Steps to Start an Online Business: Start Guide to Get Advertisers

Other than analyzing your traffic and conducting an audit of your site, it is useful to ask your users to complete a survey. This will not only help to attract advertisers; it will also help you formulate a strategy for how best to use your advertisers.

There are some general steps to take to prepare your Web site for attracting advertisers. It is important to know who your browsers are. Other than analyzing your traffic and conducting an audit of your site, it is useful to ask your users to complete a survey. The information you will collect is important to your potential advertisers. It informs them who your audience is and what their interests are. This will not only help to attract advertisers; it will also help you formulate a strategy for how best to use your advertisers.

It is important to understand your site from the advertiser’s point of view. Understanding what your site can offer potential advertisers can help you to create advertising packages. Determine how you will use banner advertising, sponsorships or other advertising ploys on your Web site and figure out where they will be situated. This way you can have definite information for your advertisers on how you plan to integrate their ads into your site. Keep in mind that the more interest your site generates form users; the more likely advertisers will take an interest in your site. Remember that the more traffic you have, the more appealing your advertising space is to advertisers.

You will want to create and post a rate card on your site, along with information that would be useful to advertisers. Typical rate card information should include the following information. Advertising rates: cost per thousand page views, any advertising package rates, discounts or other relevant information. The size specifications of your advertising space: size of banner ads, image file size requirements, or any other restrictions. Post information explaining the amount of traffic your site has. Give information about any third-party site audits you have had done. Finally, be sure to include specific data about your audience. For an example of an effective rate card including relevant demographic information about its users, link to Netsearch’s Advertising Program at http://home.netscape.com/ads/nsearch1.html.

For the small business owner on the Internet, the next question is to be “how do I get advertisers?” According to Kirk Tatnall, advertising sales rep for the Sci-Fi Channel’s Online site, there are some basic ways to sell advertising in general, not just for the Internet.

The first rule is to use your common sense to determine what is best for your Web site. Consider the content of your Web site and use that information as the basis for the type of advertisers to target. For example, if your Web page is based on skiing, try to target ski manufacturers, magazines, books, basically anything that is directly related to skiing

The second guideline is to do some research to find out who is advertising related products online. This will give you some ideas of companies to target in your sales campaign. This will also help you to determine the type of campaigns that the skiing industry might be interested in pursuing.

The next tip is to keep current in the advertising industry. Reading advertising trade publications such as AdAge will help to let you know what is going on in the industry. Being up to date on the latest campaigns and companies might help you to develop a strategy for dealing with potential advertisers.

Get familiar with the interactive agencies that are currently doing business on the Internet. This will help you to get a handle on what type of accounts are being handled and the different strategies that are being used both successfully and unsuccessfully.

Be sure to get your name out into the market which can help give you leverage an online identity. Basically, to be able to sell your advertising space, your site needs to have a significant amount of traffic. The more traffic you have, the easier it is going to be to sell your space. The more name recognition your Web site is, the more leverage you will have with potential buyers.

If you are planning to use an agency, be sure it makes sense to your business. You want to get the right advertisers to sign onto your site; they should make sense with your company’s goals and strategies. Many times when you get the right advertiser, you will use their agency.

There are many online resources that may be helpful in locating an agency. AdWeek has a directory of Internet agencies; ClickZ Online also lists network agencies. Another source is the Online Advertising Discussion List. If you plan to locate an agency in this fashion, be sure to do research on the different campaigns and strategies the agencies have done in the past to determine if their services will satisfy your needs.

It is also important to be persistent. Many interactive advertisers do not return phone calls. You need to be persistent and to follow up to get the results you want. If you are trying to sign an advertiser that is tentative about using Online ads, find out when they plan on breaking into the Interactive market and call back when they are ready.

The best advice that Mr. Tatnall offered is to listen. It is important to get a sense of what the advertiser has done in the past and what they are looking to do in using your Web site as an advertising platform. Don’t try to be creative and ingenious, figure out what the advertiser’s expectations are and meet them. If you do not cater to your advertiser’s needs they won’t continue to advertise with you. “Listen to your advertiser,” Tatnall said, “service them and meet their expectations.” Be up front with the advertiser, have them say ‘This is what we want to accomplish_’ that way at the end of the campaign, it will be easier to evaluate its effectiveness.

After the campaign is over it is important to review with the advertiser what worked and what didn’t. If you are clear about the advertiser’s expectations up front then you will have a basis for the conversation, and a place for it to go. Neglecting to review a campaign’s effectiveness can cause you to repeat the same mistakes. It will also give you ideas on how to revise your advertising strategies and how to better serve your advertisers. In constantly reviewing the success of advertising campaigns on your Web site, you can not only determine if you are meeting your advertiser’s needs, but you can also use the data to create a useful resource for other potential advertisers.

Many times businesses will do what ever it takes to sign a tentative advertiser. Mr. Tatnall warned against this practice “Other companies will find out [about the deal] and expect the same deals.” It is important to get paid for the advertising space you are selling, not for the amount of product your advertiser sells from the customers generated by your site. Keep in mind when selling advertising space on your Site, you are selling your audience, not your advertiser’s products.

In advertising on the Internet, accountability increases. It is easier to track sales made by a given ad on the Internet than it is if advertisers use television or the radio. As a result, advertisers expect more from their campaigns in the Internet, and, in turn, more from the site they are advertising on.

Aggressively selling your advertising space is a difficult and time consuming task, but it is not an impossible feat. To help in the process it might be a good idea to list your site with as many ad placement brokers as possible. This will help to generate interest in your site as well as generating calls from interested advertisers and media buyers. If undertaking an advertising sales campaign seems overwhelming, there are many advertising sales rep firms that can help your company for 15%-50% of the revenue generated.

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