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The Tao of Web Marketing
A few months ago I was watching a stream meandering back and forth across a flat plain in a high mountain valley. The stream reached it's destination - a small lake - but only after dozens of loops and curves. It occurred to me that Water and clever Web Marketing have something in common - they both follow the path of least resistance.
Let me explain.
Your first contact with a future customer usually starts with an email. It could be an Ad in an Ezine, it could be your Resource Box at the end of one of your Articles, or it could be your Signature File in your correspondence.
But in the chain of events that leads to a web sale, an email is the point of greatest resistance.
Why is that?
Firstly, your future customer is reading your message offline. She or he has to fire up their modem before they can buy your product. And that requires effort (and expense).
Secondly, if your message is in an Ezine, it's probably one of a dozen other messages all clamoring for attention.
Thirdly, whether your message is an Ezine Ad, a Resource Box, or a Signature File, you've probably had only a few lines to explain why your widgets are so good.
So if an email is the point of greatest resistance, what is the solution?
The ancient Chinese philosophy of Taoism (pronounced 'Dowism') - also known as 'The Watercourse Way' - gives us the answer. Taoism tells us to be like Water and follow the path of least resistance. Water flows. It is soft and moves easily around obstacles in its path, instead of attempting to go through them.
Nothing in the world is as soft and yielding as water. Yet for dissolving the hard and inflexible, nothing can surpass it.
The soft overcomes the hard; the gentle overcomes the rigid. Everyone knows this is true, but few can put it into practice. (Tao Te Ching, ch. 78)
"What is the path of least resistance in an email?", I hear you ask. Offer something free!
Successful web marketers know this already. I recently did a survey of the Resource Boxes of fifty well known Ezine Writers. Over 90% of them were not trying to sell anything from their Resource Box. In fact, an overwhelming majority were not even trying to get a click-thru to their website - they were simply offering a free subscription to their Newsletter. In other words, they were more interested in building a long-term relationship than they were in making a quick sale.
When I started out on the Internet, I was pretty impatient. I certainly didn't want to the follow the path of least resistance. The path I had in mind was more like the flight of an arrow - straight to it's target.
But the statistics suggest that most web sales are not made like that; on average your customer will have to see your message seven times before he or she buys your product.
So next time you plan your marketing strategy, why not take a lesson from Water and follow the path of least resistance?
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