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Music to my marketing ears

If you have been a subscriber to my newsletter for a while, then you know that, aside from copywriting and marketing consulting, I also taught at a local college (see http://www.algonquincollege.com/).

And perhaps you also know that, during my time at the college, I used to play the drums in a band composed of other teachers and managers that work at the college. (Note that I since left the band for another one whose repertoire, direction and musical goals are more aligned with mine.)

But here's the point I'm trying to make...

For some time, we've been flirting with the idea of creating a website for the band. It would be not only a useful marketing tool but also a practical one, especially in promoting the band to the local area. One reason is that we often play at many corporate functions, benefits and events in the high-tech industry (an example is http://www.techrocks.com/). Another reason is the fact that Ottawa is Canada's high-tech capital.

Therefore, since most local businesses and potential clients for the band are online, a website just makes perfect sense. However, we all work and the band is only an extracurricular activity. It was a challenge for any of us to find the time. I finally took the initiative.

It's not my best work, and it's certainly not a large or well-oiled ecommerce site. But there are a few things that I did in order to make the site more palatable and marketable, and this week I'd like to share a few of them with you. Before I begin, however, realize that Microsoft Frontpage 2000 is not my personal choice in HTML editors. I used it for two reasons:

  1. Since I'm busy, I wanted to create the site as quickly as possible. Frontpage's templates (or "themes") have helped to significantly reduce the time that would have otherwise been spent designing the site from scratch.

  2. And the courses that I teach, particularly IT Marketing and Introduction to eBusiness, also teach basic website design -- including Frontpage 2000. Thus, I thought that my old band's site can be used as a case study for students.

The latter is important: An effective case study is a website that is not only designed with Frontpage, but also one that is optimized from a marketing standpoint. (Both this site and http://SuccessDoctor.com/ are done with Frontpage and then tweaked using hand-coding with TextPad text editor, located at http://www.textpad.com/.)

So without further ado, let's go through some of the marketing components of the site -- and note that this is only a partial list, for the sake of brevity. Visit the band's website at http://dividedhighway.ca/.

1. Copy

The words are really important. When I used to be with the band, I knew that we're not a bigtime rock band looking to score gigs every single day. We all work and do this for fun. Once a month would be nice. So not only do we want to capture visitors' attention, we also want to direct visitors and get them to use the form at http://dividedhighway.ca/booking.htm.

To do this, I have to focus more on the visitor than the band. In my experience, many sites fail to give benefits. They focus on either the company or the product, and not on the person visiting it. I wanted to avoid that. While our site may have a corporate "feel," its most important aspect is for whom our site is intended: Event planners.

Of course, the band is an artistic entity. I have to put some of the spotlight on the band -- after all, the aim is to show what we do in order to attract more bookings, and that includes our musical talents. But I also have to show how what we do directly benefits the event planner.

For example, the site's first page offers the following:

"From the Beatles to Blue Rodeo, Divided Highway is the band that will make your event a winner. You will have fun, and your guests will love you for it ... Bottom line, they will make you look good."

2. Layout

Quite simply, we want to compel people to book the band or at least to inquire further. For this reason, I added a link at the top of each page that directly leads to the booking form -- instead of an external link or banner that will take my visitors away from my site.

In fact, for links to be seen, I optimized the site for 800x600 resolution and centered it (thus preventing any side-scrolling), and simplified its navigation by adding navigation bars on the side and bottom. I also manually added a "top" link within the bottom navigation bar, so that people can quickly jump back to the top once there.

In order to give visitors something they can appreciate, the site must appeal to all the *other* senses, beyond touch. So I added several pictures of the band in action and a few demos as to give the site some tangibility.

Since the web is primarily visual, pictures help a lot.

If you're a service provider, offer photographs of you providing the service or before-and-after shots. If you sell intangible products like software, give screenshots of the software in action. In short, engage as many of the senses as possible. (But if you're not entertainment-related, then you don't want to be a multimedia circus that takes forever to load or annoys your visitors.)

Nevertheless, the aim of making a site "tangible" is to increase trust and credibility. People don't know you. To them, you could be a thief, sitting in some basement in your underwear, stealing credit cards -- and not a legitimate business. So if they can't see you (in person), and touch or inspect your offering, your goal should be to give them as many alternatives as possible.

In fact, based on that idea, I added our mailing address and telephone numbers at the bottom of each page of the band's website. The purpose is to show that we do exist, and that we're not some postal box or invisible entity.

3. Optimization

Once I finished the basic layout, I visited sites of other bands, especially those appearing high on several search engines under specific keywords (e.g., "rock bands," "concerts," "events," "bookings," "music," "entertainment," etc), and I analyzed their meta-tags, keyword density and link popularity.

I used several free tools to accomplish this. One of them is Mouse-Click Application at http://www.mouseclickapplication.com/. It will provide you with information on any web page in your browser when you simply right-click your mouse on the page. In addition to keyword density and link popularity, it offers instant search engine submissions, monitoring and reporting.

Another, Alexa at http://www.alexa.com/, provides me with the level of traffic a site receives as well as links to other, related sites. (For example, it tells me if a site that I visit is indeed a "winner.")

I also use Jim Wilson's keyword suggestion tool,located at http://www.keywordwizard.com/. It lists actual search terms used to find websites that relate to mine.

Next, I optimize. In addition to titles that contain keywords (and making sure that title tags are the first tags in the header section of each web page), I generate comment tags, first paragraphs in each body text and alt tags (i.e., mouseover "tooltips" for each graphic) that are all keyword-rich. Finally, I use a meta-tag creator (which is quite comprehensive, too) at http://vancouver-webpages.com/META/mk-metas.html

... And voila!

Next, I submitted the website to multiple search engines using the application at http://www.mouseclickapplication.com/. The important thing right now was to get it up and at least submit it to many of the local entertainment and music-related directories, like http://www.kickinthehead.com/ among many others.

Anyway, I'll stop here. I hope I gave you some insight that will help you in your quest -- it is merely an iceberg's tip.

So until next time, keep on marketing. (And rocking.)

About the author
Michel Fortin is a direct response copywriter and consultant dedicated to turning sales messages into powerful magnets. Get a free copy of his book, "The 10 Commandments of Power Positioning," when you subscribe to his free monthly ezine, "The Profit Pill." See http://SuccessDoctor.com/ now!

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