Monthly Archives: January 2010

Accountability – It’s Not Just For Finance Experts

We seem to be moving into a new era: Accountability for everyone in the business world.  No longer are we allowing advertising and marketing to take our dollars in exchange for hope.

I love internet marketing, search and social media optimization.  I take the greatest pleasure in helping business owners increase their exposure →their business→their sales→their profits.  If I can’t do that I am just another consultant, another person who took money in exchange for nothing.

I can’t work like that.  I have a pay for performance philosophy now.  I am going to start demanding it of the vendors and suppliers who work for me.

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You Have To Be Kidding Me!

I met with someone who told me he wanted to target women as clients.

The conversation went downhill from there.

He said women always defer to their husbands so it was natural that he focus on the men even if both were in his office.

I grew up with a twin brother in a home that proclaimed “It’s a man’s world!” very loudly when I would try to do something out of the ordinary.

My business partner didn’t believe me years ago when I said it was crucial that I go on calls by myself because while he was not technically proficient in that particular business I would be ignored. He’ll tell you it still happens.

I really believed it was because my career choices put me in as a definite minority. It was just part of that world. (I rarely found this working with refrigeration contractors by the way. Once they understood I knew what I was talking about and that I enjoyed working with them they were nothing but great!)

I am so disappointed to find it in the bigger world. What year is this? Will my daughter have to continue to fight this stupid, stupid thought process?

I detest looking for the silver lining – that’s denial. But I will be spending some time assessing what I think, even unconsciously, about markets I’m targeting.

Clients Want To Pay For Results

Gee, that’s an obvious headline.

I have been struggling for some time with that concept.  How could I prove to my clients the fees they paid me were worthwhile?

In the very late Nineties when the Internet bubble was at its just before bursting size there was little concern about revenue or, God forbid, profit.  Branding and top of mind awareness were the false idols of every start-up and, truth be known, every established business.  I kept trying to figure out how to meet a venture capitalist who would listen to my half-vast idea, write a few notes on a napkin and then give me $20 million to market it without a worry in the world of having a return on investment.

Unfortunately I owned a local manufacturing company at the time where employees actually made stuff with their hands and had health insurance.  Boooring  to V.C.s but I digress.

The decadence of that period – snakeskin wallpaper comes to mind – was truly mind-blowing.  We are probably not going to see that again in my lifetime.  The bubble burst as they are wont to do but it didn’t kill the online world.  A little less than a decade later the Internet has affected our lives in ways we could not have imagined.

Maybe, if the economic tsunami of 2008 hadn’t occurred we would not be demanding that we seek a return on our money…that for every dime we pay out we receive four dimes back.  It would have happened eventually so here we are.

So, how to make my services show ROI.  I wracked my brain for months.  Then it hit me and it was so simple I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it before.

Pay For Performance.  In essence I would not receive payment for the work I did unless the client received a tangible benefit and that would be revenue.

(NOTE: There is NO reason to have a website unless you expect it to make money for you.  Period.  Even so-called reputation sites should be designed to have a prospective customer or client contact you for something that results in money.)

Now I will have skin in the game just like my clients.  And that is going to make it a lot more fun!

Good Information Is NOT Ubiquitous!

I am really tired of the misinformation that alleged experts are spreading to small business owners. I know, I know – in the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king.  Is it too much too ask that the one eye actually has 20/20 vision?

Small business owners are feeling more and more fragile.  They don’t have slack adjusters (other people or income that keeps them on more solid financial footing) so they can focus on their businesses.  Many don’t have a marketing strategy other than putting their products or services out there – they don’t have time.

Now we (I definitely include myself) are telling them to get involved with social media and other internet marketing tactics they don’t know about or understand.  It sounds like it involves gobs of time which they don’t have or they are going to have to pay someone a lot of money which also involves something they don’t have.

The information so many of these small business owners are getting is half right, outdated or completely untrue.  How do they find out who they can trust?  Really good question.  Because information for these people is not ubiquitous – at least not good information.

There’s Never Enough Time

There’s an ongoing discussion about what an internet year actually means.  Lately I’ve seen it as three months.  That seems hard to believe. Are we really increasing new information or just data?

Eric Reiss has a fascinating blog post using mathematics to determine the number. He uses the automobile industry as a baseline for comparison.  His ratio is 4.7 : 1 or a little over 2.5 months.  Wow.  Considering the average business cycle is somewhere between three and a half to seven calendar years where is your business?  Is it emerging, expanding or maturing?  A one year old online business can be considered half way through its life cycle and a two year old business might be at the end of its predicted life cycle.

Do I think all two year old businesses have outlived their usefulness?  No.  Unless they have failed to change their content, taken down the Flash movie, updated (or – God help me –  include some) titles and descriptions, etc.  There is no such thing as standing still. You’re either moving forward or falling behind.

And if Mr. Reiss is correct it’s happening at a hell of a rate!

Butterfly Vs. Mosquito Marketing

Last Friday I started to read an intriguing blog post called Beating The Curse Of The Mosquito.  It described how some companies market like butterflies flitting from one idea to another.  Others use the mosquito approach…that’s where I stopped.

Speaking at a lunch later that day I used that analogy to explain the difficulty in butterfly focus vs. that of a mosquito.  While a butterfly can go in and out of your vision you always know exactly where the mosquito lands.  Without even looking you can locate it.  I suggested that small business owners should use the mosquito type of focus in determining their niche and then keep hitting it.

Focusing – completely – on one thing creates an impact.  We’ve come back around to being successful by whittling down the scope of our offerings rather than trying to be the “one fits all” expert.  Niches should be narrow and as deep as possible.  The corollary to that is the importance of having a network of other narrow and very deep experts.  If you can’t provide a piece of the customer puzzle you better darned sure know someone who can!  I can offer a million different ways to drive traffic to your site for example but if it takes sixty seconds to view it or the shopping cart is junk it just doesn’t much matter.

While searching for the original post for attribution I discovered I had mistakenly missed out on a big chunk of it.  It’s not the same analogy at all.  Ian Traynor is concerned about the constantly slapping of different mosquitoes.  So while I love what I took away from it I will be considering the implications.

Butterflies vs. mosquitoes.  Who knew?

When You're A Hammer Everything's A Nail!

When planning for January and the rest of 2010 I had to really think.  Google says it’s trying to get rid of SEOs and that’s my hammer.

Here’s the thing…

I love what I do. Helping business owners use the exact right words to position their online activities and attract new customers they could not have found otherwise? Empowering businesses to use the internet for sales and marketing instead of just using search to find other people’s stuff?  There is no better feeling in the world! At least not for me.

Should I “re-invent” myself?  Honestly I would like to just continue to be.  But that’s not the world I chose.  Seventy percent of all current workers are in no growth jobs (that means no wage growth either) so staying the same really means going backwards.  Doesn’t sound like much of a plan for me.  I prefer the chaotic, never stops changing, mad world of the web.  So I guess I’ll take a deep breath instead of a breather.

My current nail is invisible websites.  What else can I use my hammer for?  Don’t know yet but one thing is for sure.  The world is not going to slow down just to let me figure it out.

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Hey Google! It’s Me, Victoria

Google made it official. They have changed their local search algorithm so that consumers looking for local search engine optimizers won’t be able to find them easily.  Rather than simply putting SEO Toledo in the search box and finding everyone in town who does this (or at least claims to but that’s a different blog) searches will need to look for SEO in Toledo.

I have to tell you that’s annoying.

I have run across my share of prospective clients who’ve a) been burned by an SEO scam b) think my fee is outrageous although it’s a fraction of the very ineffective Yellow Pages c) figured out the “secret” which is usually some combination of black hat and old theories d) were told they didn’t need it because Google would find them anyway.  Sigh.

Unconscionable is the word I use for the ones who came before me and ruined a good thing for the customer and me. But there’s not much I can do to stop the bad ones.  My goal is to make sure clients understand what’s really important and how everything they do online points to the one thing they want whether it’s a website, blog or social media profile.

Before any guide can help make a difference in search you must understand one very important concept.  People are searching online because they don’t know where to get what they want.  Please re-read that sentence.  If you or your company were top of mind they wouldn’t need to search.  That’s why optimizing your site/blog/etc is crucial.

  1. If you don’t know what words your potential customers are using for search then start asking.  Hint: Your name is NOT one of them.  Otherwise they would just use the phone book.
  2. The description of what you are trying to accomplish online should include those search words.  Believe me no one is searching for uncaring, unqualified, antiquated, slow to respond anything!  So don’t waste your 150 characters on adjectives that are unrelated to your business.
  3. No Flipping Flash! It’s distracting, expensive to optimize and most importantly affects your download time which can now affect your Google ranking.
  4. Content.  You have roughly six seconds to grab a prospect’s attention. If you want to have that person come back there has to be something new…on a regular basis. You couldn’t expect more than one return visit if you never changed the stock in your bricks and mortar location for example.  Yes, it can be time consuming but the return on investment? Can’t beat it.

Oh, there’s plenty more and a good SEO will help you make the most of your time and money.

Listen up Google!  I am one of your biggest supporters and suppliers of data for Maps,  making sure Analytics are part of every website and pushing for good, relevant content.  Seems like you’d want prospective customers to find me.

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