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How to Maximize Your Presence

by Michel Fortin

For a business to survive and thrive in this hypercompetitive world, there are some tools that are considered absolutely essential. These tools, which I call support systems, include search engines, directories, and particularly the yellow pages. However, they are often misused because most businesses misinterpret them as advertising mediums. They are not.

For example, your yellow pages ad, although an essential part of your entire marketing machine, doesn't have to be of a large size, in color, prominently displayed, or coupled with other gimmicks that the yellow pages have to offer. All you really need is to be in there.

When people have seen your ad, heard about you, or have a need for your services at any given time, your contact information may not be available to them at that particular moment. Therefore, you want the yellow pages to be a support system, not a full-blown marketing medium. Their salespeople more than likely don't have to sell you on the need to be in their directory. But where they make their commissions is by making your transaction as hefty as possible by selling you on size, color, and other gimmicks. Your presence is all that matters.

This goes for online directories as well, including search engines and indices. Many people will not agree with me, but your link doesn't need to be at the very top of a search engine's results, especially based on a vague or obscure word, name, or expression. Instead, you need to be in as many search engine results and in as many Web directories as possible.

Spread it! We're Conducting a Search#
First of all, I'm a fervent believer in support systems since, when positioning your business, you are creating top-of-mind awareness and a special interest among a specific target market. (Market targeting has been thoroughly discussed in my previous articles "How to Carve Your Niche in The Marketplace" -- see http://SuccessDoctor.com/article5.htm).

However, potential clients may not necessarily need you and respond to you at that moment. They may do so later when your contact information may not be available to them. Therefore, you want to increase your chances of being in front of their eyeballs when that happens. Whether you're listed in local, specialty, association, occupation-specific, or industry-specific directories, the trick is to spread out not only among them but also within them.

Don't be prominent in size or display. Don't even strive to be the biggest or the first one to appear. For print ads such as those in the yellow pages, you can have a small telephone ad, in black and white, carrying the name of your company, your tagline, your specialization, your product or service, and, most important, a special offer for, say, a free report.

However, spreading out especially within a directory increases your visibility, which will thus increase your hit-ratio. For example, if you're a hairstylist specializing in onsite services, the yellow pages people might tell you to be in only one particular location of their directory. Don't. Try to be in as many locations that logically relate to your firm or your service. Your ad can be small but it should appear in as many sections of the directory as possible. Beyond the obvious "Hair" section, it can also appear in "Weddings," "Event Planning," "Image Consultants," "Modeling Agencies," "Conference Rooms," "Color Consultants," "Beauty Supplies," "TV Production," "Personal Development," and even "Senior Citizen Services."

Simple Search Savvy
This also applies to the Internet and search engines. You should not only try to be on as many search engines as possible but try to spread out as much as you can among them as well. You might register your Web site according to a specific set of keywords. But if you register your site under numerous keywords, your hit-ratio will increase dramatically.

This is not limited to words that directly relate to your page or its content (let alone your firm as well as the products or services you provide), but should also comprise any word that may indirectly be tied to them somehow. While keyword "spamming" (also called "spamdexing") is discouraged by engine administrators (such as hiding repeated keywords or words hidden in the background), there are many other, more appropriate ways to include them.

For instance, most engines will index your site according to its "META" tags. But many others will also index your site according to your page title, your "ALT" tags (the texts that appear on your screen when a mouse hovers over the graphics images), your source code's comment tags, and the first words of every paragraph if not the entire content itself. In fact, because of the latter, a text-intensive, keyword-rich Web page will therefore maximize your results. Additionally, include expressions as well as singular and plural versions, different spellings (even misspellings, if they're common), and variations of your keywords.

A baker specializes in cookies. She not only bakes different kinds of cookies but also creates different shapes, sizes, designs, and arrangements with them. One of her many creations are little cookie baskets with bows and lettering for, among other things, bridal and baby showers. So, what does she do? She registered her pages under the keywords "cookies," "weddings," "wedings," "wedding bells," "mariages," "marriages," "showers," "baby," "babies," "brides," "grooms," "party," "parties," "churches," "gifts," "family," "families," "famillies," etc.

Your Sleeping Salesperson
Another support system that is often ignored is the answering machine. Your answering machine should not be regarded as a means of taking your calls and messages. Turn it into a support system as well. In fact, turn it into a salesperson working for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It must somehow invite callers to do something. Does your message ask people to leave a message or does it invite them to place an order for your free report?

Phone companies usually offer multiple voice mailboxes. This is when the caller has the choice to either leave a general message or press a number to leave a message for a another recipient's voice mailbox in the system. However, mailboxes don't necessarily need to be associated with an actual person. Here's a sample message: "Hi! You've reached Craig Jones of Investment Mastery, Inc. To leave a message for Craig, press 1. To order my free report, 'Money-Making Magic: 8 Sure-Fire Strategies for Making Money in Stocks,' press 2," etc.

Ultimately, the object is to seek out support systems and to spread out as much as possible among them. Once you've created top-of-mind awareness, your contact information may not be available to your prospects at the time they've come to buy your products, use your services, or visit your site. Therefore, you want to be as accessible as possible.

In other words, spread yourself thin.

About the Author
Michel Fortin is a consultant dedicated to helping businesses turn into powerful magnets. Visit http://SuccessDoctor.com to receive a free copy of his book, "The 10 Commandments of Power Positioning." He is also the editor of the "Internet Marketing Chronicles" ezine delivered weekly to 90,000 subscribers -- subscribe free at http://SuccessDoctor.com/IMC/.

Tags: Sales and Marketing



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