Forget reaching as many people as possible with as little money as possible. It doesn’t work in a competitive environment, because someone with more money will do it too; and no matter who you are, someone has more money!
Fortunately, you need not reach them, if you are findable. I often discuss this issue in mixed company and invariably someone will offer up:
“I come up, just type in my name and I’ll be there!”
Of course, what I am talking about here is coming up under four-word terms; like ‘used Mercedes San Francisco’, words that everyone in the world in that business would like to be found under, on the first page results, in the top ten returns, in the ‘free’ or ‘organic’ area, not the ‘sponsored’ links nobody clicks on: (Google collected over $5,000,000,000.00 for on that search engine alone in pay-per-click revenues from advertisers last year). Anybody can be found by their proper name from simple optimization, and there are many free resources that sell pay-per-click and provide optimization tools and CASEO services. However, in real estate, autos, travel, and many other industries, middlemen, known as ‘online malls’ or ‘portals’ are harvesting the bulk of the leads from the hot searches, and selling them back to the industry vendors, either with pay-per-click, pay-per-lead, or commission-split arrangements. Some of our clients do not sell real estate anymore, they sell leads. In fact, in almost every business, a race is currently on to see who will:
- Get on top of the search engines and become well known for a particular industry or area.
- Stay there and progressively dominate the market; become a ‘convention’
- Find a revenue model that is widely accepted by the target clientele and still profitable.
Here are some key shifts to think about:
- The marketplace is over-solicited to, oversold, prostituted beyond belief
- People are overloaded with bad advertising copy, it no longer works
- Words like ‘free’ and ‘guarantee’ are so overused, that even companies, like ours, who guarantee results, downplay the guarantee as a reason to buy
- The ‘puppy dog’ sale, where something is offered for free, in order to entice you into buying something, which we are all so overloaded with, that the most naive housewife (not only does not exist in this age of information), but, if she does, she is immune to these methods.
Ok so we know a lot of things, like the yellow pages, and landlines in general, are changing: so what do we do now to reach our market? The answer is so simple you won’t believe it: make a real contribution instead! Surprised? Don’t be: a search engine is simply a free service: for the longest time they couldn’t figure out how to make money. Then, the market began to move through their website. Now they make money.
To be successful online, use a similar plan; maybe you will not be all things to all people, like Google, Yahoo, or MSN, but you can be something to someone:
- You can be a neighborhood resource for people moving in and out
- You can be a source of local links
- You can be a localized online mall, advertised locally, where all the leads go to you (no commission split!)
All these things can be done on purpose, without breaking any rules.