Archive for May, 2008

Case Study: How Social Networking Can Sell Books

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

Last week I was on a panel on social networking for the Portland chapter of SECP (Self Employed Creative Professionals).

Jeff Fisher who is a graphic designer, author and speaker was on the panel too. He fielded several questions about how he’s very successfully used social networking to promote his latest book “Identity Crisis: 50 Redesigns That Transformed Stale Identities into Successful Brands“.

Jeff blogged about which social networks he uses and the results he’s gotten from each on his bLogo-Motives blog. If you’re looking to promote a book with social networking, it’s an excellent example of how to do it. Jeff also maintains a blog specific to the book. Check out the Identity Crisis blog to see how he’s using a blog to promote his book as well.

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eMarketing Case Study: Content Can Achieving Multiple Marketing Goals if You Do It Right

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

set up some Google Alerts to help me research an article I’ve been asked to write for a CPA Journal. An alert on “forensic accounting” took me to a page that had a link to an intriguingly titled study:

The Long Tail of Investment Research:
How Economic Forces Are Reshaping the Research Industry

I was really impressed with the study on several levels and decided to blog about it because it’s an excellent example of how good content can perform multiple jobs.

thumbs upGoal #1: Good Content Builds the Perception of Expertise
This white paper has really good content! It’s new, it’s different and the information has many applications. It’s not too technical and it educates the reader while give them the subtle message “We know what we’re talking about!”

I’m an idiot when it comes to investment research but I know how to research all kinds of other stuff and I learned something from their analysis of what constitutes good research. The criteria they use to describe what constitutes good investment research applies to good web copy, newsletter articles, blog posts or articles for social media.

The following is a graphic from the white paper that drives the point home:

One of the things they do particularly well in this white paper is use graphics to drive home a point. First, they describe the concept. Then, they give you an image that makes it memorable.

thumbs downGoal #2: Ranking Well for Good Key Phrases
I thought I was going to be telling you about the great long tail key phrase coup this white paper made for Integrity Research but I can’t! I figured that pairing key phrases like “The Long Tail” and “investment research” were a match made in heaven. I planned to tell you a story of long tail key word success that would drive people interested in investment research to their site. I was wrong.

To back up my claims of long tail key phrase dominance, I searched Google on the following key phrase combinations (plus others I didn’t include here because they seemed repetitive):
– “the long tail”* + investment research
– long tail + investment research
– “the long tail” + white paper
– long tail research white paper
– “the long tail” + “research white paper”
– the long tail of investment research
* (Quotation marks tell the search engine “I’m looking for these words in this order.” Otherwise they will show pages that have the words any where on the page.)

However, the only key phrase I got a hit on was the exact title of the white paper. That’s not good. How often is a potential client going to nail the exact wording of your blog post or article?

This white paper didn’t rank on the first page of Google for any of them! I’m so bummed. I really wanted this to be a success story. Maybe their lack of results in more informative.

I figured that by pairing popular a popular key phrase like “the long tail” with their service key phrase “investment research” they would cover both ends of the key phrase spectrum. That is: general key phrases that are used but hard to rank for AND specific key phrases which are easier to rank for but used less often.

So why doesn’t this white paper rank for the key phrases it could? I’m not sure but here’s what I think:
1. The website isn’t updated all that frequently and Google hasn’t indexed it yet.
2. It’s a PDF instead of a blog post and Google indexes blog posts almost immediately.

Anybody else got any ideas? I’d love to hear them.

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Why Doesn’t eMarketing Seem to Work?

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

My blog gets a lot of hits for search phrases like “eMarketing what works and what doesn’t” and “internet marketing best practices.” I have a mental picture of the people using these search terms as nomads wandering across the desert that is the internet searching for answers they’re probably not finding. I wonder if these intrepid searchers find the answers they are looking for. Somehow I doubt it. “What works in internet marketing?” is almost as difficult a question to answer as “How do we create world peace?”

I think this question stems from a deeper frustration that eMarketing doesn’t seem to work. I’ve talked to dozens of business owners who feel like they’re tried everything only to wind up with a handful of website visitors each month, a mailing list of a couple of hundred people, a blog that makes them feel like they’re talking to themselves and a sense that social networking is a total waste of time.

It’s easy to assume that eMarketing isn’t working for folks because they’re doing it wrong. And while that is surely an element to the problem, I’ve come to realize that many business owners have assumptions about attracting clients via the internet that aren’t realistic or send them off in the wrong direction.

The rest of this article will focus on the underlying assumptions that lead us astray when it comes to eMarketing. In future posts I will address creating an eMarketing plan, how to create buyer personas and how to put the pieces of the eMarketing pie together in a way that attracts clients instead of just wasting your time.

Technology versus People

It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that the purpose of eMarketing is to connect with people. This may seem obvious but think about at what we pay attention to when it comes to internet marketing: How well does my website rank? What newsletter system should I use? What blogging platform should I use? What social networks should I be on? All of these questions are about technology; not about people. While they are all valid and important questions, they are the systems we use for communication; they are not communication themselves. It’s like confusing the telephone with the person on the other end of the phone. (I’m reminded of the Comcast commercial where the person is saying “But I have Comcast high speed phone service now.” and expecting a different outcome from the conversation.)

Introverts and people who think of used car sales men when the concept of selling comes up like the idea of being able to find clients via the internet because it allows them to stay in their comfort zone. They don’t have to leave their office, they don’t have to go to networking events and they don’t have to feel insecure each time they say their elevator speech. They can just hide behind their computer and work on the things they have control over; adding a new page to their website, tweaking their newsletter template, adding a new widget to their blog, making lists of new key phrases, etcetera…etcetera…etcetera…

The false assumption is that we can control technology but we can’t control people. Granted, you can’t make someone buy your product or service but if you show up at the right place at the right time with the right solution, you can entice people to buy your product or service; or at least choose to hear from you again. When you overly focus on the method of communication, you lose sight of the real goal which is to influence buying decisions.

“If You Build It, They Will Come” Only Happens in the Movies

An analogy I often use about building relationships online is that you wouldn’t go to a networking event, stand in the corner the whole time and afterwards complain about how it didn’t work. So why are you doing it on the internet?! Just because you have a website (even if it’s a fantastic website) with a newsletter sign up form, a blog you’ve submitted to all the blog directories, and a social networking profile on all the big social networking sites, doesn’t mean anyone is going to contact you. You have to go to them! Sure, you have to “build it;” but you also have to start conversations and participate in existing conversations.

There are many, many ways to waste time on the internet so in order to have productive online conversations you have to know where your target markets hang out online. In order to be where they are, you have to know your target markets very, very well. The better you know them, their interests, their pains and frustrations, the more able you will be to figure out where they are hanging out online and where you need to be showing up.

To know where you need to be showing up, start by making lists. How you organize your lists will depend on many factors but regardless of how you do it, your lists need to include:
• websites your target markets visit (for entertainment, for information, for analysis)
• blogs and forums they read
• experts they pay attention to
• stores they shop at
• other products or services they buy

These lists will be an ongoing work in progress. As long you are creating online relationships, you will be adding to your lists.

Product Development Is Not Marketing

A common mistake I see many entrepreneurial minded business owners make is that each time they decide to do something about their lack of sales they create another product. They get a great idea and think “This is the one that’s going make me rich!” (Or famous. Or an expert.) Instead of doing the hard work of selling what they’ve got, they jump right back into the design process and once again they’re in their comfort zone. They’re happily creating away while avoiding the real problem; selling the products they already have.

There are a couple of reasons why your informational products aren’t selling. Either there isn’t a market for it or you just don’t know how to sell it. Either way, jumping into developing a new product isn’t going to help you. If you’re tempted to design your way out of poor sales, slow down and really examine whether or not a new product is going to make a difference. Do some market research to make sure there aren’t already a dozen similar products out there and that there really is a market for what you want to design. If you come to the conclusion that you don’t know how to sell what you’ve already got, find someone who does and either do a profit split with them or pay them to teach you how to sell it yourself.

Marketing Gurus Promising Riches Are the Only Ones Getting Rich

The following is an actual ebook title:

“How To Make Money With Anything You Choose to Sell
On-Line… Automatically…With a Simple, Proven Strategy! ”

There are dozens if not hundreds of marketing gurus on the internet promising that if you just buy their “secrets” you will make money in your sleep. Years ago I bought a few of these books and came to realize they all say the same thing. They tell you to put up a website, write an obnoxiously long sales page, get some testimonials and run a Google Adwords campaign. What the don’t tell you is that the days of being able to throw up a Google Adwords campaign and expect the money to start rolling in are over! Sure. There are people who made gobs of money doing it — I even know a few who managed to do it — but even they say it’s not possible anymore. Once again, the old maxim holds true; if it sounds too good to be true, it is.

All these books and programs do one thing. They focus on infrastructure. Once again we are back to focusing on technology instead of focusing on building relationships with people. These “gurus” will dazzle you with their stories of thousands of dollars worth of product sold in a single week; and it might even be true. What they’re not telling you is that they were able to do it because they already have a mailing list of tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people. When you can get in front of that many people with one email, you’re bound to make money.

Are You Answering the Door when People Knock?

There are several ways to get in front of potential customers but none of them matter if your website doesn’t back them up. I talk to people every week who want help marketing their business online and they balk when I tell them we have to start with their website. Maybe it’s that a website redesign sounds expensive or maybe it’s because a website redesign doesn’t sound nearly as sexy as a social media campaign. But if your website isn’t set up in a way that makes sense to the people you are driving to your site and they can’t find the solution to their problem, don’t bother with the sexier stuff. It will just be a waste of time and money.

While you do need to think about what impression the look of your website gives people, you don’t have to spend a bunch of money to have the most beautiful website. The bulk of your web design effort should go to understanding who is coming to your website, what they are looking for and where they expect that information to be on your website. Remember, with so many ways to connect online, people are coming to your site from a variety of sources and with a variety of reasons. Make sure you’ve thought about all the possible ways they could find you and what they might be looking for.

So if you think eMarketing doesn’t work, you need to take a look at the assumptions you have about it, stop focusing so much on technology and start focusing more on the people you are trying to connect with.

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