Dogma in Web Marketing
By Stephen Bucaro
The Web is awash with bad marketing advice written
by people who have never made any money on the Web.
This bad advice is repeated over and over again by
pretend marketing experts. Are you following this
dogma without thinking it through? Below are some
misguided ideas you need to ignore.
1. Target your advertising - FALSE!
As an example, let’s say you are selling a business
opportunity. Do you place your advertising in the
same place where everybody else is selling business
opportunities? Would you fish from the same pier where
two hundred other fishermen have lines in the water?
Of course not!
Instead, let's say that you place your advertising
in a newsletter about gardening. The readers of the
publication are exposed to many “targeted” ads about
gardening products. Familiarity has trained them to
ignore these ads. But your ad is the only one promoting
a business opportunity.
Do you think a gardener might be interested in starting
a business? Gardeners are people with a variety of
interests. They will be receptive to your ad because
in the gardening newsletter yours is the only ad promoting
a business opportunity.
I’ll tell you a secret: Almost all the people reading
publications related to business opportunities are
selling a business opportunity. They read these publications
to find out what the competition is doing. They have
absolutely no interest in buying a business opportunity.
Instead of targeting your advertising, place it where
the audience is not bombarded with similar offers.
Where your offer is something unique and interesting.
2. Use testimonials - FALSE!
When people have problems with a product or service
they may complain. But if a product or service performs
good, they never take the time to write a testimonial.
Testimonials are only provided in return for money
or other incentives. Do you believe the testimonials
you see on TV infomercials? I don’t think you’re that
Most testimonials are total fabrications. Who’s going
to question them? If someone does question a testimonial,
the advertiser can say that they lost contact with
the individual who gave the testimonial.
People know that testimonials are lies, and they view
ads that use testimonials as dishonest and an insult
to their intelligence.
Instead of using testimonials, provide complete information
about your product or service. The more information
you provide, the less risk there is from the customers
Of course, if your product or service is inferior,
then don’t provide complete information about it -
3. Give an unconditional guarantee - FALSE!
There is a large group of people who make it a pursuit
to scout out products sold with an unconditional guarantee.
They use and enjoy the products with full intention
of returning them for their money back. This is especially
prevalent in the areas of software and information
products, where they can make a copy and return the
original to get their money back.
If you want to support these freeloaders with your
hard work, then offer an unconditional guarantee.
Sure 90% of your customers are honest and won’t return
the product. But the other 10% will not only demand
their money back, they may also start selling copies
of your product!
Instead of giving an unconditional guarantee, give
a conditional guarantee. The purpose of a guarantee
is to eliminate risk to the purchaser of not receiving
what they paid for. Carefully word your guarantee
to protect the honest people, while preventing the
freeloaders from stealing your work and destroying
For example: “money back guaranteed if the product
does not perform as advertised.” Or “if the CD is
defective, return it within 90 days for a free replacement.”
4. People need to see your offer seven times before
they buy - FALSE!
In the off-line direct marketing world, when you send
a snail-mail offer a second time, a few people who
didn’t respond to the first mailing will buy. This
can continue up to the seventh mailing, although with
fewer orders from each mailing.
But the on-line audience is very different. On-line
people have an extremely short attention span, and
bore easily. They will scan your offer once, and either
accept it or reject it. They don’t want to see your
offer again. The second time they see your offer,
their eyes will gloss over as they click away as fast
Instead of pushing your offer to the same people seven
times, put it in front of seven times as many people.
Spread the offer to as wide an audience as you can.
Then radically modify the offer (so it is unrecognizable
as the original offer) and spread it wide again.
5. You need to establish personal relationships
with your customers - FALSE!
In the off-line world, it costs much more to find
new customers than it costs to get new orders from
past customers. But the on-line world is very different.
On the Web, it costs about the same to find new customers
as it does to get new orders from past customers.
The on-line world is impersonal. On-line people have
an extremely short attention span and they bore very
easily. They are not interested in yesterday’s news
or yesterday’s contacts. If you contact a past on-line
customer, they will consider it spam!
Instead of trying to establish personal relationships
on-line, establish an on-line presence. Promote your
Web site, publish a newsletter, publish ebooks, write
and distribute articles. Let your customers find you
- out there in cyberspace!
6. Sell “benefits” not “features” - FALSE!
Only a tiny percentage of people will buy based on
benefits. This is because they already know the benefits
of the particular product or service. The benefits
are the reason why they are in the market for a particular
product or service. To buy, they need to know the
features of your specific offering.
For example, having a web site will increase profits
and reduce costs for a business. These are some of
the benefits of having a web site. But advertising
those benefits will not sell your web development
service. To buy, the prospective customer needs to
know what features your specific web development service
has to offer.
Instead of selling benefits, tell prospective customers
what features make your product or service better
or unique compared to other offerings available.
Of course, if your product or service has no better
or unique features to offer - sell benefits.
7. Using a P.O. box makes your business look “unprofessional”
If using a P.O. box makes a business look unprofessional,
then why do so many major corporations use P.O. boxes?
If you have an office outside your home, then go ahead
and use that address.
But if your business is in your home, NEVER GIVE OUT
YOUR HOME ADDRESS. Do you want some lunatic who is
dissatisfied with your business showing up at your
house with a gun? If you think this world is safe
enough to be using your home address in your advertising
and business correspondence, then stop reading this.
Go back to reading your Winnie the Pooh fairytales.
Don’t put yourself and your family in danger. When
I see a small business using a P.O. box, I think “this
business person is intelligent and professional”.
8. There is a lot more bad marketing advice out
I can’t expose all the bad marketing advice out there
in this one article. So instead of following the next
bad marketing idea that you read, take a moment to
think it through. Always be skeptical about any marketing
advice you read - including what you just read in
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