Thursday, September 06, 2007

Communicating in a Web 2.0 World – Part 1

How do businesses get noticed and heard in our noisy, overcrowded Web 2.0 world? That was the topic of a short presentation I made yesterday to a breakfast meeting of the Burlington Network Group, a business group that meets biweekly at the beautiful lakeside Water Street Cooker restaurant, in Burlington, Ont.

Web 2.0 of course refers to the whole gamut of creative new online communication tools and channels. In Web 1.0, you used the Internet to read stuff or order products and services. Today, Web 2.0 turns consumers into producers, by enabling anyone to interact with websites, praise or critique products and services, blog, podcast, post videos, advertise or sell advertising, etc., etc. It even lets you create products for you or others to buy – such as the Canadian Entrepreneur coffee mug from Café, which I handed out to a lucky audience member yesterday to salute their pioneering efforts at blogging.

Among the best tools for small business I cited blogs, search engine marketing, Linked-In and Facebook, and Google’s Adwords, the pay-per-click service that lets you target your advertising directly to qualified prospects – and in which you only pay for results (i.e., when someone clicks on your ad to learn more). It amazes me how many people don't know about this powerful product, and how cost-effective it can be.

As I said in my speech text (I spoke mainly from memory, so the actual wording varied):

“AdWords (along with its counterparts from Microsoft and Yahoo) is one of the best targeted marketing methods ever invented. Big businesses are using it more and more, and you should be looking into it too.”

Click here to learn more. And no, Google isn’t paying for this recommendation. I just think every entrepreneur must explore the potential of this medium.

And here’s the payoff: Advertisers can not only target their pay-per-click ads by topic and geographically, but you can also use it to test, test, test. If your copy doesn't sell – that is, it doesn't convince consumers to click on your ad - you don't pay a thing. So it provides free marketing lessons, which shuld interest any business that normally can't afford to test advertising variables. You can find out what copy works best, what headlines make people act, and which sites and keywords produce the most clickthroughs. And it’s so affordable - you can set your own prices and limit your maximum monthly spend.

I got a number of people to agree to look into Adwords this week. I hope you do, too.

In Part II: 5 Rules for Better Communication in a Web 2.0 World

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