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The following article first appeared in "Internet Day" and is being re-published here with full permission of the author. Position Masters has done no work, paid for or not for the author or his site.

It is an example from a 'novice' point of view, that positioning really does work, but it takes much work to make it effective.

Article by Bob Anderson, Lead Instructor for SKMP Consultants.
  • Look around the Web and you'll find thousands of sites that have products to sell. Wisdom says that the Internet will eventually replace many retail outlets. So, if you're a retailer of widgets and there is a big demand for internet.com widgets and competition in the widget industry is keen, then the Internet is the place to be. Internet News Internet Stocks But what happens if you have a service to sell? Rather Internet than selling the widgets, you are an expert in teaching Technology others to use widgets. But you know there are hundreds of Web Developer other widget gurus out there. How do you market your Internet expertise? Our company has no product to sell but we do Marketing provide a service. This is what we did.

  • Our company (SKMP Consultants - http://www.speeder.on.ca) provides training courses for potential police officers, senior investigators and prosecutors. This is a fairly limited market but we saw the potential for increased business that the Internet offered. So, in December of 1998 we joined the electronic age and established our website and sat back waiting for course orders to roll in. Guess what? The only hits were the instructors looking at their web page. We fell back and regrouped and from January to April managed to increase the hits to an average of 100 per week, which we think is exceptional in our little corner of the Web.

  • How did we do it? We did it with a lot of hard work and reliance on the experience and expertise of those that have gone before. We paid attention to all the marketing tips (relying heavily on our daily dose of Internet Day) and they paid off. Here's a run-down of some of the things we learned that worked for us.

Anticipate What Clients Will Search For.

  • When we were novices, we created meta tags and dutifully submitted our URL to all the major search engines. Within weeks, a search for "SKMP Consultants" resulted in a ranking of number one on page one of most of the engines. No hits on the website though. People just weren't searching for SKMP Consultants; but then, they didn't even know we existed.

  • Paying attention to those wiser than us, we restructured the website, changed the meta tags and keywords to stress "police training," re-submitted the URL and sat back waiting for the increased traffic. Still no hits and a subsequent search for "police training" didn't show us anywhere in the first twenty pages or so anywhere. Being trained investigators, we put our thinking caps on, went into the clues closet and lo and behold, we arrived at a solid deduction. It was elementary, as Sherlock Holmes said. What was the main thrust of our teaching program? Preparation for the Police Qualifying Exam. The next logical deduction was that most people would search for that phrase if that's what they wanted.

  • When the lights came on, the answer was simple. A change to stressing "Police Qualifying Exam Training" resulted in number one, page one rankings on Yahoo, Web Crawler and page one rankings on most of the other engines. Suddenly the hits started coming (try searching Yahoo for Police Qualifying Exam and you'll see SKMP Consultants is right there, number one, page one). Something to remember. Know what your customer is looking for, anticipate his search criteria and structure your Meta tags and keywords accordingly. All the articles stressing Meta tags can't be wrong. This one simple change worked for us. (One word of caution, check your rankings frequently. We took advantage of a "free" submission offer that came with some software and after the company had made the submissions, our rankings dropped. We had to start over again.)

Keep Your Site Simple

  • Many times we saw articles advising site simplicity. Our site has changed drastically since birth. We had the gadgets, the animation, the Java script, Christmas music and a host of other neat things. With re-birth, they're mostly gone. We kept a couple of small Java applications and some small animations and got rid of the rest of the toys. The result? Faster load times, a more pleasing look, more interest and positive feedback from visitors and more repeat visitors.

Provide Personal Service

  • We have provided request forms that allow a visitor to make a specific request for information and WE FOLLOW UP on each request personally. Try visiting our site at http://www.speeder.on.ca and leave an entry in the guest book. Guaranteed you'll receive a personal reply within a day. We also provide the names and e-mail addresses of real persons who will respond to requests and our address and phone numbers let visitors know we are there to provide personal service. We even have pictures of the instructors. We publish a biweekly newsletter that provides updates on legal issues, course changes and changes to the website. Each of these lets the visitor know he's dealing with real people and not just a company. Our visitors want to keep coming back to the site to see the changes. Personal service takes a lot of work but it pays dividends. Autoresponders are fine for some things but when you're selling a service, make it personal.

Keep It Businesslike

  • Keep your site businesslike. We've had all the junk mail about get rich schemes and offers that tell us if we link to a certain site, our hits will increase 1000% and we'll be instant gazillionaires. At the outset we asked ourselves if this were the way to go. After all, we only had to was to create a page full of advertising or better yet, someone would create the page free! All we had to do was add a link to some other page. While the idea of thousands of hits a day and untold wealth was appealing, most of our potential clients want only information. They receive their own junk mail and if they want to pursue the schemes and dreams there are other places for them to find the links.

Know that You're in for the Long Haul and Establish Your Presence.

  • Be patient. It takes time to be successful. Ours is a fledgling company. We know that it will take time for all our marketing efforts to pay off. What we're doing is establishing our presence. We're preparing for the future and handling the present. Don't expect overnight success. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to increase traffic to your site. It takes even more work and dedication to sell your service.

  • We've learned a lot at our company. We learned that Rome wasn't built in a day, that viewers like a neat, tidy page that loads quickly, that they like to feel they're communicating with a real person. Most of all, we learned to heed the advice of others.

  • When the time comes, we'll be following up on other marketing suggestions such as providing secure credit card transactions, instituting software to check our Log files for follow-ups and a host of other ideas we learned along the way.

  • Not all marketing tips work for everyone and it takes a lot of trial and error to find the tips that produce results. Marketing a service is quite different than marketing a product. It's easy to compare the cost and quality of a widget but if you need someone to show you how to use the widget, you want personal attention and service.

Article by Bob Anderson, Lead Instructor for SKMP Consultants.

    Bob has over thirty years police experience with the Metropolitan Toronto Police and is a retired Detective Sergeant. He is regularly consulted by police forces and prosecutors across Canada on issues dealing with electronic surveillance and specialized search warrants. Bob also acts as the full time webmaster for the SKMP Consultants website.

    (SKMP Consultants - http://www.speeder.on.ca is a Canadian based training company specializing in courses for police personnel, prosecutors and potential police officers. The teaching staff has well over one hundred years combined police experience and the instructors have lectured from coast to coast.)

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