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A Simple Guide to More Effective Marketing
by Chrislyn @ GayAw

Flying by the seat of your pants is not the most effective approach to marketing, but most new marketers, do just that. In order to be a successful web presence, you must have a marketing plan to follow. Here is a simple guide to put your marketing plan in writing, and give your promotion ideas direction.

WHICH MARKETING METHODS DO I USE?
It is okay if you have little experience in marketing a website. In fact, if you are creative, your limited experience can give you an edge on your competitors. The key here is to think of promoting your pages not only on the beaten paths, but also in ways that similar webmasters do not. Notice that this does not mean to ignore common marketing techniques like banner ads, newsgroup postings, classifieds, ezine ads, business cards, and auto responders. Think about which promotions you can afford and put in your daily schedule. Now, write down all of the marketing methods you plan to use.

WHAT IS MARKETING SUCCESS?
The next step in your marketing plan is to determine what you consider successful advertising. This is not based on the ads themselves, but the increase in sales. Whichever methods you choose, you need to have a means to decide if your efforts are worth them. Try to write down realistic goals for your marketing methods. For example, look at how many customers you currently have and aim for a percentage increase to you current customer base. Something as small as 3 - 5% increase in your mailing list could mean a successful method.

HOW MUCH ARE YOUR VISITORS WORTH?
Knowing the value of your average customer will help keep your marketing time and money under control. Keep monthly records of how much your current customers spend on your website. Your monthly record should also include the number of new customers, the number of repeat customers, and how often your repeat customers return. On your marketing plan, write down the totals for each of these facts. Comparing these monthly results will determine where you need to focus your marketing efforts.

WHERE ARE THE VISITORS YOU WANT TO ATTRACT?
Several top webmasters cite knowing their visitors as the key to their success. On this part of your marketing plan, write down where you can find your target audience. For example, if your audience reads Genre (or Curve for the ladies) then list the magazine as a place to reach your target audience. Be sure to consider other websites, pride gatherings or marches, and any other location you think you can find your customers.

HOW MUCH TIME AND MONEY DO YOU WANT TO PUT INTO ADVERTISING?
Each of the previous questions answered will affect the answer to this question. If the majority of your visitors are spending very little, then you will not allocate as much money, and possibly more time. Likewise, if the majority of your advertising is in print media, you will spend less time (after you find an ad that works for you) and more money. A healthy balance of time and money based upon your website's needs will help ensure effective marketing and prevent burn-out. Write down your advertising budget and the amount of time per day to spend on marketing.

WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED TO CONSIDER?
Hopefully your situation will be different, but just in case, do not let losing money on marketing deter you from your plan. If you try different ads, or banners, eventually you will find one that works. Although initially it may take a good deal of time to get the word out for your site, you should be able to keep the momentum by doing relatively little daily ad placements. Make sure you have a clear idea of which these will be. Remember to stick to your plan and to rework it when needed. Try placing polls or e-mail questionnaires to your paying visitors to learn what is working, or what is not. Pay attention to any changes in the types of visitors, or places you advertise in order to adjust your plan. Sometimes websites fold and magazines change their slant which will affect your target audience.

Each of these questions offer guidance on how to keep your website's traffic coming. Having a written marketing plan will keep your advertising efficient and take you a step closer to success.
 
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