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Getting Realistic About Advertising

If youíre building a serious website, you will need to allocate at least as much money as youíve spent on the website for getting the word out about it. Youíll also need a strong marketing and PR strategy that includes both online web-based advertising, and more traditional non-web-based advertising. As youíre planning that advertising campaign, I encourage you to share and brainstorm your ideas with two or three trustworthy, successful, visionary people... people who want for you to succeed, and who act rather than wait.

Hereís my view on advertising... I loathe wasting money on ineffective advertising. When I got started in this business, I seemed to have a knack for consistently choosing the wrong advertising vehicles. I do forgive myself for those old mistakes, however. As the owner of a startup business, it was pretty hard to wear all those funny hats... come up with all the killer ideas, write all the code, hire all the right people, etc. etc. etc. Advertising was probably my only "ugly stepchild."

The first big advertising "investment" that I made was $700 for one of those little packaged coupon mailings. That $700 "investment" yielded exactly one phone call. The woman on the other end of the line spent over an hour with me, then vanished the moment I mentioned an hourly rate. I had chosen an inappropriate vehicle.

I tried others... I placed radio ads (they can be expensive!), purchased space in local adjournals, put banners all over the web, and of course, mangled my first attempts at using Google Ad Words. Basically, I spent a small fortune over the course of the first 5 years, yet did not find a truly useful, affordable advertising vehicle.

Finally, I discovered that there are some excellent, cost-effective ways of promoting yourself that really can work. If you simply envision yourself in your customerís shoes, you can probably figure out an excellent way to reach them where they are.

For example, how are your writing skills? Can you create a useful op-ed piece and share it with your local paper? What about group seminars? Can you offer your services at no charge, every last Friday of the month? And of course, thereís the ever-so-useful strategic alignment. Simply align yourself with every service that is related to you. Letís say, for example, that you own a bridal store. Get very friendly with people in all of the related services around you. Take that limo exec to lunch, at least a couple of times. Get to know the hosts at all the local caterers. If you have to, start small... establish one or two contacts. But step by step, get your name out there.

Iím also a very big fan of staying in touch. Some of the most effective companies Iíve seen have simply followed the model of staying in touch. Probably once or twice a month, I receive a friendly online circular, a useful newsletter, perhaps a little postcard or gift that arrives in the mail. Clearly, their out-of-pocket is very small, but the payoff is ultimately significant. Those are the very companies that I continue to buy from... simply because I have formed a relationship with them, and consequently I trust them.

This material is Copyrighted. All rights reserved. Linda C. Uranga-Norton, President and Founder, Urangatang Web Design. To obtain reprint permission or engage the author for speaking engagements, please contact the author at . All reprints must include a link to the author's website at www.urangatang.com.

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