The answer may surprise you….
Is Internet Marketing a Scam – is it dodgy??
When someone asks me what I do for a living my reply is “Internet Marketing”. The majority of the time you see a flicker of bewilderment and non-comprehension, or possibly a nod and a “ah-huh” to cover that they haven’t got a clue what that really means.
If instead, I reply with just “Marketing”, their response is often much different… usually something along the lines of “Who do you work for”, or “What products do you market?”
They feel on slightly more familiar territory with the subject of marketing – it has relevance to them in their everyday lives as they are aware they are often being marketed to through television advertising, magazine and newspaper adverting, point of sale displays, billboards and so on, as well as other more discrete marketing methods such as product placement and celebrity endorsement.
However, by adding that one word “Internet” the subject often appears transformed into a mysterious, shady practice indulged in by scam artists, spam merchants and other ne’er do wells that possibly include some multi-millionaires left over from the dot.com and dot.bomb heydays of yesteryear.
On a side note, it is often assumed that I don’t do “real work”! (but who cares!)
Is Internet Marketing Just Website Design?
Another common response is for them to transpose the phrase “internet marketing” into “website designer”.
These people will be the ones that reply with “Oh really…., I once had this great idea for a website….”.
While both of the above may have some basis of foundation, the reality of Internet Marketing is a little different.
Internet Marketing is Marketing
Like Marketing, Internet Marketing can be applied to a wide range of business activities.
In its broadest sense, Internet Marketing is the marketing of goods and services through the medium of the internet and, as with traditional marketing, the desired end result is to generate demand for those products and services.
Plain and simple.
What the internet and Internet Marketing provide, is opportunity to access a much wider marketplace much more easily than before.
It also brings a whole bundle of terminology and methods that can pretty much scare the backside off many of the people who may otherwise benefit from it.
In the past, many businesses got a website made, often paying a heck of a lot for it, and thought that was enough. Visitors and sales would surely follow as long as it ‘looked good’ they thought (or were told). Hours, days, weeks and $$ would be spent refining it to make it look pretty.
But having a pretty website (or any website) is no use if it brings no benefit in terms of business – and that’s where Internet Marketing comes in.
Having a nice looking website is one small (some would say the smallest) part of Internet Marketing.
It’s like having a beautiful looking shopfront on a backstreet. No-one knows it’s there, no no-one is going visit it. It’s no use to people who might need or want to use it because they don’t know about it. So it’s no use to the owner either.
Not much of a business!
Internet Marketing is a process that changes this from the outset….
and …. “it’s not about the website”….
Like any other business proposition, there has to be a market for the products or services that will be offered. This applies whether they are your own goods or if you intend selling someone else’s.
If there is a market to be sold to, then a website is likely to be useful (although not obligatory as using eBay or Facebook etc can be a way to market – but for now let’s assume it’s based around your website).
Don’t let the look of the website get too much in the way of the business though. It’s likely you’ll want to change it anyway at some time in the future, so don’t try and perfect it now!
That time and effort can be better spent promoting the business using internet marketing methods to get the site noticed by potential visitors – often referred to as generating traffic.
There are a number of Internet marketing methods that can be used to achieve this such as:
- providing great content! (give people a reason to visit your site, and come back to it, and refer others to it)
- optimising the internal design of the website pages for better recognition by the search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo etc, so that the site is displayed higher up in the lists of results for appropriate searches. This is called ‘on-page’ optimisation.
- increasing references (links) to the website pages from other websites and internet properties – this is called ‘off-page’ optimisation and also benefits the site in the search engine results. This helped by providing great content as above, that people will want to link to, and recommend with Facebook “likes”, tweets and other social media signals.
- advertising – there are a number of options for this, Google ads being one of the better known.
- promotion through social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and so on…
- … and many others.
They may or may not be familiar, but ultimately these are all just variations and extensions to traditional marketing practices.
But, for any of this to work, the fundamental basis for the business and its business model have to be sound. It doesn’t matter that it is an internet based business model. That just means the options for marketing it are different.
So then, just what is internet marketing?
Well, it’s the application of marketing techniques using the internet as a medium, whether applied to a totally on-line business or to enhance the marketing activities of a more traditional off-line business.
Some of those techniques are of course specific to marketing through the internet, but the general principles of marketing still apply.
For this to be successful and worthwhile, the business has to address a requirement in the market and the business model for revenue generation has to be sustainable.
Unless these conditions are met, the best looking website in the world wont succeed!
Internet Marketing, it’s not a scam, it’s not dodgy, and it’s not just about a website!