The rifled approach

If you are looking for a particular product or service,
where do you look?

Most people would answer the Internet. Why? Because you
can usually find exactly what
you are looking for in a minimal
amount of time.

The problem is, many CEOs
don’t take their Web site seriously. Sure, it’s got the basic
information about what the
company does, but it is really
nothing more than a glorified
brochure. What many people
don’t know is that it’s what’s
under the hood that counts
when it comes to making your
Web site visible. The concept is
known as search engine optimization, or SEO for short.
When done properly, it allows
search engines to recognize the
relevance of your information
and move your site up to the
top of the rankings, making it
more likely that a potential customer will find your site before
your competitor’s.

In a national Smart Business
poll of executives, 51 percent of
respondents said they don’t do
any optimization of their site.

My instincts are that the
majority of those people probably won’t be around for the
long term. People are looking
for more efficient ways to do
business, and the Internet is the
quickest way to bring buyers
and sellers together.

The survey also showed that
35 percent of CEOs are spending between $10,000 and $25,000
on optimizing their Web sites,
and 4.5 percent are spending
more than $25,000. So on one
end, you have the people who
are doing nothing, and on the
other end, you have the CEOs
who see the value of investing in
their site to make sure they are
reaching customers who are
specifically interested in their
product or service.

These numbers are a reflection of changes in marketing
strategies. In the past, people
would use a shotgun approach,
spreading their advertisements
across billboards, radio stations,
daily newspapers and general
consumer magazines. For most
businesses, this is a waste of
dollars because you are reaching people who are not your target audience along with potential customers.

Smart marketers today are
using a rifled approach, narrowly focusing on a select demographic that avoids spending
money on reaching people that
will never have an interest in
your product. This targeted
approach is what has made
Smart Business a success.
We reach a target audience of
senior-level decision-makers
who need business products and
services through controlled circulation. The Internet is another
tool that can bring a select
group of potential customers to
your door — if you do it right.

Experts in SEO will tell you
that the longer you wait, the
harder it will be to get your site
ranked above the competition.
At the same time, you have to be
careful because there are a lot of
people out there who aren’t really experts at all. The quandary
is, you don’t want to be the last
one in, but you also need to be
sure you aren’t throwing money
away. Our survey response
shows that 81.5 percent of those
that used SEO saw increased
traffic to their site. Because optimization is very measurable
and, when properly funded,
should show results, the other
18.5 percent using SEO may
have made bad choices when
selecting a firm to help them.

To make sure you end up on
the positive side, find other
CEOs who have optimized their
site and are having success.
Talk to people who are doing it,
learn from their experience and
find out which firm they use.

If you are already doing it,
make sure you are measuring
the quality of the leads you are
generating. Getting more traffic
is just the starting point. You
want to know how many qualified leads are showing up at
your site and reaching out to
you. Optimization can be a
costly proposition, so set high
expectations for the quality of
your results.

If you wonder whether the
investment is worth it, consider
this: Kmart used to be the dominant discount department store
in the U.S. until it failed to
invest in computer technology
to manage its supply chain,
which opened the door for Wal-Mart and Target. SEO is the
type of game-changing technology that will separate the winners from the losers. Which one
do you want to be?

FRED KOURY is president and CEO of Smart Business Network Inc. Reach him with your
comments at (800) 988-4726 or [email protected].

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