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Marketing Basics for the Webmaster

What is the relationship between Marketing and Web designing? How can a better understanding of Marketing help the web designer manage his business more profitably?

What is marketing?

The American Marketing Association defines Marketing as "the process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion and distribution of ideas, goods and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organizational goals". On the other hand, The Chartered Institute of Marketing, UK defines Marketing as "the Management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customers' requirements profitably". Note the occurrence of Customer Satisfaction in both definitions and the underlining concern for Profitability in the second definition. In other words, a businessman needs to identify the needs of a consumer and explore ways of satisfying these needs in order to make a profit.

The Webmaster therefore needs to understand his client's customers. Does the client sell to various segments of customers (e.g students, retirees, young upwardly mobile professionals, etc?) or only one homogenous market such as any one of these segments? What are the lifestyles of such customers? What do they like to do in their pastime? How do they relax? Where do they live? What are their aspirations? If, for instance, the client's customers are tertiary school students, are they interested in sports? Would it be right to create a page on the client's website for snippets of information on the lifestyles of sports personalities around the world, even though the website markets an interactive software to help students write term papers and long essays? Or take upwardly mobile professionals, as another example. How about including a page (on the website of an insurance company selling policies targeted at this segment), which contains links to write-ups explaining several possibilities of personal finance and wealth creation opportunities? Will such "side attractions" ensure repeat visits to the website?

Once a Webmaster knows his client's customer, he can anticipate the customer's wants, appeal to the right emotions and show that customer how the client's product or service will benefit the customer.

The discerning Webmaster must also try to understand the industry within which his client operates, his client's competitors and what these competitors offer in comparison to what the client offers. If any of the competitors has a website, how customer friendly is the website? Does navigation within the site make it easy for the competitor's customers to make orders? Can the customer have his most cogent questions answered right there on the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page without having to go through the pains of writing a mail? Can the Webmaster then create a website for his client, that will outsell the competitor's site in these areas?

While the client sometimes provides a brief explaining the kind of website he thinks he wants, the truly innovative Webmaster may go beyond this brief to add value. A word of caution, however: this should be discussed with the client.

Websites are marketing tools

The fundamental reality of how people use the web can be seen in the following comparative descriptive sketches of offline and online buyer behaviors. Offline, bustling crowds of would-be shoppers (or prospects) pass by your place of business (take a busy mall, for instance) and some of them may walk in, if your shop occupies a vantage location, your wares are attractively displayed and they can notice both. Online, however, people search for information. There are millions of people, but no crowds and each person searches alone. So, while the offline businessperson thinks of a vantage "location", the online businessperson must think of relevant "information" or "content", information that meets the needs and interests of the target market.

The Power of Search Engines

People who visit the web are looking for information and solutions. Most often, they rely on Search Engines to suggest or recommend the most likely websites, which may satisfy their needs. For the Webmaster to create a website which brings lots of targeted traffic to his client therefore, he must perform some tasks such as keyword brainstorming. In other words, he researches his site's main theme on the web, such as "weight watching", to find related words that are often searched by web visitors, but rarely targeted by websites. Such words can then form the topics for each page of his website and eventually provide the website with a theme or focus for optimum search engine ranking.

This is only one in a series of tasks which the Webmaster needs to perform for his client's website to rank well with the search engines and attract warm, willing-to-buy traffic on an ongoing basis. Such tasks can be very tedious, especially when the process is done manually. It is no surprise therefore, that some webmasters shy away from this aspect of the job. However, such tasks can be automated with Site Build It! , an all-in one site-building, site-hosting and site marketing solution which automatically performs the following operations for webmasters: Keyword Brainstorming, Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Submission, Search Engine Reporting, File Upload, Sequential Auto responding, E-mail Marketing, etc. This system of tools works without compromising design or site functionality. Which means a Webmaster can create his site, using his favorite HTML and graphic (or other) software, simply upload the files and let Site Build It! do the rest. More on this software, including purchase and download instructions, can be found at http://webmaster.sitesell.com/net_hunting.html .

Dele Ogundahunsi, an e-marketer, specializes in Advertising and Web Design Direction. He can be reached on (+234) 803 85 10 10 2 or at agroport@outgun.com.

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