Book Featured Joan Holman as One Of Today's Top Online Marketing Experts
Online Marketing Heroes: Interviews with 25 Successful Online Marketing Gurus
MIchael Miller, author / published by Wiley & Sons / 336 pages / released March 2008
Excerpts from Chapter 1 (Interview with Joan Holman)
Interview Includes Advice about Web Site Design, Using Craig's List, Online Press Releases & More
Joan Holman Is A Marketing Consultant (based in Minneapolis, Minnesota) Who Helps Entrepreneurs, Businesses, Organizations, Authors & Professionals Improve Their Web Sites & Online and Offline Marketing
Q. How has the whole concept of marketing changed with the advent of the online world?
Joan Holman: We are having a convergence of public relations and marketing online. You are able to bypass gatekeepers. You can go direct to the public now, direct to the consumer.
It used to be that you'd have to use advertising, you'd have to use the media, to get your message out. The Internet allows you to bypass all these people who have been in control before.
If you are creative and if you understand the medium, or if you have somebody working with you who does, there are powerful things that you can do for yourself with marketing-for a fraction of the cost of what it used to take to build a brand or become a celebrity. It's just amazing, the opportunities that are there for people who know how to do this.
There are some people who've been very, very effective with this, like Dane Cook, the comedian. In the year 2000, he took $30,000 of his own money and he launched his web site (www.danecook.com) to further his career. He had been on Comedy Central and he had a fan base, but he understood the power of the Internet. He became one of the first celebrities to really harness the Internet to catapult himself to a much greater degree of success.
He was the first person to get two million fans on MySpace, listed as his friends.So when he came out with tickets to his events, and with products-DVDs, CDs-there he was, in instant contact with a worldwide audience who could come buy his stuff and support him. Things like that were not possible before we had the Internet.
Q. So if a company already has a web site, what would they look for in trying to improve that site, with online marketing in mind?
Joan Holman: First of all, they should conduct some sort of usability testing. Extensive usability testing can be very expensive, but you can do some limited or informal usability testing on a small budget.
You need to get feedback from your target market and also find out who is coming to your web site and what is their experience of your web site. I personally have seen so many web sites that do not function well for their target audiences.
I recently evaluated a web site of a real estate developer who is building expensive condos and much of his target market is an older population. My recommendation to him, or to anyone building a web site, is to know what kinds of computer platforms his prospective buyers are using and how this impacts the usability of his web site. His home page and much of the web site was created in Flash-and to view it, you must have the latest version of Flash. This could be a major problem with an older population, which may not have the latest and greatest technology One solution is to provide an alternative version of specific web pages, or even the entire web site, for those people who do not have the most current version of Flash.
According to research from early 2007 by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 71 percent of American adults are now online. Internet users access the web from all kinds of computers, devices, monitors, browsers, and connection speeds, which impacts how they can view or use any given web site.
Although high-speed Internet is pervasive in the workplace, Pew research indicates that as of early 2007, only about half of U.S. adults had high-speed connections at home. And there's a lot of businesses creating web sites that try to force their customers and prospective customers to adapt to the parameters of the web site-instead of saying, "What are these people working with and how can we make our web site user-friendly for them?"
These businesses don't have the knowledge of all the technicalities of the web, the different platforms, and they don't understand what it takes to create a truly effective and usable web site. They may get a phone call one day from someone who says, "I can't use your web site." Then the assumption is made that, well, there's something wrong with that person's computer, and that just may not be the case.
It just may be that the user is on a platform that limits the use of the web site. Some people, because of security issues, won't allow ActiveX or pop-up windows. So they're screening out a lot of stuff that you want them to view and you may not even be aware of this.
If you want to be effective, you need to know what's really going on with your web site and you need to develop a web site that is usable for your target audience.
Q. How is the Internet changing the whole business of real estate?
Joan Holman: According to a 2006 survey by the the National Association of Realtors, over 80 percent of home buyers now use the Internet to search for a home. Realtors will tell you that people don't even ask to see a property until they've seen it online first. They want to see a lot of photographs, and also a virtual tour. If your photographs are really good, they will draw people to visit your property. But if your photographs are bad, or if you don't have photographs, people aren't going to come and visit your property. Most buyers are doing all their preliminary looking online.
Q. Do you have any general advice for a company wanting to improve their online presence?
Joan Holman: First of all, get feedback. Get honest feedback about your web site, from the types of people who would be your customers. And be open to criticism and suggestions.
Finally, get creative. I'll tell you what really sells online, what engages people online, is humor and human interest. If you have people on staff, have them share their favorite jokes, favorite web sites, or their favorite humorous YouTube videos. Have something enjoyable on your web site that makes it interesting, so somebody can say, you know what, you should go to this web site because they have this one section that's just hysterical, or remarkable, or amazing. Something so that people will do some word of mouth about your web site.
New Book Features Today's Online Marketing Heroes (in order as featured in the book)
Joan Holman - Joan Holman Productions
Greg Hartnett- Best of the Web, Hotel Hotline
Jacob Hawkins -Overstock.com
Mark Oldani -Circuit City Direct
Jeffrey Glueck -Travelocity
Lauren Freedman- the e-tailing group, inc.
Tamara Adlin -adlin, inc.
Steve Rubel- Edelman
Greg Jarboe -SEO-PR
Eric Ward -Link Marketing Consultant
Jordan Gold -Freedom
Heather Lloyd-Martin- SuccessWorks
Chris Baggott- Compendium Software
Ed Shull -NetResults
Brian Lusk -Southwest Airlines
Lee Odden -TopRank Online Marketing
Jill Whalen -High Rankings
Liana Evans -KeyRelevance
Perry Marshall -Perry S. Marshall & Associates
Kevin Lee -Didit
Paul O'Brien -Zvents
Ron Belanger -Yahoo!
David Fischer -Google
Phil Terry -Creative Good
Patrick Duparcq -Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University