5 Small Business Internet Marketing Myths

Posted by on November 19, 2008 in Internet Marketing [ 6 Comments ]

As a small business internet marketing consultant, I’m often confronted with some common misconceptions about online marketing. These misconceptions are often based on poor advice from consultants or web designers that my clients have spoken with in the past. Sometimes these misconceptions are a result of a poor experience or a misunderstanding.

Regardless of their source, these myths often keep small business owners from achieving success marketing online. I’m here to set the record straight.

Here are some common misconceptions about marketing and promoting your small business online:

“My customers don’t use the internet.” You’re right – your customers probably don’t…but your competitor’s customers might. The truth is that any business that believes their customers don’t use the internet is likely correct. Businesses that don’t believe the internet is important don’t market online, and therefore don’t attract online customers. The problem is that as more and more customers begin to use the internet (at the exclusion of other media), businesses that don’t market online won’t grow.

“I need to have a nice, new website to effectively market online.” A nice, new website could definitely help your online marketing efforts. Still, I’ve seen ugly old sites that are getting the job done just fine because they follow my biggest piece of advice when it comes to web design: Every page of a business website should have a purpose (a “call to action” in web-speak). If your website doesn’t ask visitors to do something (read another page on the site, click on a link, make a phone call, fill out a form, send an email, etc.) on each and every page of your site, it needs fixed. Once that minimum requirement is met, the site will work OK. The rest of the picture (a site’s look, feel, search engine friendliness, etc.) can be addressed once the site has proven itself to be an effective marketing channel.

“Marketing online is expensive.” It certainly can be. Advertising online comes in many forms, from free (or nearly free) email marketing to 6 figure ad buys. Fortunately, the most effective forms of marketing online – email marketing and search engine marketing – are also the easiest to control in terms of cost. Email marketing services usually offer a per email price, and search engines Google and Yahoo offer a comprehensive suite of budgeting tools. The bottom line is that budgets anywhere from $50 a month to $5000 a month can be easily accommodated.

“Marketing online is complicated.” – To the “computer challenged,” marketing online often seems like an impossible task. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the concept, perhaps this will help: Marketing online is just like marketing offline – you try to find the right venue to place your ad so that a potential customer will respond. Instead of newspapers and TV ads, however, it’s search-engines, targeted emails, and website ads. The technology has changed, but the basics stay the same. Of course it’s important to remember there are lots of business that specialize in online marketing that can help.

“I can’t market my business online myself – I need help.” It pains me to admit this (I’m an online marketing consultant after all), but you don’t *need* a consultant to market your business online. For search engine marketing help and advice, Google provides a great set of free instructional tools. For e-mail marketing, Constant Contact is a simple system that even the most un-sophisticated computer user can utilize effectively. Finally, for web design, GoDaddy.com offers a decent (and free) web template program. Don’t get me wrong – these tools won’t allow you to compete with sophisticated competitors – but they’re effective when used correctly.

If you’re a small business owner and you’re looking to get more from your current online marketing plan, or if you’re ready to start marketing online, visit Resource Nation’s online marketing business service center or contact me on SporkMarketing.com.

6 thoughts on “5 Small Business Internet Marketing Myths

  1. avatarVan Theodorou

    Hey Jason,

    Good post. I have a friend who had an “ugly” website, and he did close to a million dollars on it and it wasn’t even user friendly. Though, he did upgrade and his converison has gone way up but it shows you that pretty doesn’t always win.

    I know business owners who don’t think their targer market is online but when I show them keyword research, they start to have a different point of view. Its amazing when you meet others having success online and see what they’re selling and you go…are you serious???? People ask me what can I sell online, I pretty much say.. almost anything sells on here.


  2. avatarJason Lancaster Post author


    Thank you. I also enjoy the moment when you show a business owner the volume of internet search queries for their product or service. If they aren’t aware of the existence of an online market, they’re usually amazed and excited. If they are aware, they’re usually motivated to work harder to get more of the available business.

    As you say, just about anything can be sold online. Many business owners doubt this statement, however, and for good cause. The definition of “sold” to most business owners is the moment when the product/service and money change hands. In that strict sense, many items can’t be sold online.

    However, if you expand the definition of “sold” to include the act of furthering the process of consummating a sale – i.e. “selling” – than it’s easy to declare that anything can be sold online. Considering very few items are purchased without at least some consideration, that’s reason enough to promote every business online (at least to some degree).

    Good comments – keep em’ coming!

  3. avatarChris Bradley

    One other point that many business owner don’t realize is the ease of getting ranked for local searches. I have a nephew who’s a chiropractor and having him change his title tag so he can easilyl rank for his town name + chiropractor. Not to mention so many other ways he can make money but like most of us, it comes down to time and money to make it work.

    I’m too busy with our business right now but once we get our system in place, we will start to talk to business owners and provide this service to them.


  4. avatarJason Lancaster

    Good point Chris – small, simple changes can make a big difference in ranking results. While local is still fairly open, I believe that we’ll see a major shift in the next 18-24 months as local business owners look for an edge over their competitors online. I anticipate quite a bit of growth in the next 2 years in online advertising, mostly because of a down-turn in the economy. As consumers pull back spending, the savvy business owners will find ways to increase market share at the expense of their struggling competitors.

  5. avatarChris Bradley

    You are correct the savvy business owners will look to increase advertising in a smart way but unfortunately, too many look at advertising as one of the first things to cut in a downturn in the economy, which is good if its all your competitors. I did an informal survey, seems most business owners are leery of wanting to increase advertising during tough times.


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