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Key Questions: You may have already done your market research, but if you haven�t, we suggest you consider the following questions before you invest a penny in the development of an internet web site.

1. Have you defined your market reach? Do you offer products and/or services that will be of interest to an international, national, regional, or local community?  The larger your target audience, obviously the greater your probability of success. Knowing this, would it be possible for you to offer a product or service that would broaden your potential market?

2. What is the global demand for your product and/or service? Do you have any idea how many internet inquiries are made about your product and/or service every month?  For an answer to this question, visit Overture.com. Under the heading �Products & Services� click on �Precision Match.�  Scroll to the bottom of the page and enter a keyword or keyword phrase you might use to find information about your product and/or service in the search engine suggestion window.  In addition to finding out how many inquiries were made using that keyword/keyword phrase, you may see a dozen or more derivative terms and the number of inquiries made about them as well.

3. How many of these inquiries actually come from your target market? If you assume that 85% of all inquiries originate in the United States and that 7.1% of those live in Southern California (as an example), then the potential market represents 7.1% of 85% (6.1%) of all inquiries using any given keyword or keyword combination.  To calculate the proportion of inquiries likely to come from your market area, just visit the U. S. Census Bureau.  There you will find national, state, county, and metropolitan population projections you can use to estimate the number of inquiries that are likely to be emanating from within your market area.

4. What is your likely market share? Of those consumers actually making inquiries from your market area, how many are likely to visit your site, let alone make a purchase?  Assuming that the content of your web site is inviting enough to motivate visitors to either purchase your product/service or to at least make an inquiry, what percentage are actually going to become customers?  

5. How many sales will you have to make to recoup the cost of development and promotion? For arguments sake,  let us assume that it will cost you at least $100 to reserve a domain name and to secure a host, $500 to get a 10 page site designed, and that you budget at least $50 a month on search engine registrations, advertising and promotion. How many net sales will you have to make to recover these costs?

6. Do you know who your on-line competitors are? If you don�t, go to Google.com and enter a few keywords related to your product or service and see who appears on the first page. Visit a few of them. What is their message? What are your competitors strengths and weaknesses, especially when it comes to the impression you first got when you arrived at their sites.  How could you make your offering more attractive or enticing?

7. Can you be competitive?   Knowing what your competitors are offering, can you compete with them, especially when it comes to pricing? Internet inquiries generally come from individuals looking for a deal.  Do your competitors avoid posting costs or are they asking visitors to make an on-line inquiry or to call for a quote?  If you are in a service related business, what can you do to compel visitors to visit your site? What is going to separate you from your competition?

8. How unique is your product and/or service? Do you offer a unique product and/or service, or are you in a highly competitive industry?  It probably goes without saying that the more unique your offering, the easier it is going to be to get exposure, the greater your potential is going to be for success.

9. How are you going to promote your site? The larger your target audience (international being the ideal), the more unique your offering, the more you will probably want to spend on search engine optimization and directory placement.  If you are a local or regional service provider, the more you will need to rely on supplemental advertising, the most effective being pay-for-placement programs with on line services like Overture, and Google. For as little as $0.10 a click through, you can bring serious buyers to your virtual store front. 

What you may not understand is that 50% of all internet surfers ignore sponsored advertising because they think search results are more credible. If you are looking for quick search engine placement, also try Fast Track Ranking and Placement.  These guys can show you how to get top ten search engine placement on almost all of the major search engines in a week or less and they guarantee their results.

10. What have you budgeted for promotion? If you cannot afford to promote your site, you might as well forget spending money on its development.  Marketing is an on going effort and while we can show you how to use internet resources to systematically promote your site, the days of free advertising through search engines may soon come to an end. To see how much it costs your competitors to advertise using Overture�s pay for performance program, go to Overture.com , enter a keyword or keyword phrase in the search window on the index page. When the results appear, click on �View Advertiser�s Max Bids�. The amount of money advertisers are currently spending to position themselves as sponsored listings will appear along with the company�s listing.

Ok, So Now What?

If you have determined that a web site is in your company�s best interests, you now need to decide whether you are going to out source its development and management or whether you are going to train one or more individuals in your company to handle it for you. 

The Web Site Tutor offers you full-service web design services or, if you want to manage your site in-house, the training your project managers will need to get the job done.

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