A Web Marketing Tip from Experts that ends up costing you money and time by lulling you into a false sense of security…

Everybody wants to discover the “silver bullet”, THE solution to all their problems, whether it is to building a profitable online business or to losing weight! That’s the sort of society we live in – Quick Fix, Pop a Pill, so it is no wonder that the “expert marketers” serve up solutions that the market seems to be demanding!

Unfortunately, just like weight loss, developing a profitable online presence in form of a website or blog is not as easy as popping a pill!

During the last week I have come across 2 articles:

  1. Building buzz: low-cost and no-cost marketing tips http://www.theage.com.au/small-business/growing/building-buzz-lowcost-and-nocost-marketing-tips-20101011-16et5.html
  2. Small businesses yet to befriend social media http://www.theage.com.au/small-business/my-business-success/small-businesses-yet-to-befriend-social-media-20101208-18pik.html

that implied just such a piece of dangerous advice. The majority of the advice in the article was sound, however did raise the whole question of D.I.Y Marketing v getting a Professional Marketing solution delivered by the appropriate experts. This is a whole different topic and we have written a whole White Paper about it, which you can download here.

But this discussion focuses on the one piece of advice that is potentially “unhealthy for your business”. I am talking about CONTENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS or CMS.

Here are the extracts from the offending articles and their authors:

  1. 1. Marketer Wendy Kenney, 43, is the author of Build Buzz for Your Business with Low Cost and No Cost Marketing Tips

Below Wendy Kenney answers the reporter’s question: “What virtual tool would you recommend?”

This might surprise you, but I recommend getting a WordPress site above anything else, given that 40 per cent of business owners still do not have an internet presence.  With the invention of the WordPress.com platform, any business can have a nice looking website for free – and no programming experience necessary. And for just a small investment, they can have their own customised domain for their website, about US$24 to purchase and then to have WordPress assign the domain to your site.

Wendy, please email me some of these “great looking websites” designed, built, promoted and maintained by your clients, and I’ll critique them for free for your clients or readers of your book!

  1. Ed Dale is one of Australia’s best known web evangelists. In 2005 he sold dozens of his own websites for $5 million. His latest venture, Melbourne-based 30DC Inc, recently listed in the US as a publicly traded over-the-counter (OTC) stock. It’s best known for The Challenge (formerly The 30 Day Challenge), a free online course aimed at people looking to set up businesses on the net. More than 150,000 people have taken the training.

Let’s be realistic, I’m sure your educational program is fantastic and value for money, but how many of your graduates have replicated your success Ed? Maybe more would be successful f they didn’t try to do it themselves, but used their knowledge to engage and manage the right suppliers!

Here Ed Dale provides his advice and makes some very interesting observations that fly in the face of his own advice:

“Small business in Australia has still not grappled with what happened online in 2002, let alone 2011,” he says supporting the reporter’s earlier point of:

  • Surveys find some owners are intimidated by the technology and others just don’t have the time. A significant minority simply can’t see the point of it all.

Wendy also says that 40% of business owners still do not have internet presence and an article in June this year states that 75% of all SME’s still don’t have their own website! http://www.theage.com.au/small-business/smallbiz-tech/threequarters-of-smes-dont-have-own-website-20100630-zl56.html

Here’s Ed’s offending statement in his interview:

Expensive web design and confusing technology are no longer barriers to entry. Dale believes a simple WordPress blog and Facebook page is enough for most businesses. “Honestly, a surly teenager can handle the technology requirements of a small business in 2011,” he says. “If they can pimp a Facebook page they are already over-qualified.”

No one could ever argue that a professional online presence is absolutely critical today for any business or that the actual technology costs a lot less, but why would Ed and Wendy “overpromise” so much to their “fans”?

Are they simply delusional and out of touch with the market, like our politicians or are they trying to peddle more of their books and courses?

The research shows that the average SME business owner is scared of the technology, is extremely time poor and hence has no time to learn the technology, no matter how simple the WISYWIG interface has become! Finally and more importantly most simply don’t want to!

Let me explain. Most if not all of us go into business because we love to do what we do – Provide financial advice, solve legal disputes, design and build houses, treat pets, manufacture, engineer and so it goes. All of a sudden the new business owner has to wear, according to the CPA Australia up to 11 different hats and most of us are only good at successfully wearing 2 – 4 of those hats! Yet Wendy and Dale want to “put another hat” on our entrepreneur and make him or her do something that they have no passion for! Here are some statistics and observations from my own experience in providing marketing advice over the last 5 years to the SME market and consulting to hundreds of business owners:

  1. Most business people are attracted to the idea of “being able to update and manage their own website”. 95% of them never do! I mean it, I have looked at 1000’s of websites and most of them have a CMS, that is gathering dust, with the average site’s update being 6 months ago or more! Forget about the quality of the design and copywriting!
  2. The CMS, if anything is of benefit to the Web Designers and Web Marketers – it does make their jobs easier.
  3. A 16 year old may be able to “pimp a Facebook page” but this does not make them an online marketing expert! In fact, web designers and “web marketing specialists” can not deliver the entire solution see our Success Online Diagram because they have no expertise in the other half of the solution – marketing strategy which eventually leads to quality content.
  4. The 5% of business owners who are capable of at least successfully maintaining their website in WordPress, have a Facebook page, or use some other type of CMS, still face the same challenge as the web designers and 16 year olds – they need a sound marketing strategy and the ability to creatively express it in words that sell – copywriting! Something else most don’t have the time, passion or skills for!

Stark Reality guidelines for marketing success online:

  1. Stick to what you know and have a passion for, the thing that made you go out and start your business in the first place.
  2. Learn enough about the “other hats” areas of business to keep your business partners / suppliers accountable. Know what questions to ask and how to check the answers!
  3. Then outsource as much as you can afford to so as to focus on what you do best.
  4. “Business is about 2 things and 2 things only, Marketing and Innovation” – Peter Drucker, Father of Modern Management. So focus your “education” on general marketing principles: satisfying their needs in new and interesting ways, delivering value that makes them say “WOW” and refer you more business.
  5. Leave the task of marketing communication to the experts, marketing consultancies, advertising agencies, design specialists, promotional specialists, PR specialists, etc
  6. Even if you are passionate about learning and / or already have the technical skills to Do It Yourself, weigh up the pros and cons of your time versus paying the professionals! It is much harder to design, write for yourself than it is for someone else as you are “too close” to your own business.
  7. If you do not have between $7,000-$15,000 to “get started” with your marketing strategy and professional online presence what the hell are you doing quitting your day job?

Just like weight loss, success online means doing some hard work, probably getting a personal trainer and watching what advice you consume!