Cornerstones of an Effective Website

Just about everyone has a website today. Certainly, if you're in business one way or another, you have a website. And people have different objectives behind their sites. Some are content-driven. Others provide an online service and have sophisticated user interfaces. Others still are designed to entertain and amuse their visitors. But regardless what your website is designed to do, there are a few primary objectives you should keep in mind before you start building.

This first website objective is FOCUS. Your site needs to have a narrow and specific focus. Why is this? Because there are literally millions of websites out there and the visitors you're lucky enough to attract will only take a few seconds to decide whether they'll stick around or whether they'll simply click the back button and continue browsing elsewhere. Within those few seconds, your site needs to communicate exactly what it's designed to do so the visitor can decide if it meets his or her needs or not.

One of the best exercises to enhance the focus of your site is to establish a 15 to 25-word positioning statement that guides all your development activity going forward. Think about it like a mission statement. It should articulate exactly what your website does in just 15 to 25 words.

Another way to look at it is to do a Google search for a keyword in your field and see what comes up in the results page. Under each listing, there's a short description of what that site is all about. As it turns out, the search engines get that description from the meta tags on those websites but it's exactly the same thing. What do you want YOUR description to say?

Once you've established a positioning statement, you should display it prominently on your homepage. It should be one of the first things visitors see when they land on your website. And as I mentioned above, the same statement should be included in your meta tags as your site description. That way, the search engines know exactly what your site is about at the same time. And if your site shows up in a search results page, that description will show up as part of your listing.

The second objective is DEPTH. Again, this objective serves your visitors as well as the search engines. Build a massive amount of content all about your narrow business focus. That way, if a visitor lands on your website and decides in the first few seconds that they need what you're providing, they'll go on to find a ton of resources all about that topic, satisfying their need and establishing trust along the way.

Depth of content helps your website with the search engines as well. Google uses complicated algorithms to assess value to different websites and one of the biggest things they look for is content. If your website has a narrow focus and lots of content about that focus, it will get ranked higher within your area of expertise. Google will consider your site a good resource for people searching for your narrow focus.

The third objective is to make your site STICKY. This is a relatively new term that describes a website's ability to keep a visitor on the site. A lot of sites do a fairly good job of attracting visitors but many of those visitors take one look at the site and leave within a second or two. As I mentioned earlier, the positioning statement can do a lot to help someone understand what your site is designed to do. But you need more than that to keep them browsing.

The visitor needs to see immediate value when they visit your site. They need to see something that will benefit them right away. They need to see something they can use to make their own lives better. This is the foundation behind today's value-first marketing moniker. People have been over-marketed and have become skeptical in clever marketing slogans. They want to see the value. They want proof that you can deliver. They want to sample your product or service before they buy anything.

You should spend some time and think about what you can offer your website visitors as soon as they land on your site. It could be information. It could be a tool or calculator of some kind. It could be a free subscription. It could be an entertaining video or an interactive game they can play. Whatever it is, you need to capture your visitor within seconds and guide them to something that will benefit them.

Once they've received one piece of value, give them a second and then a third. Guide them through a maze of value, encouraging them to continue browsing and discovering even more. This is the key to a sticky website and you can get a good idea of your progress by measuring your average time on the site through your analytics platform.

There are a million different websites out there and they're all designed to achieve different objectives. But each one of those websites can be a bit better by incorporating more focus, depth and stickiness. All three improve your website' effectiveness and all three offer benefits with the search engines as well.

Tactical Execution with Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a strategic company focused on growth marketing and program implementation across business markets. Visit the website for actionable guidance for revenue generation.

Do You Make These Mistakes With Your Web Site?

While it's true that "nobody's perfect," I think the same goes for small business web sites as well - no web site is absolutely perfect. Even the best of the best often have room for improvement!

But there are some basic web site mistakes that many small companies make that can end up hurting business instead of helping it. Do any of these mistakes show up on your web site?

- Not enough content.

Often, small businesses will put minimal information along with their contact information on their web sites and think that's probably good enough. But today's web visitors are looking for something more, and lots of good quality content is a great way to deliver value to your visitors and build credibility for your business.

- Old or outdated content.

If you want visitors and search engines to pay attention to your web site, you need to keep adding new content and updating the existing information on your web site regularly. If your site never changes, the search engines will ignore your site, and visitors will not have a reason to come back. It's also unlikely that visitors will recommend your site to their friends and colleagues, too.

- Not being search engine friendly.

Speaking of search engines, what happens if a search engine spider visits your site, but can't read your web pages? Nothing happens, and that's a problem. If a search engine spider cannot read your web pages, it just moves on to the next site, and your information is completely ignored. Your web site must be search engine friendly in order to be included in the search engine databases.

- Not monitoring your site in the search engines.

Even if your web site is search engine friendly, there are constant changes going on with the search engines and also with your competitors. If you aren't monitoring how your site is performing in the search engines, how will you know if these changes are affecting your rankings or if you are losing traffic? Monitoring your web site means that you can react to changes and take appropriate steps to make sure your site shows up in the search results and that web traffic keeps flowing.

- The site is built using Frames or Flash.

Not too many web sites still make this mistake, but there are still some small business web sites out there using one or both of these methods. Sites built with Frames or Flash intro pages cannot easily be read by the search engines, and web visitors typically hate using them as well. These are older web techniques that don't reflect well on your business, they don't perform well in the search engines, and today's web visitors expect better.

Making your web site the best it can be is a very effective and affordable marketing option for most small businesses. Of all the other types of advertising and marketing that you do each year, your web site has the potential to be seen by more customers, can continue to promote your company perpetually through links, is always accessible to customers, and can instantly reflect changes and provide fresh information to draw people in.

Avoiding basic web site mistakes will help your site perform better, making it a "perfect" marketing strategy for your small business.

Lauren Hobson is the Editor of Biz Talk Newsletter and the Five Sparrows Marketing Blog from Five Sparrows, LLC. Read the most recent Five Sparrows articles on small business websites and marketing or subscribe at www.fivesparrows.com/biztalk.

The importance of building search engine friendly web sites

There are many aspects in regards to search engine optimisation. There are on-page procedures such as optimising meta tags, titles, page copy, URLs, alt tags and the like. We also know that another important aspect is off-page SEO whereby a lot of time and effort is put in in order to obtain quality inbound links to your site. This normally takes the shape of directory submission, article writing and submission, competition analysis, social media marketing and blogging to name a few.

These are all crucial elements of search engine optimisation and are a major part of any SEO specialists daily chores.

One element of SEO that can be easily overlooked is the building of a web site that is not only "user friendly" but also "search friendly". By "search friendly" we mean that the search engines can crawl and spider your site unimpeded which will enable it to extract all of your content and in turn index it within the search engines database. After all, what use is getting thousands of inbound one way links to your site, if your site is not user or search friendly?

There are a number of things worth considering when building a user and search engine friendly web site. They are:

1. Use as much text as possible in the form of HTML - Search engines love plain text. They are not able to read images, video files, audio files or flash, so try to not use too much of these in your site design.

Another thing to consider is that some sites make users log in in order to view certain content or use a form to find content. Both of these are bad. Spiders/crawlers do not know how to log in to your site or fill out a form in order to find your content. So if you want your content to be indexed by the search engines, stay away from this. If you MUST do this, try to produce a snippet of the content to entice users to log in. That way the spider at least has something to chew on.

2. Make your URLs understandable - This means creating URLs such as www.mysite.com/how-to-bring-up-your-children.html and NOT www.mysite.com/children/article-09876R-YTUR-4tr.html. As you can see the first URL is not only "user friendly" but is also "search engine friendly" meaning that the search engines read more meaning and relevance into this URL than the second one. Don't forget also that if you were to copy the second URL into an email, your signature or post on a blog etc it wouldn't be totally clear where the link was going. This cannot be said for the first URL.

3. Structure your site well - This means making your site as flat as possible. Instead of structuring your site in way that means a user has to click 10 times before reaching their target make the content a maximum of 4 clicks away or less.

4. Design your site for users NOT search engines - As much as possible treat the search engines as if they were human beings manually scouring your site for content to index. If it is easy for humans to find what they are looking for on your site, logic says that the spiders will also find what they are looking for and index it. The more "speed bumps" you put in the way of spiders, the slower your site will be crawled and indexed (if at all).

5. Content is king - One of my favorite expressions which is so true. Great content has many benefits, after all, its what we are all after, even the search engines. The search engines job is to find "relevant" search data. When the search engine starts dishing out "irrelevant" results, that's the time when it is going to become out of favour with web users who will move onto another engine.

Having great site content has many benefits such as if your content is good and original, people will want to link to it and your site, so its a good way of building natural links which is something that google likes. If you write good genuine creative content on your topic you will start to become an authority in your chosen field meaning more links and brand/site awareness.

The more content you have the more opportunity you will have of inserting your keywords making it look as natural as possible to the search engines. Although keyword density is no longer a major factor with search engines, it is something that needs to be done.

Well, that's the end of this article with some tips on making your site not only "user friendly" but just as importantly "search friendly". It is something that can be easily overlooked especially as gaining back links is viewed as THE most important SEO practice at the moment.

Overlook it at your peril!!

Until next time...

Rob Griggs is an SEO specialist based in Spain. For further information on his web design and SEO services, please visit his search engine optimisation spain web site.

SEARCH ENGINE TACTICS: How to Avoid Alienating the Major Search Engines

Each of the major search engines Google, Yahoo and MSN have quality webmaster guidelines in place to prevent the unfair manipulation of search engine rankings by unscrupulous website owners. These webmaster guidelines change frequently to 'weed' out any new deceptive practices and those websites found engaging in these illicit practices are consequently dropped from the search engine rankings of the major search engine they have offended.

Being banned or dropped from the search engine rankings can have dire effects on your website traffic, online sales generation and site popularity. Especially if your website is classified as a 'bad neighborhood' site, you can then kiss your reciprocal linking campaign goodbye, as existing and prospective link partners will not want to be associated with your site for fear of their own rankings dropping.

If you wish to avoid alienating the major search engines then do not engage in the following SE tactics:

1. 'Cloaking' or sneaky redirects - displaying different content to the search engines than shown to your normal website visitors including hidden text and hidden links. Often this is achieved by delivering content based on the IP address of the user requesting the page, when a user is identified as a search engine spider a side-server script delivers a different version of the web page to deceive the search engine into giving the website a higher ranking.

2. 'Doorway' pages created specifically for the search engines that are aimed at spamming the index of a search engine by inserting results for specific keyword phrases to send the search engine spider to a different page. With doorway pages a user doesn't arrive at the page they were looking for. Similarly avoid 'cookie cutter' approaches that direct users to affiliate advertising with little or no original content.

3. Don't create pages that install viruses, Trojans or badware. 'Badware' is spyware, malware or deceptive adware that tracks a user's movements on the internet and reports this information back to unscrupulous marketing groups who then bombard the user with targeted advertising. This type of spyware is often unknowingly downloaded when playing online games or is attached to software or information downloads from a site. They are often difficult to identify and remove from a user's PC and can affect the PC's functionality.

4. Avoid using software that sends automatic programming queries to the search engines to submit pages or check rankings. This type of software consumes valuable computing resources of the search engines and you will be penalized for using it.

5. Don't load web pages with irrelevant words.

6. Don't link to 'bad neighborhood' sites who have:

* Free for all links pages
* Link farms - automated linking schemes with lots of unrelated links
* Known web spammers or the site has been dropped or banned by the search engines.

7. Avoid 'broken links' or '404 errors', your site will be penalized for them.

8. Don't display pages with minimal content that is of little value to your site visitors.

9. Do not duplicate content unnecessarily.

10. Do not use pop-ups, pop-unders or exit consoles.

11. Do not use pages that rely significantly on links to content created for another website.

12. Do not use 'cross linking' to artificially inflate a site's popularity. For example, the owner of multiple sites cross linking all of his sites together, if all sites are hosted on the same servers the search engines will pick this up and the sites will be penalized.

13. Do not misuse a competitors name or brand names in site content.

14. Sites with numerous, unnecessary virtual host names will be penalized.

15. Do not use techniques that artificially increase the number of links to your web pages ie. Link farms.

16. Display web pages with deceptive, fraudulent content or pages that provide users with irrelevant page content.

17. Using content, domain titles, meta tags and descriptions that violate any laws, regulations, infringe on copyrights & trademarks, trade secrets or intellectual property rights of an individual or entity. Specifically in terms of publicity, privacy, product design, torts, breach of contract, injury, damage, consumer fraud, false, misleading, slanderous or threatening content.

Rosemary Donald is an SEO Consultant with Rank1 Website Marketing (www.rank1websitemarketing.com) & author of the SEO ebook 'Insider Secrets of Rank1 Websites' available for $29.95 AU. Rosemary is a regular contributor to online article sites on the topics of SEO, website marketing, ecommerce, search engine marketing & small business development. Rosemary is also a successful online trader & owner of top ranking website.

Why is Search Engine Marketing So Popular?

The key to marketing has always been getting one's product recognized by as large a group of people as possible. Advertising has always been the key to any marketing effort. Companies spend millions on ad placements in trimedia campaigns that encompass print, radio and television.

Print, radio and television have traditionally been the main medium for marketing. However, in the past decades, another form of paid advertising has found itself on the rise, and this utilizes the internet.

Search engine marketing (SEM) is a form of internet marketing. It uses the web as a medium to spread awareness of its target product. Internet marketing has emerged as a cheap yet dynamic way to distribute information in the global market.

SEM seeks to promote websites - and the products being sold on those websites - by increasing their visibility through search engine results pages.

The development of SEM is an off-shoot of the success of the Internet in the global arena. As more and more people started using the web, more and more sites on a variety of topics started being created. In the mid-to-late 90s, search engines were developed to help people find the information they wanted quickly.

Soon search engines developed business models to finance their services such as pay per click programs.

A pay per click program is a small text ad that appears next to results from an on-line search. A marketer buys the rights for their ads to appear on a web page or a search engine. The ads are tied up to key words. When a searcher types in a particular query to a search engine, the engine not only offers up a listing of relevant websites but also the marketers "ad".

The first pay per click programs were offered by Open Text in 1996 and Goto.com in 1998. Goto.com changed its name to Overture and was purchased by Yahoo in 2003 and is now Yahoo! Search Marketing.

SEM methods include: Search Engine Optimization (or SEO), paid placement, and paid inclusion.

Search Engine Optimization is a strategy by which you attempt to improve the volume and quality of traffic to a website by "marketing" it to a web site. Using key words and content to ensure your site shows up many times during searches.

Paid placement is the pay per click program. Advertisers pay when a user clicks on to the links to visit their web site. These are also known as sponsored links or sponsored ads. Google Adwords, Yahoo! Search Marketing and MSN adCenter are the largest network operators of the pay per click program as of 2007. Minimum prices per click start at US$.01 to .50.

Paid inclusion is when a search engine company charges fees for the inclusion of a website in their search index. This fee structure is ment to ask as a filter against superfluous submissions - websites that try to "trick" the engine by using popular key words that are unrelated to actual content of site - and a revenue generator for the search engine company. The fee is typically an annual subscription rate.

SEM is a relatively cheap and inexpensive way to create traffic on you web site and cultivate brand recognition. A pay-per-click program is cheaper then a trimedia campaign and yet can reach a large number of people globally day and night. As a result, many companies are now taking advantage of the internet to let consumers know what they have.

According to a recent report by the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization, advertisers in North America alone spend $9.4 billion in SEM in 2006. In 2006, the majority of search marketers (62%) said branding was the primary objective of search marketing campaigns. Nearly as many, however (60%) said that selling products was a key objective. This year, direct sales were the top choice, at 58%, followed by brand awareness at 57%. For more companies, SEM spending is increasing and actually earning a bigger budget then other marketing techniques. It is estimated that by 2011, companies will be spending $ 18.6 billion on SEM.

This growth will be driven by strong advertiser demand, rising keyword pricing and more small and midsized business discovering the effectiveness of SEM.

Currently, SEM is an alternative marketing tool with many possibilities. It's increase in popularity will eventually result in more businesses utilizing SEM techniques and a possible rise in rates for web space. The faith major businesses are placing in SEM - as denoted by the money they are willing to spend on it - makes this fast growing advertising technique that should be utilized by any business seeking to make a name for it's globally.

Mikhail Tuknov, a Search Engine Optimization Specialist, can improve search engine ranking of your online business. SEO specialist providing search engine optimization (SEO), pay per click (PPC) management, web site design or development and web analytics services.

Effective Email Marketing Subjects

Email marketing has exploded in growth over the past few years, as marketers have continued to see the benefits and outstanding ROI this marketing medium can bring. However, despite the great results being attained, many marketers still overlook a very important component of their email marketing campaigns: The Subject.

Just about everyone who uses email knows about the subject line. It's the little bit of information that is displayed along with the 'sender name' when an email lands in someone's inbox. Some email programs show the sender name, subject and a preview of the message, while other email programs only display the sender name and subject. In these latter scenarios, the subject is an even more vital part of your email marketing campaigns because that may be the single biggest factor in determining whether or not someone will open your email marketing campaign.

Far too many email marketers spend a long time perfecting their message content (which is a good thing!) and then they simply gloss over the subject. An there's the mistake. You may have the world's greatest content, but if your subject line isn't compelling enough to make your readers open the message, all that great content will just go to waste. With that in mind, here are a few tips for crafting your subject line:

1. Short & Simple: A Few Words Can Go A Long Way

A good subject line is short and to the point. Many email programs restrict the amount of characters that are displayed in the subject. What this means is that your subject may get cut short. Worse yet, you don't really know where it will get cut off, which would lead to some highly unexpected results. Imagine sending out an email campaign to business professionals with the subject line: "Learn to Diversify Your Sales Strategy." Now imagine if that subject gets cuts short by your readers' email programs, and all they see is "Learn to Dive". Chances are, your business-focused readers won't care to open that message. On the other hand, if your subject is just a few words, and is direct and to the point, then it will be displayed fully and you will know with the utmost confidence what each recipient is getting the context of your email marketing campaign, regardless of their email software.

2. Pique Your Readers Interest Everyday

People receive a lot of email messages, so you want to make sure your email marketing campaign cuts through the clutter. For your email marketing campaign to succeed, you need to pique people's interest. After all, it is their choice as to whether or not they open your email. And if the subject doesn't elicit some interest or curiosity, then it can easily be skimmed over. The best way to come up with a captivating and interesting subject line is to put yourself in your readers' shoes. Don't tell them what you think they want to hear; tell them what they actually want to hear! This can be tough because you need to keep it short (as per point 1), but a few words is more than enough to get a reader's mouth wet and make him or her want to know more. Remember, if your subject is dull, boring, or completely uninteresting, your reader will go looking for the delete button, and no email marketer wants that.

3. Cheesy or Overly Exaggerated Subjects Doesn't Fool Anyone

If you send out an email and in the subject you promise that "all of your dreams will come true", today's consumer will likely delete your email marketing campaign prior to even reading another word. If your subject guarantees your readers will be rich beyond their wildest dreams, then it will almost always get trashed (not to mention classified as spam). Today's consumer is very savvy and these cheesy, out-dated gimmicks simply don't work. Before writing your subject, assume that each one of your recipients is very well aware that your product or service is not the miracle of all miracles. The moment you send out an email with an overly gimmicky subject, you are really shooting yourself in the foot. This is not to say the content of your message is not special, but with limited reading time for emails, people quickly dismiss anything that sounds "too good to be true". Make sure your email marketing campaigns don't get filed into this notorious group!

4. Be Honest: Describe Your Content

Your email marketing subject should not be conjured up in isolation of your actual email content. They should go hand-in-hand, where the subject nicely describes what the reader can expect in the body of your email marketing campaign. Far too many times in the quest for the perfect subject (and while following the points above) an email marketer will stray so far away from their content that the subject ends up having nothing to do with the message. This is a catastrophic mistake because in addition to the subject acting as a determining factor for opening your email, it also sets up the reader's mentality for what they can expect to see in your email marketing campaign. If they open your message expecting to see tips for effective email marketing, but instead you give them tips for dieting, they will swiftly close your message. While a goal of the subject is to get the reader to open he message, you also want to set it up so that the reader keeps reading. And you can only do that when your subject is honest. After all, if you're trying to fool your readers into opening your message, then you can't expect them to be that attached to what you eventually want to say.

A good email marketing subject can go a long way towards boosting your results and helping you achieve your goals. This important part of every email marketing campaign should be given some serious thought and, when combined with the points above, will help more people open your email and read your content.

Robert Burko is the President of EliteEmail.com, the leading email marketing program, serving thousands of businesses across the globe. The EliteEmail.com email marketing service is part of the EliteAnswers.com family.

18 Web-Marketing Concepts That MAKE A DIFFERENCE

1. Think Audiences Not Markets

What's your market? Hire a consultant to help you with your Web-business problems and one of the first questions he or she will ask is, what's your market? How about eighteen to thirty-four year old, single male college graduates with a dog named Spot; or maybe forty-five to fifty-nine year old married women, who hate their husbands and can't get their adult children to move out of the house. Maybe, just maybe, they're asking the wrong question.

The Web isn't about markets, it's about audiences. Audiences need to be entertained, enlightened, and engaged, and if your website doesn't, you're never going to achieve what you want.

Time to rethink how you're delivering your marketing message. Start treating Web-visitors like an audience not a market, and you might just find what it takes to be successful on the Web.

2. Think People Not Customers

You know all those visitors you attract to your website with your brilliant search engine optimization schemes, how many actually purchase anything? Stop treating visitors as if they are already customers and start treating them like what they are - people. That's right, people. You know the two-legged funny creatures with wants, needs, desires, and maybe even a few bucks to spend.

Customers are always looking for a deal and they're leery of websites that only want to take their hard earned cash. Treat your Web-visitors like people who can satisfy their wants, needs, and desires with your assistance and guess what? Maybe it will make a difference: one small step for Web-credibility, one giant leap for Web-success.

3. Think Experiences Not Features

Bought any good features lately? Didn't think so. You would think the way business pushes the whole feature-frenzy thing that features are exactly what people are looking for, but nobody buys features, they don't even buy solutions - boy doesn't that whole solution provider nonsense really get to you after a while.

What people really buy are experiences, hopefully positive ones. Whether it's soft ice cream or a new accounting program, what people are paying for is the experience your product or service provides.

Does your website offer an experience? Does it explain the experience your product or service delivers? If it doesn't, then you really haven't got anything anybody wants.

4. Think Emotion Not Logic

Think you're a logical person, always making rational decisions based on practical criteria, and bottom line results. So tell me what was the functional thinking that went into the purchase of those leather pants you bought last year, or that sixty inch plasma television you bought just to watch the big game?

Let's get real. You make purchasing decisions based on what you want, and then justify them with seemingly sensible rationalizations, just like everybody else. So stop trying to appeal only to the practical, logical, aspects of bean-counter sales, and start pushing the feel good aspects of emotional marketing.

If you're trying to appeal to an audience that gets its only satisfaction out of acquiring the most features for the least cost, then your marketing to the wrong audience.

5. Think Memories Not Promotions

Most animals live in the moment, whereas human beings live in the past. Our here and now and our plans for the future are based on our experiences, our histories, and our memories.

We take pictures of our kids, holidays, and special events; we commemorate birthdays, anniversaries, promotions, and milestones of all kinds. Even the significance of our prized possessions is centered on the fact that those mere objects represent memories of the people, places, and events that shaped our lives.

Real marketing, the kind that creates long-term clients and customer relationships, is not about coupons, sale promotions, or deep discounts; it's about delivering memories.

6. Think Marketing Not S.E.O.

Okay, here's one you've heard from us before: think marketing not search engine optimization. Sure you've got to drive as many people to your website as possible, but if your marketing message is so confused, unfocused, and hard to comprehend because of all the keyword density and S.E.O. tricks, then what have you really accomplished other than wasting people's time? And people really get upset when you waste their time.

7. Think Stickiness Not Hits

It's not about how many hits you get on your website, it's about how long people stay. If visitors remain on your site long enough to get your marketing message then you must have said something worth listening to, and if visitors get the message, your site has done its job.

If your website delivers the message, then you can expect the email inquiries and phone calls to start flowing, but it's still up to you and your sales staff to close the sale: people close sales not websites.

8. Think Stories Not Pitches

Did you hear the one about the farmer's daughter and the search engine optimizer ... Stories, everyone loves stories. In fact before the invention of the Gutenberg press, oral story telling was the way knowledge got passed down from one generation to the next, and how news was sent from one region to another.

Now that we have this multimedia Web-environment, we can continue the tradition of real people delivering creative audio and video presentations that capture the imagination and drive home the marketing message so your audience won't forget who you are. Nothing informs, engages, and entertains, like a good story: sounds to me like one heck of a way to sell to an audience desperate for meaningful communication.

9. Think Focus Not Confusion

There you go again, telling everyone who will listen all the wonderful things you and your company can do. Trouble is, telling them all those things just confuses them.

What is the product or service that is most important to your company, the one you are determined to sell to your audience? That's the one you want to talk about. That's the one you want to devote your marketing effort to promoting. That's the one you want people to think about when they hear your name or see your logo. Focus your communication or your message will just be a forgettable, incomprehensible blur.

10. Think Campaigns Not Ads

Isolated one-time advertisements are like one-night-stands: exciting for a while but ultimately unfulfilling and devoid of meaning. Your audience is looking to get married, not a short-term fling. Your marketing has to woo your visitors with long-term campaigns that tell your story and deliver your focused message; audiences expect to be courted and counseled with meaningful communication. And that takes time and commitment.

If you're spending money on just ads, you might as well be throwing that money down the drain. There is a better way. So if you're looking for a long-term relationship with your audience, think campaigns not ads.

11. Think Message Not Hype

What message are you delivering to your online visitors? Are you telling them you've got the best product, at the best price, with the best staff, and world-class customer service? Is that what you saying? Guess what? Nobody cares, because nobody believes you.

There is only one way to show people you're the best and that is to prove it, but here's the catch, you can't prove it until they become customers. Whoops. Okay, so what's the solution? How about a real marketing message that speaks to what your audience really wants. It's not about you it's about them.

12. Think Personality Not Banality

Does your website just lie there like a lox; you know that cold, dead fish that often comes with a bagel? No personality, just more of the same tedious, dull, dreary, mind-numbing, tiresome, lackluster, monotonous, stuff everybody else has. Boring! This is the new Web, so if you can't get with it, you'd better get out because you're wasting your time and everybody else's.

You're so worried about downloading times that you forgot to put anything on your site worth seeing or hearing. Check your logs. If people are jumping ship faster than rats on a burning ship, it's time to try something new; like, maybe some compelling content.

13. Think Branding Not Copyrights

Hay, I love the Beatles. I grew up with them, and I have all their records - ya records, like vinyl dude, not CDs. And guess what, I've also got a Mac, in fact I've got a bunch of them, not to mention iPods and other assorted Apple gizmos and gadgets. And you know something, I've never once got John, Paul, George, or Ringo confused with Steve Jobs. Amazing!

Worry just a little less about all that small print stuff and more on building a memorable brand that people will remember, and that nobody will mistake for some johnny-come-lately imposter.

14. Think Positioning Not Slogan

It's funny how people have a position on almost everything: you name the issue and people will have a definite opinion on what they think, except when it comes to their businesses. Just because you have a cute slogan that you print under your logo, doesn't mean you own a position in your audience's minds.

It seems businesses can't stand to make a definitive statement about who they are and what they do. Why is that? Afraid they'll lose a customer I guess, but if people don't understand exactly what you do, and why they should be doing business with you, then they're never going to be customers anyway.

No company can be all things to all people and companies that try, never go anywhere. Tell people who you are and what you do and forget about all the other stuff, it just gets in the way.

15. Think Sensory Appeal Not Cents Appeal

Do you want people to sit-up and take notice of what you have to say? Do you want people to actually remember what you're telling them? While if that's the case, you better appeal to their senses, and we're talking about sights and sounds.

Deliver all your juicy, got-to-have content in an audio and video presentation that will stick in people's heads.

If all you're doing is appealing to their desire to spend less, then maybe they aren't the customers you're looking for anyway. Nobody can afford to sell for less all the time, every time.

16. Think Identity Not Logos

Is your company the equivalent of the invisible man? You're on the Web, but nobody cares because you're not saying anything worth listening to, and if they do see you, you are instantly forgettable.

You've got to have an identity, a personality, an image, and there is no better way to create that identity than with a video of a real person delivering your marketing message in an entertaining, memorable manner.

17. Think Entertainment Not Biz-speak

Speaking of entertaining, you cannot engage, enlighten, or entertain if everything you present sounds and looks like it came from some b-school text book, or from one of those self-help courses on direct marketing guaranteed to make you a millionaire in only three weeks.

Every business has a story to tell and they can all be presented in a compelling way with a little imagination and creativity. And yes, even b-to-b businesses can rise above the mundane and deadly boring, if only they take the time and make the effort.

18. Think Communication Not Copy

Last but not least, let's all remember, that websites are about communication. If you've got nothing to say, nothing to offer, or are afraid to say what you can do for your audience, then how do you expect to be successful.

Filling your Web pages with keyword density prose and instantly forgettable sale's copy is not going to win the day.

Whether you are presenting your case in text, audio, or video, it better be interesting and enlightening - even text can be entertaining if written with style and attitude.

When websites fail, they fail because they do not communicate a realistic, believable, convincing marketing message.

Jerry Bader is Senior Partner at MRPwebmedia, a website design firm that specializes in Web-audio and Web-video. Visit http://www.mrpwebmedia.com/ads, http://www.136words.com, and http://www.sonicpersonality.com. Contact at info@mrpwebmedia.com or telephone (905) 764-1246 .