Marketing on the Internet - marketing in the real world. Is there a difference? Are there any 'rules' in common?
Do you need to do marketing things differently on the Internet from ways in which you approach them in the flesh-and-blood world?

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Online marketing vs 'real world' marketing - what's the difference?

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Marketing on the Internet - marketing in the real world. Is there a difference? Are there any 'rules' in common? Do you need to do marketing things differently on the Internet from ways in which you approach them in the flesh-and-blood world?

Well, yes and no! The most important thing to remember is that either way, you are communicating with people. Sending a brochure to Megalith International Inc? Who's going to read it? A person. Getting a Web visitor to stay on your site? It's a person (aren't you? - stay with us!). Spending a six-figure amount on a TV ad campaign? It's people who are going to watch it. Paying ten quid (UK) or bucks (elsewhere!) for an ad in the local paper? Same animal that you are influencing: homo sapiens.

Here's a few marketing rules that apply either on-line or off-line, bearing in mind that we're selling to people:

  • Be honest, sincere, truthful and open. Never think that you can fool people. You can't. (Maybe a few, but not all the time). So be up-front in what you are promising, and don't try to offer the earth. Everyone has heard that tale before!

  • You've got to get people's attention quickly. Let's face it, we're living in an information overload world. So much competition - and so little time for folks to process it. Rule of thumb: if people don't like what you are saying within 5 seconds, they will turn off. And that applies to sales letters and Web sites alike. If you don't encourage people to read whatever else you've got to offer, then forget the 'whatever else'. It won't get read.

  • Appeal to people's emotions. Look at our articles on Painting a word picture and Selling the sizzle. It really doesn't matter if you're selling a 2,000 tonne-lift crane to a major construction company or a box of really effective pills to a screwed-up guy or gal. It's the personal emotions that will influence the buying decision.

Here's an example from one of our visitors about the similarity between on-line and off-line marketing. Thom Reece emailed us, saying: "If you're selling direct from your web site don't forget to use all the proven direct response marketing techniques to help close the order. One of these simple but proven techniques is to recap all the benefits of placing the order NOW. Then make your CALL TO ACTION. You should not only tell them what they will gain from the purchase but, (and just as important in my view) you need to remind them of what they stand to lose if they don't order." Thom has really encapsulated one of the key rules about Internet marketing - learn from the real world. Most of the effective techniques that work there are just as applicable in the Internet world.

So, the key, on- or off-line, is to remember that you are selling to people.

OK, so, what are the major differences between 'virtual' selling and selling in the 'real' world? Only a few, but here are the two really important ones:

  • The Internet, despite its global interface and out-reach, represents one of the most powerful methods to date of 'one-to-one' communications. Forget TV ads, direct response mailings, tele-sales. When people respond to you through your Web site, your email newsletter or whatever, you, (sole proprietor or multi-national corporation) have a unique opportunity to establish a personal relationship with a potential customer. Now what you make of it - and how much you value that contact depends on you - how important it is to make a sale to an individual - and how much you value your public.

  • With many methods of advertising / direct marketing, you try to choose who you target. With Internet marketing, all sorts of folks will come to you (whether you want them or not). But you have the opportunity of trying to attract the 'right' people to your site, through appropriate registrations on search engines, through appropriate responses through Usenet Newsgroups and email discussion lists. This is highly targeted marketing on a global scale. And it is available to the smallest as well as the largest organisations. With the right approach to the right target markets, it's as powerful a tool for profit as for not-for-profit organisations, for the sole proprietor as for multi-national corporations.

And with the right marketing approach, smaller organisations can knock spots off the bigger ones.

But large corporations are now learning quickly about how to use the Internet effectively. And our Free Consultancy Service or our BusinessFriend mentoring service can still provide you with an effective confidential advice services whether you are a sole trader or a senior executive.


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