by Wanda Loskot
Chatting with Jim Sterne, author of “What Makes People Click – Advertising on the Web”, a leading expert on Internet marketing.
Jim Sterne is author of four superb books about Internet
Marketing and a highly sought after speaker and consultant.
I was lucky to meet Jim Sterne during that famous Internet
Marketing Summit – http://loska.com/internet-marketing –
it was fun to sit with him at the same table but it was his
presentation that really got me. Simply brilliant! I confess,
as a speaker I secretly aspire to be as good … so, it was
a true pleasure to meet him again during the MasterMind Chat.
Jim, you are on the internet since the very dawn (so it
seems to me) — what is the biggest change you see happened
or happening that will impact small business owners?
The biggest impact on small businesses? Let’s see… I’d
say the biggest impact the Internet has had on small business
is productivity — and for that I look at two things in
First – the Web lets you put your message up at an incredibly
higher discount than magazine ads or mailing brochures. Second,
e-mail has changed how we communicate. I run a world-wide
consulting practice and public speaking business — by myself.
The title of one of your books is “What makes people click?”.
Is there something that made people click before, but now
leaves them cold?
Animations! Things that jiggle, move, bounce and make noise
used to get everybody’s attention – now we’re all *very* tired
of being distracted.
What about banners, do people still click on them?
People do – just not as much as they used to. We used to see
2% clickthroughs and now it’s more like 0.25% Banners still
have value – just not as much as we thought at first.
That means 400 banner impressions generate just one click! Small
fraction of what it used to be! Which banners are most effective?
It depends… If you want to sell, if you want to get people to
come to a chat session… if you want people to donate their
time — different banners are effective for different purposes.
But the ones that are the best follow the same rules as offline
advertising – put the right message in front of the right person
at the right time.
Which means targeting – right?
Yes, Wanda. Targeting. It starts by putting your banner ad
on the site that is most likely to attract the kind of people
who should be interested in your offer.
What is the best strategy to market a product or service that
is also sold by the “big guys”?
The best way to sell against the big guys it to narrow your
niche. Remember – you’re talking to somebody who named his
company “Target Marketing”.
If you can find a narrow place to play, the Internet gives
you the ability to get the word out to a lot of people.
What are the biggest mistakes people make when selecting
a target market?
The biggest mistake is going after too large a segment.
Targeting is really simple. Figure out what group of people
would have a special interest in your product, or how you
can make it more appealing to a smaller segment of the
marketplace. Then you can be the biggest fish in the smaller
Do you have a formula for successful targeting? What is the
best way to get started?
How about looking over your list of past customers and seeing
what they have in common?. You may have more dentists than anything
else… or – I don’t know – accountants! If so, you could send out
a direct mail notice to every dentist in the state… or to every
accountant. See what I mean?
If you focus on a specific target, you can create one small
brochure that tells all about how you understand the needs
of dentists or accountants. Once you get two or three under
your belt, you can go speak at an accounting luncheon and
spread your expertise.
Someone with a strictly online business might ask how to go
about actually getting to those dentists and accountants…
Offline: dentists, or whatever market niche you like, can
be most easily found through direct mail. A simple postcard
mailed once a month can be very effective.
Online? Start posting articles for free on dental Web sites.
Offer up yourself as a content expert and add a little blurb
at the end of every article about the services you offer.
So, the idea is to create a niche and exploit it?
Right. It doesn’t need to be a big, giant niche just waiting
for somebody to come in and clean up. It could be an unloved
niche that would thrive given a little attention.
The secret of a niche, is that the more time you spend there,
the more of an expert you become.
What do you answer if someone asks what is your special niche?
My pre-Internet special niche was technology marketing –
specifically software marketing. More exactly – software
development tools. Today I describe myself as a specialist in
online communications between companies and their customers.
I started doing Internet marketing in 1994 when people thought
it was too small an area to worry about. And now look at me —
you think I’m an expert! I’ve MADE it!!!
Thank you so much for visiting and for sharing your wisdom!
For those who would like to get more of your juicy advice,
where can they find you?
Well – you can pick my brain in chat sessions like this, you
can go to my Web site http://www.targeting.com/and read some of my
articles. You could buy my books 🙂 Or – he said cautiously
– you can send me an e-mail every now and then and see how
long it takes me to answer…
I really encourage you to get Jim’s books — they are packed
with juicy information, how-to advice and examples. No fluff.
So, the only thing I can say is repeat after Godin: buy them!
Here are the titles (each of them is a perfect holiday gift!)
-> Email Marketing – Using Email to Reach Your Target Audience
and Build Customer Relationships”
-> What Makes People Click – Advertising on the Web”
-> Customer Service on the Internet – Building Relationships,
Increasing Loyalty, and Staying Competitive”
-> World Wide Web Marketing – Integrating the Internet Into
Your Marketing Strategy”
And check his speaking calendar too — when he comes to your
town, bribe some people if you must, but DO hear him speak!