Advertising Your Web Site – Part 1

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Your web site is just like your business, in fact it is an extension of your business in some cases and it IS your business in others. Your advertising campaign must address each of these methods to the best and fullest extent possible given your advertising budget.

Let’s take a look at how you can use these different advertising methods to your best advantage:

Using Articles to market your web siteShort articles are a great way to generate traffic to your website. Articles can be used to keep the material fresh on the site so that your customers keep coming back, they can also be used to advertise your site on web sites owned by others. Placing your article on article submission sites allows others to download it and use your article in their newsletters and on their web sites. Of course there are links in the article that point to your site for more information or other reviews etc. These links are great as they help increase your standings in the search engines. The articles can be about any topic and you will find there are hundreds of article submission sites available to place your articles on. Most are free as they need fresh information so that their customers keep coming back as well.

Using Affiliates to market your web site Affiliate programs can add thousands of independent sales people to help market your products and services.

Over the years I have been involved with many businesses, and one of the things I remember from my Amway days was that as an individual, I could only do so much. I have 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year in which I can work. I will hit a maximum point of sales that I can handle by myself. After that I’m done. The only way to do more is to automate and have others duplicate what I do. The same is true on the web. We need to automate and duplicate what we do so we can have others expand our sales for us. The first part of this equation is duplication. We can have others follow what we do and sell our products and services for us and pay them a portion of the profits. This is different than having employees. Employees have no requirement to sell. They are overhead that must be paid regardless of sales. That is NOT what you want for a new business. Keep your hard-earned cash for other things. What we need is someone that is willing to do the work for part of the profits. This is where affiliate programs come in to our formula for success. Affiliates are basically a partnership between web sites to advertise and promote products, services, or information for a share of the profits. When someone they refer to you buys, you pay them a percentage of the sales. Result? More traffic, more sales and less time required by you to find the customers as someone else does it for you.

What else can a good affiliate program do for you?

  • How about driving more traffic to your site!
  • Build brand awareness as more people visit your site from the hundreds or thousands of affiliates that are advertising for you.
  • Obtaining qualified leads that you can follow-up on to increase or up sell to.
  • Increasing the links to your site, which will increase the ranking of your site on the search engines resulting in more traffic and more sales.

There are all kinds of affiliate programs. Some programs charge to be a member and some do not. Some are web based and some are software programs that you load on your computer to set up and track the sales and affiliate yourself. Which one you use is up to you. Here are a few that I have found.

Affiliate Net – This is one of the more affordable server side affiliate programs. With this software there are no monthly fees only a one-time software charge. At the time of this writing this package sold from $49.95 to $99.95. Referral Software – This package is also server side although more expensive, it has many more features and is worth while to consider if you are serious about earning a lot of money with your Internet business. At the time of this writing this package sold for $299.00.

Click Bank – This is a web based affiliate program. By signing up on their web site you have access to over 100,000 affiliates. ClickBank is free to be an affiliate and has a charge if you want to run an affiliate program for your products.

clixGalore Affiliate Networks – This is a web based affiliate program. There are monthly and set up fees.

I highly recommend affiliate programs. For the reasons listed above. Remember they will help drive traffic to your site, which means more sales and you can use the affiliate programs to offer others services and make the commission once you are done with the client. This could be a good business all by its self.

Using Auctions to market your web site Ok, you have a product or service you want to sell; you need to let people know about that product or service and you don’t have much money to spend. Imagine a place that gets over 3 million customers that are ready, able, willing and looking to buy everyday. It is a Super Mall!

Ask any businessperson what they would pay to be in a mall that got 3 million visitors a day. You can see the dollar signs light up in their eyes… both in terms of cost and sales potential. Remember my goal from earlier in the course when we talked about business planning? I need to have 4200 visitors a month come to my web site in order to sell 420 copies according to my business plan. Well E-Bay gets 3 million visitors a day! Do you think that might be a place that I would want to advertise my books or my web site? You bet! In fact I have sold quite a few of my other books on E-Bay as well as bottles, baseball cards, clothing, computers, software, training, video and much more. So can you.

Let’s take my Weekend Chef’s guides and see how I can sell them on E-Bay, Yahoo Auctions, or MSN Auctions. First I need an account. This is simple, but does vary based on which you are signing up with. Follow the instructions (at the end of this page is an excellent course on how to really make money on auctions, but this will get you started). Once you have an account, we now need to place something for sale. Think of the auction site as your web site As such we need to create a web page that offers you product/service for sale. I use a software package call Auction Wizard 2000. They have an excellent program that allows you to try it for 60 days before you have to register. It is so easy to use as well. Using Auction Wizard, I can create an auction page and automatically post it and re-post as needed to any of the supported auctions. No special knowledge of html is required. Simple fill-in the blanks and add any pictures or graphics and I’m done. It also will track the sales, send emails to successful bidders, track inventory and so much more. If you are thinking of doing auctions, this is one piece of software to take a hard look at.

Back to selling my guides and building my business. Within the auction listing, I can place a link to my site, offer a free download of some chapters of the book, of course, I will need your email before you can download. Remember that I need to keep you coming back. Be careful here, E-Bay does not like you selling outside of their auction so make sure the visitor is not allowed to buy from your site at that link. Well, now we have given something away for free (a chapter of the book), we have the visitors email address, and we hopefully will get a bid on the product/service. If not, we have the email to follow up. What has it cost us? Each item up for auction on E-Bay cost, are you ready for this, 30 cents to list it plus a small percentage of the selling cost. If I list my Weekend Chef’s Guide to Sushi on E-Bay with a starting price of say $1 it will cost me a total of about 30 cents for the week. 30 cents to reach millions of potential customers a day. If I sell the book, I will have recovered my 30 cents and started building my customer email list as well.

Now I could write a series on using auctions, but this page is just how to use auctions to market your business. You can sell items and make a profit or you can just list items and build a customer database to market too later. Either way Auctions make a great way to market your business.

I have on my website a couple more tips on using auctions as well at rd-webhosting.com or visit my eBay store for other e-books that are available from time to time.

Using Auto responders to market your web site Depending on the products, services or information you are selling auto responders may be able to automate a good portion of your web site business. An auto responder is a piece of software that checks email for certain words or phrases and responds according to your wishes. For example, you may have received a newsletter by sending an email to me with Subscribe as the subject. My auto responder sees that email come in and has a set of actions defined that when the subject has subscribe in it that it will email back to you our newsletter. Another thing that the auto responders can do is following up with your customers at predetermined times with a predetermined letter. This is good for driving traffic to your site after they have visited and left their email address such as to subscribe to a newsletter or download a free chapter of an e-book or other information you have made available. For my training business I send up to 4 different emails to each person that request my guide to increase their income. Each email introduces them to other benefits and services that are available. Some of the emails will offer a discount or free training class as an incentive to sign up for a class. All of it done without me having to get involved.

Auto responders can be installed on your computer or used via the Internet. Some are free and others you have to pay either by the email address or based on the number of responses you want to program it to respond to. Here are some links to auto responders on the web as well as a software package with a trial version you can use yourself.

Promasoft: This is the one we use with our servers. I highly recommend. They have a trial version that is a full version. It places a header in the outgoing email, so you will want to register once you have it up and running. I think it is a great program.

GetResponse: This is also a great program, although, this one is a subscription service. It can be a less expensive way to try out an auto responder. They do offer a free account as well.

This is part one of a multi-part series of marketing you web site. Please visit us at http://rd-webhosting.com for the rest of the series. In the next section we will cover marketing you web site using banner ads and classified ads . More information on marketing, website design and other areas of Internet Business can be found at http://rd-webhosting.com in our resources area.

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Marketing During a Recession

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Turn off the television. Avoid your radio. Line the bird cage with the morning paper. Why, you ask? The thunderous gloom and doom predictions of the Federal Reserve would lead one to believe we’ve got to stop spending and stuff our hard-earned cash under our mattresses.

Whether we actually enter a recession or not is still up for debate. However, it does bring up a prickly subject for many businesses. Should you continue investing in marketing or defer those expenditures until the economy picks up?

Let Your Brand Do Your Selling

When the stability of the economy is in question, the knee-jerk reaction for many businesses is to pull back on their marketing efforts until a bull market returns. In reality, there isn’t a better time to market than during a recession – whether real or imagined. As John Vanderzee, former advertising manager for the Ford division of the Ford Motor Company, said during the 1990-91 economic slump, “Anybody who retrenches because of the recession has really got his head in the sand.” Vanderzee then added that spending money on marketing during a recession is a must.

An economic downturn can be an opportunity rather than a death sentence. If your product or service is synonymous with value, then you’re already ahead of the curve. With closer attention to spending, customers are carefully evaluating their options and will continue to look for high-quality, affordable products and services.

What’s more, it’s likely that your competition will be less visible, since many companies fail to recognize the opportunity and instead reign in their marketing expenses. As a result, they leave potential market share on the table. Consequently, your continued marketing efforts stand out and are more likely to be heard with less chatter in the marketplace.

A strong brand can pay big dividends during a recession, enhancing the success of your marketing efforts tremendously. If your brand clearly demonstrates value to your audience, is managed well, connects with your target on an emotional level and instills loyalty, you are likely to fair well during any perceived recession. Prudential’s Retirement Red Zone campaign is one example. It taps into the retirement concerns of consumers and reassures the audience that, despite the current economy, they can achieve their retirement goals. The campaign uses television, radio and print ads, to drive consumers to the Prudential website. Once there, they can engage with personal advisors and access various educational tools, resources and information on their website.

If your brand doesn’t meet the criteria above, do not panic. Now is a great time to heighten your visibility (often amid less competition). Take the time to perfect your brand and then reach out to your audience to underscore your brand’s value.

Conversely, you may have a well-known brand but a premium product or service. You may wonder if your audience will continue to “indulge” when times are tight. If you’ve done a good job of defining and strengthening your brand, your core loyalists will continue to buy. Take Tiffany’s, for example. Regardless of economic downturns, Tiffany’s continues to thrive. People continue to buy, despite the cost because the brand has reinforced its quality and timeless appeal. The robin’s-egg blue packaging is easily recognizable – even without the name people know it’s Tiffany’s. It conveys the brand without saying a word. See the Tiffany’s envelope or box and you think: Hope. Promise. Something of value and elegance. Tiffany’s products may be premium but they convey quality and elicit strong, positive emotions within its audience.

There are also opportunities to re-invigorate your brand. Use this occasion to re-educate your employees on the value of brand loyalty and how it helps to sustain sales during slower economic times. Tylenol did just this, and then translated its internal commitment into its external marketing. The company developed a campaign that highlighted its employees touting the brand and their loyalty to the company.

You can also re-focus your brand to appeal to a broader or new audience. Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty took the unattainable, unrealistic expectations of beauty that society places on women and said “You are beautiful just as you are.” To support this campaign, Dove encouraged all women to recognize their own real beauty – just as they are. The campaign engaged the audience by allowing them to share their story, create their own campaigns for real beauty, participate in contests, and participate on blogs among other things. As a result, the audience helped to sell the Dove brand.

Remember, eventually the economy will rebound. Consistent marketing during a recession not only helps maintain momentum, but also is likely to leave an indelible imprint on your target audience’s memory, making them more likely to return in a more stable economy. Those that forgo or reduce their marketing efforts in a downturn have a much harder time recovering once the economy turns around.

Make Lemonade Out of Lemons

Your current marketing plan should account for economic downturns. And, there’s not a one-size-fits-all answer. You must evaluate your company’s brand equity in the market and the value of your products/services to determine the approach that is best for you. But here are a few strategies to consider:

  1. Echo the concerns of your audience. Then show them how your product/service can alleviate those fears. Your audience will want assurances that your product/service will provide strong benefits and good value before they buy. Plagued with lackluster sales, Quaker Oats repositioned its product to speak to the early 90’s recession. First, they hired grandfatherly, trustworthy actor Wilford Brimley as their spokesperson. Then they stressed that oats were an inexpensive form of protein, with a bowl costing as little as nine cents. Sales grew as a result.

  2. Focus on a niche audience. Figure out which segment of your target market needs you the most. These buyers will be more receptive to your message. Find ways to offer additional value, whether through add-on or expanded services. This not only can help you win their business, but it instills a sense of trust and loyalty because you are exhibiting flexibility in a tough business environment.

  3. Tap an untapped market. We continue to operate on a more global scale every day. Seek out previously untapped markets, particularly those overseas. As countries like China continue to gain a foothold in the economy, two things will happen: Spending will increase and they will purchase more western products and services. Use this opportunity to get a head start on your competition.

  4. Prove your indispensability to customers. Just because you’ve built it doesn’t mean they’ll come. Nowadays, businesses must prove their value to customers, particularly during a recession. Back up your value with strong case studies, examples of how your target’s clients will benefit from your services/products and statistics that point to success for clients. Good brand exudes value; thereby reinforcing loyalty in customers.

  5. Tug at prospects’ heartstrings. It’s not a fluke that successful campaigns tap into consumers’ brand loyalty and emotions. Fast food chain Wendy’s acknowledged that the 90’s recession was difficult, but that you could still eat well at their establishment. Hamburgers were made of freshly ground beef and made to order. The bountiful and healthy salad bar was an all-you-can-eat value. Sales remained steady for them during that period of economically tough times. Though very effective, you must ensure that your message is genuine, mirrors the beliefs and behaviors of your target audience and is easy to retell. Why? Because a highly visual, emotionally-charged message is more likely to have a ripple effect as your customers spread awareness of the brand. In essence, your customers and prospects turn into a marketing vehicle for you.

  6. Bridge the communication gap. Technology has overshadowed the importance of the human touch in business. No matter how great technical advances are, they cannot replace the power of human connections. Leverage this idea and drop in to meet face-to-face with your customers and qualified leads. Ask them about their current obstacles and concerns and how you can help them. Really listening and helping customers solve their issues goes a long way to maintaining momentum in the marketplace.

  7. Look at your product/service in a new way. Your offerings may have had a successful run in the past. In economic slumps, you cannot rely on a “same old, same old” attitude. Reexamine your product/service to find fresh ways it can be used or benefit the buyer. During the 1990-91 recession, Kraft Foods touted its A-1 Steak Sauce as a great enhancement to hamburgers and not just sirloin steak. A good move, since consumers were less likely to be eating filet mignon and more likely to be dining on ground beef during that time period.

  8. Funnel expenses into products/services that thrive during a recession. During that same recession, Dow Chemical Company moved its marketing dollars from Glass Plus cleaner to Ziploc freezer bags, a new product line at the time. The company emphasized the product’s ability to maintain freshness in leftovers stored in these bags. Again, a smart move as more consumers were spending less and wasting less.

Carefully evaluating your business and implementing strategic branding and marketing initiatives can help you sustain profitability when times get tough. In fact, if you build and promote your brand properly, you can even grow it despite the grim forecasts.

Recessionary Times Call for Proactive Measures

In tough times, it is essential to foster trust between you and your customer, to understand their values and behaviors, and to stay in front of them with a message that addresses their concerns. Continue to build and manage your brand value in the market and your business will be able to weather any economic downturn.

The possibility of a recession can lead many to be reactive. Instead, take a proactive approach and identify ways to leverage this as an opportunity for your brand. By doing so, your organization will come out stronger, and quite possibly with a few new customers.

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Beginner Bodybuilding – Three Lies That Kill Gains

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Ok, you are just starting out and you want to make the greatest gains and build the biggest guns. That’s all good but you must beware, lots of people are going to fill your head with gym-lore and general nonsense that can ambush your progress.

So lets set some things strait shall we?

#1 The Juice Truth

Contrary to what the gym rats would have you believe steroids are not the only way to gain muscle. The world would have you think that anyone with bigger than a 17 inch gun is on juice. Don’t buy into it.

I am not going to blow smoke here because the fact is that steroids do work, the will help the user gain more muscle mass than is possible naturally – but they will only HELP gain muscle.

This means that ‘roids or not, proper training and nutrition are still going to play into your success. And believe me that achieving a great level of success – without blackmarket supplies, from third world countries – is possible.

So don’t jump into ‘roids because of frustration. Learn how to build a body correctly first, and get informed on all facets of using performance enhancing drugs. I believe when you explore both paths you will be quite surprised at the results and benefits of going naturally.

#2 The Secrets Out

Hype. From magazines, to blogs, to the trainers in the gym, all of them use hype to make you think that their sophisticated methods are the key to building huge muscles.

Here’s the bottom line – building mass and symmetry is a relatively simple thing to do. Sure it involves hard work and dedication, but it is not a complicated thing. You train to stimulate your body to respond by growing. You eat to supply the necessary nutrients to enable it to grow. And since all muscle growth happens while you sleep, you rest to give it the time to grow.

Pretty simple right?

So the only key is to train, eat and rest in the best manner that enables you to accomplish the largest amount of muscle gain in the shortest time possible.

#3 Living It Out

Bodybuilding is a lifestyle. This means that bodybuilding does not just happen in the gym. In fact very little about bodybuilding happens in the gym. You may spend 45 minutes to an hour at most in the gym (if you are smart and know how to train). But the growth doesn’t happen in the gym, as you now know, the growth happens at home in bed while you are sleeping. This means that the rest of your life needs to be spent in support of the training that you did in the gym.

So how you live your life becomes just as important as how you train.

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Vernacular Architecture for Modern Times

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With respect to architecture, the term vernacular is used to describe building designs and styles that reflect the local customs, needs, and building resources available. Since antiquity, people have learned through trial and error, the various structural concepts we often take for granted today. Vernacular architecture is the product of generations of experimentation, trial and error.

Although associated with outdated and primitive methods, the positive benefits of vernacular housing designs – even in today’s ultra-modern world – are many. In fact, it is because we as a global race have advanced so much, so fast, in these very areas, that we have caused widespread depletion of resources, to the point that we have started to go back to our roots to find answers.

In our quest for new and better designs, stronger, more robust materials, and spacious, luxurious living spaces, we have all but forgotten what it has cost us. Technology and advancement in science can be a beautiful thing, but we must in our pursuit of such blessings, not forget to think further than our own short lives.

A generally recognized prerequisite for vernacular designs is the utilization of locally or regionally available resources. Another is that these resources be sustainable. These criteria ensure that needless fuel and energy isn’t spent on transporting supplies and materials when they can be acquired locally, and also that the local resources aren’t exhausted either.

Back before long-distance transportation of materials was viable, houses matched the resources locally available. In woody areas where there was plenty of lumber, it was common to find wooden houses. Likewise, in regions where trees and forests were scarce, indigenous peoples would opt to use mud and stone. In this way, local housing would reflect local resources.

Of course, in all things a balance is important. In today’s society, convenience and quality of life play a large role, which unfortunately places us in a rather frustrating game of tug o’ war with our environment – or should I say environmentalists. Even incorporating only the artistic and unique aspects of vernacular architecture is a start, and this is already being done.

The laws of physics have been around for long time, and this is proven by certain standard and uniform methods and “rules” that all structures – new and old – follow. Just because these guys didn’t get a Masters in modern structural engineering, it doesn’t mean their houses didn’t stand. In fact, all modern knowledge is the collective experience, trial, error, and hand-me-downs of such men and women throughout history.

There is much we have learned from history, and much we can still learn. – Vernacular architecture and the simple and humble ways of our forefathers is a small part of what we can still learn.

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