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The Internet is filled with people investing a lot of time, energy and money into establishing, branding and promoting their businesses. Time, energy and money, however, will only be as effective as the “war strategy” used in deploying these resources. Being somewhat of a history buff… I’ve found the history of warfare to illustrate this. History provides many examples of out-manned, out-gunning armies using superior strategies to overcome larger, better-equipped opposition. This happens when once effective strategies no longer remain so. Although there’s quite a difference between war and business, the mindset that lays the foundation upon which everything else is built is strikingly similar. Business is fluid, ever-changing and never static. Those who cannot adjust to the ebbs and flows of battle suffer the consequences.
Things change quickly online. Like a flock of birds suddenly changing direction… your strategies must be adaptable to the continuously changing climate.
REMEMBER HOW IT ALL STARTED
Much of the initial appeal of the Internet for small businesses was the fact that it leveled the playing field against larger, well-established companies. In the online world, the David’s were killing the Goliath’s right from start. In fact, many of the little companies of the early years went on to become the “giants” of today.
With the development of what later became known as “Web 2.0”… the tools (much like the weapons of warfare) became many and varied. High-tech replaced low-tech, Google developed and became the ultimate search engine and faster bandwidth ushered in the age of video.
These changes left certain sites looking “dated.” Even so, if you have already developed a following and established a business in your market, having an older design wouldn’t put you at a disadvantage, necessarily.
Starting out in the 90’s was a lot different than starting out in 2012. The bar is much higher today.
Entering a market for the first time today requires a different type of strategy than the ones employed in the 90’s. Today, you have to LOOK established – right out of the gate. The expectation level of your visitors is much higher today than in the past.
Without an established reputation, you’re in the position of having to build one from the ground up. If you’re in this position, you may be tempted to make your site look the same as or similar to other competitor sites in your market.
I’ve made this error myself with a few of my smaller online businesses. Ultimately, I have to decide if I want to step up in those markets or maintain an “as is” presence there.
ONLINE “WAR” STRATEGIES
Although nothing is new under the sun, as the saying goes, the appearance of being new can rock your market to its foundation. Seth Godin is an example of someone who succeeded brilliantly by putting new names on old labels and concentrating on marketing basics with great success. Some industries (or possibly most) are maintained by erecting a wall of “complexities” that have been established to keep other players from entering and thriving within that market.
Getting back to the basics, mastering them and adding a fresh coat of paint on the finished product is a strategy that has been responsible for more than just a few business turnarounds. Brilliant marketers and business people from every era have made great progress by mastering and never straying far from the basics.
WHAT DO YOU REALLY NEED?
What tools do you really need to connect with your market? Most consultants will say you MUST have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and many others. While these networks can be enjoyable, they do take time. Especially if you’re looking to generate real INCOME as an end result. When it comes to business, the bottom line is what matters at the end of the day. Without sales, all the other efforts are executed in vain.
If you’re spending untold hours in front of a screen, your income should reflect your efforts. Shouldn’t it? Still, many businesses continue burning time, money and resources building “digital relationships” with people who will never become clients or customers. This is crazy. Do you really need to be in 101 places and formats to “take ground” in your market online?
That should be a rhetorical question at this point.
CHOOSE YOUR TECHNOLOGY CAREFULLY
Text or video? Or both? If you can sell with one tool, use it. If you can sell with both, use both – but don’t use tools just for the sake of using them. Just because someone else is doing it a certain way doesn’t mean they’re making money or generating business as a result of it.
Use technology to accentuate your strong points. If you’re lousy with video, shelve it. Don’t integrate something into your main marketing arsenal until you can do it with excellence.
If you have 10,000 followers on Twitter and can’t trace a dime of income as a result of your tweets, drop it and move on. Stop trying to break through brick walls with your bare hands. It just doesn’t work. Move on to something more profitable.
Every successful business, be it a company with many employees or a single individual, meets a particular need or fulfills a certain expectation. That’s why one of the reasons why they’re successful. Even so, one company can’t be all things to all people.
What are the leaders in your market not providing for the market that you can provide?
Behind any strategic maneuver your attempt to make – remember, you’re in a crowd. Either you’re going to stand out in your crowd… or be lost in it. It’s the law of the marketing jungle.
EVERYTHING THAT GLITTERS ISN’T GOLD
Occasionally I’ll be contacted by a well-known individual or business that’s having the same problems start-up businesses do. I’m talking about getting new customers and clients, selling products and making money. I used to be surprised… but not anymore. Just because a company or business has a shiny exterior doesn’t mean they’re making money.
The economy has changed the way people spend money and the value they place on many products and services. My father, a retired business owner, always taught me “something is better than nothing.” If you have to eat hot dogs instead of world-class cuisine for a while, you’ll survive.
Make the adjustments and keep moving forward.
Take some time to examine what exactly it is you’re doing. Take emotion out of it. Does it make sense? Is it good business? Are you profiting as a result of your involvement in that activity? If not, it’s time to get back to basics and develop a new plan.