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High-Profit Internet Marketing:
The Medium Has Changed, But the Rules Remain the Same

By: Mary Sweeny

Mary Sweeny is a marketing writer and consultant who believes in studying her clients' businesses to maximize the power of the message. Mary owned a service business (employing 27 people) for ten years. Since selling the business in 1993, she's been writing advertising copy for, and consulting with, clients across the country. Her copy and strategies have brought sales increases of as much as 276 per cent for her clients. To learn more, visit her Web site at

Marketing is marketing - whether it is print, traditional broadcast, or Internet.

Granted, each marketing medium requires some specific knowledge and implementation, but the general rules of high-profit marketing apply to all.

Based on the experience of successful marketers across the globe, I offer the following list.

Rule #1
All good selling is serving. When, in your marketing efforts, you "serve" your prospects by providing valuable, interesting information, they'll FEEL informed enough to make an intelligent buying decision. We all seem to need a little logic to justify a purchase to ourselves and our friends and family. If you provide that logic, you'll increase sales.
Rule #2
Put your most powerful benefit right in the headline. This will select your hottest prospect from the crowd, dramatically increasing response. None of us has time to read everything that comes our way. But we do read that which grabs our attention by speaking directly to our wants and needs.
Rule #3
Offer a strong guarantee. Response goes up in direct proportion to how good your guarantee is. If your competitor offers a 30-day guarantee you should offer 90. Sometimes a DOUBLE MONEY-BACK guarantee can send sales through the roof. With a powerful guarantee, response goes up, but the number of demands for a refund does not significantly increase.
Rule #4
Use specifics-not generalities. "General" claims sound "ho-hum" and are less believable. It is much more effective to be as specific as possible. i.e. "Ivory Soap 99 99100% Pure" is far more credible than "100% pure."
Rule #5
Sell benefits-not features. Your message will get lost without clear explanation of benefits. In other words, "What will your product do for me?" Never assume that your prospect will automatically understand the benefits to be gained from your product. Benefits are the only reason anyone buys anything. A benefit-oriented ad will outpull a "feature" oriented ad every time.
Rule #6
Test Everything. There are many elements to advertising. In addition to the headline, there's the layout, medium, placement within a medium, mailing list, timing, etc. No one, not even an expert can predict the best possible combination. Sure, a knowledgeable marketing professional can make intelligent recommendations. But once that's done, testing should begin. Test every element, one at a time. This takes patience, but you will be greatly rewarded with peak results and increased profits.
Rule #7
Don't be afraid of long copy. If you are selling a product or service which requires a fairly substantial amount of money, you'd better provide a pretty persuasive argument. That's tough to do in ten words or less. Unless you're selling chewing gum or soda pop, long copy will outsell short copy without fail.
Rule #8
Approach your customer list with bigger, better offers. If someone has bought bird seed from you, chances are they'll buy a bird house, or an informative book about birds, or a videotape. Repeat sales are vital to your bottom line. And if you've served them well, your past customers are the hottest prospects available to you. The Internet is the perfect medium for this. With E-zines, e-mail offers, interactive forms, etc. you can keep in touch with your customers more often than ever -- and more cost-effectively than ever.
Rule #9
Use good testimonials. Good testimonials serve to calm the prospect's fears. Plus, things can be said about you in testimonials that you couldn't get away with saying about yourself. Pepper them throughout your website and your E-zine.
Rule #10
Develop a Unique Selling Proposition (USP). What distinct advantage do you offer? Why should your prospects buy from you instead of your competition? What do you do that nobody else does? What are the overlooked or undervalued benefits of this? The answers to these questions will help you develop your USP. It's imperative that you develop a USP. Without one, your marketing messages will tend to sound like everyone else's.
Whether you're marketing a product, or service, via the Internet or any other marketing medium, these rules apply. They have been tried, tested and improved upon since most of our great-grandparents were in diapers. They are used today by successful marketers-who test every element of their marketing - BECAUSE THEY WORK.

Yes, the Internet is a young medium with its own peculiarities and requirements. But the general rules of effective marketing must not be abandoned in this, or any, medium that comes along.

© Copyright 2000, Mary Sweeny

Other Articles by Mary Sweeny

The author assumes full responsibility for the contents of this article and retains all of its property rights. MarcommWise publishes it here with the permission of the author. MarcomWise assumes no responsibility for the article's contents.


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