We Are Not Marketing To The Web

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By CraigNewby

The medium is the message – but it’s still a message
From ancient history right up until the web came into being all marketing has been directed at people. But now, it seems, that marketing people are directing their focus onto the web as though this medium is doing the buying.

Our first clue is that almost every business home page never even mentions the market they sell to. All of these misguided business home pages are presenting themselves to the web instead of to their respective markets. The web is the medium not our market. We need to channel our marketing through the web, not to the web.

Still, you hear web marketing and web design jargon going on about selling to the web. We may know that they really mean our market on the web, but the misguided focus says something about the lack of awareness and the lack of marketing focus.

We never thought newspapers did the buying, not was television seen as anything more than a medium. Then along comes the spider-web and marketing people stopped knowing what they were doing.

All of a sudden we could sell to the world
Except that it never was true, but that kind of thinking put us into some kind of fairy land and reality was ignored. The reality is that it is not the world we are selling to… it is our web market we want to reach.

Who are they? What do we call them? What do they really want? How do we get their attention?

We failed to ask these questions when we believed we could simply present ourselves to the web medium and that’s all we needed to do. We were led to believe that the web would respond because those anonymous buyers that make up the web would buy our products.

This is why almost every small business marketing on the web isn’t selling enough to support their advertising, let alone make a profit? Why do you think that is? Why isn’t that faceless web buying from us?

Do you think that it may be because our business web site never gave our market a face they would recognize? Hmmm. Does a light come on?

Take a closer look at your own web site
You could go to any business web site, even your own, and read what’s on the home page. Did you see any mention of the target market? Or did you just see paragraphs all about the business behind the web site?

Oh for sure, businesses like to talk about themselves because they think that’s important, and it is, but not right away. And, anyway, that’s what you have an ABOUT page for.

If a small business home page doesn’t begin with a focus on the market it will never break them out of their preoccupation. You can’t call out to your market and not use their name, and you can’t use such a broad name where one-size fits all.

When I was in junior high school I had a substitute teacher briefly for one of my classes. One day I was daydreaming and off in the clouds fixing the world or destroying alien beings… whatever, but I was long gone in my own world – just like your market.

The substitute teacher forgot my name was Edward and she called me Allen. I didn’t respond – she wasn’t talking to me. She spoke louder calling me Allen and I still didn’t respond. Then she moved in closer and with a really loud voice that I couldn’t ignore anymore, regardless of using the wrong name, and I snapped out of my preoccupation.

Of course, everyone in the class got a good laugh out of that, but if she were a salesperson and I was the market there would be no sale. Not even after the market (me) was brought to awareness.

What’s my point?
The point is that marketing to the web means that your web site is not marketing to people at all, it is trying to market to a huge anonymous group made up of every market in the world. This happens when your marketing people do not have a clear focus of the market and your web market is not responding because you are not calling them by name.

Just because every web user is anonymous and we cannot know their individual name until they provide it for us doesn’t mean that we cannot describe a market segment they belong to. And just because every web user controls their own web experience and can cut us off mid-sentence doesn’t mean that we cannot grab their attention by giving them what they simply can’t resist.

To do this we need to stop calling people by the wrong name, or by no name at all. We need to first get their attention by using the name of the marketing segment they belong to. When we don’t have individual names but we can group like minded people into a marketing segment and then provide that group with an accurate descriptive name.

Marketing to the world
Run! Run as fast as you can when a web designer tells you that your web site can “sell to the world.” If you thought for one moment then you would realize that not everyone in the world wants what you have to offer. In fact, not everyone in your city wants what you have to offer.

If your brand dominated the market in your city you would be enormously successful and the next step up to regional sales would be easier. Then state or province wide sales before your business goes national. Global marketing is a long way off for us, and so we are wise to start close to home.

And global marketing is not “selling to the world” either because that is just a pipe dream but global sales are possible – even on a small scale. In fact, as a niche market, international sales is not out of reach.

It all starts by naming your web market.