The Internet Makes Giants of Us All

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Every Saturday morning millions of kids all across the country lay on the floor watching cartoons. Usually they are so glued to the TV programming that they don’t even realize they are also seeing hundreds of commercials for toys, hamburgers, other TV programs and whatever else can be pushed at them.

Once in a while they remember the ads because they feature a character or person they recognize or the ad is funny or cool or something. And these ads work. They sell a ton of product and services. And all day long people are watching TV programs and seeing powerful ads that are funny or interesting, and once in a while a 30-second ad is so powerful that it can actually make people cry.

So why doesn’t everybody run TV spots for their product?

Because it’s really expensive, that’s why. For the most part, television is out of reach for most companies. Even using Spotrunner you have to pay for the airtime and anything on network is going to run you over $1000 per spot.

So how can someone reach the public, as though they were on tv, but without the budget of television?

Print advertising is more expensive than ever, even with its value plummeting, and with direct mail you have to catch attention and do it multiple times before it matters. Billboards are mostly for long term branding and radio has a higher cost-per-thousand than anything.

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But the Internet…

The Internet makes us all equals. We all have the same amount of space on these monitors to get our message across. It’s what we do with that space that matters.

Some websites (YouTube, Google, eBay) have programming that make them great, but even those began with little money. Craigslist began with almost nothing but it filled a niche and is now one of the most-visited sites on the net.

With a free account on wordpress a blogger can go from nobody to having thousands of daily visitors within a few months. Some of the top watched people on YouTube don’t spend any money on their videos but get thousands of people subscribing to them daily.

Teenagers with no money can battle industry giants- and win!

Many sites that rank high on the search engines are actually really crappy sites with very bad user-interfaces because Google and other search engines can’t tell good ones (with good content and design that is visually appealing and fun) from bad ones. Instead they look at meta-tagging, links and keywords and other technical things to decide which sites are the best. So you have these template sites and link-farms that are the same as thousands of others ranking at the top of many search terms simply because they used that same amount of moniter space differently than other people did.

Some bloggers who are otherwise just regular people getting no real attention become quasi-celebrities in months. Some people are looked at as authorities because of their blogs. And usually we actually judge people/companies by the look and feel of their website.

We have worked with dozens of clients who decided to work with us before they ever met us because they liked our website best. Hopefully they got some value from the site and learned about us enough to make that decision, but it goes to show the power of utilizing that same amount of monitor space. One of my websites cost me a few thousand dollars to build (have built- I’m no programmer) and with some on-line marketing has generated hundreds of thousands of dollars for our team of agents. Of course we need to do the work and earn the business, but we got the leads from the site.

And I’m the same- when I’m looking for a product or service I go to the internet and I look around for a site that looks like it represents people or a company that I want to work with. A company or person’s website tells me a lot about them and the image they are projecting. If a website offers me no value, but just wants to collect my information I usually go elsewhere and have a bad impression of that company or person. But if a company site gives me a lot of information and I enjoy being on their website I feel better about that company and want to work with them.

My first website was built in 2000 and cost me under $1000. Within a few months it had climbed to the #1 position on Yahoo (the dominant search engine at the time) for its relevant keywords and I sold it for many times my investment. I utilized that space better than others had. Today it is (sadly) almost the exact same site that I built and sold six years ago and still ranks in the top 5 organic results on Yahoo for many of its keywords.  

With a few hundred dollars anybody can create a website and do minimal promotion which can result in a phenomenal ROI. Millions of people have websites and the ones that get the most traffic are not always the ones that cost the most or represent the biggest companies. NO other medium will allow someone to get the exposure of the Internet with a couple hundred bucks, or sometimes without any money.

The Internet is the great equalizer in marketing, promotion, and communication. Utilizing it properly can mean the difference between being a leader in your field and struggling to make an impact.

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10 thoughts on “The Internet Makes Giants of Us All

  1. You’re right Greg, the Internet truly is the great leveler in marketing. I think it’s great that anyone can jump online to start a business or promote their expertise.

    I would only add that with this realization, comes the need for caution (especially when any kind of financial transaction is to transpire). Realizing, because it is easy to put together, that a flashy web site is not necessarily indicative of trustworthiness.

    At the very least, I’d still always look and make sure that the company or individual has ways to contact them directly offline. Personally, the biggest red flag for me is a business that hides solely behind a URL and email address.

  2. Greg,

    You brought up a great point that seems so easy to understand and see for most yet, there are still many that just don’t get it, especially in the real estate industry.

    Veteran and once high producing agents are losing business and leads to those who are more technologically savvy and using the internet to connect with consumers even though they may be brand new to real estate. Print media is on the way out, but some agents refuse to accept change and embrace the new (and much less expensive) ways of doing business. Why that is, I have no clue.

    And I definitely agree with Joel that a business needs to not hide behind just a URL. The web may be the best way to get your name out, but make sure that you are accesible in other ways.

  3. Agreed. The Net can give you a presence and help get you started, but you still need the person-to-person interface to win. Soon, every biz will have a Net presence and OFF-line marketing will return as I feel we will come full circle.

  4. We are all same and equal before the internet since the same is available to one and all. But what differentiates one individual from another is the capabilities to get maximum results from the space provided. what matters the maximum output one derives from the space available.

  5. I disagree. Spots on TV don’t have to cost $1000 each. The first international internet-based discount TV advertising agency called Cheap-TV-Spots.com airs nationwide to millions of households for as low as $15 per airing during the day. Their sister agency BareNakedAds.com produces custom-made ads in 24 hours, for free, along with one of their inexpensive air time packages. TV can be used very effectively to drive viewers to a web site and works well in conjunction with online and print promotional campaigns.

  6. Mike. The book you mention is not universally respected as it seems the author had little hands-on knowledge of the subject. We use TV for three of my family businesses to great effect (one is a greeting card company). $15 buys us one national airing to 10 million homes, during the day, using the production and media buying Cheap-TV-Spots.com system. We also have real estate brokerages and TV is what is keeping us in the black right now. But, the ad has to be great. Not everyone can produce something great for a discount price. We’re lucky we found a winner. Our restaurant ad cost zero to produce via BareNakedAds.com and we get up to three months continuous TV airings for $3K. Maybe you’re reading the wrong books. 😉

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