A One-Minute Marketing Plan

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Whether you're planning a new Web site or your site is already up and running, here's some inside information you need to know:

Web surfing is a fast-paced sport. Some surfers (including myself) can hit 10 to 20 sites in a 10-minute span. Yikes! That gives each site about a minute (and sometimes much less) to reach three objectives that every business Web site should try to attain:

    1. Convey a unique, positive image
    2. Present an irresistible reason to stay past that minute
    3. Form a lasting relationship

Here's exactly how you accomplish those objectives in that brief time-frame:

  • Impress your unique and positive image in your visitors' minds immediately by showing off an attractive home page. C'mon, 'attractive'? What is this, a beauty contest? Well, sort of. You see, a huge percentage of visitors judge your entire business within those first 10 seconds of visiting your site. If they're presented with a handsome page that loads quickly and looks professional, they might be compelled to stick around at least long enough to see what's in it for them.

Let me ask you this: How many times have you clicked away from a site even before it finished loading? Yeah, that's what I thought. Me, too. Web surfers looking for something in particular not only want the right info, they want it from the right source. If your site looks like it was designed by a novice, you're in big trouble.

No, you don't need fancy graphics, Java, and the like. Just make sure your home page is a place that would impress you. Do this with a professional logo; a crisp, fresh look; and easy navigation links.

  • Get right to the point, and give your visitors an irresistible reason to stay longer than that minute. Be sure the first thing your site displays is a reason for visitors to stick around. When someone comes to your site, it needs to be glaringly obvious how the site can help them. Remember, they probably came looking for something in particular. If they're forced to search to learn how your site might help them, it's too late  -- they're gone! You can pull this off by displaying a few lines of text prominently, where visitors will see it right away. Here are some examples:

'This site has helped thousands of Webmasters design professional Web sites. Come inside and learn how to design your own site now.'

'Do you need advice in selecting stocks? Put our 10 years of experience to work for you. Browse our past picks and current recommendations.'

On my own site, this pops up in the first two seconds: 'Anyone can start a home-based business online and earn high income. I've been doing it since 1996, and I'll show you exactly how for free.'

  • Get visitors onto your opt-in list(s) so that you can form lasting relationships with them. This is the single most effective way to hang onto your visitors. Hey, getting traffic is tough -- don't let visitors get away without offering to stay in touch. No, you don't have to publish a full e-mail newsletter, but offer something!

For example, a few years ago I visited a retail site that offered a 'monthly specials' e-mail list. Sign-up was free, so I took a few seconds and joined. Every month for three years I received their monthly e-mail. Out of the 35 or so I received, I probably deleted 30 without even reading them. Yet one month I noticed a product I'd been looking for, and at the right price, right in the subject line. Guess what? I opened the message, clicked to the site, and bought the item. While I was there, I also got a digital camera.

As you can see from this example, regular e-mail contact pays off; If not today, maybe next week or next year. The cost of staying in touch is tiny compared with the long-term rewards.

As to exactly how to get visitors signed up, there are lots of ways to do it. A simple 'form-mail' fill-out form will allow you to add their e-mail addresses to your private in-house list. Or you can try using a pop-up window that gives something of value in exchange for their contact information. However you decide to pull it off, just do it!

One last tip: Don't ask a million questions in your sign-up form. Visitors might be interested in what you're offering, but they might shy away if they have to reveal too much information about themselves. A lead is a lead. Ask for their name and e-mail address only. If you scare them away, they might never come back.

Remember, your Web site is the first thing that many people will ever discover about your business. Make your first impression unique and irresistible -- and make it last for years!

Patricia A. Czech can be reached at  Ultimate Insurance Resources, Inc., 631 Stephanie St., #304, Henderson, NV 89014-2633; (702) 458-9833, ext. 101, e-mail [email protected], or Web site www.ultimateInsuranceResource.com.
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