I started this series on my Ethical Marketing for the Creative Type post and will continue with tips about what I consider ethical marketing. There is a lot to say about marketing, but instead of a long post about it, I will have short, concise posts with things you can put into practice or even just think about on a regular basis. I believe that the mind is a powerful tool, and when you start thinking about how to improve things, your creative juices get stimulated and new ideas come forth. This is also the purpose of these posts, to stimulate your creative marketing power…
There is a ton of information about marketing out there, so if you have time to do a search and check some of the web sites that specialize in it, that is always good. But take everything you read with a grain of salt. Don’t jump ahead and try to implement things without first thinking if they really apply to the type of business you run. Still you can find good advice and tricks that you can adjust and utilize for yours, even if it is small, or if you are a free-lancer or self-employed creative type. So here are a couple pointers to get started…
1. Get a Well Designed Website
Again, I’ll repeat: Get a well designed web site. You probably already know how important it is to have an online presence, but you need to have a presence that clearly speaks about you and your business. I remember back in the days when I created my first web site from a Netscape Composer browser. I was able to change the fonts from regular to bold or italicized, and maybe add a few links and some photos and icons, but as far the layout was concerned I had no clue what to do. Of course I didn’t know anything about html back then and it all seemed overwhelming. So my web site background was a picture that was repeated a million times and made things really hard to read. Well, I have to say that I am amazed to find these types of web sites all over the place almost 20 years later! Yeah, those with the big fonts that you have to scroll down forever because they’re like a continuous sentence, with the repeated background picture that seems to yell at you, “Get out of here!”
A well designed web site does not have to be fancy or have too many bells and whistles (too many of those can actually hurt your placement with search engines and make SEO difficult), but it has to project who you are and what your business is all about at first sight. You have about 30 seconds to make your visitor leave or stay and explore it some more. Yes, 30 seconds.
There are many free templates, template systems, and content management systems out there that you can use if you don’t have the money to pay for a custom design, and most web hosts offer those types of templates, but be very selective when you choose one. You don’t want to look too corporate if you are not that type of business. Just because you like a template design doesn’t mean that it is the right one for your business. Look around and think about what other web sites make you think and feel about the business or person they represent. Yes, a web site is a 24-hour representative of your business. So think about that.
2. Avoid the “Car Salesman Style” of Content
You want your web site to speak about how professional, knowledgeable, creative, or interesting you are, not just sell, sell, sell something, even if that is your ultimate goal. A good web site can hold much more information than a printed ad, so take advantage of that. Plus, these days most people who see a printed ad will check your web site before giving you a call, anyway. They expect to get enough information from it so as to decide whether to give you a call or not. And they will call if your web site pulls them in and you offer something they need or want.
Avoid the one-page-scroll-to-eternity type of design, the one that starts with a sales proposition (a free trial or download in exchange for your email address, or something like that), along with the many reasons why you should buy their product, and testimonials about the product, and a button to purchase it repeated all along. First of all, the design itself is just like a car salesman style. Second, if you are not just selling one product, but want to promote your services or something you create on a regular basis, then a one-page site will get you nowhere with the search engines. Search engines love content, especially fresh content, so a one-page web site will become stagnant pretty quickly from a search engine perspective.
The only exception to this would be a creative blog, or a blogfolio, where you place pictures of your art or designs to share and promote your services on a regular basis. This is ok because a blog is a space where you share the things you do, think, and enjoy (including your own creations). Most designers and artists with blogfolios also have a regular web site for the same reason I explained before. A web site can offer a lot more information about you and your business than a portfolio. It’s like an extension of your personality, if you want to put it that way.
To be continued…