What should I focus my marketing on?

There's a common question among webmasters, and it goes like this:
"What should I focus my marketing on?
In turn, this question usually takes one of two general forms:
  • You have no idea what to focus on
  • You have two options, and don't know which to choose
Either way, the answer is likely to be the same.

Avoiding the marketing distraction

The main problem with marketing is that it's the glitter, but not the guts, of your product or service offering.

That is to say, an advertisement is not a product in itself, and nor should you consider your web marketing and your web presence to be the same thing.

If your question is "Should I add to my website, or should I focus on PPC to drive traffic to my existing pages?" then it's likely that you're operating under the misconception that the two options are direct analogues of one another.

In fact, they're not; PPC promotes already-existing pages, while writing new pages expands your site.

Both may ultimately increase your traffic levels, but whereas PPC does so through marketing, adding pages to your site gives you a fundamentally greater web presence.

Internet Marketing Strategies, by FindYourSearch

Advertising an advertisement

Perhaps the greatest magic trick marketers have achieved in recent years is to convince big companies to advertise their advertisements, rather than their products and services.

This has led to entire television campaigns dedicated to gaining Facebook followers for Cadburys, or to convincing people to visit the 'Compare the Meerkat' website, rather than to actually run a price comparison on Compare the Market.

It's a sneaky way for marketing agencies to make more money, because they can charge companies twice - once to create the marketing content (the Facebook profile, or the parody website), and once to promote it through other channels.

Again, you need to remember what is product, and what is marketing, and make sure you don't confuse the two.

Build a better blog

The easiest - and still the most effective - way to power an online marketing campaign is to host a blog or news section on your website.

Entire sites exist based on a variation of this principle, from entertainment sites that run 'top ten' lists and showbiz news articles, to sites like YouTube which, at its heart, is basically a 'vlog', or video-blogging site.

Whereas your main website should consist of fairly static pages (albeit regularly updated to keep them relevant), a blog or news section should be dynamic, with new content added regularly, but no need to delete or update old pages, as they will be seen by most readers as being clearly associated with the date on which they were published.

A good blog builds your online presence, and can be used to introduce new products and services; written well, it will also achieve good SEO results from the outset, rather than needing an external agency to tweak the text later on for search performance.

It is content, not marketing - although many agencies will have you believe that the content is 'marketing' in itself.

In fact, the best response is achieved by combining your new content with other online marketing methods - tweet links to your new post, submit an updated sitemap to Google, offer it as a guest post to third-party websites in your industry, and so on.

So to return to the question at the top of this page, the answer is that you should focus your marketing on building a better web presence - and only when you are well established online should you devote your budget to one-off marketing efforts like banner ads and PPC schemes which, once clicked on, are gone for good.