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Marketing And Sales For Small Online Businesses

For some time now I’ve been considering writing a book about marketing and sales for small online businesses. Not just software businesses, but all small online businesses. During the summer I was even a spearker at such a seminar with Glenn Scott where I personally presented “Website Promotion and Traffic Generation” which got some really great reviews. As one attendee put it, “if the average course is like drinking from a cup [content], then this course is like drinking water from a fire hydrant“. Btw, congratulations Justin on starting CitySales.ca.

Marketing and sales is now a domain of business which I’m quite familiar with, one that I’ve been really striving at since I founded LandlordMax about four years ago. Since that time, LandlordMax has steadily grown in traffic and sales.

In addition to LandlordMax, I also personally started this blog (FollowSteph.com) almost two years ago now. Together, these two sites get approximately a combined total of a million unique visitors per year! It might not seem like much when compared to the major players (Google.com, Cnn.com, or even Digg.com), but the thing to remember is that both of these sites are focused to niche demographics, so these are phenomenal numbers! All in all this is a very big achievement which I’m very proud of.

Which leads me back to my initial concept of writing a book about everything I’ve learned since I initially started. It’s been quite a road, with lots of bumps and turns. And I can tell you, I’d have been a lot further ahead today (at least I’d have gotten there quicker) if there had been a book like this one explaining everything I needed to know about marketing and sales for an online business. There’s a lot of information out there, no doubt about it, but it’s all over the place. It took me a lot of time to consolidate it all into one. This doesn’t even bring forth all the trial and error experience I got along the way. I can tell you as part of this whole learning process I also purchased lots of books, lots of ebooks (ebooks are great for quickly changing information such as “Adwords Definitive Guide“), read tons of articles, read tons of blogs, and so on. All in all, it’s been a great big adventure of learning.

So now I’m considering putting it all together in nice little book that will contain lots of information, more meat than fluff. I’m personally not a big fan of fluff, I like to get a lot of information for my money, and especially time (it’s my scarcest resource bar none). My personal value of a book is if I can get at least ten times the what I paid for it (time and money), then it’s worth its price. I’m hoping this book will be worth more than that!

So without further ado, here’s the outline I’ve been looking at so far:


  • Some of my personal story, including some successes and failures.

Section 1 (General information)

  • Why is marketing and sales important to you?
  • How does traffic affect your revenue?
  • Is all your traffic worth the same?
  • Will your efforts need to change over time?
  • How will people find out about you?
  • What is SEO (Search Engine Optimization)?
  • What are the free types of website promotion?
  • What are the paid types of website promotion?

Section 2 (SEO – Search engine Optimization)

  • What exactly is SEO again?
  • Why is SEO important to you?
  • What can SEO do for you?
  • Tips to improve your website for better search engine ranking?
  • How does Google view your site overall?
  • How can you improve your site’s ranking outside of your own site?

Section 3 (Free Website Promotional Campaigns – Blogging)

  • What is blogging?
  • Should you blog?
  • How you can blog to increase awareness of your website
  • How you can promote your website in your blog
  • The real power of blogging

Section 4 (Free Website Promotional Campaigns – Part 2)

  • How can your content help drive traffic?
  • How can your content help your search ranking?
  • What are loss leaders and how can they help you?
  • What all this social networking about?
  • Is linking still important?
  • Do you really need an online presence?
  • Are directories worth anything anymore?
  • Are e-zines worth your time and effort?
  • Potpourri of tips

Section 5 (Paid Website Promotional Campaigns – Adwords)

  • How does Adwords really work?
  • Is Adwords really that good for you?
  • Does it really matter how much effort you put into Adwords?
  • What’s CPC?
  • What’s CTR?
  • Why are they both so important to you?
  • How you can do Multi-variate testing with Adwords
  • How can you improve my Adwords Ads?
  • What’s the best way to Manage your Adwords campaigns?
  • Does it really matter what keywords you bid on?
  • Are the other systems like Overture, FindWhat, etc. worth trying?
  • Adwords Potpourri

Section 6 (Paid Website Promotional Campaigns – Part 2)

  • What are presses releases and how do they work?
  • Are press releases worth your time and money?
  • Which services should you use for a press release?
  • How do you determine what’s newsworthy?
  • How do you write a press release?

Section 7 (Paid Website Promotional Campaigns – Part 3)

  • What domains should you buy for your website?
  • A great tip on how you can get an amazing ROI by buying domains
  • How do you know which domains to buy?

Section 8 – Promotional Potpourri

  • Why you should always sign your emails
  • The power of giving testimonials
  • Can you use RSS to your advantage?
  • Misc Potpourri

Section 9 – Sales Conversion

  • What is sales conversions?
  • How can you increase your sales conversion?
  • How can you monitor what’s going on?
  • What to look for when you try to increase your sales conversion?
  • Some quick tips on how to increase your sales conversions

Section 10 – Resources

  • Links to great blogs and articles
  • Recommend books and ebooks

Section 10 (Tentative)

  • Small interviews and tips from industry leaders

Well that’s the outline I have so far. It might seem like a lot, but imagine if it’s not all consolidated in one place and rather spread out across multiple books, ebooks, websites, blogs, and so on. It took me a long time to get a real grasp of all this and how it can really affect a website’s presence.

I’m also a big believer of the multiplier effect, which is the concept that your business is a multiplier of many factors. And assuming that’s a fact, multiplying any one factor will significantly increase your overall effectiveness. For example, if you score a 2 on one thing, then 4 on another, and 10 on still another (all out of a max of 10), then you’re a total of 2 * 4 * 10 = 80. However if you increase just one item, since it’s multiplied, you get 3 * 4 * 10 = 120, where you’re whole business is running 50% more effectively! By being 10% more effective in just one area (going from a 2 to a 3 out of a max of 10), you increased your overall business effectiveness by 50%!

Therefore I think there’s a lot of value in marketing and sales, and coming from a more technical background, these are some of the tools I wish I had know more about beforehand. Things I wish I didn’t have to learn at the school of hard knocks. I can tell you that I spent a lot of money learning many of these priniciples. Adwords alone cost me quite a bundle before I finally started to really “get” it. On one ad alone I increased it’s effectiveness from 0.42% to 1.62% through about a dozen small iterations in just a few weeks time. This alone increased my ROI incredibly, much much more than four times! I won’t explain here why it’s much more than four times ROI (42 * 4 is approx equal to 1.62), I’ll leave that to the book. All I’ll quickly say is CPC * CTR is the key to your success (hint: another multiplier effect is in play here).

Anyways, please let me know what you think. Would you be interested in this book? Would you buy it? Would you buy it in ebook format or just as an ordinary book (from Amazon for example). How much would you pay for this book? $29.95? $49.95? Are there other topics you’d like to see included? Any topics you’d like to have skipped? Basically any feedback you may have would be greatly appreciated. At this point this is just my outline, but I will start writing it this weekend.

Like this article?


  •     Ian
    · May 2nd, 2007  · 9:18 am  · Permalink

    I’d buy it

  •     Frank
    · May 2nd, 2007  · 3:47 pm  · Permalink

    I have read your SEO Article and you do supply a lot of good information.Through my own research I came across several ways that are very effective in building backlinks however no one talks about them even though people are using them.

  •     Nick
    · May 2nd, 2007  · 6:39 pm  · Permalink

    I’d buy it too.

  •     Andy Brice
    · May 2nd, 2007  · 6:45 pm  · Permalink

    I wonder how much widening the scope from marketing software online to marketing online will make the book less useful to us softies.

    Put me down for a copy anyway.

  •     Steph
    · May 4th, 2007  · 10:59 am  · Permalink

    Thanks everyone for the encouraging feedback. I’m definitely going to go ahead with it then. Now the only question if it will be an ebook, a self-published book, or if I’ll try to find a publisher. We’ll soon see…

  •     Ottawa Sales
    · May 4th, 2007  · 7:14 pm  · Permalink

    I think it’s a great idea. I’d definitely buy a copy in either format. How long do you expect it’ll take – I could use a copy right now!


  •     Ottawa Clothing
    · May 4th, 2007  · 7:23 pm  · Permalink

    Hmm, on second thought, although I’d buy it in either format, my personal preference would be to have it on paper.


  •     Boris Yankov
    · May 5th, 2007  · 6:29 am  · Permalink

    Why not try to make it a more advanced book?
    Skip all the topics like ‘what is seo’, ‘what is blogging’, ‘what is …’.
    Skip all the very basic things.

    Another idea: find few microisvs that are inclined to reveal numbers, to give details. Make a few case studies on them. What I mean is don’t let them give vague numbers and ideas.

    Have 10-15 very successful microISVs answer the same questions like: What was your biggest mistake? What single action helped you most in increasing sales?

  •     Steph
    · May 9th, 2007  · 7:38 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Justin,

    I’ve been debating between the two and believe I’ll go with a printed version. If time permits I’ll be posting a follow-up on later tonight on this decision.

  •     Steph
    · May 9th, 2007  · 7:46 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Boris,

    My plan is to actually start with a basic introduction and quickly jump into the thick of it. Much like I did at the seminar where I spoke, I give you enough to understand the content and then jump right in. For example with blogging, I plan on giving a cursory introduction as to what it is, why it can be good, etc. (between 2-5 pages) and then leave it to the reader get more details on how to blog. I won’t talk about the blogging tools, etc., but rather how to leverage it.

    As for details, I plan on adding as many as I can. Unfortunately most ISV’s and small businesses do not like to have their numbers known, nor can I blame them. My plan is to back up each of my claims with as much factual information as I can find. If you’ve been a longtime reader here, you’ll already know I like to do this.

    As for the other suggestion, it’s very appreciated. I hadn’t really thought of that, but I think it’s a great idea! I’m going to personally ask several people I know for stories/interviews to include. And I’ll probably end up posting an entry here sooner than later asking for stories from other business owners. I’d really like to illustrate as many points as possible with a real life example. That’s a great idea.

  •     Steph
    · May 9th, 2007  · 7:49 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Justin,

    In regards to timelines, I plan on getting it done as soon as possible. Although I’ll talk more about tonight in my next article, it should take 2-3 months to publish it once I’m done writing it.

    My personal goal is to have the book written well before the end of summer! It’s an aggressive goal, but I think I can do it.

  •     FollowSteph.com » How to Get Published?
    · May 9th, 2007  · 9:26 pm  · Permalink

    […] In my last entry I wrote how I was interested in writing a book about marketing and sales for small businesses (all small businesses, not just software based small businesses). It was received with good enthusiasm based only on the summary. Several people commented that they would buy it. I also received a number of personal emails saying the same. Therefore I’ve decided to go ahead and write the book. […]

  •     hiutopor
    · September 19th, 2007  · 6:03 pm  · Permalink

    Hi all!

    Very interesting information! Thanks!


  •     FollowSteph.com » What Does it Take to have a Successful Blog?
    · November 3rd, 2007  · 7:36 pm  · Permalink

    […] while ago I posted that I intended to write a book about Marketing and Sales For Small Online Businesses. Since starting this blog I’ve been continually bombarded with questions on what’s the […]

  •     FollowSteph.com - How to Generate Traffic to Your Website
    · February 26th, 2008  · 4:47 pm  · Permalink

    […] my publisher and is now going through an editing phase) I’ve been reconsidering finishing my previous book about online sales and marketing. What really brought this thought forward was buying and reading Bob Walsh’s ebook MicroISV […]

  •     Blog Blazers - 40 Top Bloggers Share Their Secrets
    · November 19th, 2008  · 9:00 am  · Permalink

    […] In the book Stephane interviews 40 of the most influential bloggers on the web. It’s a very simple concept but as you know, sometimes those are the ones which work the best. Stephane first started developing this book about a year and a half ago and you can see the general outline for the book in his post ‘Marketing And Sales For Small Online Businesses‘. […]

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