Online Marketing: Connect the Boughts

“A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter–and getting smarter faster than most companies.” – The Cluetrain Manifesto

The explosive growth of many ecommerce websites may be directly linked to conducting business differently than their storefront counterparts.

It is estimated that 17-20% of the earth’s population taps into the worldwide web on a regular basis. Savvy web proprietors see the amazing possibilities in ecommerce. That power is very simple to define. It is the power of response.

Prior to the advent of the Internet most business relied exclusively on mass marketing in hopes someone would pick up a paper, listen to a radio station, watch a television program or read a sports guide. Obviously this form of marketing has a semblance of success or it wouldn’t be used. However, as online marketing has become more sophisticated, web-based netreprenuers are discovering that they can actually gain significant control over how to market their ecommerce site and who to target with their message.

“The new information technology, Internet and e-mail, have practically eliminated the physical costs of communications.” – Peter Drucker

The list of online marketing resources is significant, but it is continually fueled by instant, effective and global communication between client and staff. The use of email has rendered mail a component of product fulfillment instead of client correspondence. The same tool can be used to inform your client base of new products, services or special online events.

Most customers like the ability to communicate instantly. Email can allow this objective without wait times on a phone service with menu choices longer than a local fast food joint. It is understood that the use of an online retailer offers both an impersonal and highly personal means of shopping. Impersonal because the customer receives no high-pressure sales pitch – personal because customer service is standing by to handle any difficulties.

The Internet will help achieve “friction free capitalism” by putting buyer and seller in direct contact and providing more information to both about each other. – Bill Gates

Online marketing provides the means to draw customers to your website in very specific and targeted ways that were never achievable by standard mass marketing campaigns.

The process for developing a comprehensive online marketing strategy involves mobilizing your resources to optimize your site, provide meaningful content to visitors, making sure your site is easy to navigate and providing goods or services the customer needs.

As with a brick and mortar store it is important to always keep the customer first. An effective online marketing strategy allows you several means of managing follow up as well as ongoing client relations.

Scott Lindsay is a web developer and entrepreneur. He is the founder of HighPowerSites and many other web projects.

Your Internet Presence and Networking Strategy – Creating a Marketing Campaign to Land Your Next Job

Your Internet Presence alone isn’t enough to land a job when you find you need to proactively gain exposure to alternative employment opportunities. In order to maximize your exposure to career opportunities, you need to get your arms around one simple fact:

You’re about to engage in the biggest networking and marketing campaign project of your life.

As such, you want access to every business card, contact and email address you’ve ever collected.

You want access to every tradeshow, symposia, conference, user group, relevant industry specific blog and website you can identify.

You want access to additional contact information via free and subscription based research services and databases.

You want to possess, ideally, ongoing memberships, and as a result – a working familiarity with professional business networking environments such as Ecademy, LinkedIn, et al.

Have you ever asked yourself, “Are there other networking sites that can compliment my networking process/needs?”

From the people that make up the membership demographics, to the platform capabilities from which the members network, to the nature of networking conducted on the site, to the philosophy of the executive team that founded the networking site – all networking sites certainly are not equal. Each networking site has a unique capability which can be leveraged in a networking process in support of a specific or ongoing networking need/objective.

Many people make the mistake of being “wedded” to a single networking site, and get frustrated with their ability to accomplish their immediate and/or ongoing networking objectives. This would be equivalent to attempting to build a house, and use the same type of saw in every application requiring “a saw”.

There is a reason some wise person coined the phrase “Use the right tool for the right job.”

Just like some people have their favorite search engine, some people have their favorite networking site. If you really want to increase your ability to network, invest time in learning how to leverage the power of more than just your favorite networking site.

Don’t think of other networking sites as competing with each other; think of other networking sites as complementing each other.

Develop a plan of attack.

The old adage of “those who fail to plan; plan to fail” is absolutely true in a proactive job search campaign. You can’t simply focus on approaching recruiters. Read: E-Mailing Resumes to Recruiters Won’t Generate a Big Response.

Create a balanced plan.

Reaching out to recruiters and hiring authorities/executives directly by utilizing resume distribution services and a desktop email campaign software solution should be combined with direct networking by leveraging professional business networking environments (e.g., Ecademy, Linkedin, et al.). This creates an effective job search strategy that will increase your exposure to more opportunities.

Make sure your plan includes investing time in personally branding yourself on the Internet and building an Internet presence.

If someone types your name (e.g., “John Doe” ) into Google, are you anywhere to be found? Or quote industry leading personal branding consultant Cindy Kraft “Do you exist?” (see my related article: “Do you exist?”)

The easiest way to have Google find you is to write blogs. But it is actually a little more complicated than going out and creating a blog. You can go to a number of free blog sites and grab your own blog (e.g., Blogger, BlogSource, et al.), but that won’t mean your name “John Doe” is going to return a hit on the first page of the search return in Google.

You need to be exposed on a site that is frequently indexed by Google, and has high page view numbers. Ecademy is indispensable in this regard. It has an Alexa ranking close to 1500 (i.e., 1500th most trafficked site on the Internet). That is similar to the amount of traffic on a site like United Airlines. Google “loves” the site because the content is constantly changing.

On a site, such as Ecademy, you can “blog” your brains out and write articles on the topics of your choosing – all of which will be indexed by Google the same day you write it typically. In less than a month, and in some cases in a single day, you will show first page hits on Google when someone searches on your name (e.g., “John Doe”).

This is priceless from an exposure standpoint, and absolutely invaluable to a job seeker. No other networking site can compete with Ecademy with how fast you can personally brand yourself on the Internet. Google even indexes your Ecademy Profile, and there is virtually no limit to the amount of information you can build into your profile on a site like Ecademy, as compared to other sites like LinkedIn that only allow for a very limited profile.

That said, make sure to sign up and create a profile on LinkedIn as well. It’s a great site too; it just doesn’t offer the same capability as other networking sites. There are over 67,000 Staffing and Recruiting professionals using LinkedIn as a database of candidates. I always tell people to specifically make sure their LinkedIn profile has as much “resume” information about their career as the character limited fields will allow. Why? Because then the 67,000 Staffing and Recruiting Professionals in LinkedIn will be able to hit your profile when they do key word searches in “Find People” when they are trying to identify candidates for their searches – let alone the remaining +6.5 million members who might want to network with you.

Just remember, it isn’t that one networking site is “better” than another. As I said above, don’t think of other networking sites as competing with each other; think of other networking sites as complementing each other.

When seeking your next career opportunity, don’t kid yourself; you are conducting a direct marketing and networking campaign. If recruiters and hiring authorities/executives don’t know who you are, can’t find you, and don’t know how to contact you, you will miss out on a lot of opportunities to advance your career.

Happy Networking,

Ron Bates is an expert in mission critical retained executive search. He is a Managing Principal with the retained executive search firm Executive Advantage Group, Inc. He has delivered personal executive coaching projects to former SAP, E&Y, Oracle, and WorldCom Exec’s responsible for multi-billion dollar business units, and co-founded [], a self guided job search oriented executive coaching process.

Fizzling Stock Market Bolsters Non – Traditional Retirement Investing

Q2 of 2007 saw stocks slog their way through light volume as investors fought through geopolitical concerns, inflation fears and a dramatically slowing Chinese economy.

While the stock market continues to thwart investors, the non-traditional investment market is gaining increased market share. Investing IRA and 401(k) funds in non-traditional investments such as real-estate, tax liens, property, or even funding a business or franchise was all but unheard of even five years ago.

Today however, baby boomers have the opportunity to generate higher and more secure returns than the stock market can offer. Since 2000, investor participation in such investments has nearly doubled and is projected to account for 20 percent of the investment market by 2015. Patty Servaes of Massachusetts recently used her 401(k) funds to start a new business.

She states that, “business has been doing great. I love it. Honestly, without [the company who established my self-directed 401(k) plan] I don’t think I ever would have pulled the trigger because I would have been too nervous to take on that kind of debt [using SBA or other standard financing]. This option just really fit with my personality and risk-taking profile.”

“Patty is just one of many who have retired but want to continue working to further their retirement profile.” David Nilssen, CEO and Co-founder of Guidant Financial Group states. “Non-traditional investments are not securities; however, unlike the stock market they do offer secured returns.”

Nilssen continued, “With self-directed IRAs you have complete freedom and control of your retirement funds, which can create endless possibilities. After all, no one cares more about your retirement than you do.”

Five Tough Questions and Answers on the Future of Prescription Drug Marketing

Over the past decade, the world of pharmaceutical communications has changed significantly. In the late 1990s, drug companies spent hundreds of millions of dollars on direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertisements that made drugs like Viagra and Prilosec household names.

Today, the threat of government regulation and widespread criticism has forced the industry to change its marketing tactics. Drug companies are currently shifting marketing dollars from product promotion to education. In this article, I ask and answer five tough questions about current and future trends in pharmaceutical marketing.

Q1: Should pharmaceutical companies be allowed to market their products?

A1: Yes. Drug companies have a responsibility to deliver value to their stockholders, investors and other stakeholders. In an ideal world companies would make products that sell themselves. You don’t need an advertisement to sell a cure for cancer. However, most products are not cure-alls. Rather they represent incremental advances in a number of conditions. Companies also invest research dollars into medications that are for purely cosmetic or lifestyle uses (e.g., Viagra, Ambien). In short, drug firms have every right to promote their products. However, it should be done responsibly. This means companies should:

- Adhere to the industry trade group PhRMA’s voluntary guidelines on direct-to-consumer DTC advertising (no reminder ads, wait an appropriate period of time before starting advertising for a new medication).

- Highlight the benefits and risks of medications in ways people can understand and act on.

Q2: Should the FDA ban direct-to-consumer advertising?

A2: I don’t think that the FDA would be able to ban DTC advertising due to 1st amendment concerns. However, I do believe that the FDA can do more to regulate drug advertising. Most importantly, the agency needs to figure out a better way to monitor and regulate pharmaceutical advertising.

Although companies submit advertising to the FDA’s Division of Drug Marketing, Advertising and Communications (DDMAC) when they first appear, the agency does not vet all promotional material. In fact, a December 2005 Pharmaceutical Executive article noted that the FDA has 35 staffers in the DDMAC office who are responsible for reviewing 53,000 promotional items a year.

Perhaps one solution is to dramatically increase funding for DDMAC by implementing a user-fee system similar to the one the FDA introduced to speed approval of medications. To prevent backlogs, the agency could focus on reviewing advertisements for drugs or devices that will be used in significant numbers of patients.

Q3: Should medical journals ban advertisements from drug makers?

A3: In an article published in the June 2006 edition of PLoS, Adriane Fugh-Berman, Karen Alladin and Jarva Chow suggest that “medical journals should not accept advertisements from pharmaceutical companies, medical device companies, or other industries ‘relevant to medicine.’”

This an interesting idea, but it is neither feasible or appropriate. Journals have well-established policies governing how they handle advertising from drug companies and how to separate the marketing and editorial departments. Not all publications are perfect. Some journals are not very credible because of a weak peer-review process or a perception that they do not have the resources (or reputation) to attract excellent scholarship.

In addition, anecdotal evidence indicates that many healthcare providers learn about new medications or devices via journal advertisements. If something is not advertised, a physician won’t know about it. Rather than focusing on drug advertising, journals should continue to shore up their peer-review and editorial review processes.

Q4: Does the pharmaceutical industry engage in “disease mongering”?

A4: This is not a new complaint. Critics of the pharmaceutical industry have long maintained that companies have turned ordinary aliments into diseases in order to turn a profit. My short answer is “yes and no.” Like many others, I believe that certain conditions are more legitimate than others. I’d rather companies spend less time promoting some “cosmetic” conditions and more time focusing on life threatening conditions like diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure and drug-resistant bacterial infections.