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The #1 Online Marketing Myth – “If You Build It, They Will Come”.

By John David Balla and Anthony Flesch

It worked in the movie, Field of Dreams. But, the fact that so many have applied this “magical thinking” to their online businesses is an indictment beyond poor decision making. It speaks to another handicap that few want to mention – our “reality-challenged” society.

Nothing happens without action. Yet action alone is insufficient. The magic is in the planning.

Or, as General Eisenhower said about the Normandy invasion, “The devil was in the details.”

If we applied our online marketing myth to D-Day, the great general’s quote might have been something like, “We won because we invaded.”

No wonder that so many flock to the online arena. Consider what “If you build it, they will come” actually implies:

  • No expertise required
  • No business savvy required
  • No planning or strategy required

Doesn’t that sound like any other “get rich quick” scheme so popular in the worlds of junk mail/email and infomercials? And as long as many of us remain “reality challenged,” predatory hustlers will continue to perpetuate this fantasy.

But enough social commentary…

The reality of online business is that it’s actually harder to make money online than it is in the conventional brick-and-mortar world. Here’s why…

Competition is greater. In the virtual world of the Internet, your competition is not limited to a physical location. So, what may be a handful of competitors for an offline, brick-and-mortar business, can easily reach the thousands online. How do you deal with all that competition, many of whom have been online for over a decade?

Distribution is more complex. In the offline world, a product catalog has no intrinsic value. Its value is in the people who receive it through distribution channels. For online businesses, the website is the product catalog, and just like its offline counterpart, it has no intrinsic value until customers and prospects actually find it. This is why successful online businesses use many different distribution channels and marketing strategies simultaneously in order to offset the competitive threat. The key strategies here are search engine optimization (or SEO), pay-per-click advertising (or PPC) and email marketing.

Greater testing and experimentation. With the great statistics available online, promotions can be tested to determine which will produce the greatest return. But with that, and like everything else discussed so far, more effort is required, not less. That means greater attention to detail, number crunching and analysis. Not exactly what people are thinking about when they fall prey to…“If you build it, they will come.”

Eisenhower wrote two letters to President Roosevelt on June 5, 1944. One spoke of the invasion’s success, the other to its utter failure. And that’s what you need to take with you. Even when you plan all the contingencies, your chances of success online are at best, 50/50. That being the case, doesn’t it make sense to load the online marketing dice as much as you possibly can, and employ the most effective possible strategies? Then maybe, just maybe, they will come, and more importantly, buy…

The 3 Biggest Myths in Online Marketing That Everyone MUST Know.
By John David Balla and Anthony Flesch

Everyone knows that for any business, some form of advertising is required. But when it comes to online marketing, even savvy businesspeople are often duped into believing that their website itself “is” the advertising.

Here’s why this isn’t, and will never be, the case…

Myth #1: If you build it, they will come.

A website is really not fundamentally different from an online catalog or brochure (albeit an interactive one). For it to have “legs”, it must be distributed, and distributed to the people who are interested in your products or services.

Would you ever consider getting your brochure printed and then just keeping it in the box? Of course not. But this strange phenomenon happens all the time when it comes to websites!


Even today, most web designers do just that. They design sites. Most are very technically capable, but…they are not marketing experts. Therefore, they innocently and unconsciously conspire with you to build the site for the wrong person — namely, you!

Myth #2: Your website is being built for you.

Your website is not being built for you. It’s being built for your customers, a distinction that is routinely missed at the early planning stages. Indeed, you may be quite happy with your site for a while, until it becomes clear that sales just aren’t materializing.

How does this happen? Usually by the web designer asking you what you want… when they should be asking you what your customer wants.

The technical mystique of the web designer often obfuscates the basics of doing business, which segues to…

Myth #3: Online business is fundamentally different from brick-and-mortar business

Whether doing business online or off, there are three key pieces that must be effectively addressed for success to even be possible. These are:

  • Prospects: Whether it’s a person walking into your store, or a site visitor who found you through Google, without this traffic, there is no potential for sales. More about building traffic in a future column.
  • Conversion. Now that they’re where you want them, i.e., in your store or on your site, do you present the requisite benefits, assurances, and proof to “convert” them to a customer?
  • Retention: Everyone knows that an existing customer is the easiest person to sell to. So are you staying in touch with your customer base, sending them special offers to turn a one-time customer into a life-long customer?

So, next time you meet with a web designer, and feel overwhelmed with techno-speak, change the conversation so that you can actually understand what you are being told. One simple question will do (though you’ll probably have to ask it over and over).

How does what you’re saying pertain to prospects, conversion, and retention?

The answer will almost certainly be quite enlightening. And if you find that the shoe’s on the other foot, with them not understanding what you’re talking about, well, consider yourself lucky. You’ve just averted a train wreck.

More on this matter next time. Stay tuned.

The Five Most Common Marketing Mistakes in Business
by Anthony Flesch
Flagstaff Business News : November, 2009

From more than three decades in marketing, here are the most common marketing miscues that companies make:

1) Failure to establish clear marketing objectives. As the adage goes, “If you aim at nothing, you’re sure to hit it.” And, objectives or goals work best when they are specific and measurable – for example – a gross revenue number, or a percent increase in revenue. So, ask yourself the following question: “Where do we want to be in one year, two years and five years?” Not only will you have a destination for your marketing road map,but having a specific goal focuses your mental intention and makes it more likely that you will get there.

2) Lack of a true marketing plan, and a clearly defined budget. (I can hear some of you groaning.) Once you have a destination (objectives), you need a road map to get there. This should be a clear, concise document that lays out the strategies for you to reach your goals. Marketing planning logic goes like this: “based on this situation, and these resources, these are the strategies that are most likely to get us to our objectives, these are the reasons why, and this is how much it’s going to cost.” Your marketing budget should be allocated as a percentage of projected gross revenues. If you don’t establish a clear budget, you are likely to either (a) not spend a high enough percentage of your gross revenue to make a difference, or (b) spend money somewhat haphazardly, in a reactive manner.

3) Incomplete understanding of the target audience. It’s critically important you know what makes your prospective clients or customers tick, so that you can (a) reach them efficiently and (b) craft a marketing message that’s likely to get them to respond favorably to what you’re offering – in other words, to buy. So — who are they? What are their values? Their needs, concerns and desires? What do they watch, listen to, and read?

4) “Me-too” positioning and messaging. What makes you different, better, unique? Why should someone buy from you, versus your competition? Make it easy for your prospects to decide that you are the best and smartest choice for them to make.

5) Failure to track effectiveness of marketing strategies. Wouldn’t you like to know which investments of your hard-earned dollars are working? This can be simpler than you think. For example, using a different toll-free number for each print ad you publish will allow you to easily track response to your ads using your phone bill – and it’s cheap. And, with the advent of online marketing, it’s very easy to track (for example) click-throughs to your website. This allows you to weed out what isn’t working, and to focus your resources (money) on what strategies are getting you the best results.