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Marketing Expert Sells Business Group on Web Site Strategies

Deborah Shea speaks to the monthly meeting of the Santa Barbara NAWBO

A Silicon Valley marketing expert told a South Coast women’s business group on Wednesday that firms must maximize their Web sites to thrive in these tough economic times.

Deborah Shea, chief executive officer and president of Hellbent Marketing in Redwood City, has spent 20 years helping businesses develop effective marketing. She spoke to about 75 men and women at the Canary Hotel in Santa Barbara during the monthly meeting of the Santa Barbara Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners.

“Don’t pay for an ad in the Yellow Pages,” Shea said. “Take that money and put it into an online campaign.”

Shea said businesses have to resonate their products or services, differentiate themselves from the competition and substantiate what they do.

“Marketing is meant to be a way of filling the pipeline to sales,” she said. “It reaches out to a large group for selling.”

For example, Shea said, a large market can be found with baby boomers because they have large disposable income and are concerned about health. Another top market is the “green” product or service area.

Every business should analyze and target its market, set its goals and develop its strategy. A business owner must decide whether to put resources into trade shows or e-mails, depending on his or her spending budget, Shea said.

She suggested ensuring that a business Web site be updated and include biographies of company principals and their accomplishments. A better Web site with developed search engine optimization, or SEO, will set a business apart from others, Shea said.

“Be mindful of your Web site,” she said. “If you have too much copy, people will not read it.” She suggested making use of video and photo images to keep a viewers eyes on a business Web site for a longer period of time.

She said it’s important to “build relationships” with the help of groups such as NAWBO. “Sometimes it take a year or two.”

Speaking to groups of people about products and services also is good a way to market businesses, she said.

Shea has been an instructor of design classes at San Francisco City College and Web site design classes at UC Berkeley Extension. She is also president-elect of NAWBO Silicon Valley and was recently selected by the San Jose Business Journal as one of the Women of Influence in the Silicon Valley for 2010.

Noozhawk contributor Ray Estrada can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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