By John Eberhard

With marketing, you are trying to get people to respond to your marketing message, either by buying your product or service right away or by expressing some interest and becoming a lead so your salesmen can sell them.

You can make the coolest website in the world, the nicest HTML emails, or the slickest looking brochure. But if you do not have the right message and offer, it will all be for naught. You will spend time, effort and money and be left with little reward.

So how do you figure out the best marketing message or offers in order to bring about an adequate or optimum return for your efforts?

The best way is to establish who your target public is that is most likely to buy your product, and then survey those people to get an idea of what motivates them and what they want.

Most companies will have a specific target public that is most likely to buy their products or services. Unless you sell cereal or shampoo, that public is not “the general public.” That public is unique in ways that separate them out from the general public, such as age, interests, or buying habits. Then you need to specifically survey those people, to get an idea of what they think and what they want.

But many companies cannot afford to do marketing surveys. So how can a small or medium sized business figure out the best marketing message?

One inexpensive way to do a type of survey that will specifically help your online marketing, is to do keyword research. This is where you make a list of keywords and then find out how many people are typing in each keyword every month, and how many websites are competing for those terms or phrases. This is an excellent tool for finding out what people are looking for online.

Another excellent tool is to put Google Analytics, a free web statistics service, on your website and use this to see what keywords people are typing in, in order to reach your website.

Another method is to put up a pay per click ad campaign on Google AdWords, create several text ads and a bunch of keywords, and see which text ads get the best response. This will cost you some money (you can control the daily budget) but you will only pay for when people click on the ads and come to your site. So unlike display advertising, where you pay whether you get any response or not, with pay per click ads, if your ad bombs, you will pay nothing or next to nothing.

There is a lot more to learn about pay per click advertising, which I cover in other articles and in my book. But the point is that you can use pay per click and these other methods as tools to find out what your public will best respond to. Then, when you find the right message, pour the coals on. In other words, place more ads with that message, put that message up on your website, and craft more and ongoing campaigns with that message. And may the leads pour in!