Darren Cronian runs a highly successful website, http://www.holiday-rentals.uk.com, without benefit of a marketing budget. Here's how.......
Below are his answers to questions we put to him on June 25th, 2005.
You are successfully promoting Worldwide Holiday Homes, without a marketing budget. Is this a decision you took out of necessity or choice?
Certainly out of necessity - I dream of day when I can spend thousands of pounds on marketing my business.
When I first had idea of business I had no business plan, I hadn't designed a website before, and I'd certainly never heard of term SEO, never mind what is stood for. All I did know was that I would submit this website to Google, and within days thousands of visitors would be visiting my site.. (I'm being serious!) that's how innocent I was.
It could be argued that someone who looks to promote a site without any kind of budget is either ill-prepared or lacks faith in product or service they are offering. What are your feelings about this?
I would agree with you - idea came to me when my parents bought a holiday home in Spain, and I had never thought about building a business before, I was ill prepared and to some degree, I lacked belief that website and services were going to be successful, and if it wasn't for my own dedication to succeed business wouldn't be in position that it is in today.
Trying to promote your site without spending any money must be extremely difficult. What do you consider to be your biggest challenge in terms of marketing?
I cannot explain how difficult it is - I see my competitors spending thousands (if not millions) on PPC campaigns, television and radio advertisements, etc and sometimes that can be soul destroying, and you do think 'What am I doing wrong?' but these companies have a work force that are dedicated on building and running company - whilst I'm running business by myself, in my living room.
The biggest challenge with marketing is persuading clients (villa owners) that I can offer them a service, which is good value for money, has great support and customer care - unfortunately, sector I am working within, travel industry, has thousands of companies, and many of them have let owners down, and in my opinion made life very difficult for genuine businesses.
The other challenge I face is making sure that website is regularly visited by holidaymakers - without traffic from likes of Google, Yahoo and MSN business would not exist - fair enough you could say that about 99% of online companies, but owners who advertise their villas, etc. rely on enquiries from holidaymakers, and if I'm not providing owners with enquiries, I'm failing them and business.
Do you feel that having no marketing budget restrains your site from moving forward and competing with leaders in your industry?
It certainly does - I want to be respected by travel industry, and I want everyone to know who Worldwide Holiday Homes are - when someone is looking to rent a villa I want them to say "oh let's go to Worldwide Holiday Homes". Without a marketing budget, I don't have funds to pay for a PR company to raise profile of business and I think long term this will affect business unless I increase revenue to business.
To be able to compete with those webmasters who have large sums of money available for promotion do you feel you need to think smarter or work harder?
Both think smarter and work harder. My working week is working around 14 hours a day, 7 days a week, it doesn't give me much time for a social life, but if I put hard work in now, in years to come that hard work will come to fruition. The great thing about webmaster forums like Digitalpoint.com is that you can learn from other webmasters, and all of experience and knowledge I have gained running this business has been from more experienced webmasters and search engine specialists.