A Different Approach to Marketing - Montana Webmaster

A Different Approach to Marketing

Marketing Stretches beyond Advertising

The goal of marketing is to communicate with potential clients, clients and other groups of people to further the goals of a company or organization. In a recent workshop I taught as part of the Expert Network for Mission West, we took a look at the costs of traditional advertising. And, we took a look at some alternatives. None of the options comes without cost.

When your Capacity is Limited

There are many different structures for organizations, and each structure needs a different marketing mix, based on goals and resources available. My work with microbusinesses mirrors the size and capacity of Montana Webmaster, so I use my own marketing strategies to provide models for my clients and students. No two organizations have exactly the same need, making it important to pick and choose the pieces that are a good match.

One piece that is key to marketing planning for Montana Webmaster is capacity. Because I work directly with my clients, my capacity is limited to the number of work hours in a day. To scale upwards, I would need to add additional people to my team.

Deciding on your Goals for Marketing

Is my goal to contact and get the attention of as many people as possible? No! This goes back to capacity. Instead my goal is credibility in the field of web development and training. That is why my marketing tool of choice is content.

Is my goal to contact and get the attention of as many people who need websites as possible? No! Instead my goal is to get the attention of people who can be my ideal client. So, deciding on my marketing means identifying my ideal client.

  1. My ideal client isn’t a bargain hunter.
    1. A bargain hunter wants magic marketing for $500.00. I wish them well.
  2. My ideal client isn’t someone who says, “I trust you. Whatever you do is great.”
    1. It will be a shot in the dark for me.
    2. I won’t know their unique business/product or be able to identify their unique markets and opportunities.
    3. It won’t be great. They will hate whatever I do.
  3. My ideal client is part of the process.
    1. They know things about their business/product that I will recognize need to go on their website when they tell me.
    2. When I ask a whole load of seemingly irrelevant questions about their business, I’m hunting for design, content and SEO opportunities.
    3. When there are decisions to make they need to have the opportunity to make the decision based on understanding the benefits and drawbacks of the various options.

With these items in mind, how can I reach that type of business owner or organization leader? One thing I distilled is that these are people who appreciate information. And, they probably don’t like the feel of hard sell any more than I like doing it. I once had a job where, not only was I the web developer, I was supposed to do sales. Guess which part I failed at!

Looking at the situation a little further, what I really failed at was the hard sell. My “calls to action” did not include why the targe market should buy something they didn’t need. And, if quality market research had been done, they would have known that the market wouldn’t see a need for the service. But, what I didn’t fail at was learning other methods of reaching a market and networking, and especially, helping them learn more about the product that would actually be useful.

How Do You Market without Advertising?

Start by just talking to people to learn. Don’t treat them like a target.

Find ways to get the message out there and let folks self-identify whether their lives would be better with your product or service. In Business School, we learned that publicity is a marketing activity separate from advertising. With the incorporation of social media and SEO into the marketing mix, we have options that weren’t as widely used when I took that class.  But, quite a few of the principles remain the same.

For example, I listened to a talk given by a newspaper editor responsible for the business section of her paper. Her talk was about how to get a feature article in the paper. Her main point was the same for newspaper publicity as it is for social media: have an angle.

Marketing Principles

  1. Honoring and supporting the small, local businesses represent the market for Montana Webmaster, even if they aren’t in Montana
  2. Being generous with information

Marketing Channels

  1. Website
  2. Social media networking
  3. Mentoring
  4. Volunteering
  5. Practicing what I preach and buying local


Besides basic business information, my website contains articles I think will be helpful to my clients and other small business owners. Also, there are articles that are prompted by mentees and students. Whenever appropriate, I will send links for my clients and students to read more about a topic relevant to their work.

  1. Action 1: Write articles that cover a wide array of marketing and technology topics.
    1. The additional content will help my SEO.
    2. The content will help show my expertise.
    3. The content will contain examples from my experiences.
    4. The content will feature small businesses.

While these items don’t cost much in $$$, they cost time, lots of time. Writing content and creating or finding images is a whole lot of work. Here are some examples.

Creating and Finding Images

  1. Web development is not quite as easy to illustrate with images as a meal in a restaurant or even car repair. Posting photos of code is only interesting to those who are coders, not website owners!
  2. My images come from Shutterstock, photos I take, photos others take that I have permission to use.
  3. I often get distracted and take the wrong photos, but even those are useful.
    Today, my Partners in Dine collaborator and I went to Seppi’s European Market and Deli in Hamilton, MT. What did I take photos of? My lovely sandwich? No. My elegantly served cappuccino in a Lavazza cup? No. I took a photo of the bags of Buckwheat from Lithuania, the cheese dumpling in the soup, and the colorful rice, pea and beet crackers, and the door. Really, I should know better.

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