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Maybe you own your own business, or perhaps you're a critical cog in the corporate machinery responsible for marketing your company, brand, product, or service. If that describes you, here are 18 things you need to know about Web marketing but were afraid to believe.

1. It's time to be heard

Your mother told you children should be seen and not heard, but you're not a kid anymore. So why are you listening to all those guys telling you not to use audio on your Web site? If you want to deliver a lot of content that people will remember, try letting your Web site do the talking.

2. There's nothing like the real thing

In a world of virtual everything, there's nothing like the real thing. The sound and image of real people delivering your marketing message makes it a believable, memorable presentation.

3. Unlock the conventional wisdom straightjacket

Driving traffic to your site is great, if those visitors stay long enough to find out why they should be doing business with you. If your Web site traffic is leaving as fast as it's arriving, maybe search engine optimization isn't the answer you've been looking for.

4. Don't link your way to obscurity

You know the reciprocal linking strategy everyone is talking about as a way to generate leads? Did you ever consider that each link to another Web site is an invitation to leave your site? Is that really what you want—to invite people to leave? I think not!

5. Your company's voice is its personality

Give your company a professional voice, with a finely crafted script delivered by a professional voiceover announcer that presents a compelling, memorable marketing message and a unique brand personality. Or do it yourself and sound like an amateur. The choice is yours.

6. Addressing ass-backward priorities

If your Web site design firm is twisting your marketing message out of shape to conform to the technical "technique du jour" that only looks good in one popular browser, then you hired the wrong guys. It's not about technology; it's about communication.

7. Text ads are dead, long live Web video

Squeezing your marketing message into a pay-per-click text ad is like trying to attract leads using one of those newspaper real estate ads where every word needs to be decoded. Start communicating with a Web video that tells a story—your story.

8. Nobody ever bored anybody into buying

The vast majority of Web site text is boring, unimaginative, and self-promoting. If you don't present a compelling, focused story, then you are just wasting peoples' time. Seduce your audience with an informative, entertaining, and memorable presentation created by marketing professionals.

9. Too much of good thing isn't so good

You were worried about load times and search engine optimization so you dumped most of your images and multimedia and proceeded to put so much text on your site that it would take a month to study; but have you considered whether anybody is ever going to actually read that stuff? And that's assuming people could ever find what they were looking for in the first place.

10. Stop hiding behind your email address

You've got a killer Web site. It tells visitors everything. All they have to do is place an order. But wait... somebody has a question. So they go to your contact page and find an email address. No contact name. No address. No phone number. You've provided a Q&A, an FAQ, and a list of technical specs. What more do they want, right? Well, what they want is to talk to somebody to make sure you're legit... and they want to know that if they have a problem you'll stand behind what you're selling. Silly them.

11. Do you suffer from redundant redux reflux?

Search engines love content. They index all your text, searching for keywords and phrases. So what do you do? You repeat and repeat stuff, over and over, to make sure the search engines understand what you're all about. Too bad all your Web visitors get indigestion from reading your redundant copy and leave because they forgot why they were there.

12. Inform, enlighten, persuade

Knowledge is today's high-value commodity. If you have a set of skills that people want to acquire, then you've got something to sell—something to build a business around. But if you don't know how to present that knowledge to an audience, then your skills are unmarketable. If you want to get paid for what you know, you better find out how to deliver your content.

13. It's not about numbers, it's about quality

It's not the number of hits you get on your Web site, it's how long visitors stay on your site and how much information they retain after they leave that counts. It's about the quality of traffic, not the quantity. And the best way to create quality traffic is to provide easy-to-find, easy-to-understand, easy-to-remember content.

14. Don't play constant SEO catch-up

Every time an SEO whiz kid comes up with a trick to beat the search engine algorithms, the experts at the search engines change their criteria. This means you're constantly playing SEO catch-up. Good for the whiz kid; not so good for you. And have you ever wondered how all those search engine optimizers can guarantee you, and everybody else they are selling, top billing—kind of hard to believe isn't it?

15. Show me what to do

Anybody who has ever spent the night before Christmas trying to decipher the arcane instructions provided by the manufacturer of the bicycle you bought for your kid, or the bizarre graphics included with the do-it-yourself kitchen you bought from you know who, knows that there is nothing like a good video to explain how Part A actually does fit into Part B.

16. Even cows have brands

If you've got a business, you've got a brand. We're not just talking about a logo. We're talking about every thing you do: your Web site, your print collaterals, everything, including how you answer the phone. You do answer the phone don't you? If your Web site design firm doesn't get it, if they aren't creating a brand personality, what are they doing?

17. Lost in space

Ever go to one of those Web sites that's impossible to navigate? Maybe the navigation system doesn't work in your favorite browser, or maybe the navigation system is so confusing visitors get lost in cyber-content hell. Information architecture, how people find the content they are looking for, is critical to creating a satisfying user experience.

18. You can have it both ways

Remember when your mother told you, you couldn't have dessert if you didn't finish your broccoli? Sounds like those know-it-all search engine gurus telling you that you can't have multimedia on your site. Well, you're a big kid now, and if you want that multimedia hot fudge sundae, you can have it. And you can also have all the good-for-you search engine friendly copy, too. Who said you couldn't have it both ways?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jerry Bader is senior partner in MRPwebmedia (www.mrpwebmedia.com), a website-design firm that specializes in Web audio and video. Contact him via info@mrpwebmedia.com or (905) 764-1246.