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Can you describe your campaign goal in fewer than two sentences?

For example: my goal is to increase my organization's membership list by 5,000 in three months. My goal is to sell 500 copies of my book in six months. My goal is to increase revenue 20%.

Before embarking on any campaign, Web marketing or otherwise, sit down and think about your goals. Write down both the short-term and the long-term goals. Be specific. And don't lose sight of your ultimate goal.

Once you have a clear and defined goal, the next step is to come up with a plan that will help you achieve and maybe exceed your goal. Put your creative hat on, take a deep breath, and energize yourself.

Don't let budget concerns stifle your creativity. Pretend you're a major corporation with unlimited funds. Take it a step further and pretend you're an executive in charge of Internet marketing and advertising for IBM or Microsoft. What kinds of things would you do to promote your products or mission on the Internet? Make a long list.

For example, if you had IBM's or Microsoft's budget behind you, you might research the most trafficked and prominent Web sites and place an ad on one or several of those sites. Your list might include other Web marketing strategies, including these:

  • Launch a dozen or so pay-per-click campaigns and bid on highly sought-after keywords or phrases pertaining to your field.

  • Hire a team of ghost writers experienced in your field to write hundreds of articles that you would then use to launch article marketing campaigns.

  • Place button and banner ads on dozens of relevant Web sites.

Now that you have your "sky is the limit" list—and assuming that you don't hold a senior executive position with IBM, Microsoft, or another major corporation (and if you do, kudos! Email me some time)—it's time to think about your budget and begin prioritizing your list.

Don't get discouraged. Remember, you're not just thinking short term here, you're also thinking long term; so even though you might not be able to afford to do everything on your list right now, that doesn't mean that you won't be able to later, as your business grows, or you sell more books, or your nonprofit organization adopts a business approach and/or attracts more donors.

Do some research and find out what Web marketing/search engine optimization firms charge for the types of services you're interested in. Talk to several firms and compare proposals and fees. Ask questions about their methodology.

Take it a step further and educate yourself on the basics of Web marketing. Perhaps there are some things you can do yourself. For example, you might be able to write and disseminate your own e-newsletter. Be honest with yourself about the things you can do.

Here is a list of four effective strategies you can implement without emptying your bank account:

  1. Instead of bidding on the most highly sought-after and therefore most expensive keywords or phrases for pay-per-click campaigns, concentrate on discovering (put your thinking cap on and spend some time surfing the Web) less-popular words or phrases, or try tweaking or reversing key phrases.

    For example, you might bid on "Marketing on the Web" instead of "Web Marketing" or "Marketing Online" instead of "Online Marketing" or "Strategies Online" instead of "Online Strategies." You get the idea.

  2. Can't hire a team of writers? No problem. Write two or three articles a month pertaining to your field (more, if you're a fast writer or have the time) and submit to outlets in your target audience. Go after major publications, but don't forget about smaller, lesser-known publications. It's all about getting your name out there and establishing credibility. You want people to know you exist. Enlist your friends, employees, and colleagues to help you write articles.

  3. Place one or two button or banner ads on credible Web sites and analyze traffic to your site. If you're not getting a significant amount of traffic from specific ads, try other Web sites until you find what works for you.

  4. And don't forget about good old-fashioned online networking. Join discussion groups, email lists, and post valuable comments on blogs (make sure you post your URL). Build relationships with people who can help you. Relationship-building takes time. Mind your manners. Don't be pushy or rude.

Here is a list of four things you can do to help you uncover other Web marketing strategies and techniques:

  1. Research and join internet strategy forums.

  2. Attend Web marketing conferences or luncheons.

  3. Subscribe to Web marketing newsletters, e-zines, and email lists.

  4. Read Internet/Web/online marketing blogs.

Web marketing encompasses many different strategies, such as soliciting external links from like-minded Web sites, manually submitting Web sites to the search engines, monitoring online chatter, and tracking online placements for articles, op-eds, press releases, and reviews. It is time-consuming and requires extensive research.

Once you've made a decision about what Web Marketing strategies you want to undertake, it's time to get really serious. You don't want a firm (if you decide to hire a firm) casting a net without first identifying your audience.

If you're a writer, have you thought about who is most likely to buy your book? Your first answer may be, yes, people who read thrillers, if for example you're a thriller writer. But have you also considered your book's subject matter as a way to help you reach a second or even third audience? For example, if your book is a thriller dealing with global-warming issues, your book may also appeal to environmentalists or even political groups, liberal or conservative, depending on which side of the issue your book takes.

If you're a business, have you identified who your customers are? Do you know where they "hang out" on the Web? For example, if you sell organic products, your target customers may visit e-zines or discussion forums where information about organic products is shared in a community atmosphere. They may also subscribe to e-newsletters that provide the latest information about organic products. As a business owner, if you're not out there communicating and forming relationships with people who not only could potentially buy your products but also help you spread the word about your products, you're doing yourself a disservice.

If you're a nonprofit organization, do you have an easy-to-navigate and text-rich Web site? One that not only highlights the important work you're doing but also offers visitors valuable information about the field in which you work? What does your Web site say about you? If it's messy and filled with outdated information, visitors may assume that your organization does not have a clear vision. As a result, you run the risk of losing potential donors. You know how important and valuable your work is, but if no one knows who you are because either you don't have a Web site or you've taken a "build it and they will come" approach when it comes to your existing Web site, you're missing out on the opportunity to meet and engage people (e.g., volunteers, journalists, donors, online media) who will help bring awareness to your cause.

Web marketing is not something writers, businesses, or nonprofit organizations should fear; rather, they should embrace it and use it to their advantage. Unlike print outlets, which have a limited circulation and life span, the Internet has no boundaries. It is, for all intents and purposes, eternal.

Exceed your goals by harnessing the power of the Internet. Don't let the phrases search engine optimization, search engine marketing, link popularity or Web marketing intimidate you. The process of getting your message out to a wider audience via the Internet should be as natural as meeting someone in the real world for the first time. You shake hands and introduce yourself and hopefully establish a rapport. If you click, you may exchange business cards and decide to stay in touch. In virtual land, you may introduce yourself via a discussion forum, listserv, email, or blog... and hopefully establish a rapport. If you click, you may exchange links and stay in touch.

It's that simple.

Web marketers don't sit in labs (despite what some may want you to believe) mixing and testing search engine formulas. Good Web marketers form online relationships by joining discussion forums, subscribing to e-newsletters, visiting blogs, and introducing themselves to online media.

So get inspired and get yourself out there.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eileen Cruz Coleman is a bilingual Internet Strategist. Reach her via email at eileen@cruzcoleman.com.