Secret of Success is Sales!

Secret of Success is Sales!

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Secret of Success is Sales!
by Mike Banks Valentine

The great promise of the web was that vast worldwide market where you could reach millions without doing traditional sales. Put up a killer web site and reel in the big fish! Or simply scoop up millions of tiny fish in that big "net". Voila! No sales necessary! Now it's only spammers that fall for that as the rest of us realize we must sell to succeed.

How many ideas have succeeded on their own merits - without promotion, marketing and sales? What products have taken the world by storm when no one knew about them? Why do authors go on book-signing tours, actors make the rounds of the talk show circuit, and major companies spend millions on trade shows? They launch monstrous public relations campaigns and give away tchotchke's with their logo emblazoned on them.

Public awareness does not come cheap or easy. The sales process is a necessary evil that many small business people abhor (and then they die) or embrace (and then they prosper.) Innovators and inventors must seek venture capital and sell their concept to investors. Why do we recoil from the sales process if the task falls to us as independent business owners? We look to gurus of marketing, P.R. and promotion to rescue us from this task and throw money at advertising to avoid doing sales ourselves.

Riches are reaped from multi-level marketers recruiting vast hoards of amateur sales people through pep-rally conventions offering "residual sales" without further effort by building a "downline", another name for sales staff. Then you can ease off, live on the sales efforts of hundreds of new "recruits". The product is secondary and the business opportunity is key to building that sales staff, so you can reach the top of the pyramid and sip tropical drinks on the beach while "they" sell.

MLM seeks salespersons whose goal is to avoid selling by recruiting others to do it for them. Affiliate programs have proliferated on the web, recruiting others to sell for them. But in the end the key is sales, sales and more sales, no matter whether the business model is direct sales or through selling the idea to others of selling for you. Sales is key.

Try search engine optimization. Is this another approach of seeking sales without effort or expense? No, you must still do the sales while "it" delivers the targeted traffic. SEO brings you folks interested in what you sell by helping your web site communicate effectively with search engine spiders. You must still give each of those visitors your best sales pitch by communicating why they should consider buying your product after SEO helps them to find your site.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) delivers potential buyers for your product or service. Eyeballs for your sales pitch are its specialty. You create a needed product or service and SEO brings you people interested in what you sell so you can sell to them. You still do the selling, but now you have visitors to offer your sales pitch to. Convince them after SEO brings them to you and you will make sales, make lots of sales and you will be successful.

SEO delivers prospects for your sale.

Mike Valentine does Search Engine Placement for the Small Business
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Guest Article

E-Mail Newsletter Marketing Essentials
by Lee Traupel

If Gutenberg were alive today he would be in publishing heaven! Forget the printing press, the web has fast-forwarded self-publishing in ways that are evolving so rapidly it's becoming difficult to integrate technology and process to leverage the opportunities. Any company, regardless of their size and marketing resources should be publishing an opt-in e-mail newsletter - it's a very low cost way to build community with customers, keep suppliers/partners/other informed and generate new business.

How do you get started? You must decide up front if you have the marketing expertise to develop your "newsletter creative" in-house and how you want to manage the distribution of your newsletters. Many companies turn to agencies/marketing services firms to help them develop the actual newsletter creative and also outsource part of the process to ASP (Application Service Providers), who handle all facets of the list distribution, signup and ongoing management.

Content format can be critical to the effectiveness of your newsletter - we typically don't recommend HTML (text with images/graphics embedded) format unless our client's product or service is very consumer-focused Plain old text is not as glamorous as HTML but it's a lot more effective in most cases - people want information, not fancy eye candy that's appealing to marketing geeks - keep your message, simple, to the point and with customer success stories or references when/where you can to drive credibility.

It's relatively simple to use a Word processor with a mail merge program to integrate the addresses (depending on the volume) with your message and then send out via your ISP. But, doing it in house can be very time consuming - you have to deal with inbound requests for people who want to be added to your list, "unsubscribes" (people who want to be deleted) and integrate your web site into the process, so people can automatically sign up with a back end auto-responder (automatic message) that confirms their sign up.

Most companies utilize an Application Service Provider ("ASP") to outsource the list hosting, signup and unsubscribe management processes and web site integration - typical costs are under $50. per month based upon your number of subscribers (on average up to 10-30K), frequency of your newsletter mailing (rule of thumb would be 2-4 times per month) and other specialized features, such as bounce back deletions (deleting any e-mails that have a "bad address") and making the HTML code available with a graphic to sign up people directly from your web site. Be forewarned, most list hosting providers tell you up front they reserve the right to delete your account if they catch you spamming thousands of people whose e-mail addresses were not "opted in" (given to you with permission to market to them).

What do you want to look for in an ASP List Hosting Provider? You want great customer service, an online interface that enables you to easily manage the process, the ability to easily to cut and paste your text (newsletter copy), instant distribution of your newsletter and the ability to know at a glance how many subscribers you have on an ongoing basis and the number of new subscribers and unsubscribers.

There are lots of list hosting companies out there - I'd recommendincluding two on your short list. One of the oldest, most well established companies that has consistently won rave reviews for excellence in customer service is Sling Shot Media, LLC (see classified ad below) - they've been hosting since 1998 (ancient in web time) and offer a wide range of consulting services related to all aspects of newsletter marketing.

The other company to check out would be Microsoft's bCentral Services which offers list hosting as one of its services. I can't give them rave reviews for customer service, as they make you pay extra for anything more than e-mail support which can be a hassle at times. But, their list hosting interface is easy to use, works well most of the time and they are price competitive.

Finally, one of the biggest marketing challenges facing many small to medium sized companies is generating a newsletter subscriber list. I don't have sufficient space in this column to address this challenge - but, it's a classic go/no go situation; the longer you put it off the harder it becomes, so get started, the upside rewards are too significant to delay!
Lee Traupel has 20 plus years of business development and marketing experience - he is the founder of Intelective Communications, Inc., a marketing services and software company which provides strategic and tactical marketing services exclusively to small to medium sized companies. He can be reached at


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