Increasing Profits For Small Businesses Through Search Engine Marketing
The Problem: Increase Profits
As a small business owner or manager, you have one principal goal: increase your profits. Whether you are a sole proprietor looking to increase your own income, or a corporate manager looking to increase shareholder equity, your bottom line is bottom line. Whether you need to move more widgets or provide more services, ultimately you need to increase your income by expanding your revenue while decreasing your expenses. You need to reach new customers, and keep your current customers coming back for more.
How do you solve problem: Communication
If you want people to purchase your goods and services, they need to know that you exist, and what you can do for them. You need to communicate information about your products and services to as many potential customers as possible. This requires more than just broadcasting your message. To be truly efficient, you need to tell your story to those who will actually want to do business with you. You need to focus your efforts.
How do you communicate: Advertising
There are several media available to you for getting your message across. The most basic is simple word-of-mouth. This costs you nothing, but you also have very little control over how your message is communicated. For a small, local business, this may work fine, but in Internet age, where your customers probably don't come from a small neighborhood, this is not enough.
Traditional electronic media are available to you. Local radio and television spots can reach a great number of people in your community. The question here, however, is just who your message is reaching. These ads are focused on a rather broad demographic: sugary cereals on Saturday mornings, razors and fast cars on sports shows, and so on. If this is sufficiently focused for you, you may be in good shape, except that these spots can be fairly costly. A 30-second radio spot can cost $100 or more, depending on market; a television ad can cost over $1000 for same spot, with network spots going for much more. In addition, there are production costs, with professional actors, editing, and so forth. They are also pretty ethereal--when ad is finished, it goes away.
Print advertising has advantage that it doesn't disappear when reader has finished looking at your ad. They can go back and look at it again. For local coverage, print advertising can be pretty inexpensive. A four-line classified ad in local newspaper costs practically nothing. Even display ads can be fairly inexpensive, given that you will reach a large number of people. For national coverage, print can become quite expensive. The rate sheet for a respected national new magazine charges over $200,000 for a one-page color ad in their national edition!
In all these cases, you have to look at who is being targeted. In print ad, you are looking at everybody who reads magazine or newspaper. Does everybody who reads that publication want to buy your product? If not, then this is probably not most efficient use of your marketing dollar. Even with focused traditional electronic media, you may be reaching a broader segment of population than you want to--you may not be interested in all women in 18-49 group, for example.
What about World Wide Web? We've all seen banner ads on websites. These may get your message to a more focused group, but there are problems that come with banner ads. Banner ads have become so ubiquitous that many people simply ignore them. Or worse, they have software that will actually remove them from web pages as they view pages. Your message doesn't get to anybody that way.
Pop-up ads and their newer incarnation, pop-under ad, are often not appreciated by users on Web. Having several browsers opened on a user's desktop can be quite disconcerting for them.
What is most cost-effective, focused way to communicate with your market: Your Web Site
You probably already have a website; otherwise you are probably looking seriously at creating a presence on Web. Your website works for you 24/7; people can always come to your site to see what you have to offer. You reach people who want what you have, because they come looking for you. They want what you have, and they want to hear your story.