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Do These Things Only If You Want to Be a Successful Online Marketer.

I became a blogger just this year. I sprinkled my articles around the web quite a bit and offered a decent chunk of my best attempts to articulate online marketing ideas right here. I feel welcome at Social Media Today. Thanks for having me fellow bloggers, new media maniacs, and readers.

Being new to this crazy little thing called blogging, while I penned 25 or so articles, in the name of research, curiosity and just plain fun, I must have read about 25,000. 

I was looking for good insights delivered with elegance and wit. A dose of tongue-in-cheek humor scores points with with me too. I suppose to keep my Google Reader queue to under 1,000 unread posts and budget my time wisely, my appetite for devouring articles online in 2011 was partially driven by a desire to be more selective about who and what I read in 2012. 

But trust me, I didn’t announce to anyone anywhere I was in search of the best zinger line from a blog post. I wasn’t. I didn’t conduct any contests. And if I did, who’d enter? 

In fact, at the beginning of this week, I vowed to complete one or two of the five to ten unfinished articles I have in the works. I was actually working toward this goal when I got derailed by my favorite whipper-snapper of the whole year.

And the winner is..

“... in today's consumer-is-king world, redesigning your website earns you precisely nothing.”

That’s just precious. It comes from John McTigue of Kuno Creative. John’s stuff is consistently great and though I have no affiliation with Kuno, they provide a veritable bounty of insights and practical advice. 

John’s memorable line slipped into sight December 29, merely hours before the clock struck 2012. 

What makes it such a great little quip? Above all, truth. Secondly, I love the irony. This company, Kuno Creative, actually sells web design. In fact, on their site’s sparse nav bar, they offer only two services, web design being one of them. 

Uh John... hello? Are you switching professions? Are you trying to sabotage your company? No? And no again?  Okay, what are you doing?

The man is sticking his neck out.

John’s telling it like it is my friend. In fact, in his wonderful article titled “Top Challenges in Modern Website Design - #3 Marketing,” he opens dangerously with: 

“We get a lot of our business from website owners whose sites deliver precious few sales leads to the bottom line.”

John’s not nuts. He wants to dramatize his point, which I suspect is a constant mantra in one way or another at Kuno Creative: website-based marketing is a process—not a project. 

To validate the notion, the pros at Kuno Creative, and practitioners of inbound marketing everywhere, must stomach the risk that comes with telling potential new clients the large investment they will make make in their websites may deliver zero ROI. Cool. 

I gave my work a good hard look.

The article really captured me. (Of course, it didn’t hurt that it featured the album cover of Bob Dylan’s classic “The Times They Are A-Changin’). And then it sent me reeling in a self-examination of sorts. 

Creating, improving, editing, and expanding websites represents the majority of the work I’ve done in recent years as a freelance copywriter and creative director. Generally, before and after studies of these sites validate my skills pretty well. I know what I’m doing, so a good many clients listen to and embrace my advice—at least they do temporarily.

Therein lies the burn. Try as I might, with painful regularity, my clients will veer from the course I thought I plotted for them. John’s article inspired me to ask myself, “How many of my clients have become successful online marketers?” The answer isn’t zero, but it pains me to say, you can probably count them on one hand.

Where have so many online marketers gone wrong?

They created some customer-driven content and then let it lie. Their sites became bloated brochures. We succeeded in publishing useful content, but doing so was an event, a moment in time. The failure? We provided little or no reason to come again, no reason to converse, no reason to rant or rave about anything. We failed to feed them a steady stream of timely content. Consequently, we failed to accomplish the monumentally important requirement of a lead-generating, loyalty inspiring website. We failed to engage the site’s visitors.

Why would you, or me, or any company do such a thing? Laziness.

John states, “Marketing these days is a process of making connections through content and engagement.” Doing so isn’t a nifty bonus; it’s a necessity. In his article, he offers a short list of tips for creating and then maintaining an engaging website. I suggest you read it. I also suggest you give my suggestions a serious looking-over. 

Must-have propositions for successful online marketing.

Your website can, and should, be your most valuable marketing asset. Here are the things you need to do: 

  • Document a marketing strategy. Execute your strategy on your site every day, in every way, on every page.
  • Develop a brand. Your brand can’t be bland. Differentiate it. Make it memorable. Give it a suitable personality.
  • Make a great site. Don’t skimp on copywriting or design. Tell a great story. Make it easy to speed-read and enticing to spend time with.
  • Practice content marketing. That is, offer valuable content that answers your customers questions and solves some of their problems. Charge nothing for it.
  • Employ social marketing. Your site must be a conversation starter and the conversation should never end.
  • Network. To some degree, if your site doesn’t focus on building a community you need to take a giant step back and attempt to understand what makes the Internet the best marketing medium ever. 
  • Care for your customers. You know that old axiom “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care?” Live by this and enjoy the rewards. 
  • Review. Revise. Repeat. Don’t allow analytics to be optional. Review your failures and successes. Revise the stuff that isn’t working, but appears workable. Identify where the numbers indicate you’re doing things correctly and repeat, repeat, and keep repeating.  


Should I repeat myself? I probably will, but here and now, I’d rather wrap it up and would love to hear more about what is and isn’t enabling your company to be a successful online marketer.




Join The Conversation

  • jon.bonning@gmail.com's picture
    May 8 Posted 5 years ago jon.bonning@gma...

    It’s true – companies approach creative agencies to revamp or redesign their websites and they wonder why viewer interest hasn’t peaked. It’s not just a new layout or image that needs doing; engaging the visitor is also very important. If they find it memorable, they will mention it to others and out of curiosity, those others will want to have a look too. And so the chain continues.

  • JohnMcTigue's picture
    Jan 5 Posted 5 years ago JohnMcTigue


    True, you probably lose business by delivering "the sermon", but in many cases these same people come back to us and ask us why we're rejecting them. They're not used to an agency saying "no" and it raises new questions like "maybe we're not approaching this the right way..." We've actually had some longer term retainers spring out of these conversations.


    Best, John

  • Cassie Witt's picture
    Jan 4 Posted 5 years ago Cassie Witt

    Great post Barry, and very well written. I often wonder why companies think they're going to get so much mileage out of one event (such as a redesign). True, it should give them a boost for a while, but it won't last. Much like if a restaurant only served food during their Grand Opening week and when hungry patrons came back the next week they said, "Sorry, got busy. I'll cook something again, but not sure when." Granted eating is a lot lower on Maslow's Hierarchy than reading new content online, but it's the same basic concept. 

  • FeldmanCreative's picture
    Jan 4 Posted 5 years ago FeldmanCreative

    Good think I pinged. (Did I say pinged?) I really do love your concept. I'm currently developing a piece, an e-something or other featuring 21 Pointers to Sharpen Your Website." In it I plan to once again drive home the idea that if you create it and checkout the only one who will enjoy it is you. Absolutely amazing how many so-called online marketers choose to ignore it. I find myself losing website projects when I give this sermon. 

    In my article, I put it down to laziness, but it's frugality too. I wonder what percentage of business fail due to a lack of commitment to marketing. 100?

    This exchange has been fun. Looking forward to see where the conversation goes. 


  • JohnMcTigue's picture
    Jan 4 Posted 5 years ago JohnMcTigue

    Hi Barry,

    I can't believe this got by me last week. Asleep at the wheel! Anyway, it's a great post even without the much appreciated comments about me and Kuno Creative. You're right - website design has been our cash cow the past few years, but lately clients have been asking the right questions. "Now that I have my pretty new site, why aren't the metrics going through the roof?" They actually expect this to happen from an "event" as you call it. So, we've actually been digging ourselves a nice deep hole by offering one-off design services. Duh! The light is now on and burns every day instead of once in a while. We are rapidly moving our services away from product deliverables and towards continuous services, as they should be. The challenge is helping clients to understand the importance of "process", then asking them if they have the necessary resources in-house to make it happen. Seems to be working.

    Anyway, thanks again for mentioning us and joining the party! You now have a loyal follower and subscriber who will share your content with his (my) network. That's how it works!

    Best in 2012, John

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