Life, Online &The Final Reel Solution

 

Both daughters are pregnant crack addicts and one son has three parts killed the other in an argument over the repossession of the house through which someone was building a motorway anyway.
None of this is helping the impending divorce and the seemingly incurable and probably lingeringly painful disease of one or other character and nobody knows about the fire in the basement yet.

And yet somehow by the end of the final scene, all will be sweetness and light with the girls drug-free and happily married, the brothers tearfully reconciled during the ceremony outside the house (which turns out to be a protected building), the leaky plumbing puts out the fire and in the fumes from the expiring blaze cure the disease - provoking a reconciliation so forget the divorce too.

Where am I going with all this? It's pure Hollywood - a final reel solution. However bad it gets, you know that before the credits roll someone will fix everything and peace, order and harmony will be restored to the universe - all within the space of the final reel of the movie.

It is not so surprising given how common the idea is and how often we see it, that some bring this "final reel" mentality both to life and especially to the internet.
The minor tweak to the site from someone expensive but well worth the investment that will make you number one on Google. The magical text that when applied will improve your on-line sales from 5% to 95% or the mysterious behind the scenes procedure that will rocket you up the search engines for a mere €1500.

 

Regrettably, the internet - like real life- is sufficiently complex to defy such easy solutions in the vast majority of cases. With this in mind, consider this;

 

Google

Google is owned by investors, and all investors want to do is to get a return on the investment they have made.
That is what investing is for; put some in to get lots back. Google is not stupid and nor are they unaware.
So - you cannot pay anyone to better you results on Google - unless it is (ultimately) Google you are paying. They do what they do with search engine placing for one reason only, to get very rich. Their plan works like a charm so face it, the system is to make them money, not you. Should they figure out that you are getting something out of the system without them getting something back - they will doubtless do something to stop it.  And because they are so clever then this will happen swiftly and effectively.

 

Buying

The decision to buy is a simple binary - yes or no.
But the strategies that come into play to make this decision happen in your favour may be complex and vary from buyer to buyer.
Never mind the obvious issues of "can the plastic stand the strain". What about on line financial security, privacy issues in terms of what you are buying, issues of trust with reference to the product (will it work/fit/be the right colour/arrive in one piece etc), the issue of if your product is really what I need and whether or not I can really use it. Do I want an horticultural earth-inverter (manually operated) or would I be happier with a traditional spade?
These issues I just thought up here at the keyboard - give me an hour and I'll fill the page for you.
As the person selling the product you could probably dream up a few dozen more based on your greater experience with selling the product or service in question.
With this in mind, should you listen to me or should I as your designer spend more time listening to you?
You know your customers and so your knowledge of their motivations is likely to be significantly greater than mine.
This makes you the expert here.

 

Guru or Gonzo? 
So how do we achieve the borderline impossible of getting your site found and then making Joe Public want to actually take the leap of faith and buy something from it?

The "build it and they will come" approach to having a website is of very questionable value. There is one hell of a lot of websites out there - why should Joe Public come to see yours?

Likewise waiting to be found by the search engines is of debatable value when the search engines want your money rather than your patience in order for you to appear.
You will find a "submit for free" option on most search engines, but business being what it is - who would you give priority to? The people paying you or the people using you? Certainly if I was Google I would take the greatest care to avoid you getting the idea that at the end of the day you did not really need to pay me after all.
Perish THAT particular thought.

Within your control lie the two critical aspects of on-line success - the design, content and functionality of the site and the use of traditional publicity techniques ranging from putting your web address on your business card and giving them freely to all comers through to e-mail campaigns or even deliberate use of that old favourite word of mouth.

Advertise in local venues wherever you can, hairdressers, newsagents, pubs, the back of your car or van, the back of friend's cars or vans, local newspapers or free sheets. You do not need a load of space to tell your whole story - just your www address, a phone number for the Neanderthals without connectivity and what you do. Thinking of at home and abroad? Research possible clients and send e-mail or post on special interest group bulletin boards.
Just get people to the site and - if the design is good - let it work its magic. If it is not good - change it. Seek intelligent, unbiased opinions to find out what changes it needs.

This is the real process of developing a site, the bit we do pre-launch is relatively easy, but with perseverance and enthusiasm it's a simple exercise of logic to hone that fine edge on your site that will start you making money rather than just paying out.

 

Once the site is actually up to speed, consider paying for publicity such as professional e-mail campaigns or research potential customers on line and mail them yourself. Splash out on posters or handbills in letterboxes. Get a good name and people will do your advertising for you....and as time passes you position on the search engines will improve anyway. Watch your server statistics package and see watch it especially after every change to the site or fresh advertising initiative to judge Joe Public's response.

I would avoid being search engine UNfriendly although you may well be picking up just a tad of hostility here, its just that I personally cannot trust (in business) what I cannot really control so I prefer not to base my future success on a system that may drop me like a hot rock tomorrow when someone else bids higher for my keywords or else they realise I did not, in fact, pay for my hard won success..
Whatever you get from the search engines is all good stuff - I just say that it should ideally be viewed as a windfall rather than a staple diet.

 

Success on line and in life should be viewed as an ongoing and dynamic process, with no final reel solution to tweak you into success for a once a year payment or because I am a Guru and you are a dork so shut up and pay and I will tell you if you are a success or not.  (Yep - I have heard that too!)

Do yourself a favour and do yourself a favour.
 
It's about logic and persistence not rocket science and inspiration. Rather than waiting for the final reel for someone to make things work for you, why not get things moving on the right track from the first?