be on your list. Your new list member must confirm, or they will not be included.

This accomplishes two things. First, it keeps people from putting in phony email addresses, just to get your free report. And more importantly, it serves to protect you against spam complaints when people register someone else’s legitimate email address instead of their own.

Aweber is a known entity in the internet marketing world, and it’s well known they use this double opt in system. Thus the folks who monitor and prosecute SPAM complaints are far less likely to raise any issues with you, even when someone forgets they signed up for your list and complains. This avoids problems you don’t need.

In addition to the double opt in feature, they automatically insert both an automatic “opt-out” link and your legal address at the bottom of each of your messages. This means you will always be compliant with the anti Spam laws, and your subscriber knows that they can stop your emails whenever they want. Best yet, if your subscriber decides they want to stop, all they have to do is click the link and it’s done automatically. You don’t need to be involved at all.

These peace of mind features make the monthly fee more than worthwhile by themselves.

But you get a lot more than peace of mind. Aweber offers a lot of features, more than I can cover here now. But lets lay out a few, for the sake of clarity.

First, you can have multiple lists, at no extra charge. You can have a list for those people who sign up on your web site. You can have another list for people who sign up because you add, an invitation to do so on you cash register receipt or invoice forms.

This may make sense as a way to conduct separate conversations with prospective customers who are first finding you online, as opposed to the conversation you want to have with people who are existing customers.

You may also want to use this capability to focus on different product lines. Say you are a restaurant that also does catering. You might have a sub list for the catering business in addition to a primary list that promotes your weekly or monthly specials.

This ability to run multiple lists is a great asset. It allows you to have multiple conversations going on, with multiple people at the same time. All on autopilot.

There is one more basic concept to get across regarding auto responders. There are two types of basic messages. The first is the follow-up message. These are written and stored in the system and are sent automatically once a person signs up for your list. The first one goes out immediately once they have confirmed that they want to be on the list. Then you can pre-schedule any number of additional lists as you wish. Depending on your particular needs, you may want to send a second message three days after they get the first one, and then maybe another in 3-5 days, and then weekly thereafter.

Some people set up mini courses on topics of interest to their customers. A Liquor store may for example create a series of posts on wines, or the characteristics of different beers they sell. A restaurant, may do recipes or cooking tips, etc. The key thing about follow-up messages is that they should be “Evergreen.” With any luck people will be signing up to your list every day from now till the end of time. You want messages that make sense no matter the time of year. So event though it may be Spring, when you are writing you messages, eventually it will be winter when someone joins your list. All of these follow-up messages are sent sequentially based on the number of days since the person signed up on your list. So on any given day you will have message 1 going out to newly signed up people, message 3 going out to people who signed up last week, and message 14 going out to people who maybe signed up four months ago.

The second type of message is the Broadcast. This is sent to all people no matter when they signed up. This type of message is ideal for sending out messages about this week’s specials, of attractions for the coming month, or holiday greetings. If you are a dentist and want to let your patients know to schedule their appointments prior to you upcoming two week vacation cruise, you send them a broadcast message six weeks in advance and then again periodically up until you send them a message on who to contact in case of an emergency.

The best part of this, is that you can pre-schedule broadcast messages. Thus if you want, you can send a Happy New Years message for exactly at midnight next year right now.

If you have a three month advertising plan, you can schedule all your broadcasts for the coming three months at one time, and then forget about it. The messages will be sent automatically, and your customers will get you messages and respond and it won’t cost you any more than the cost of your auto responder and the time to write the messages.

There are other more advanced features available once you have you system up and running. For example you can do split testing to see which of your ads get a better response, and there are ways to tie your blog posts into the process and even pod casts. But such services are beyond the scope of this report.

Again the service I recommend is

They offer a series of helpful tutorials which should be more than adequate to get you up and running in no time. I am also available to assist you. Contact me at

Most Business Web Pages StinK! Free Download Now

I just completed my newest report, called “Most Business Web Pages StinK!” subtitled, Web Sites are like Trade Shows.  Readers of this blog will soon realize this is a recompilation of five previous blog posts on the Trade Show theme. The current version is number 1.2, I am working on 1.3 which will be revisions after my wife gets done proof reading it, and a resources section at the end.

I intend to use this as an eye opener for hopefully thousands of small business people. In these tough economic times it only makes sense to better utilize all of our existing resources such as our web sites.

And since upgrading them is not difficult or expensive, it makes even more sense.

Let me know if you need my help.

Is your web page a billboard on a deserted highway?

A decade ago, small businesses flocked to the internet.  It was going to transform the way business is done and they wanted to be part of it.  And many are today quite disappointed and perhaps philosopical about how their web pages didn’t do didly squat.

While there is no doubt the internet has changed how business is done today, for most businesses all that changed is they now have an internet Yellow Pages add in addition to there actual listing.

The only people that go to their web site are people who already know about their business, and are jsut checking for a phone number or the times we are open.

While that’s certainly not true of all businesses, it is true for a good many, how about you?

I’ve been preaching on three major topics here about why I think most business web sites stink.

  • Most aren’t using their ability to list their business in multiple categories.
  • Most have just a billboard, or an electronic brochure and not an interactive site
  • Why most web sites are so bad, even when you paid good money for them.

In my prior posts on this blog, I have tried to use the trade show as a metaphor as to what the role of your web pages should be. I encourage you to look back at my past postings and read them.

In the last few days, I have been focusing on how most web sites I’ve reviewed lately have poor and often no keywords.

If you were able to afford it, and were in the wall paper business, you might buy a yellow pages ad under wall paper, and maybe under decorating or a number of other yellow page headings.  Most businesses don’t as its very expensive to do so, even with multiple category discounts.

With your web pages, you don’t need to pay extra to be listed in multiple categories. You just need to do a systematic listing of all relevant keywords that your possible customers might use in an effort to find you.

This may take a little time and effort, but once done, it will pay tremendous rewards in additional traffic and potential new business.

You may have thought your web designer would have done this for you. But unfortunately most web designers are not marketers. They tend to be graphic artists or techno geeks.  Great at creating web pages, but not necessarily at getting your web site to generate the business you had hoped it would.

Keywords: Missing in Most Small Business Web Sites

So far, I haven’t found a single home staging web site with good keywords in the meta tags of their web site. In my search of web sites in South Minneapolis, I have found fewer than 1 in 20 that was even close to having effective keywords. In general, that’s true of most small businesses.

This is a big mistake, as the keyword placed in your web pages meta tags are what almost all the search engines other than Google uses to find web sites to display. And while Google may have the largest chunk of web search, they certainly don’t have it all.

That’s because most people are likely to use the search tool that comes with their computer. My wife for example has Yahoo on hers. While she may say she is going to “Google” something, she actually uses Yahoo. Yahoo uses meta tags. So does MSN, ASK and virtually everybody but Google.

I have been focusing on the Home Staging Industry for the last half year or so. As part of that effort I am trying to help these small businesses improve their web sites to first draw more traffic, and then get more of those people who do visit to do something.

I have created a base list of some ten dozen key words people often use to search for home stagers in their market. I add or subtract a few depending on the scope of service of the individual home stager, and then incorporate geographical elements to come up with a comprehensive set of what I call, “geographical long tail keywords.” These are the phrases people actually use to search for to find a business in their neighborhood. For a recent client in Virginia, I ended up with 599 keyword phrases. In time this should more than double the amount of traffic her web site receives.

Every locally based business should have a comprehensive set of geographically relevant keywords in their meta tags. This is the hidden code that the search engine “bots” see, but no one else does. Unfortunately most web site developers are techies, and not marketers, and they often don’t have a clue as to what they should put in there.

Depending on the industry sector, I can create a set of geographically tied keywords for as little as $75. I will review your web site for free, in advance to determine whether or not it’s needed in the first place. email me at with any questions.

How to Monetize Your Blog…

Generally, I don’t recommend businesses use monetization techniques on their business blogs. Your focus should be on your product and driving traffic to your offers. However, that doesn’t mean you cannot write additional blogs on topics of interest to you. These can and should be monetized and can even serve to provide links to your main business blog. That way, you can both build link power to your blog and make some money on the side.

To learn how to monetize your site, you may want to check out the set of 13 videos below. They will help you get started as quickly as possible, using not only adsense but Commission Junction, affiliate marketing, and other sources. For sale at less than $10, these are a quick way to get your blog up to speed.

Meta Tag Tweak – Small Business Web Page Blunders

As I have been working with small businesses in the off line world, I have discovered that most of them have poor to non existant keywords in the hidden meta tag code of their web sites.  Since Google apparently doesn’t give these much weight these days, it appears some web designers skip over them.  That’s a mistake. While Google is the big daddy out there in search land, it has at best 60% of the search market, and the other 40% of the guys do use meta tag keywords to find your site.

I don’t know about you, buy I can’t afford to miss out on 4 of 10 customers.

This is particularly important for small businesses in the current slow economy.  I’ve made a special offer to my friends in the Home Staging industry, where I have done some fairly extensive research in the past and offered them a special deal.  My advantage is that I have already researched the keywords appropriate to the industry, and it’s easy to massage them to meet each individual’s circumstance.

I am open to doing additional work along these same lines for other industries as well.  A solid set of meta tag keywords can also serve as a good start on pay per click advertising as well.

Drop me an email at for more info.

A new wave is breaking, want to go for a ride?

There’s a new wave underway in internet marketing circles. And , if you want to, you can be part of the transformation. I just got permission to invite you to join in a major new product launch that is on the cutting edge of this new wave.

First let me tell you about the new wave.

The new wave is taking online marketing techniques and applying them to new niches, including off line businesses. I have started to do this myself, and the results so far are incredibly promising.

With the economic downturn, more and more on and off line businesses are struggling, and looking for better ways to compete and stay alive. This new wave is rushing into an eagerly waiting marketplace.

Within every economic collapse are sown the seeds of the new emerging businesses, and I highly recommend you find a way to orient your business to take advantage of the changes.

The new product.

Is presented by Jason James. It’s been in development for two years and builds upon the free GiveAway concept that I and thousands of internet marketers have used to build our online businesses.

Jason is on my “Good Guy” list. I’ve purchased and benefited from his past products and respect his as a “class act.” When he puts out a product, I know I can count on having positive response from my customers.

The giveaway has been very effective, and what Jason is doing with this release is making it possible for you and me and others to effectively run our own give away events in non internet marketing niches. That may or may not sound exciting to you at the moment, but let me assure you, it will become a vehicle for many people to establish themselves in hundreds of different niches in short order.

But the opportunity I am offering you today is to become part of the launch for this winner of a concept. The product won’t be released until February 3rd. I am not even allowed to promote the product until January 20, except to recruit additional joint venture partners like you.

Whether or not you are interested in running your own giveaway events, you can profit from the launch if people on your list may be. If you are interested in becoming an affiliate promoter of this new product all you need do is sign up at

If you have any size list at all, I recommend you do.

PS: This isn’t the whole new wave by any means. But it is part of a major trend, and an excellent way to start moving your self into position to be part of it.

Web Pages: It’s what happens afterwards that counts

This is the fifth of five posts comparing web pages to a trade show. In the first we compared the multiple reasons people have for being at a trade show and how people browsing the web have varying interests as well.

We then discussed exhibitor’s booths and drew comparisons to web page design, booth location with keywords and exhibitors signage and the importance of the the web real estate that is “above the fold.”

We then talked about attractors, how they bring people passing by to the booth and how their goal was to transform prospects into leads. I suggested and maintain that this is precisely the purpose of both a trade show and a web page.

And yesterday, I discussed the people at a trade show and how this was one area where a trade show had a distinct advantage over a web site. It’s much easier for people to be interactive. To ask and answer questions. I went on to talk about an empty trade show booth with just brochures left behind. I think you would agree with me that having people interact with prospects is far more effective than a stack of brochures, however nice they may be.

Unfortunately, most business’s web pages are just that, electronic brochures. This is a shame as its not difficult at all to begin the process to change that. The key component is an opt in box that can either be tied into the web page design, ideally “above the fold” and promoted with an valuable attractor. Of note, its possible to add a “light box” style Opt In form, that doesn’t require you to make any changes to your existing web site.

For many businesses the best type of attractor is a free down loadable report providing useful “How to,” or “What to look for” information. Think about the types of questions the people at your trade show booth would be most likely asked and answer them in a short and concise format.

The goal of both a trade show and your web site is to transform the web browser from being just another face in the crowd into a “lead.” A lead is someone the trade show people call or mail to after they empty the sweepstakes box of all those names that didn’t win the “free siding” or what ever they used to capture people’s names and contact info.

The advantage for the web site is that it’s easy to capture your leads name and email address, if you offer the viewer something they want. What I call an ethical bribe. And once you do, you can design a series of follow up emails to provide them additional useful information they need to make a wise buying decision.

There are two types of emails a business owner might send these new leads. This first set is a structured series of email that are pre-written and are “dripped” on the recipient at appropriate intervals. These are “evergreen” messages that once written and installed in an auto responder can be left to do their thing over time. Once set up they run on auto pilot.

These can be simple or sophisticated. An initial email for instance could ask the recipient if they want specific info an several different topics. If they pick one or more they can opt into as many different specialized series of followup messages as may be desired. This is useful for firms with multiple product lines.

Designing and creating this initial series of follow-up emails is the biggest investment in the entire process. A top notch auto responder service such as AWEBER can cost under $20 a month and will reliably capture the lead from your web page or even permit people to sign up even if you do not have a web page. Once the initial series of emails is created, will work day in and day out for you for peanuts.

A second type of follow-up message is the broadcast message. These can be used to advertise special sales, or send out holiday greetings or any other message you want. The combination of preloaded evergreen messages and occasional broadcasts can fulfill many purposes and can serve to not only win new business, but effectively stay in touch with existing customers as well.

This ongoing aspect of maintaining periodic contact with current and past customers is one of the best uses of an auto responder, and one that will generate significant new sales for any business that takes the time to creatively apply it to their specific circumstances.

Follow up is the name of the game in new sales and in developing repeat business. As I said in the title, it’s what happens after a person has been to your web site that counts, when you get around to counting your bottom line.

Check out the page above that discusses my services. I can help you apply these concepts to your business and help it grow, even in these challenging times.

Web Pages: People Vs. A Brochure

This is the fourth in a series of postings comparing a business web site to a trade show. In the initial post we discussed the traffic flow at a trade show and how it resembled web traffic. Then we looked at the exhibit booth and showed at least three corresponding aspects of a web page. And yesterday, we talked about attractors used at trade shows and how they too could and should be applied online.

Today we will talk about the people behind the booth at a trade show and see if we can’t learn some lessons from them as well.

I almost touched on the people in yesterday’s post on attractors, as it’s common for firms, particularly larger corporations to use models in their booths. Pretty women do seem to have an attractive quality.

But the main purpose of the people in the booth is to engage in conversation with the passing traffic.
The booth setup itself may have optimum placement on the floor, and attractors up the wazoo but it really doesn’t matter if there’s no one there to meet and greet, ask and answer questions.

Now some firms may just rely on pictures and exhibits posted in their booth to convey their message, and others may put a stack of brochures on the table for passerby’s to pick up. This may be better than nothing, but do you think it’s as effective as having a real live person who can engage prospects in conversation? Not likely.

Remember that we discussed the varied makeup of the crowd. Some are there for exercise or entertainment, others to get information, and a few to buy. As they walk past our booth, it’s the job of the booth staff to engage them in conversation, to inquire about their needs, interests and to elicit their questions.

Getting to understand what they are looking for is one of the key ingredients for both the seller and the prospective buyer to learn whether or not a transaction is possible. When it is, the conversation also serves as an investment by both parties in terms of time and effort toward a mutually agreeable solution. If properly handled, if the sales staff is good and skilled in their conversation, this is the process that leads a prospective buyer to the decision point, and ultimately the successful sale.

This is one area, where the trade show has a distinct advantage over the web site. The personality and skill of a good sales person in an interactive conversation with a prospect is hard to replicate online on a web page.

Because it’s difficult, doesn’t mean that steps can’t be taken to design the web presentation in a way that at least mimics the live relationship.

A few paragraphs ago, I suggested live staff were better than a table full of brochures or static pictures on the booth wall. That is precisely the level where most small business web sites are now.

They are little more than brochures. And like most brochures they get tossed into the mental round file almost immediately.

We want to avoid that. We want instead to mimic the live salespeople and set up our web sites to answer questions. To do that we need to think about what our least informed prospective customer might want to know. When designing your web pages, imagine that you are at a trade show. What questions did people ask? These are the questions your page needs to begin to answer.

Our web sites should thus focus on setting the basic parameters of our product, so that viewers get a sense of what we are about. So they are able to make some basic self assessment as to which type of product or service they might be interested in. But then, most businesses should stop.

They should turn the responsibility back to the prospect to declare themselves a “Lead” by having them opt in for more information. This is similar to a person in the crowd at a trade show walking up to the booth. The booth staff engage in small talk and lead to some basic clarifying information. When the prospect asks a relevant product oriented question, they may still be just fishing for general information, but they are also beginning the sales process. It’s time to bring them into a sophisticated sales presentation.

In real life, your sales person would answer and followup with more questions. Online, you need to convert that person then and there. Convert them from being a prospect in the crowd to a “Lead” in your sales funnel. You need them to opt in to your auto-responder service, so they can get more detailed information to enable them to make a “wise decision.” This is exactly what we discussed yesterday in our conversation about attractors.

Don’t miss the point about giving them information to make a wise decision. Design your opt in “ethical bribe” as a tool for them to make a wise decision. Offer them the information they need to do that. Offer them the info they need, when they need it and you are well on your way to the sale.

Once they have opted in, the conversation is now interactive. They came to your site. You provided information, They responded by opting in. A conversation has begun.

Once you have the leads, you need to do the follow-up. That’s our next topic. Till then…

Web Pages: Trade Show Candy = Ethical Bribe

In my two most recent blog postings I described how the crowd at a trade show resembles the traffic that streams past your businesses’ web page. Then I discussed the trade show booth, its appearance, signage and location on an exhibit floor and how they too related to web pages. Today, I will discuss the ethical bribes trade shows use to draw you to their booth and how you should be doing the same thing on your web site.

By ethical bribes I’m referring to the candy dish that might be on the front table, or perhaps the miniature golf putting green, or other features exhibitors use to get you to approach their booth. When I was a kid, you used to be able to get a wooden yard stick at the state fair. Such premiums now cost a buck or more, but in the old days it was a big crowd attractor.

The most common attractor at fairs and trade shows though are prize drawings. Fill out your name and address and/or phone number to win Free Siding, or a free set of encyclopedias or what ever.

It’s this last idea, that should be part and parcel of your web page. The fact that you were interested in winning that free siding suggested you might be a candidate to buy free siding. By filling in the drawing form, you were no longer part of the crowd at the trade show or fair. You were now a “Lead.” A lead is a valuable commodity.

The odds that you would win the grand prize were pretty slim. The odds that you would be called or mailed to were 100% For the business in the booth, it made a lot more sense to call you, than to call a random page out of the phone book. You had indirectly indicated that you could use new siding.

And that is the primary purpose of your web site if you are in business. Your web site’s primary goal should be to transform web site browsers into Leads. And you do that by offering ethical bribes.

It may be possible to offer candy or a coupon for candy from your site. You could perhaps treat a visitor to a virtual game of golf on your web site as well. In fact, there are a lot of things you could do online that resemble or duplicate virtually any idea you have seen in the trade show or fair arena.

But the most common tool online is to offer free information. Not on your web site, but down loadable in exchange for interested people’s name and email address.

This is such an important concept, it should be on the above the fold portion of your web site, so anyone who visits your site will see and understand that they can readily get this valuable freebie.

(There are options that don’t require redoing your entire web page, if this is an issue for you. I’d be happy to discuss these with you, if you want to drop me an email at

Now what you offer need not be difficult to create. A simple report of 5-7 pages is adequate. But it should be “sexy.” It should offer to meet your prospects every desire for appropriate information relevant to their decision making process when considering a product like yours.

Last year I did a comprehensive review of the Home Staging Industry. These small business people help their clients get faster sales and often better prices by applying their specific skills to create a positive impression on prospective buyers when they first enter a house and in each room they see thereafter. As I learned in my surveys of practitioners, most were crackerjacks at what they were doing, but often lacked marketing expertise. I suggested to them as I am to you now that they needed to add an “opt in form” on their web sites to draw in clients.

I suggested they create a little report such as, “7 things to do before you call the Realtor,” or “How to De-clutter your home.” You will want to so something similar relevant to your business. Tips and “How to’s” are excellent places to start when thinking about what you can offer.

I will spend more discussing the all important followup process in a future posting. But prior to that I will talk more about the people manning the trade show booth in my next edition. They have one advantage your web site might not. It’s important to understand their function so you can replicate it as much as possible on your web site.

Till then…

Web pages: It’s the booths visual appeal to start

In my last posting I discussed how the crowd at a trade show was similar to the traffic one might expect to see on the internet. While some are there with a specific intention to buy, many are there for any number of other reasons. What I may not have stressed well enough, was that as a business, you want your web page to appeal to as broad a section of that crowd as possible.

Too many web sites are either just informational or just oriented to the active buyer. We will discuss other options as we go, but first we will discuss the trade show exhibitor’s booth.

In a past career, I was VP of a small consulting firm. We did a couple trade shows for our niche and were blown away at the high cost of convention booth set ups, not to mention the price of floor space. We quickly learned that the booth setup and appearance were a big deal, and critical to being effective in the trade show arena. In our case we borrowed a set up from a firm we did business with rather than invest in our own gear, but we did learn a lot from that experience.

The booth at a trade show is similar to the first page of your web page. It is what the passerby sees first. The appearance and configuration of a trade show booth makes a difference. The passing traffic will either be attracted to, or repelled by first impressions.

For some purposes, the front of a booth may be a table that prevents people from entering the booth area. Others may have an open front to invite people in. Those doing direct sales from the booth may use the closed both format to conduct sales and provide inventory control.

In our case we wanted to entice people into our booth so we could engage them in conversation, learn about their circumstances and determine if we might be of service to them.

We had a video we had produced streaming a commentary on a monitor up front on a table to catch people’s attention.

We also had a nice brochure we passed out to anyone who would take it.

Continue reading Web pages: It’s the booths visual appeal to start

Web Pages are like a Trade Show: Consider the Crowd

I had trouble sleeping last night.

My head was working on a speech, I will give to my Toastmaster Group Thursday morning.  I’ve decide to talk about why I think most small business’s web pages stink.

I’ve been toying with the content of this speech for a couple of weeks now.  I know why I think they stink, but have been having trouble coming up with a hook and a word picture I can use to convey my message.

The added difficulty is that I need to compress my comments into a 5-7 minute time frame.

Unfortunately, I just couldn’t find the right formula, and so I did a lot of tossing and turning despite  my best efforts to just forget it and sleep.

Eventually, I did, and lo and behold as I woke in the morning, in those luxurious moments before I actually woke, the winning concept occurred to me.

It’s hard on my beauty to sleep this way, but I do come up with much of my speeches at night.

A web page is very much like a trade show.

But unlike a trade show, where most businesses would have a sales person up front to greet and engage passersby, most web pages use a deaf mute to do the same task.

This week I will work on this concept. Today let’s look at the crowd at the trade show and compare them to web browsers who may chance on your web sites.

Imagine a typical home improvement show or similar trade show.  Think of the crowd.  They are like web browsers.  There are a lot of different reasons someone might be at a trade show.  For some it is simply an outing, a form of entertainment or exercise.  Some are there to get ideas, or maybe looking for comparison products, or alternative suppliers.  Some want information on prices, or learn about features or other options they may want to consider.  A few may even have come to the show to actually buy something.  This last group is probably a minority.

So too, with web browsers.  If you are a business on or off line, most of the people who walk past your booth or browse by your web page are not actively looking to buy.

If you are to meet the needs of those people actively looking to buy, you need to give them the information they need and and the means to actually do so.

If your web page does this, you may have met the needs of the active buyer, but what about the others, those not quite ready to make a purchase?

Has your web site met their needs to the point that they will come back to you when they are ready to buy?

When you think of the crowd at the trade show, they tend to be moving in some sort of circle, streaming through the displays, browsing as they go.  Often overloaded in stimuli as each exhibitor tries to attract their attention.  If they are like me, they pass most booths with scarcely a glance, unless something grabs them and then holds their attention.

Same to with a web site.  I don’t know what the actual number is, but many people suggest you have but 2-3 seconds to catch the crowds attention with your web site. And even then, you have an uphill battle to keep them at the site.  That’s why I like the web sites the folks at David Goes Online produce for small businesses.  As part of their deal, they are offering a free video, that gives their site some stickiness.

But that is getting into the next discussion which is on the booth exhibitors set up.  In future blog posts I will also discuss the ethical bribes they offer to convert traffic into leads and then the follow-up they do, once they have the lead.  And most importantly I will discuss why they don’t hire the handicapped.  Why they don’t use deaf and dumb sales people to meet and greet their visitors, and why I think most business web pages do.

Marketing in a Recession – A plan for offline businesses

2009 is here, and the reality of a bad economy sits heavily on most businesses on and off line.

For many of us, it’s time to regroup and either come up with new strategies or wither on the vine.  While I am optimistic that Barack Obama will lead the nation forward in a positive direction and infuse the economy with significant stimulus, it won’t happen overnight.

As business people, we recognize that we can’t count on help from government, although we may welcome it.  As small business people, we know we arn’t in line for the big bailouts the corporate giants get.  Instead we need to do what we do best, be quick of foot.  We need to make changes and we need to do them now.

I don’t have all the answers, heck, I don’t have half the questions, but I do have a few.

When times are good, we tend as business people to go with the flow. Now that they aren’t so good we need to look closely at things we shrugged off in the past.

This past week I did a study of all the businesses in one zip code, 55417 where I live.

Mine is a residential area with relatively few businesses, so my conclusions may not be reflective of the entire country by any means. That said, I suspect my underlying conclusions hold fairly true.

Less than half of the businesses had their own web pages.  When doing a Google search many of these showed up in various directory sites, and many others were probably too small or part time to even do that. While these companies could thus be found online, they were not effectively competing for business.  When times are good, maybe they could get by just being there.  If they are to survive they are going to have to compete or they will loose out to those who do.  For many, that means they need to take the plunge and finally put up their own web page.  But lets hope they do it right.

Of those that had web pages, virtually none had effective lead capture capabilities. Maybe that’s why so many others don’t have web sites.  They have learned that having a web site doesn’t really do that much. That’s because of those I looked at, almost none of the web sites were anything more than a billboard on a dusty dead end road on the internet.  Some were very attractive, but few were business getters.

The purpose of a web site is to get new customers.

Most web sites are brochures.  In my zip code I even found one web site development company who advertised their service as creating web brochures.  This is not what you want to do if you are in business.  You want your web site to be a prospect gathering machine, not a brochure.

I could probably increase the businesses for those with web sites annual sales by 10-30% in less than a month or so, just by setting up a lead capture system coupled with an effective follow up system.

For those without web sites, I’m inclined at the moment to refer them to There at least they would get a top ranking web site and a video to capture their viewers attention.  A hard to beat offer at less than $800.

But the real way to improve ones business isn’t just by capturing new customers, as important as that is. It’s by getting more business from your existing customers.  And that is where I intend to focus my offline business consulting.

And that’s one of the key topics I intend to focus this blog on this year.

Stay tuned.

First Day Cover Report Proves Point

I have advocated for some time that off line businesses use internet marketing Give Away events to market non internet reports.  Last night the New Year Giveaway opened, and already today I have had five people download a report I wrote on First Day Cover Collecting.  While I have sold first day covers on line for almost twelve years, I would not normally think of internet marketers as first day cover people.

And yet, at least a few are.  I suspect I will attract quite a few more in the coming week as more and more people learn about the New Year Giveaway

The past holiday period between Thanksgiving and the New Year have been full of such Give Aways. I have participated in many and have downloaded a lot of useful material and gained a lot of new subscribers to my lists.   The point I want to get across here is that you don’t need to only offer internet marketing products to these lists, as my First Day cover collecting ebook proves.