Winding Staircase has been increasingly involved in internet marketing for Cincinnati-based businesses this year. As our involvement in internet marketing has increased, I am seeing several consistent themes emerge. I am not sure if these findings are specific to Cincinnati, and I am hesitant to speculate about other geographies.
It is probably not to our advantage to call attention to all of these, but here you go:
1. Internet Marketing is still “strange”
For many Cincinnati business owners, broadcast marketing, such as television or radio advertising, is seen as a more legitimate investment. This is interesting to me because many businesses do not need to reach the entire audience of these platforms. A drycleaner, for example, does not need to be advertising to consumers that live 50 miles away.
Web marketing is strongest when executed in an extremely local campaign. The web allows you to target the prospective customers in your neighborhood, without paying to reach people dozens of miles away. Perhaps this does make internet marketing strange. Web marketing is strangely efficient.
2. Cincinnati does not know SEO
Winding Staircase has, within the last few months, started offering search engine optimization (SEO) services to our current clients. (We plan to begin offering the service more broadly soon.) I have learned most folks in Cincinnati simply do not know what SEO is, how it works, or how incredibly valuable it can be. Recently on our Facebook page, I decided to ask business owners if they know what SEO is. Most people are unfamiliar with the term.
Search engine optimization can best be described as “the art of being appropriately found on the internet.” When your neighbor goes to Google and searches for “carpet cleaning Cincinnati,” what company is first in the results? (By and by, I strongly recommend my friend, Les Fultz, for all your Cincinnati carpet cleaning needs.) The value of good search optimization is easy to see, but most business owners simply are not aware of the opportunity.
3. There is no “better” service provider for internet marketing in Cincinnati
In most markets, you will find several tiers of services at prices that reflect the products’ position in the market. That is, for most industries, you can identify a “good” provider, a “better” provider, and a “best” provider. In internet marketing, there seems to be a handful of companies that charge tremendous amounts of money for quality service, and then there are many companies charging all sorts of prices for very poor results.
The choice between “spend a fortune for basic quality service” and “spend any random amount for no measurable results” has left many Cincinnati business owners frustrated.
Starting with Basics
Winding Staircase is broadening our web marketing services past just website design. Our new services are not for everyone. Companies spending tens of thousands of dollars on internet marketing are probably better served by someone else, and you will find dozens of people offering to solve all of your internet problems for just $99. However, we see a real opportunity “in the middle” of the market to provide quality services with measurable results.
Have you ever hired a professional to market your business on the web? What was your experience? If you are currently doing it yourself, what have you learned?
- Internet Marketing: Should you hire an SEO firm that does not also provide Social Media expertise?
- How to build an effective internet sales process – Internet Advertising 101 (Part 1)
- Marketing your company: How big should your target market be?