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Web News & Tips - Issue #217

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Boosting Site $ales (with Local Media)

By Kenny Love

It seems that, through our online capabilities and the worldwide access and reach they afford us, most business owners today tend to overlook their vital local sources and resources, such as area radio, television and print media that can be of significant benefit.

If you want to attract some incredibly fast traffic (and sales) to your company and its corresponding web site, some powerful sources might just be in your own proverbial backyard.

As, at least, 30%-50% of people are online today, whether they reside in metropolitan areas or rural areas, for the sake of a true localized example, we will use a hair salon as our example. This is one business, whereby, its survival definitely depends on its clientele being local.

And, let's say that, though our home based hair salon also has a corresponding web site, it can still use a few more customers.

We are also using it as our example because, while there are numerous potential customers, equally, competition among hair salons is incredibly fierce. 

In fact, the competition between National Football League games often pales by comparison.

And, as my wife and several of her friends are past hair salon owners, I feel I know this subject fairly well. 

So, let's review local sources that can give us a "game's edge" over the competition and get us more clientele:

1. Print Newspaper Ads

There is a specific type of newspaper, and probably, at least, one in your area that is applicable to advertising any home business. This type of newspaper is referred to as a "shopper."

Shoppers are tabloid-type newspapers, usually published weekly, where all types of merchants choose to advertise their products and services via classified and display print ads. They are also where people expect to discover great bargains.

Some popular shoppers include the "Pennysaver," "Thrifty Nickel" and "Bargain Shopper." Perhaps, you have one or more of these in your area, or similar publications. For a few dollars per week, you can advertise and, in most cases, categorize whatever you are selling.

In Houston, we have the "Greensheet," which is a household name when it comes down to one of the best sources in which to place advertising. These shoppers are also great for promoting discounts, bargains and specials in order to attract new people to your company.

While classified ads are the least expensive in these types of ad papers, you should probably consider placing what is known as column 1-inch or 2-inch classified ads that have a border around them. 

Having a border eliminates your text becoming "lost" in all the other ads.

Even better, is what is referred to as a Classified/Display ad, which is generally accepted as a combined classified and display ad. 

"Classified" due to its lesser cost than a full Display ad.

"Display" because you have the freedom of space within it to place graphics, various font sizes and different types of borders whereas you do not with a standard classified advertisement.

Additional attention-getters include bolding and various font types for your headline, and "reverse copy." Reverse copy is where your text appears in white letters with a black background, as opposed to the standard black text/white background. Naturally, this is an advantageous eye-catcher since most ads tend not to be in "reverse copy."

2. Inserts

While you are speaking with the shopper paper's advertising department, also inquire if the paper allows "inserts." Inserts are simply your 1- sheet fliers or coupons that can be inserted in the paper's editions.

Perfect examples include the pizza, chicken and burger fliers that are received with Sunday edition general newspapers. If your budget allows, consider placing an ad, as well as providing inserts, if possible.

3. Radio

With area radio, you should probably first seek AM stations since they tend to have more attentive audiences, given the stations' talk or interview formats. Radio advertisements are referred to as "spots."

Unlike print, whereby, the life of an ad is as long as the existence of the publication in which it appears, radio is a medium that, generally, requires a series of ads run for effectiveness.

Hence, you will find that you will probably be discussing various advertising packages with the station's ad department.

One situation to avoid, is purchasing "overnight" ad packages, simply because they are the least expensive. "Overnight," meaning programming that runs in the early hours of the day, i.e., 2:00 a.m., but when most listeners are probably not tuned in.

The best thing to do when considering radio, is to ask about the station's most popular programming, and the possibility of getting your ads inserted within these time frames while considering your core audience.

In terms of advertising the hair salon, we would attempt to ascertain from the advertising representative, any programs that are focused on or targeted to women. If there are none, then we would consider narrowing down other programs, such as ones covering social issues.

4. Cable Advertising:

Again, depending on your ad budget, cable ads can be an attractive resource and relatively inexpensive. 

It is, sort of, like the aforementioned Classified/Display ad. With cable, you get the power of mainstream television, but not television's mainstream rates.

Cable ads come in various forms, from bulletin boards to full blown video commercials. Cable bulletin board ads usually have a fixed monthly cost and, depending on where you are located, are fairly economical and financially manageable.

However, with video commercials, you will get slightly deeper into an expense level, given the need for production, scripting, location shooting, editing and a host of other production incidental costs.

The great thing about video commercials is that you can have them "slotted" into daytime or prime time programming, such as is broadcast on TNT, USA, etc.

Not only will your commercial catch already large built-in audiences, but it will also give your business a professional appearance while doing so.

5. Mainstream Television:

Obviously, the most expensive, advertising on mainstream channels, i.e., NBC, CBS, ABC is not for the faint of heart, nor the absence of wallet. As with cable advertising, your video commercial can be slotted within, practically, any program airing within your area but, again, at significantly increased costs.

6. News Releases:

In all the media forms, the news release is applicable. News releases tell the "news" of your company. And, while there are no costs to have news releases published by print, radio, cable or television, they can be extremely difficult to get published if the media does not deem your "news" newsworthy.

The secret is to make sure that you have a bonafide "news" angle that relates to your business.

Ideas for the beauty salon could include:

* The salon's financial support of a nationally recognizable charity.

* The salon's commitment to providing hair care to the female residents of a certain senior citizen's center on a particular day of the month.

* The salon's selection of a female to take to dinner once a week or once a month. This could actually become a contest in which women would be selected to be taken to dinner because of some good deed they recently did for the week, month, etc.

* Holidays could also be capitalized on, such as Mother's Day, with gift certificates, discounts, guest dinners, etc.

As you can see, you are only limited by your own strokes of imagination. Again, regardless of your home based business, it is easy to simply customize and apply the above information to your own unique home venture.

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Web News

Windows XP has attained operating system dominance, according to WebSideStory's StatMarket, capturing nearly 35 percent of the worldwide Internet user population. 

Users have been slow catching on to the operating system. It took 18 months since its October 2001 launch to achieve one-third of the market share, while Windows 98 reached the same benchmark in January 1999, only six months after it was released. 

Want to shop for a home from the comforts of home? That's what house-hunters seem to be doing, according to measurements from Nielsen//NetRatings indicating that more than 12 million surfers nearly 10 percent of the active Internet population accessed online real estate catalogs and listings in March 2003. 

Internet searchers had movies and mom on their minds, as evidenced by the most popular terms on the The Lycos 50 for the week ending May 11, 2003, yet health was the primary concern on the Yahoo! Buzz Index for the week ending May 10, 2003. 

New movies, "X2: X-Men United" and "The Matrix Reloaded," grabbed the number 1 and number 5 spots respectively on the Lycos list, and the 4th, 5th and 17th positions on the Yahoo! Index, while "Mother's Day" claimed the number 2 spot on Lycos, and number 9 on Yahoo! 

Yahoo! searchers put "SARS" in the top spot, but the contagious illness dropped from number 4 to number 9 on this week's Lycos list. As usual, "KaZaA" and "Tattoos" rounds out the top 5 searches on the Lycos 50. 

South America, the 4th largest continent, accounts for 12 percent of the Earth's land mass and is home to more than 355 million citizens. Only 27 million individuals online, however, creating an Internet penetration rate of just 8 percent. 

Chile has the highest penetration rate with 20 percent of its nearly 15.5 million citizens online, while Brazil boasts the greatest number of users almost 14 million. Guyana and Uruguay are not far behind, with penetration rates of 14 percent and 12 percent respectively. 

Interestingly, only 1 percent of Bolivia's 8.445 million citizens are online, but the country has 9 ISPs, and Ecuador's online population of 2 percent share 31 ISPs. 

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