Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Maybe There Is a Use for Twitter After All…

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

The media has a steady stream of stories about how the younger generation seems to be obsessed with staying in touch via cell phone and computer these days. You hear stories about kids sending 10,000 text messages a month, checking their MySpace or Facebook page several times and day and using micro-blogging services like Twitter to inform all their friends about what they’ve had for lunch. Virtually anyone over the age of 30 is left thinking “These kids need to get a job!”

But the September 7th New York Times Sunday Magazine had an interesting article by Clive Davis titled “I’m So Totally, Digitally Close to You: How News Feed, Twitter and Other Forms of Incessant Online Contact Have Created a Brave New World of Intimacy” that helped me understand that maybe there are benefits to this level of contact. While any individual communication via Facebook, Twitter or news feed appears to be insignificant, in aggregate they create an “ambient awareness” which is similar to being in physical proximity to someone and picking up on what’s going on with them by their physical cues. This awareness makes us feel like we are close to people with out actually communicating with them one on one. The common reaction to this faux-connection is one of horror and lament about the decline of western civilization but it’s not all bad.

The author describes a phenomenon called the “Dunbar number” in which research has confirmed that human groupings tend to tail off at about 150 people. These social websites and apps don’t necessarily help increase our number of close connections but they do help expand and stay connected to our larger informal network. This has real benefits for anyone trying to network professionally.

If you’re going to use these social tools for professional networking, I wouldn’t recommend you update people on what you had for lunch. But I would recommend that you use them to share information and resources you think might help your network in their business. When done properly, it’s a fairly easy way to stay in front of people and build the perception of expertise. For example, I follow Robin Good on Twitter and he “tweets” several times a day with links to interesting web applications. Sometimes I feel like he tweets too much but unlike email they’re pretty easy to ignore so I’m less likely to unsubscribe from his feed.

If you’ve wondered what the appeal of these social technologies is, I suggest you read this article. It does a good job of describing how they work and why anyone would spend their precious time using them.

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Hi Folks. I’m back. Did you miss me?

Monday, September 8th, 2008

I took the summer off from my blog. It wasn’t planned. And for the first month I felt terribly guilty. What a bad business owner! Then I remembered that everyone is as overwhelmed with information as I am and wasn’t hurting anyone’s feelings by not posting every week. Despiste what the blogger advocates tell you.)

So why the silence? Stompernet. It’s all their fault. Stompernet is an advanced internet training program started and run by people who have made gobs of money on the internet. And when I say gobs I mean many, many millions of dollars.

You can throw a proverbial rock on the internet and hit a marketing guru who will sell you their million dollar internet marketing program. The only problem is that they’re the only one making a million dollars. Stompernet is different. The price of poker ain’t cheap at $800 a month. But it’s worth it. Each month when I ask myself if I can afford it, the answer is “yes.” There have been office hours when the resources I’ve learned about or the “This is how I do it” from internet millionaires have been worth the $800 alone.

So what did I do with my summer? I worked my butt off! There was no vacation. There wasn’t even a stay-cation! And I couldn’t be more excited! I am ready to kick butt and make some serious money. My goal for this blog in the next months is to share with you what I’m learning about. I hope you find it helpful. Let me know what you think, what you’d like to see more of and any questions you have.

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Now That’s Using Social Networking!

Friday, June 20th, 2008

I logged into LinkedIn this evening to post a question to their Answers section and was surprised to see that Barak Obama is using LinkedIn to get answers to his questions.

Now that’s using social networking to make change!

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The Web 2.0 Media Group Demystifies Using the Internet to Build Business Relationships

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

Where web 1.0 was a monologue, web 2.0 is a conversation. Ultimately, web 2.0 is about building relationships online through blogs, social networking websites, online reviews and wikis.
Web 2.0 is a good thing but it’s also created overwhelm and confusion in non-techies trying to figure out how to apply it to their own business. I equate it to being born and raised in the cornfields of Iowa and then moving to New York City. All the sights, all the sounds, and all the options are fascinating but they’re pretty overwhelming too.
I’m all for any effort to help demystify web 2.0 which is why I was thrilled to be invited to join the Web 2.0 Media Group. The purpose of the Web 2.0 Media Group is to help non-techies get a clear, jargon-free overview of new ways to market and manage their business using online media.
The Web 2.0 Media Group was conceived by Wayne Bishop founder of Arbutus Software which produces Joint Contact project management software. Wayne co-founded the Web 2.0 Group with Mark McLaren owner of McBuzz Communications an online communications firm.
I met Wayne through Biznik (my favorite social networking website) when I responded to an article her wrote. I had recently signed up for BaseCamp to manage client projects and wanted to know how Joint Contact was different than BaseCamp. In minutes I got a reply from Wayne with a list of about a dozen ways Joint Contact is better than BaseCamp. I gave Joint Contact a try and am now using it to manage all my projects. Now that’s leveraging the internet to build business!
Wayne, who is based in Seattle, got the idea for the Web 2.0 Media Group after noticing that there was a disconnect between the business community and the tech community. I’ve noticed it here in Portland too. “Business People” and “Tech People” network in their own little worlds and rarely do their paths cross. It’s as if they live in parallel universes. Wayne is one of the few who lives in both worlds.
Wayne also noticed that there were dozens of tech start ups with great ideas and products that didn’t get talked about because they didn’t have VC funding or angel investors. So he decided to start the Web 2.0 Media Group to help non-techies learn how to leverage new technologies in their own business and get tech start ups in front of a new audience.
The Web 2.0 Media Group is getting the word out in a variety of ways. There is a free introductory in-person seminar called “Introducing Web 2.0” designed to give the attendee an overview of the various technologies and how they can be used to build a business. There is a half or full day paid seminar that goes into more depth about exactly how to use the various technologies. There are also plans for an online community dedicated to answering the questions that come up as people try out web 2.0 technologies.
One of the goals for the Web 2.0 Media Group is to make a connection between cyber-space and physical space which is why it’s offering in-person seminars. Currently the seminars are only offered in Seattle but I plan to bring them to Portland in the fall. Email me if you’re interested in attending and I’ll keep you posted.

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Business Struggling? Stop Doing Favors!

Saturday, June 7th, 2008

I met with a new client yesterday. She’s a great lady with a great product. She’s got a good looking website, beautifully produced instructional DVDs and no sales.

To figure out why her products aren’t selling, I asked her a series of questions about what she’s been doing and what she thinks she needs to do. Part of the problem is that she’s overwhelmed by everything she needs to do. She’s trying to get sponsorship deals with some of the products she promotes in her DVD’s. She’s trying to get distribution deals in stores. She’s trying to write articles for print and online publications. And she knows there’s a lot more she needs to do to promote her business online.

But that’s only part of the problem. She knows she can’t do everything so she’s trying to delegate some of the work but her last two assistants have quit in the first week. This was intriguing to me. She seems easy to get along with and fun to work for so why are assistants quitting on her? As she told me about the people she’s hired, the reason became clear.

She, like many of us, likes to help people. Both of her assistants were acquaintances who were down on their luck and she saw that they needed some help. If someone would just give them a break (and some money), they could get back on their feet. They weren’t bringing many skills to the job but she was willing to train them so that she would have an assistant and they would have a new skill set.

Ahhh! The problem crystallizes.

She was making a mistake many small business owners make and can be fatal to the success of their business. I told her “I know this is going to sound harsh but you have to stop doing favors for people.” Her eyes got big and she slowly said “I have to stop doing favors for people?” I could tell it was a radically new concept to her so I explained.

Many of us – especially people with a background in service professions – get a boost from helping people. We like helping people. It makes us feel good. Many times that’s why we got into the business we did. The problem is that we forget to help our business first. When your business is new or at a growing stage, it needs all the help and support you can give it from people who are bringing the right skill set and mindset to the job. At this point your business is fragile and vulnerable. You wouldn’t let someone with the flu kiss your new born baby! So don’t give people without the right skills and attitude an important job in your business!

It’s great to want to help people. Personally, a strong motivator for me to be successful is so that I can donate time, money and expertise to the causes I care about. However, I won’t be able to do that if my business just bumps along. My business has to be strong before I can help other people improve their lives.

So think about it. Is there someone (or “someones”) you’re giving an important job that isn’t qualified or committed to doing the work? Are you spending time teaching someone how to do their job instead of doing yours? Are you trying to figure out how to motivate them so they will have the right work ethic?

Now is not the time to take risks with your business. When your business has exceeded your revenue goals, you can give them a chance with a job that is not going to seriously impact your bottom line. But until then, you need to quit being “the nice guy” and invite them to be successful elsewhere.

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How NOT to Use Articles to Improve Your Rankings

Monday, June 2nd, 2008

The company that ranks #1 for “internet marketing articles” has quite a few articles on the subject. I’m sure it took a lot of work to write all those articles but I’d be willing to bet all that work hasn’t paid off. Why?

First, consider the words used buy people looking to buy a service versus people looking for information.

When people want to find a service provider, they use words like:

When people are looking for information, they use words like:
Case studies

Second, the articles tell you how to do something but they don’t show you why you should hire this search engine optimization firm. The author could argue that the purpose of the articles is to build the perception of expertise. Providing good information is one way to do it but these articles aren’t particularly well written or all that helpful.

If you’re going to try to improve your website’s rankings with articles make sure your articles demonstrate your expertise AND subtly show the reader why they should hire you to do the job. Otherwise, you will just wind up with a bunch of looky-loos and no customers.

(*I’m giving them a link for “internet marketing articles” as a consolation prize for being my “how not to do it” example.)

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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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Social Networking & Social Media: What’s the Difference and Why Should You Care?

Friday, April 18th, 2008

I often see the terms “social networking” and “social media” used interchangeably when in fact they are two different concepts. Attracting clients via the internet is hard work that requires a tightly focused plan. If you’re going to do it effectively and efficiently, you have to know the difference between the two so you can target the right activities, have realistic goals and achieve them. So here’s the scoop.

Social Networking is very much like face to face networking. The primary goal is to connect with other people (old classmates, new friends, love interests, potential clients and sub-contractors) for similar purposes and start conversations that can lead to specific outcomes.

Social Media is about content: articles, news, videos, absurd stories, jokes. It’s about using the wisdom of crowds to find interesting stuff on the internet and bringing it to other people’s attention. Social media websites enable users to decide what’s important on the internet by voting on it, sharing it and commenting on it.

The reason why the two terms get used interchangeably is because social networking and social media are increasing found in the same places. (Biznik is an excellent example!)
– Things social networking and social media have in common:
– Designed to create a dialogue
– You need an online profile to participate
– There is an element of trust (which differentiates it from the general internet)
– Typically gather around a particular topic, area of interest or purpose

Why Do I Need to Care About the Difference?

If you want social networking or social media to work, you need to consider the purposes for each and how they fit into your overall eMarketing strategy.

Connecting vs. Sharing – Social networking is about meeting people while social media is about sharing what you know with the hope it will be helpful.

Proactive vs. Passive – While with social networking it’s generally okay to be proactive about seeking out introductions, it’s not okay to be proactive about seeking votes for your social media content. (Yeah. People do it but if you get caught, you will have to dig yourself out of a public relations nightmare.)

Meeting People vs. Getting Links – Social networking is about making human links while social media is about getting website links.

Hopefully, knowing the difference between social networking and social media will help you decide which combination of the two will work best for your business. Please! Let me know fi you have any questions!

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