We’re frequently asked by water damage companies, “Should I keep paying for Yellow Pages, Yelp, online lead generation and pay-per-click?”

Our answer is usually the same, “Do you get a return on your investment?” Because, if you do, keep doing it. If not, quit doing it.

However, in this article we will give you more information than we normally provide. These are our opinions based on years of hard-won experience and from working with water damage companies all over the world.

Where to spend the money

Investing in your website and its Internet marketing strategy is one of the best ways to spend your marketing dollars.

Does this mean that other online marketing tools don’t work? No. Certain lead generation companies are good, and can get you results. We’ve heard that Yelp and Yellow Pages get leads once in a while, but not as frequently as you might want. Pay-per-click does work, although it can be risky to start, and expensive. The thing to do is to give them a shot, and if they work for you, then keep using them. If not, cancel them.

But let’s concentrate first on why we say your website and personal website strategy is one of the best investments you can make, and then we’ll look at which form of Internet marketing is our personal favorite.

Remember, it is your website. You own it. Every penny you invest into another company’s website or lead generation program is gone the minute you run out of money. The same goes for pay-per-click. It’s the whole “teach a man to fish” principle. It takes time to build them, but it pays off in the long run.”

Paying these other companies can get you immediate business, but not focusing on your own website marketing means you are ignoring building a strong company marketing program.

Investing money into your own website and Internet marketing strategy can pay dividends for years to come, and it becomes a very valuable business development resource.

You have control

Even if you hire a company to build and market your website, it is still yours and you ultimately control it. If you’re on top of things, you’ll know where the calls are coming from. This is not entirely possible with other online resources that you do not control and track.

What is our favorite online marketing method? Search Engine Optimization, or “SEO.” Why? People more often trust the rankings in Google that are “natural” and not paid for. Ask your staff and your friends what they click when they search online. They will tell you it is not the advertisements (normally).

Here are five quick recommendations for you to start building your own solid website strategy:

1.      Learn the Internet lingo: That is your biggest immediate barrier. Dictionary.com has the terms defined for you. Know what your website designers and Internet marketers are saying to you, look up the words or ask them what it means. Only then can you understand this new world of marketing. It is easier than you think.

2.      Don’t go overboard: We have seen companies spend $30,000 on websites. It’s unnecessary in the water damage business. We think $3,000 to $5,000 is justified.

3.      Think long-term: No strong business was built overnight, and the same goes for your website marketing strategy. Plan and think long-term and be wary of the “overnight success” sales people.

4.      If it isn’t working, you’re doing it wrong: Too often we hear people say, “Internet marketing is a scam and doesn’t work.” Tell that to our clients who make most of their income using Internet marketing every year. If at first you don’t succeed…

5.      Work with people you trust: We don’t know why, but the Internet world can be… well… flaky. There are designers who disappear, marketers who fake work and still charge their clients — it’s out there. If website designers or SEO firms seem “sketchy,” they probably are. If they make you feel dumb, move on. Good service providers teach you as you go, spend time with you and give you faith in them. You’ll know when you have one.

Dan and Owen York are unique… identical twins, born eight minutes apart. Dan is the founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Stellar-eMarketing and is a seasoned entrepreneur, Internet marketing expert, administrative and marketing consultant, as well as a veteran public speaker. Owen is president of Stellar-eMarketing and has consulted with many high tech companies from start-ups to publicly traded companies. His experience spans the Internet, wireless and arts and entertainment industries. More information is found on their company website: www.Stellar-eMarketing.com.