So I certainly would not call myself an industry leading expert when it comes to Search Engine and Online Marketing.  But I do know enough to be dangerous.

I have had some success with my Microsoft Office tips and tricks site - The New Paperclip.  It still astounds me the power of the Internet Affiliate Network – a few hundred simple tips I have come across over the past few years have now been read by almost 1 million people! 

The scale of it all excites me – more people in a month read my posts on The New Paperclip than most magazines in Australia!  One post alone, disease which took me about 4 minutes to write, herbal attracts almost 500 unique visits per day!  Every day! 

… and the best part is, it earns a little bit of play money on the side (very handy now that our twins have almost arrived).

Speaking of the twins, with the prospect of one salary about to hit us square in the face, and a hefty mortgage to pay (as of next month, we are officially in what the experts call “Mortgage Stress“) I have been trying to diversify my online interests, put to the test some of the things I have learned, read about, or just interested in, and hopefully put into practice what I learn during my day job.

I have four projects on the boil at the moment.  One I would say is in a “shippable” state, the others  just early ideas and concepts that I will continue to develop over the next few months.

Project 1: Content Marketing –

This project is a spin off of The New Paperclip.  This site is focused on selling a 5 day audio course that I produced in late 2009.  The course helps people learn and gain confidence in the key keyboard shortcuts for Word 2007.  All in just 15 minutes a day.

The key lessons I have learnt from

1) Price matters.  At first I priced the course at USD $50.  Sales = 0.  Dropped the price to $24.95, and it started to sell (slowly, but still selling every now and then)

2) Creating your own content to sell, no matter how easy you think it is, is actually quite difficult.  But you know what, close to 100% margin thanks to the digital nature of the final product makes the effort worth while.

Project 2: Search Affiliate/PPL Marketing –

This project is really my first foray into serious affiliate and search engine marketing.  So I found a highish paying affiliate program for a product I know a little bit about, in a market that has lots of vendor competition, but not much third party action… and then localised it.

What I realised from the success with The New Paperclip is that taking complicated content and making it personal, easy to read, and easy to understand can drive a lot of traffic to your site – and that is the strategy I plan to take here – but instead of Office tips and tricks, the content will be focused on helping people understand viruses, malware, spyware, and adware – and more importantly, how to remove them!

Early days yet.  Not much traffic.  But still learning lots 🙂

Project 3: Content Marketing / Online Retail - 

The concept is simple.  You are a high powered executive.  You have an MBA (or wish you did).  You don’t have the time to create your own business plans or presentations.  You run your business using PowerPoint (just like, surprisingly, many other organisations).  You would be happy to pay $$ for a complete business plan, where all you need to do is plug in the figures, not worry about how it is structured.

So, is an online retail site where you can download that business plan, marketing plan, or that slide of Porters Five Forces.

Project 4: Hyperlocal Journalism – (to be announced soon)

This one is still on the back of about 14 different pieces of paper in the office, but in the next few weeks I am going to launch a hyper local site for my suburb.  This project was been inspired by reading “Made to Stick” – there is a great story in there about a  very successful local newspaper aimed at locals, for locals – that kills traditional mainstream newspapers.  Whilst there are two or three print local rags in our suburb… print news is dead (oh no he diiiidn’t). 

And to be honest, they do not contain much news – lots of copy and paste press release content – and a lot of advertising (A LOT!).  Considering there is a proven market for a local audience that local small businesses are willing to pay money to get in front of, and that no one is doing anything like this locally, in a cost effective way (seriously, why print 11 000 copies of a newspaper when WordPress and a nurtured email list will do the job far better), I know that in 6 months I will have the media channel for our suburb.  THAT IS HUGE!

(did I mention that this old Internet thing still excites me!)

Now – across The New Paperclip and these four projects, I think I might be stretching myself a bit thin to do all really well, so I suspect I will re-evaluate around July and drop two of them.  But that is the beauty of online marketing – it is cheap to test, and cheap to enter markets (well most, apart from porn and gambling).

Are you from Brisbane and interested in discussing online marketing, or marketing in general over a coffee or beer?  Give me a shout  –

Tonight, pilule whilst at a local university awards ceremony I saw one of the most interesting marketing strategies I have come across… so smart… so simple… yet so very very effective.

The university essentially got their brightest students together in one room to reward them for their stellar academic efforts over the last 12 months and talking about online loans bad credit for students.  These were not your regular students… these were the cream of the crop… the top 1% of students for the year.

The purpose of the night was to reward them for their great work… or so it seemed!

The Professor who was Master of Ceremonies ran through the introduction for the evening, and then before they had handed over one award (whilst everyone was still wide awake!) on to the stage came the walking sales pitch.

“Hi, I’m Andrew, and I am a Phd student…”

At this stage the lightbulb is going off in my head…

  1. a very highly segmented target audience
  2. that are happy because they are being rewarded for being in that very highly segmented target audience
  3. that are actively listening because they are very happy to be party of the very highly segmented target audience

The ultimate sales pitch… obviously the university is looking for the top students to take on a further research degree… and they were all in the one room at the right time!

So how can we apply this to the real world (the world outside academia)

  1. Compile a list of your top ten customers using a criteria of your liking.  It could be turnover, margin, customer sat, strategic fit… whatever
  2. Reward them for being your top customers.  Take them out for dinner, wine them, dine them, show them a good time
  3. Have your sales pitch ready.  Obviously if they are your best customers, and are happy to be rewarded as such, in most cases they will be ready to buy more.

We have done this in a round about way in the past… building what is essentially a premium access lunch with our senior executives… but this takes it to the next level.

And it works too… I would say from my experience tonight talking to award winners that about 20% will go on to do research with the university.  Not a bad conversion rate!

[tags]Customer Recognition, Reward, Strategic Marketing[/tags]

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