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Whether you want to introduce a new product or jumpstart your existing marketing plans, this friendly guide can help. Packed with expert tips, from identifying customers to using online resources to size up competitors, this updated edition of Marketing For Dummies leads ...
Whether you want to introduce a new product or jumpstart your existing marketing plans, this friendly guide can help. Packed with expert tips, from identifying customers to using online resources to size up competitors, this updated edition of Marketing For Dummies leads you step by step through the four P's of marketing—product, pricing, positioning, and placement.
Discover how to:
Prepare hard-hitting campaigns
Plan and stick to your budget
Use research effectively
Increase consumer awareness
Satisfy your clients' needs
Boost your sales
In This Chapter
The Internet and the World Wide Web combine to create a wonderfully versatile -- and often misused -- new medium for direct marketing. Most people in marketing have already dabbled with electronic media -- Web pages are springing up like mushrooms. But I rarely encounter anyone who is making a significant amount of money on the Web. It's not that you can't. The Internet, like any mass medium, has the potential to be of great value to marketers (the Internet will someday be a major retail force, for example). But most people do even sillier things than usual when they try to market in a new medium. So I've devoted considerable thought and research, and a fistful of pages, to helping you avoid being a fly caught in the Web.
Unfortunately, I'm afraid that this chapter will age more rapidly than the rest of the book. Electronic media are evolving so rapidly that major news breaks every week and creative new marketing practices emerge every month. So I'll give you a tip for how to keep up with the fast-changing field of Net marketing. I think you ought to subscribe to . . . Net Marketing! Advertising Age has just introduced this new publication as Marketing For Dummies® goes to print, and I'm impressed by the first issue. Contact Advertising Age (write for information at 220 E. 42nd Street, New York, NY 10017; or fax your request to 212-210-0111) to find out how to subscribe to it. And for now, Net Marketing is going to be free to Advertising Age and Business Marketing subscribers, although if it succeeds, it no doubt will switch to a subscription basis.
However, if you look at the year quarter by quarter, you discover a startling fact. Spending on online advertising starts small, at just $30 million in the first three months of the year. It jumps about 40 percent in the second quarter and about 30 percent in both the third and fourth quarters. In 1997, the growth rate dipped for a while, but seems to be settling down at about 10 percent a quarter. That's still phenomenal. You are looking at the birth of a major new advertising medium, one that I predict will reach spending levels of several billion dollars a year by the end of the century!
Entrepreneurship on the Web
Say that you have a great product, but no access to conventional distribution channels. Then direct marketing is a great way to bypass them and find your own consumers. But what if you don't have the cash or know-how to do a big mailing or run direct-action ads (ads designed to generate direct inquiries or sales) supported by a call center (an office set up to handle incoming phone orders)? Then the Internet may be your low-cost solution. You can create a Web page and start attracting customers for almost nothing. And sometimes doing so even works.
The first big success story to catch the world's eye is the case of novelist Nan McCarthy, who self-published a book called Chat and sold it direct, via the World Wide Web. The book is about Web-heads -- people who devote a great deal of their lives to surfing the Internet. It tells the story of an e-mail romance, so perhaps the book has special appeal to Web users.
The book came to the Web community's attention when Ms. McCarthy wrote a funny letter to humorist Dave Barry. Mr. Barry actually replied, and then the Internet community somehow learned about the letters and several news groups asked for permission to post them.
From there, so the story goes, fame and fortune -- and a contract for a second edition with a "real" publisher -- quickly followed. And when McCarthy introduced her second novel with a mailing to all those who had visited her Web site, 70 percent responded with orders. Not bad!
However, this popular Web fable, told in innumerable newspaper and magazine stories, needs to be put into perspective. McCarthy reports that she sold more than 2,000 copies of her first novel on the Net. While that's far better than having the books sit in a box, the number doesn't come close to what major publishers can do through conventional channels -- bookstores, book clubs, and direct mail.
So yes, the Internet can give entrepreneurs cheap access to customers. But no, it is not yet big enough to take the place of a full-blown marketing program that uses multiple media and distribution channels.
One reason online advertising took off in 1996 is that standards began to emerge for advertisers. Standards help. They make buying and selling advertising space and time easy in this medium, just like in any other. For example, general agreement has been reached on eight standard banner sizes for online ads, which should simplify the design and production of them considerably (if the standards hold -- stay tuned!). If you get involved in designing Web pages or other online advertising, you will find that following these standards is helpful and maybe even necessary. That way you'll be in sync with the rest of the Web world, and your ads will fit their spaces. And it's not hard -- just request ad requirements from anyone selling ad space on the Net. As standards take hold, you will find these requirements becoming less individualized, meaning that an ad designed for one Web page or service will be suitable for others without modification. A nice convenience.
To find out what's going on in the world of online marketing, you need to keep in regular touch with experts and practitioners. The Web is a fast-moving target -- part of what makes it such an exciting new medium. You can learn a lot just by browsing the Web regularly (I often type in keyword searches on advertising or marketing just to see what's up). For example, a detailed study called Research Program on Marketing in Computer-Mediated Environments is published (and periodically updated) on the Web by two professors from Vanderbilt University. You can check it out at
http://www2000.ogsm.vanderbilt.edu/. And if you feel like traveling, you should contact Interactive Conferences, Inc., in Minneapolis, Minnesota (phone at 800-323-0310 or fax at 612-922-2320), which puts on Marketing on the Internet conferences that collect leading practitioners on the topic.
Direct-action, or direct-response, advertising is what you are doing whenever you take it upon yourself as a marketer to create and manage customer transactions at a distance through one or more media. In other words, it's when you reach out through media to find individual customers. I'll treat print advertising, mail, and telephone media later on in this section, but you need to know what direct marketing is now because the Internet is emerging as a useful tool for direct marketing.
Direct-action advertising's goal is to get prospective customers to contact you so that you can get them into your direct marketing database and start building a business relationship with them. And the Web is an increasingly good medium for this task. In fact, I think that Web ads and pages are going to be the cheapest media for direct-action ads, as measured on a cost-per-response basis.
Why? Two factors (aside from the obvious growth in the number of people cruising the Web) tell the tale:
You can create a home page (the Net equivalent of an information booth about you), or distribute a virtual publication (an electronic version of a newsletter or magazine), on the Web. To the extent that your stuff is interesting to prospective customers, you will attract traffic. And the economics of doing so are fundamentally different than in any other medium because your Web space costs you mostly in what accountants call fixed costs, or up-front expenses that do not vary with usage. You have to spend some money on hiring the designers or techies to help create your page or on hiring a writer to design a virtual newsletter for the Web. And you have to spend something each month for Internet access -- probably by renting it from a commercial company with an appropriate server. But these are fixed costs. They won't go up appreciably as readership goes up. So as you attract more visitors, your cost per visitor goes down significantly!
Compare this cost structure to other media, where the variable costs are typically much more important than the fixed costs. You have to pay for every reader in a magazine's circulation, every name on a direct mail list, and so forth. The cost of producing a mailing or ad is a fixed investment, to be sure. But then you have to make a significant variable investment on top of it. So your costs don't go down as rapidly as volume goes up. Only on the Web can you escape your costs through scale so effectively (because as you reach more customers, you don't have to incur more costs!). And that means the Web is going to become the most cost-effective medium for outreach via direct advertising. This cost advantage has nothing to do with the allure of high technology. All media choices come down to cost and quality of an exposure. The advantage of the Web is an economic one -- if you are savvy enough to see and exploit it.
The cost structure advantage described in the first bullet applies to those who want to design (or have someone else design) their own Web pages. But much can be said for buying ad space on other people's sites. The main advantage of this strategy is that you can tap into the traffic already visiting these sites. Just like advertising in other media, where you buy access to the viewers, listeners, or readers. And, just like in other media, Internet ads are priced to reflect the number of exposures they will likely receive. So you'll pay plenty for a banner on a main screen from America Online because of the high viewership.
The trend is toward per-thousand pricing on the Internet, making its ad price structure comparable with other media. Banners now cost between $10-40 thousand for 500,000 exposures according to a recent Wall Street Journal analysis (Feb. 24, 1997, p. B9). Cost-per-thousand or CPM is the standard pricing method for ads in other media, and it tells you how much you will pay to put an ad before one thousand of the users/subscribers/viewers/listeners/readers of the medium. Who they are and how they view (or listen to) an ad differs from medium to medium, but the CPM figure helps give advertisers a standardized measure of the cost-effectiveness of any potential purchase of ad space or time.
I'm convinced that the rapid expansion in Web sites means that a great deal more advertising space will be for sale than the number of advertising buyers for the next few years at least. So the smart buyer should be able to find extremely good deals in Web advertising!
http://www.webconnect.net, or you can reach them by phone at 800-331-8102 (within the U.S.) or fax at 561-241-3599 -- they are located in Boca Raton, Florida.
I also recommend an interesting new company called FlyCast Communications Corp., based in San Francisco that auctions unsold advertising space on the Internet. They can provide more systematic access to discounted Web ad space because they are building relationships with the advertisers. You can reach their Web site at
If you decide to use the Web for direct-action advertising, be sure to include a clear call to action in the ad. Typical Web banner ads don't give enough information about the product to stimulate an urge for immediate action. Nor do they make taking action easy. They are simply awareness-builders at best.
How to design a Web page:
The Web-page banner is simply a very high-tech display ad, so the rules of good print design apply -- or ought to! See Chapter 5 for applicable rules and guidelines. If you're running what's supposed to be a direct-action ad (see Chapter 18), make sure that you include multiple options for prospects to contact you (see Chapter 18 for ideas). Give your Web address, and also a button or click-on option of some sort for direct linkage to your Web page. Even if you don't have a regularly-updated Web site, you should establish an automated form (an electronic fill-in-the-blanks contact sheet for people to give you their contact information and request follow-ups or place orders). Finally, be sure to include standard contact options for those who may prefer the postal mail, a fax, or a telephone call.
Don't forget to try to make a sale. Even if your product is complex and expensive, some people may prefer to place an order immediately rather than waiting for follow-up from you. Give consumers this option! Too many Web ads act as barriers to the eager customer. What an easily avoided mistake!
Color me rich
The easiest way to get you excited about interactive advertising on the Web is to share an example of a successful interactive Web ad for Crayola brand crayons (it appeared on their Web page at
And because the contest was such a big draw, Crayola had lots of traffic throughout its page. Other options on the site include a section on how crayons are made and, for the practical parent, advice on how to remove stains. (The site was designed by Black Box, a Web developer in Allentown, Pennsylva nia.)
I recommend visiting this site, not to see the promotion described above but to see what they are doing now. You can be sure it will be different. Because one of the advantages of Web-based promotions is that you can change them as often as you like. The development time and cost are low compared to other sorts of events (see Chapter 12).
Okay, you have a great-looking Web page (thanks to your own Web savvy or that of a designer). But does the page work, and is anyone visiting your site? Do the graphics take so long to download that people give up? You need this kind of data in order to evaluate and improve a site.
One way to find out whether your Web page needs improvement or will work well is to use the free testing service offered at
http://www2.imagiware.com/RxHTML. This company's software is designed to test Web pages, and they are happy to have you demo the software on your page. One of the best features in my mind is link verification -- making sure that the stuff you don't see also looks good. I better tell you what that term means now, as you'll need to know about links when you start marketing on the Web. Link verification checks out your links to other sites -- links being software linkages that help interested Web users find their way to your site (which makes them pretty important!). The software will catch simple spelling and syntax errors as well. And an image analysis test will tell you how long the typical user must wait to download your material.
What the statistics of a testing site don't tell you is whether your page is too aggressive or sneaky in how it obtains information from users. This determination is a judgment call in many cases, because the FTC has yet to issue any clear guidelines, and industry groups are still debating what is and isn't proper. For now, keep an eye on the headlines to make sure that you find out about any new regulations, and try to do things that wouldn't upset you if you were the customer. A classic ethics test is to ask yourself if you'd be embarrassed if a story about your activities were published in your local hometown newspaper.
Be especially careful if your site attracts kids. Don't blur the distinction between editorial and advertising content -- you don't want to be accused of deceiving children. And don't use children as your spies to collect information about their households that their parents wouldn't want you to know. This practice has garnered some negative headlines already, and is one of the reasons the Council of Better Business Bureau's Children's Advertising Review Unit (CARU) is developing standards for kid-oriented Web advertising. The standards aren't available at the time of this writing, but you can contact the Council for more information at 703-276-0100.
An agency or service bureau should have the capability to get information about visitors to your site for you. Ask. Or you can purchase specialized software or services to track visitors on your own site. For example, VISITrac Tracking Solutions Provider (or VISITrack TSP) specializes in tracking, measuring, and reporting on Web site activities. It is located in The New York Information Technology Center (55 Broad Street, New York, NY 10004) at 212-482-0851.
Most Web sites are really just huge, interactive advertisements or sales promotions. After a while, even the most cleverly designed ad gets boring. To increase the length of time users spend with your materials, and to ensure high involvement and return visits, you need to think like a publisher, not just an advertiser. Create and deliver fascinating content and refresh it regularly. Even consider going so far as to distribute your content (like a virtual magazine) so that you don't have to wait for Web users to find you. Build a distribution list of e-mail addresses and put your content (plus ads) in their virtual mailboxes. Publishing is an unfamiliar hat to many marketers, but it's one that fits them well when it comes to marketing on the Internet.
Playing publisher to extend your Web
Think about a world in which publishing a book and getting it into a bookstore was so easy that anybody who felt like publishing did so. What would happen to the quality of content? Well, that's what happens on the Web! And that's why most users screen out a great deal of the content that's posted to the Web -- including many marketing messages we wish they wouldn't overlook.
And therein lies the hidden problem of the World Wide Web -- the barriers to entry are so low that publishing on the Web is easy, and subsequently, much of the content is of very poor quality.
Whenever you have a hidden problem with a medium, you should have clever ways to turn that problem into an opportunity. That's what Michael Dortch advocates. He is publishing a high-quality, electronic column and is building up a readership base the old-fashioned way -- by finding and retaining interested readers! He writes about the topics he likes to consult in so that the contacts his newsletter creates may someday turn into paying business for him. And you can build meaningful customer contacts through a Web newsletter, too -- it's a surefire formula for attracting repeat visitors and building those fabled electronic relationships that everybody wants but so rarely achieves.
Dortch is an old hand in the computer industry, having worked and consulted for most of the leading companies at one time or another. Now he provides consulting services for developing communications/marketing strategies for the Web. And he is also an experienced book author and journalist, so when he writes a column or Web page, it's engaging and informative. And, surprise, when you put out good content like that on the Web, it really stands out. High-quality material attracts repeat readers.
Eventually, the rest of the world will get over its puppy love with the Internet and realize that the same rule applies in this medium as in any other:
But how do you replicate Dortch's strategy? First, note that your content must change. Most of what you can put on the Web loses its news value just like yesterday's newspaper articles. You are in essence a publisher, producing a periodical. Never mind that the publication is on the Web -- the medium is not the message! The message must stand on its own -- in any medium. You wouldn't send the same catalog to a mailing list over and over, so don't leave the same old stuff on your Web site either.
Here is Dortch's further advice on how to develop a column, newsletter, or such that really works to attract and hold Web readers, in his own words (I just downloaded this from the Web with his permission):
You can reach Dortch via America Online at
MEDortch; on CompuServe at
76711,1500; on the Internet at:
firstname.lastname@example.org; or by fax at 415-386-9854. He is based in San Francisco, California.
http://www.lucent.com/internet) is developing a call center that you can contract to service visitors to your Web site. The idea is that your customers can, with the click of a button, reach a human operator who will interact with them over the computer to answer questions and take orders. This could turn out to be a very useful tool for you, the virtual marketer, and for your customers.
I cover the important topic of how to set up and run call centers in Chapter 18, but the Web may very well someday antiquate the roughly 60,000 telephone call centers that now operate throughout North America.
Posted December 24, 1999
Slightly too wordy; but that's the only thing I can find wrong. The rest was all EXCELLENT! I needed a source of current marketing overview with some depth from an experienced point of view, and this one was the right pick. It kept all the options in context, gave real-world examples to support information; and most importantly, it gave me some ideas I can truly use and never would have thought of. (Not to mention it was grammatically and structurally sound, making it easy to read, follow, and understand! That's hard to find in the last few years.) Thank you Mr. Hiam!
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Posted June 3, 2013
Also check out "The Next Evolution of Marketing - Marketing With Meaning" by Bob Gilbreath. Search MWM4ME to find a link for a free chapter. Available until noon of Oct. 6
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Posted May 23, 2009
I studied marketing in college and I knew with my new book, DIVORCED VIRGIN, MOTHER OF TWO, I needed to do some brusing up in the field. With the web marketing has changed beyond any advertising I had ever been taught. However, in MARKETING FOR DUMMIES uses the common basics of marketing with today's technology.
If you or someone you know is starting a business or like me promoting a new book, give them the great gift of MARKETING FOR DUMMIES. It will be the greatest gift you could give and the best one your friend will receive.
Posted October 7, 2009
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