WebRef Update: Featured Article: Getting Back to Basics
Getting Back to Basics
The Internet, the 9th wonder of the world after Don King's hair, has given new meaning to the words: "They speak with forked tongues." The fact of the matter is that despite the hype, banner ads' successes are extremely limited. In a recent study by Cyber Atlas, it was found that a mere 14% of site visitors actually got to a Website via a banner ad. The bulk of Website travelers (60-odd%) stated "TYPED URL DIRECTLY" as their preferred method of going to a site. Watson could figure out without the help of Holmes what "TYPED URL DIRECTLY" is, and that it doesn't involve banner ads.
Furthermore, there is a misleading buzz being created to trap the unwary entrepreneur in magazines-formerly-known-as-intelligent. Mentioning their names could be libelous, so I will merely give a tip: Don't trust the magazines where the graphics exceed the content. With this "cool" lingo that they spin, they catch people by stating that impressions are cardinal to success. This is true if you want to brand your product, but not if you want to make a killing. Impressions are how many times a banner ad gets displayed. What you want and should focus on are "click-throughs," which are barely a fraction of the total number of impressions.
Banner ads aren't worth it. The truth is so obvious, but it is as if we are suffering from a mass psychosis on the scale of the Reverend Moon's cult; we refuse to see it. Why? Well, look at the amount of trendy magazines with pictures of the Nouveau Riche and remember where your advertising money went for your Website. It'll dawn on you, those 300 hits you got from this or that portal, for which you bankrupted your kid's trust fund to pay for banner ad? Well, although you did in the region of $800 in sales as a result, Web magnate Mr. Funny Hairstyle (sculptured for the fashion shoot) on the cover of the magazine just bought himself a new Lamborghini Diablo. Maybe next time the promise of selling your products to the people of Ulan Bator via the Web will not be so promising.
It is the toughest question of all: How do you market your Web site? What is the secret to letting the goose lay one of its golden eggs? The first step in getting where you want to be is to re-evaluate your vision. If the Web site that you built is supposed to be the golden egg, then unless your name is Jerry Yang, you're in for the toughest fight of your life. However, if you see it merely as a means to an end, then there is definitely hope for you. One must always remember that the World Wide Web, for all intents and purposes, does still adhere to many age-old business principles. Have a clear focus of what your product or service will be, know who you want to sell it to, and know how to reach those customers.
It crystallizes and you visualize - The swinging 60's are back and Lava Lamps are going to kill the market all over again. The bandwagon is still in the stable when you saddle your pony and you're off.
The who, what and where. You read, research, scribble and burn the coffee and then you realize your market. So why waste time? Focus on what you know and want. Don't consider selling to the inner- Mongolian Budgie feeders and don't be swayed by the "world is your market" hype. It does not really work and if you think about it, Lava Lamps are not burnable, so they will not have a use for it on the Siberian flatlands. So Lava Lamps are actually for the "20-to-25 year-old with disposable income" niche market. They generally call this breed of people "Students."
Maybe you notice that within a 500-mile radius of your base of operations there are three universities, each with 10,000+ students. Shipping expenses will not be a killer.
Revised: May 10, 2000