Small Business Marketing: The Real Bull Shit About Get Rich Quick Internet Marketing

Small Business Marketing: The Real Bull Shit About Get Rich Quick Internet MarketingTruth is, I am sad about the state of small business and entrepreneur marketing. There are good, hard working people out there in the trenches just trying to figure out what the hell they should be doing online to market their business. It seems like every day a new site pops up or a new marketing “trick” being touted as the “4 Hour Workweek”, “new goldrush” or “get rich quick” scheme.

Having been on the internet for going on two decades and working in the marketing space for about 15 years, I am here to tell you there are some hard truths you need to know if you are going the “GRQ – Get Rich Quick” route.

1) You have to start early. Many of the people who are trying to sell you something got into whatever it was before now! I have great traffic on this site because it is old and I have blogged consistently for 8 years now. Our social media channels are D-List popular (we will NEVER compete with the likes of Ashton Kutcher) but robust enough to do what we want with them…again, started with them early and have worked them consistently for years. The marketers that can show amazing results probably started when no one was doing it and then rode the wave as it became popular and now are reaping more rewards by selling desperate people the “secret” of how to do the same. The problem is, the landscape you will be playing on is not the same! The goldrush days are gone and the hard work days are here.

2) Marketing geniuses are not stupid. Think about it, there are only so many best #1 podcasts on iTunes or first page listings on Google. When a technique or strategy is working well, cranking in the dough in, they are busy working it, not telling schmoes about it. It is only after the peak of the bell curve hits that they package the “fool proof” plan they used when the picking were easy and make money off of that too!

3) Some things do work, until the platform breaks it. Now, there are good people out there selling courses and classes that offer value. The problem sometimes is that the tactic works until the platform break it (I will explain!!!) One tactic on Facebook was to post words with no hyperlinks, this got you more listings in the news feed, which got you more followers which lead to more exposure. We bought a $97 course that told how to do some neat tricks, used them for one week and then Facebook changed the algorithm and BAM, those things didn’t work and we had to figure out other things that do. Sigh.

4) You are probably not cool. Malcolm Gladwell wrote about cool hunting back in 1997. Basically, there are people who inherently can look at things and tell if they are going to be cool. Gary Vaynerchuk is pretty good at spotting cool (Twitter, Medium) but has had some dorky misses (what was up with that Gowalla thing?) I have talked to thousands of small business owners and what they think is “cool” marketing wise, is generally about two years over and being sold by someone who did when it really was cool!

Platforms, Tricks and Strategies…Before we go much further let’s talk about the parts of marketing in the digital age.

Platforms

Platforms are the sites and services that we use. Here are some of the most common platforms and their categories:

  1. Amazon – Ebooks and product sales
  2. iTunes – Podcasts
  3. Blog Talk Radio – Broadcast radio
  4. YouTube – Video
  5. Infusionsoft, Mail Chimp – Email marketing
  6. Google Hangouts, Livestream – Broadcast video (like TV)
  7. Wishlist – Memebership websites
  8. Clickbank – Affiliate sales
  9. Kajabi – Information product sales
  10. WordPress, Blogger – Blogs
  11. Facebook – Social Media
  12. Twitter – Social Media
  13. LinkedIn – Social Media
  14. Google Plus – Social Media
  15. Pinterest – Social Media

This list took me 5 minutes off the top of my head. I had originally intended to break each down, but we are are at 600+ words now and that would have made it a truly EPIC post! Suffice it to say that this is just the tip of the iceberg and there are probably at least as many more that I didn’t list but which are viable marketing channels.

Tricks

Tricks are the “sneaky” tactics that internet marketers try to sell to game the system. These are the things that are probably not working right now but which did before a loophole on a platform closed. If you get an email promising this kind of thing…RUN the other way (pulled directly from my email inbox this morning)…

  • Sneaky bid trick pulls in a $13,073 profit + Local Market Update
  • Get 2109 Done For You Proven Facebook Campaigns (Revive Fanpages FAST)
  • 900 Targeted New Opt-ins EVERY Day – You Could, Too
  • Sneaky bid trick pulls in a $13,073 profit + Local Market Update (you thought I messed up right? nope, it is just a campaign that ALL the internet marketers are copying and sending to their lists right now)
  • Imagine over 1 million targeted views… XXX is LIVE!
  • How to Create Your Video Traffic Machines [3 simple steps]
  • Google’s hidden ranking formula has been uncovered…
  • Make $273 A Day With This…
  • Hurry, only 1 Day left to get this Google spying tool.
  • Easiest Cash online… RIGHT HERE.

When these come into your inbox, it is tempting to hope that this one really will be the one that trips the switch. Just by using this one little trick you can circumvent all the hard work, building an empire and other things that you actually know work. One reason I can find so many so easily is that I have any kind of this thing to into a special folder in my email, skipping the inbox. Now, I love great marketing more than anyone, but my goal for my business does not involve getting knocked off track by a shiney new object. Which leads to…

Strategies

Strategies are plans. They have been well thought out and are set in stone for a period of time. They have definitive goals and measurable results. You know why you are doing them and WILL NOT DEVIATE no matter how many flashy, GRQ emails come into your inbox! Let’s look at some of those platforms again and figure out strategies instead of tricks…

  1. Amazon – Strategy: Publish an ebook a week for a year. Measurable results: Ebook sales, grow email list, consulting opportunities.
  2. iTunes – Strategy: Gain listeners, growing network. Show expertise in the industry, affiliate sales.
  3. Blog Talk Radio – Strategy: Gain listeners, growing network. Show expertise in the industry, sell personal classes and course.
  4. YouTube – Strategy: Gain subscribers, drive to website. Show expertise in the industry, sell consulting.
  5. Infusionsoft, Mail Chimp – Strategy: Grow email list and community who likes to hear from you. Sell something.
  6. Google Hangouts, Livestream – Strategy: Gain watchers, growing network, post on recording on website and grow blog traffic. Show expertise in the industry, affiliate sales.
  7. Wishlist – Strategy: Grow membership, gain residual income, maybe affiliate sales.
  8. Clickbank – Strategy: Make money from sales (requires other channel to collect followers).
  9. Kajabi – Strategy: Build multiple sales funnels, grow email list and sell information products.
  10. WordPress – Strategy: Gain traffic with great information, sell your products or services.
  11. Facebook – Strategy: Drive to website or email list, grow relationships.
  12. Twitter – Strategy: Grow network, post amazing stuff, quick hit links to products or services.
  13. LinkedIn – Strategy: Grow network, connect with industry, drive to email list or website.
  14. Google Plus – Strategy: Grow followers, post keyword targeted information to get indexed in Google.
  15. Pinterest – Strategy: Grow connections, gain traffic by posting amazing photos with links to your website.

Having Patience

Now, I know these suck. Not one promises internet riches overnight and they all look like hard work. All of them also require patience. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, did I say patience? Yep! There is not one of these strategies that will work the first day you try them. You will not do one thing, set up one site or send one email and rake in thousands.

Leveraging What You Have

The cool thing…so there is one really cool thing. Once you have set up a strategy and implemented it, the benefits go on and on. We are writing an Ebook a week for a year (check out this week’s book, Sales and Marketing Success, Targeting Your Perfect Customer Who Will Buy and Buy).

First off, it is REALLY good. It is the 5th book we have written (just 47 more to go) and everything is easier. The cover is nicer, the content is tighter, and we are using our already built social media and website empire to market it. Because we stayed in the groove of marketing, we had a built in audience, sales channels already set up and the experience to know what our customers need. Building on long term success is actually really cool.

Just Starting Out?

That said, what if you are just starting out? We have a client who is doing his own thing with setting up a podcast (I am blown away by his bravery!). While we did make a website for him (he is smart enough to know what he is good and not good at), the rest is all him! I asked him for 5 ah-has from someone just starting out…I am pleased to present Dave Negri of the Contractor’s Secret Weapon Podcast!

  1. When you look at the overall picture of podcasting it can look very daunting. Lucky for me, with my personality I just take an overall look if it looks doable and I just jump in feet first and go for it. There are a lot of great podcasters that give away a lot of free information to get you up and running. Ah-ha… I can do it. Anybody can do it.
  2. It’s not as scary out there as one might think. You don’t have to go it alone. Like I said, there are a lot of great podcasters that will point you in the right direction. I’m going to plug Dave Jackson at School of Podcasting. He is a great resource for newbies as he has been podcasting since 2005.
  3. I was told first thing is to figure out what your show is going to be about. Lucky for me we knew exactly what we wanted it to be about and why. Out of the gate we had 50 weeks’ worth of topics without any guest interviews figured in (ah-ha, listen to the experts they will shorten your time to get up and running)
  4. It’s like any other business, if you create systems as you go it takes the uncomfortable out of the new thing and makes it comfortable. Well, maybe a little easier.
  5. Going into it with the proper mindset has made all the difference in the world. It’s not just another task do to for business. We had to make it as much fun as we could for everyone, ourselves and our listeners. Our goal was to help our business grow, but also add value to our listeners and help their business grow. I truly believe that podcasting is still in its infancy stage and there is no limit to the possibilities for the future podcaster.

I could not be happier for Dave. His strategy is to have a quality podcast for the next year. He has reached out to experts he knows (like me) and we are supporting him by sharing his stuff and appearing on his show. He did not think that having a podcast would be easy or successful 7 minutes after he aired the first one, but he does know that if he can get over the hump, there are great things on the other side!

Here is the podcast that he had me on!

The End

Really? You made it down here despite all the cool distractions. Well this is the most important bit anyways so you are in luck!

The best part about the fact that this shit takes hard work is that most people will start it and never finish. If you want to start a webinar series and have a strategy and the stones to stick in there, you will succeed. If you want to be an affiliate marketer and are willing to bust your ass, you will succeed. There is nothing “secret” about any of this. Have a plan, take time to let that plan grow and hustle. That’s it!

Is Long Form Content Taking Over The Google?

Is Long Form Content Taking Over The Google?I read an article the other day about how long form content (a fancy word for really long articles) is dominating Google now. This seems to be counter intuitive to today’s busy world as people try to consume less info in smaller chunks AND Gary Vee is writing whole books about how being brief and to the point is winning over long, intense posts.

What does make sense to me is that the “thin” sites from days of yore were made precisely to game the systems. These were full of short, crappy, spun posts that did not benefit Google’s users, the searcher. So maybe deep in the bowels of Google’s algorithm is a favoritism towards long content. How does Matt Cutts sleep at night knowing all the secrets of Google and still not telling us!!!

A Non Scientific Study of Long Form Content Results – My Data

I am not a math girl so I am not going to do an in depth study of numbers and variables, but what I do have is my analytics data that shows my old-old site with great traffic and a newer site that is process of growing. Let’s take a peek at what those sites tell us about the length of articles in combination with their popularity (only based on my numbers – I know, you math whizzes are cringing right now!)

Best pages with views and word count Marketing Artfully (minus the home page and sales pages):

  • 100 Great Email Subject Lines – Email Newsletters (2,635 views | 2,368 words)
  • What are important customer demographics? (717 views | 594 words)
  • Real Estate Marketing | 100 Great SEO Keywords for Realtors (713 views | 598 words)
  • Work Quotes With Pictures | Labor Day Quotes (612 views | 318 words)
  • Giving Thanks Quotes For Small Business (508 views | 755 words)
  • 100 Great Twitter Tweet Examples (494 views | 1629 words)
  • Customer Demographics – Age Demographics for Advertising (441 views | 656 words)
  • Small Business Marketing – 100 Great Call To Action Examples (290 views | 769 words)

Best pages with views and word count M&M Monsters (minus the home page and sales pages):

  • Real Estate Marketing – Tips For Listing Agents, Writing Your MLS Listing (72 views | 885 words)
  • Easy Email Follow Up Plan for Networking (61 views | 1392 words)
  • Why Knowing Who Your Perfect Customer Is Matters (31 views | 869 words)
  • Why Infusionsoft! (29 views | 873 words)
  • Real Estate Marketing – What Should You Send In Your Email Newsletters? (26 views | 810 words)
  • Real Estate Marketing – How To Market To A Farm (24 views | 639 words)
  • Real Estate Newsletters – Are Newsletters Dead (23 views | 476 words)
  • Email Marketing – What is the difference between autoresponders and drip campaigns (21 views | 818 words)

Conclusions…first off, I don’t really write posts between 300-400 words so there is NO chance for that length to be represented. That said, here is the breakdown by percentage of my top blog posts by length:

  • Epic (1500-2500 words) – 12.5%
  • Wordy-McWorderson (1000-1500) – 6.25%
  • Long But Not Stupid Long (500-1000) – 68.75%
  • Shortys – (400-500) – 12.5%

It seems like the sweet spot for getting traffic is somewhere between 500 and 1,000 words with 800-ish topping the list.

Google Results

Now lets go outside my posts and see how long the top Google results are for things I care about!

Customer Demographics

#1 – What are important customer demographics? (mine) 594 words
#2 – Customer Demographics (Frost & Sullivan – case study) 839 words
#3 – 14 Tips to Nail Down Demographics (Mashable) 1,245 words
#4 – Know Your Target Market (Entrepreneur.com) 1,281 words
#5 – What Are Your Customer Demographics? (Experian) 546 words
#6 – Demographics (Wikipedia) 650 words
#7 – The Difference Between Your Customer Demographics and Psychographics (YellowPages.com) 498 words
#8 – What are my best customers like? (Neilsen) 126 words

Conclusions – well I am in REALLY good company! I am sharing the first page with the likes of Entrepreneur, Neilsen and Mashable. All are between 498 and 1,281 words (with the exception of Neilsen’s 126 words with a couple of graphs). Pretty spread out, let’s look at another one!

Realtor Marketing

#1 – Realtor.com no words mostly pictures (stupid realtor.com)
#2 – Mobile List Builder Realtor.com no words mostly pictures (stupid realtor.com)
#3 – Realtor.org Field Guide to Marketing Tips for REALTORS® 768 words
#4 – Inman Next category page
#5 – Agent Boost 21 Low/No Cost Real Estate Marketing Tips 617 words
#6 – Marketing Monday 10 Killer Real Estate Marketing Ideas 2308 words
#7 – Mine – Realtor Marketing – Stop Offering A CMA | Comparative Market Analysis 561 views
#8 – Zillow Blog – Drones taking off as real estate marketing tool 645 views (first page, 1,142 total)

Conclusions – The NAR (National Association of Realtors) and Realtor.com dominate this keyword. That said, if you are a Realtor looking for marketing help you may wind up skipping the “official” sites after you have visited them once and move onto the sites lower down the page. I get a lot of traffic from Realtors looking for marketing help so they must be coming from somewhere!

Other Smart People Who Are Talking About This Too

Final long form content and Google thoughts. I think that we can safely say that a sweet spot to rank in Google for a specific keyword is about 800-1,000 words. There is also a bunch there around the 500 word mark but the concept that you can churn out 300 word minimum posts and get a quick hit ranking from Google is probably an urban myth. Hitting those high spots takes time, dedication and great content.

Side note, I follow ALL of these sites and they do not have just one amazing post about the topic. To rank well for a search term, your whole website has to have a cumulative ranking for that term and then you can break through with a great post that ranks on page one.

What does that mean? If you have a website that is all about Customer Demographics and write an AMAZING post about Social Media Marketing you may have a chance of that one ranking. BUT, if you have a site about weight loss and write that same AMAZING post about Social Media Marketing, your chances of ranking well diminish greatly!

Internet Marketing 5 Tips To Organize Your Work Flow

Internet Marketing 5 Tips To Organize Your Work FlowSometimes when I make myself crazy because I am not the most organized gal in the world, I think, what would I tell my peeps to do and then implement that….FORCING myself to create systems. This post is like that!

Here are my top tips for things to make your life a little easier – Internet Marketing 5 Tips To Organize Your Work Flow

So what the heck is work flow? It is the fancy term for the way you accomplish tasks! I am not an organized person, BUT I HAVE to do certain things to keep my internet empire running like a well oiled machine. Then every once in a while I will notice that there is a little hitch in a gear…here is what those may look like:

  • It might be that I am doing something and have to switch back and forth between folders a thousand times
  • Could be that I feel like I will “lose” something if I don’t do it right now (even though I am doing something else)
  • Sometimes it is that feeling that you KNOW you should be doing something BUT you are not inspired right at that minute and so it doesn’t get done

Now, there are a million organized people in the world who will tell you their systems for getting things done using folders, colored tabs and paperclips, but they just make me want to cry. Where it the organizer for a visual person, who likes to keep it loose but not make herself crazy…oh well, this post is not for the organized, it is for schmoes like me! Don’t try to copy my way of doing things, just take an idea here and implement it!!!

Tip 1 – Have a delete me folder

This is one that I have used for QUITE a while and which is brilliant! Anything that doesn’t have to be saved DOES NOT go on my desktop, it hits the delete me folder. These things can include:

  • Pictures that I am just passing onto social media to include in a post
  • Documents that I am printing out but don’t have to save to my computer
  • Zip files that get opened to somewhere else

Basically all the flotsam and jetsam that comes with doing business on the internet!

What a delete me file is NOT, it is not a second garbage can that you “store” stuff in. You have to be willing to “select all” and delete the whole shebang every now and then. No looking, no going through it one last time. Otherwise you are just making yourself a big dumping ground of unorganized stuff that you have to look through later!

Tip 2 – Have an editorial calendar

SOOO sorry that I am using so many terms, but it is that kind of day! An editorial calendar is a pre-planned outline of what you are going to do each week, month or year. It tells you what you need to be doing when you are stuck for ideas AND because you thought it out in happier times, it is probably a good reflection of what you SHOULD be doing to increase your business rather than what “feels right” today!

The huge bonus for this is that the planning doesn’t have to be heinous! Sit down with a glass of wine and your marketing besty and brainstorm the whole year first. Go month by month and figure out what you “theme” is for each month. Before the first of the upcoming month, fill out the sheet that tells you what you need to do for the next 4 weeks.

A couple of questions came up…YES we re-write the annual stuff every month, things change and we may have to move some bits around. NO you don’t have to do everything we do, but why not try for a couple of months and see how much you can get done!

Tip 3 – Make yourself bookmark folders of things you do often

This is a biggie for me. I tend to be a little loosey goosey with my day unless I have all my time locked down. Social media is a huge time sucker if not done properly so I make sure that I can progress through it easily without having to think too much.

With that in mind, I have a bookmark folder on my Chrome browser that has a tab for:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Google Plus
  • Klout
  • Pinterest
  • Blog Lovin
  • Buffer

As I “walk” down the tabs I am able to quickly accomplish everything I need to do to “check in” on social media without having to think about it. I post something to FB and like a couple of friend’s things, check and see if anyone talked to me on Twitter, take a quick peek at LinkedIn, post on my Google Plus profile, hand out some Klout to influencers I am targeting and my friends, and check Bloglovin to see if there are any good articles available to “Buffer” for posting later and I am out.

If I am busy and don’t have the time to dink around, I can do all of this in less than 15 minutes.

Tip 4 – Get Evernote  or Pinterest to save “stuff”

One of the problems with the internet is that it is so interesting and HUGE. When I have some time and start researching things, I have blog posts, articles and videos that I want to see or read, but not a 16 hour day to consume them all.

If you are not a huge “sharer”, you can absolutely use Evernote to capture them all for consumption later. I tend to use the incoming folder as a dumping ground…don’t do that! Set up a “to read” folder and when you have read it, move it to either the trash or if you need to keep it, to a labeled folder.

I LOVE using Pinterest for this type of thing. When I find an article that looks interesting I will “save” it on a Pinterest board so that I can go back and see it later. The benefit to using Pinterest rather than Evernote is that Pinterest is public and when people see your boards they will want to follow you, growing your influence.

Bonus…when you have a Pinterest board that is popular, you can intersperse your posts and videos in there and get more website traffic or video views.

Tip 5 – Take the time to get it right

It drives me absolutely insane when I hear someone say, “I don’t have time to get organized” or “I try but nothing I do helps”. It literally took me over 5 years to get my calendaring system down to a science. I tried at least 4 different day planners (different sizes, different pages), a couple of online calendars, task lists and a whole host of other “solutions”.

Eventually I did figure out the right strategy for me. I use the Apple iCloud calendar that sinks on my phone, laptop, iPad and the internet (so my assistant can schedule appointments for me).

Had I given up and just resigned myself to missed meetings, stress and confusion, I would absolutely not be as successful as I am today. LESSON: keep trying until something clicks for you!

You often hear, “stop working IN your business and start working ON your business”. This is VERY true. There is no magic time fairy that makes extra time for those of us who have systems. We just know that spending a couple of hours now can save us weeks in the long run. LESSON: Unless you have rock solid systems in place, your first goal today should be to STOP and get your business in order. No emails, social media, getting quotes out, making phone calls or meetings until you at least have a framework for a plan to systematize your work.

There you have it, my top internet marketing tips to organize your workflow!

Where Should You Share Your Blog Posts?

Where should you share your blog posts 2013-2014Today’s question comes from reader Rae Ann Dougherty of Green Cleaning Products LLC. Rae Ann asks…where should you share your blog posts in late 2013 or early 2014? She mentioned sites like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Digg, De.i.cio.us, Stumble Upon, Technorati, Yahoo Buzz!, Blink List and Tumblr.

The landscape has changed so much that it is hard to know as a business person where you should spend your time and energy! Now, this is a post about where to share your blog posts, NOT about where you should publish content, which is a whole different ball of wax and can include sites like Rebel Mouse, Medium and the like.

In thinking about this, I want to break down the three types of content sharing…social sharing, search sharing and bookmarking. Social sharing sites include things like Facebook, Search sharing is on Google or the other search engines and bookmarking is less about sharing and more about making a list of relevant sites.

Let’s break it down by my numbers…we are going to look at two of my sites..this one that is O-L-D and gets lots of search engine traffic and which has old share links across the web (maybe not the best example for most of my readers) and www.MandMMonsters.com which is new (under a year old) and does not have the benefit of being already indexed on lots of sites.

Social Sharing:

Social sharing includes sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. I KNOW that there are myriad more but these are the ones that have the most traffic and mass of humans to be able to share and consume your stuff. (Whether you should be on tiny social networking sites is a post for another day).

Web visits from social sharing sites

As you can see, Pinterest is overwhelmingly the top spot for sending traffic (and that is knowing that most of our stuff being B2B was not that hot on Pinterest a year ago…:) I find it awesome that using the bufferapp.com tool is actually helping our traffic.

Search Sharing:

This one is a little more confusing as I do not see Google Plus broken out as a line item for Marketing Artfully as it is so integrated into Google the search engine so I am not sure if there is just no traffic from Google Plus or if it is actually just being absorbed by the Google numbers. That said, I did see three click throughs for google plus broken out on the MandMMonsters.com site.

Web Visits From Search

Bookmarking Sites:

At one time, getting a front page link on Digg was a real coupe. Today Digg has faded into obscurity and no longer is the driving force it once was. There are some old sites like Digg and Reddit, some (good for me) sites like Stumbleupon and some that aren’t taking individual posts anymore like Technorati. As there is not as strong a social sharing component, I am not sure that these are as valuable as they once were BUT please note that I only really share to Stumbleupon at this point so my numbers are skewed that way.

Web visits from bookmarking

So, based on the numbers, I would say that spending time on social and increasing your search are good uses, I will continue to do stumbleupon because I find stuff there to share, but overall will not be taking any time to submit to directory sites from now on.

PS – this “where should you share your blog posts” data is skewed. It is based purely on what we are doing currently and just because we are not getting traffic from some of the sites may have more to do with the fact that we are not focusing on them than the fact they wouldn’t send traffic if we didn’t do a bit more. I used the data I had at hand!

How Long It Takes Blog Posts To Rank – Practical Internet Marketing

How Long It Takes Blog Posts To RankEver wonder how long it take blog posts to rank (or your website even). Here is a little bit of practical internet marketing to get your day started right!

Internet marketing is full of hype. There I said it. As a marketing professional I spend A LOT of time reading sales copy that tells you should have 100,000 Facebook followers by just doing this one little trick. That if you spend $497 on a course you can learn “the secret” to dominating something.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am a learn stuff kind of gal BUT what I find the most harmful is what all that talk does to us. How we get in our psyche a feeling that everyone else is having amazing success and they are doing much faster than we are.

Even I, intrepid marketer that I am, can feel like, “dang I am doing all this and not getting anywhere”. Well today we stop that nonsense! I am going to break down blog posts and how long it takes to get them to rank and then give you tips on how to make it happen even better, maybe faster but definitely better!

My best blog post – 100 Great Email Subject Lines, gets around 3,000 hits per month. She is my little sweet pea and I adore her! That said, she looked a little peaked out of the gate. I had spent about 8 hours writing the post and collecting subject lines and wha wha wha…she just laid around for a bit.

This is the breakdown of how many views she got over time:

  • Written Nov 21, 2012 – first day, 50 views (whoo whoo)
  • Nov 21 -Dec 21 – 351 total views
  • Dec 21 – Jan 21 – 283 total views (christmas is a really bad time for my views!)
  • Jan 21 – Feb 21 – 1030 total views (Monday Feb 4th was a good day)
  • Feb 21 – Mar 21 – 1633 total views
  • Mar 21 – Apr 21 – 2876 total views
  • Apr 21 – May 21 – 3773 total views
  • May 21 – June 21 – 3370 total views
  • June 21 – July 21 – 2604 total views
  • July 21 – Aug 21 – 2736 total views
  • Aug 21 – Sept 21 – 2888 total views
  • Total views to date – 21,871

How Long Does It Take A Blog Post To Rank

So what happened to make that a reality? A number of things.

First off, I wrote a blog post that is a helpful service to people. It took a while and honestly was just something that I couldn’t find a good one of so I decided that I needed to make it.

Second off, I promoted the heck out of it. I did not just share it once and cross fingers that people would “get” it. I post it regularly to this day on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ (really you can only post it once on the Pinterest, a couple of times if you put it on different boards). I also internally link to it (like I did today) and also post a link to the other blog sites I own. Just FYI I don’t try to mask them or fool google, they all have the same analytics account so I am sure that the google knows they are all mine…oh and I do the author thing to make sure of it!

Third, there is a wild card that is other people linking into it. This is where that whole “if you write great content it will float to the top” comes in. That said, I try to help it along by doing what I can to share my posts.

BONUS INFO – Seasonal Blog Post Rankings

Okay, so I am REALLY interested in this stuff and I wanted to see what would happen if I had a post that probably would only rank seasonally. I wrote one that is called Work Quotes With Pictures and Labor Day Quotes.

It looks like this:

Seasonal Blog Post Rankings

There are only four days that it is a rock star:

  • Written Aug 31, 2012 – 38 page views
  • September 3, 2012 – 438 page views (that was labor day)
  • April 30, 2013 – 122 page views
  • August 30, 2013 – 177 (the friday before labor day)
  • September 2, 2013 – 287 (labor day again)

Google Trends Labor Day QuotesNow is she setting the world on fire, nope. BUT over the whole time she has been around she has gotten 7,174 views which is nothing to sneeze at!

Here is what the google trends report looks like for “labor day quotes”…same up and down around labor day…go figure!

This is crazy…a post that just sits there and churns out views, tiny bits at a time, month over month with some big hits at the end.

Would talk to you more today but have to head on out to make some more great blog posts that rank!!!

Internet Marketing – Monitoring Tools For Checking Up On Your Website

Internet marketing is all about ranking in the search engines, getting seen on social and about a million other traffic generating bits. Today we are going to talk about how to check up on how all that effort is working!

There are three sites I use to check on my website’s status: Moz – Open Site Explorer, Alexa and SEMRush. These three tools will help give you a good idea of your site’s ranking authority and what you can do to increase your status.


Moz – Open Site Explorer

Moz Open Site ExplorerThis site will give you a quantitative number from 1-100 about your site’s authority. To give you an idea, YouTube and Pinterest have 100, our Marketing and Media Monsters site that is less than a year old has 34. This site has 49.

Open Site Explorer is generally about checking what kinds of links you have back to your website and supplying a ranking based on that number. Now, what does that mean? Well, Marketing Artfully has pretty good authority and when I post something, it tends to get ranked pretty well in the search engines compared to when I post something on MandM Monsters. That said, there are things that you can do to increase this number.

Links – from what I can see, regular links from directory sites like AllTop count as well as no follow links from other blogs. How do you get no follow links from other sites? Comments! I have made comments on a number of sites that I like and follow. While no follow links don’t help on Google, it does seem to impact this report. When I look at this I am inspired to get out there and make more links.

Top pages – this is the pages that have the highest authority by links (no by numbers of hits as the pages that Open Site Explorer lists are not the pages that Google shows I have traffic for!)

Linking domains – Shows the sites with the most authority that link to you! Now, most of mine come from posts and videos that I have shared places like YouTube, Pinterest and Feedburner (how I aggregate my RSS feed). The nice thing about this is that if you are doing social, these things are probably working for you already!

Anchor text – This is where some people got in trouble with Google for trying to manipulate anchor text backlinks. You need to have a nice mix…A LOT of mine come from “Tara Jacobsen” which makes sense as those are probably blog comments and a fair number come from Marketing Artfully. What you will see if you have spammy link building going on is a lot of “small business marketing” and “entrepreneur marketing” instead. If OSE can figure this out, you know that Google can too! Stop spammy link building right now and just work on getting true backlinks to your website!

Alexa

Alexa has some really good data, including where your site ranks in the world. Today I am number 44,978 in the US. Just recently that number has been going down (which is a good thing in this case – google is number one, youtube two, etc.)

General stats – Alexa tracks the bounce rate for your site (how fast people come and leave), how many pages each visitor looks at while they are there and how long they stay on your site. You can change each of these yourself by making sure you site loads faster, having your headlines match your content (having AMAZING content is a given) and having other things to do once you have them there. I use a plugin called “Just another related posts plugin” which gives them similar posts to the ones that they are looking at.

Audience Demographics – This is what I love the most! Here they tell you about what your readers look like. Mine are generally female, with a college education and browse at work. This makes sense because I do not “dumb it down” and write at a fifth grade level like everyone says I should and my traffic is abysmal on the weekends compared to during the week.

Search Terms – One last bit I like here is that they give me search terms that are used to find my site. These are often different than the ones I get from google and so are a great place to look for blog posts I should write in the future.

SEMRush

SEM RushLast but not least is SEMRush. These guys will tell you the search terms that you are ranking for by position. According to them my best number one term is for Customer Demographics, which matches the info that I get from google showing that is a top incoming search term that people use.

Keywords – To me this is best thing about them. When you see the keywords that you rank for and want to move up, you can write more posts about that topic or make sure that you have social links to the post that ranks well. Many times I think business people think that one blog post is going to get you ranked for a keyword, but actually it is cumulative. If you have 5 posts about a topic in a category, not all five will be ranked in google BUT the one that is is boosted by the other 4.

Ranking – I watch this pretty closely and if I slip lower for a phrase like “realtor marketing“, I will write a blog post for that and include a link to the post or page that ranks best in google for that keyword (see how I threw that one in…every little bit helps!)

Website Monitoring Tools Wrapup

Alrighty then, hopefully you found some new toys to play with today. Using these website monitoring tools to keep an eye on your website is a great way to make sure you are headed in the right direction overall!

Which RSS Feed To Twitter Accounts Is Best | Social Media Marketing

Today I am taking care of my Twitter accounts, making sure that my blogs “feed” the right posts to the right accounts. Now, I don’t have a million of them, BUT I do have enough that getting all of them hooked up to the right RSS feeds for my websites is important!

This post is an honest opionion of all the services I could find out there and how they work. Some I have used extensively and some I have tried for 15 minutes (and abandoned because they were too hard!) If you have a favorite, please leave a comment and I will check it out and add it if appropriate!

TWITTERFEED.COM

Twitter Feed - RSS To TwitterTwitterfeed has made sad over the years. I want to love them because their service is free and they do perform the function of posting to Twitter effectively. My problem with them is twofold (and my besty has a problem too!)

  • First and most importantly, the site is PAINFULLY slow. If you are adding a feed, it could take up to 15 minutes to get to the right page, load it in, set the parameters and then move onto the next one.
  • Secondly, they have used Twitter to login, AuthId, emails and about a million other different login systems. Half the time I have to spend a good chunk of time just figuring out how to get into the darn thing!
  • Bonus, my Besty the Colorado Connector uses it to post her RSS feeds to her Facebook and she says it unhooks itself often. Now, we KNOW that is a combination of problems between Twitterfeed and Facebook, but for her it means having to constantly check and see if her connections are working!

Cost: FREE

For right now I have taken MarketingArtfully.com off of there and moved it to another service. I have a Twitter account that publishes a bunch of Realtor blogs and for now I am leaving that there (mostly because the time to get all those unhooked would be prohibitive!)

DLVR.IT

Dlvrit RSS To Twitter ServiceI have moved my important sites over to this service. For now, the 15 social profiles for ten bucks a month should take care of what I need to do…:) I am sad that I have to pay BUT thinking of the old saw that we get what we pay for!

  • I am EXTREMELY pleased with how easy it is to set up accounts and and move around which feeds publish to which Twitter accounts. I will be doing the $9.95 per month for now and checking to see if I want to move up in the future.
  • It appears that they have post to Google Plus on paid versions which I will be checking out today too!

Cost: FREE (5 Feeds, 3 Social Profiles), $9.95 month (50 Feeds, 15 Social Profiles), $19.95 month (Unlimited Feeds, Unlimited Social Profiles)

IFTTT.COM

If this then that rss tweet feederHoly heck is this one hard to use! The concept is that like some database functions you can say If This Then That. So for my purposes I was trying to say “If marketingartfully.com publishes a post, then post a link to my TARAdactyl Twitter”. So far, so good. Next one I tried to make “If marketingartfully.com publishes a post, then post a link to my MarketingArtful Twitter”. DOH, it so only wants to post to TARAdactyl. Delete, try again, no dice.

This site seems like it might have a really cool function but my normal little marketing brain (not super mathy or logical) cannot get wrapped around how to write “recipes” or even use current recipes and modify them to work for my stuff. Sigh. Seemed like neat site but do not have the time or inclination to learn how to do all those bits.

Cost: FREE

SocialOomph

I have used SocialOomph in the past for scheduling posts and I thought, I bet they have some kind of RSS feed generator, lets go check them out! DOH, they charge $17.97 bi-weekly (which is $35.94 a month!). Now, I am sure they have many other services for that price, but for my needs, thirty-five bucks a month is astronomically expensive!

Cost: $35.00/month

Feedburner By Google

Seems like a good idea! Hustled on over and I CAN hook my feed to Twitter…SCORE! And I can hook it to another Twitter…Double Score…DAMN…you can hook up as many accounts as you want, but you have to pick which one will be the primary one and actually post!

Hootsuite

Hootsuite does this with an owly link. I don’t especially like those because I know they are pre-posted and sometimes ignore them. For this reason I am not using Hootsuite to publish my RSS feeds…although they do have a sweet deal…

Cost: Free (2 Feeds), $8.99 month (Unlimited Feeds)

PLEASE let me know if you know of any other good RSS Feed to Twitter accounts… I am open to hearing about any good ones!

100 Great Free Report Titles, Best Headlines and Free Optin Offers | Lead Generation

100 Great Free Report Titles, Best Headlines & Free Optin OffersI have scoured the web for the best great headlines, free report titles and free optin offer offers! Having looked at HUNDREDS of sites to write this post, I have a couple of observations…

First as I was looking for great headlines in areas NOT of interest to me, I can tell you unilaterally, no matter how great your offer is, if they don’t NEED what you are offering, they won’t ever sign up, buy or take the next step.

Second be really niche-y! Don’t try to succeed at “weight loss” or “make money”. There isn’t something that you could present that will make everyone want what you have. Niche it down to something that would appeal to your perfect client or customer.

Lastly, there is A LOT of opportunity out there! I did this in order to be able to write better free offer headlines and I thought, “there is A LOT of competition”. In actuality, the majority of top websites and blogs don’t have any opt-in or data capture going on. Some have pop-ups that appear immediately (I ignored them until I learned more about the site), some have only social media opt-ins (good but definitely not the end game), and a few had a great free offer (a very few!)

Some Universal needs you can target:

  • Make money
  • Save money
  • Lose weight
  • Get respect
  • Don’t get ripped off
  • Save time
  • Protect your family
  • Love
  • Stay young, anti aging
  • Personal development
  • Kids
  • Pets
  • Health

How To Headlines

This is a way to present that starts with the readers’ need and ends with a benefit to them. In this model you start with How To [X] That Gets You [X].

  • How win friends and influence people (dale carnegie)
  • How to winterize your house and cut your monthly payments in half
  • How to give your children extra iron — these 3 delicious ways (copyblogger.com)
  • How do you monetize your content and expertise online today? I’ll show you how. (brendonburchard.com)
  • Discover how to slow down the aging process with expert skin care tips (clarinsusa.com)
  • How often do you say to yourself, “I should have started that last week”. How to stay on track in an always on world.

Tips and Tricks (the “Secret”)

No one really knows why people are so obsessed with learning a “secret”. Knowing the unknown is a universal human need and one we can use effectively to get people onto your list.

  • The secret of how to get 6 pack abs with no situps
  • Little known ways to reduce your electric bills
  • Secrets of the “free” home security system (thealarmcompany.com)
  • Learn secrets most men will never know about women and dating (doubleyourdating.com)
  • Forget The Free Crap, Discover The Truth About Google Plus Powerful Secrets Nobody Knows | Shocking Mistakes Everybody Makes This Is How It’s Really Done… (googlingsocial.com)
  • The top 5 digital marketing tools for local businesses (hint: the 3 best are free) (leadpages.net)
  • Discover how to describe what you do in a confident way that excites you and attracts clients -> finally (mainstreammediasavvy.com)

The List

  • Get the shocking FREE report “top 10 mistakes men make with women” (lovesystems.com)
  • Free book gives you 10 unheard of ways to lose belly fat
  • 10 steps to building a bulging bank account (tommi wolfe)
  • Free recording offers 10 ways to beat the high cost of remodeling
  • 5 unbelievable ideas for making money
  • 100 great call to action examples (marketingartfully.com)
  • 25 can’t fail life saving ideas
  • 56 ways to market your business on pinterest (copyblogger)
  • Discover the 39 essential tools needed to map out your goals, maximize your effectiveness, and win control of your time and your life (mindtools.com)
  • The 15 poker secrets every professional knows (pokerlistings.com)
  • The only 3 pieces of exercise equipment you need in your home (hint: they all weigh less than 5 pounds) (leadpages.net)
  • 10 leads a day formula – discover the 10 leads a day formula using the power of Youtube (Reel Marketing Insider)

Clever Headlines

You have to be willing to rock the nerdy to like these, but after reading all the rest, these are my favorites!

  • Small step for man, giant gaffe for NASA (AP)
  • Going once, going twice, going to be confiscated (dan kelley)
  • Is this the rail price, is this just fantasy, caught up in land buys, no escape from burecracy! (ulster gazette)
  • Nature’s 4 letter words: Wind, hail, rain (collier times)
  • Sneezy? Grumpy? If you visit Disney, use new sanitizers (jason garcia)
  • Tiger Woods plays with own balls, Nike says (AP)
  • Federal agents raid gun shops, find weapons (brian barber)
  • Statistics show that teen pregnancy drops significantly after age 25 (mary ann tebedo)
  • Man accused of killing lawyer receives a new attorney (sun staff writer)
  • Gordon Ramsey sex dwarf eaten by badger (outrageous isn’t always good!)

Doing What Others Can Do

I think this is a real sleeper one, sort of like the secret but showing that it it is possible because someone else has done it before you!)

  • Now you can swim like Michael Phelps!
  • Find out how we made over 6 figures doing affiliate marketing last year
  • I lost 25 pounds in 5 weeks by eating this one super food!
  • Give me 10 days and I will show you how to swing like tiger woods
  • Advice to wives whose husbands don’t save money – by a wife (victor scwab)
  • Real results for real people. You’ve seen my results on TV. Look at the success my members are having right now: (jillianmichaels.com)
  • Resource Guide: The top sites we use to get traffic and dominate the search engines (number 4 may surprise you)
  • Are you ever shy on a date? 3 tricks I use that make me the life of the party
  • Who else wants to be happily married?
  • Why some people seem to be able to lose weight and the three things they share in common
  • When top marketers want to make fast money, this is what they do
  • Who ever heard of getting skinny without exercise? Find out how one woman lost 40 pounds sitting on her couch

The One Thing You Need To Do

  • The one thing you must do to make more money
  • The one thing that will make a huge difference in your weight loss efforts
  • Imagine—achieving ALL your goals quickly and easily! download this free e-book and discover the exact formula for goal setting success! (briantracy.com)
  • Make women want you…this one weird technique turns them on so fast it should be banned (online-dating-tips.org)

Amazing Offers

  • The ultimate guide to…
  • Now you can eat whatever you want and still lose weight!
  • Claim an incredible 100% bonus up to $747 on your first two deposits!! (manhattenslots.com)
  • Which of these $2.50 to $5 best sellers do you want for only $1 each? (victor schwab)
  • Free presentation reveals a somewhat unusual tip to get a flatter belly while still eating the foods you love (fatlossfactor.com)
  • Would you like me to personally double, triple, or even quadruple your business…for free? (frankkern.com)
  • Click here to watch amazing transformational videos (charlesdangelo.com)
  • Use this weird technique to make any girl kiss you… (mensbestdatingtips.com)
  • 100% guaranteed way to make twice as much money in half the time
  • It seems incredible that you can get all these tips for just $7.99, but it is true!

Cataclysmic Properties or Opportunities

  • Unstoppable forces will either propel you to victory or bury you on page 2-3-4 of Google’s search results (perrymarshall.com)
  • Do you make these 7 fatal mistakes when buying facebook ads?
  • Is the life of a child worth $1 to you? (victor schwab)
  • Important news for those who recently quit smoking…here’s the fastest and easiest way to clean your lungs of the poisonous tar and dangerous toxin build-up that could eventually lead to premature lung disease, cancer, or even death! (howtoquitstopsmoking.com)
  • Be prepared to be shocked – take the real age test today. The results may just surprise you. (sharecare.com)
  • The sex food so potent priests were forbidden to eat it (infomarketingblog.com)

You Deserve It

  • Get the body you know you deserve…introducing Richard’s new 90 day progressive workout system (richardsimmons.com)
  • Get exclusive access to the best bars, restaurants, shops, parties and more in Las Vegas…sign up for deals, memberships, invites and special offers (askmen.com)
  • You deserve the luxury of a cadillac

Avoiding Something

  • LinkedIn marketing mistakes, how to avoid missing great marketing opportunities on LinkedIn (linkedintelligence.com)
  • How much lifetime & money will YOU save by quitting smoking? Beat the Nicodemon at his own game with our FREE quit-smoking program! (quitnet.com)
  • Stop losing money…10 vital NL holdem’ tips
  • If your website crashed today, would you be up and running in minutes or weeks?
  • 50 fool proof ways to make your kids happy on a rainy day
  • Stop wasting money on training that doesn’t work, this one course changed my whole marketing plan and made me a social media rockstar
  • The one little mistake that can cost you $2,000 a year
  • Stop getting ripped off: why consumers get screwed, and how you can always get a fair deal (bob sullivan – book title)
  • There is finally an easy way to stop getting ripped off at the hospital (finance.yahoo.com)
  • Do you make these mistakes in english (victor schwab)
  • Do you have these symptoms of entrepreneur failure?

The Exact Amount

Putting exact numbers into your headline gives it credibility and makes you want to find out more!

  • [FREE Webinar] learn the marketing system these guys used to increase their business by 832% (mandmmonsters.com)
  • Learn how these guys grew from $0 to $2,000,000! – Free Webinar TOMORROW (mandmmonsters.com)
  • My #1 tip for writing great email newsletters, blog posts, recording videos and more! (marketingartfully.com)
  • Reduce wrinkles & rejuvenate skin. See results in as little as 10 days. (auroskin.us)
  • Facelift through exercise. Erase 10 years in 15 minutes a day. Eliminate wrinkles, jowls and more! (carolynsfacialfitness.com)
  • 4 AMAZING events to help you grow your business FAST in May 2013 (thecoloradoconnector.com)
  • Starting off with $56,000 in debts… a young divorced mother tells how she became a millionaire in only 34 months. Here she explains how you can start earning enough money easily to retire a millionaire in 5-8 years…(numatek.com)
  • You can master AdWords in 4 weeks with the most thorough A To Z training we’ve ever offered. I guarantee minimum 30% improvement in your performance or your money back (perry marshall)
  • Using your systems, my sales have increased by 215%
  • Skin that looks younger in 48 hours or your money back

Free Resources

  • Download pregnancy miracle ebook Now! (liked the testimonials section too here…Hey, Don’t Believe Me! Believe What Others Said! These Are Several of Awesome Testimonials From Our Satisfied Customers! (howtogetpregnantfastt.blogspot.com)
  • Small Business Marketing Guide: 100 Free Marketing Ideas
  • Resource Guide: the top 5 techniques to getting a man fast
  • Buyers Guide: How to avoid getting ripped off by the copier companies
  • How To Look Younger: 11 natural ways to look younger without surgery (nowloss.com)
  • Free report reveals…the 5 (dirt cheap) tools I use to create all my videos (including my $80 HD video camera) (leadpages.net)
  • Free report: Why go mobile. (worth $27) Discover how smart business owners are making tons of money by adopting the right mobile marketing strategies.
  • 7 important things you must consider before choosing a health retreat. (Natural Attitudes)

There you have it! My 100 Great Free Report Titles, Best Headlines and Free Optin Offers. If you have any I missed or others that you have seen work effectively for lead generation, please feel free to leave a comment!

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Improve Your Business with a Digital Marketing Assessment

Improve Your Business With A Digital Marketing AssessmentSo, you know that I don’t have too many guest posts here but every once in a while I get someone who thinks like we do and who might be able to point things out a little different way! There are some really good thoughts here for when choosing a digital marketing agency and I thought Cameron did a great job of spelling them out….Tara

This post is courtesy of Cameron Madill, CEO of PixelSpoke.com. Located in Portland, Oregon, PixelSpoke is a website design firm specializing in website redesigns and digital marketing programs.

Digital marketing is easy. You just build a website for your business, get some social media accounts started and go from there – right? Unfortunately, many business owners start with this approach, only to find that the leads they gain are crummy and the ROIs are equally bleak. Before overhauling your online presence or starting one for your business, consider consulting with a digital marketing agency and conducting an assessment. A digital marketing assessment takes a look at your current efforts and business goals to evaluate your strengths, weaknesses and the competitive landscape.

Why a Digital Marketing Assessment

Businesses usually encounter digital marketing struggles when they don’t reach out to the right audience. Or they reach out to the right audience but send the wrong messages. When you have a digital marketing company perform an assessment, you learn:

  • Which online arenas appeal most to your target audience (the highest-quality leads).
  • The messages that appeal to target consumers.
  • How your marketing efforts can add value to the lives of your target consumers.
  • How to stand out against the competition.

Digital Marketing Assessments: What to Expect

When a digital marketing agency first begins its assessment, it takes a look your company’s maturity on the market, your active consumers’ behaviors and the type of business you have (for example, B2B or B2C). It also examines the entities or people your consumers follow and evaluates your brand’s presence. After collecting this initial data, the marketing agency can provide you with targeted measurements and suggestions to start fine-tuning your social media activities.

A Look at Your Target

After identifying your target customers, the marketing agency conducting the assessment takes the time to learn about what drives them to make purchasing decisions and interact online. By connecting your business objectives with the needs of your customers, you can properly customize the content on your website, email and social media efforts to get the best results. The biggest issue for your customers is often inconsistent messaging and never looking at your materials from the perspective of your customers. Customers are often unable to complete basic tasks or find basic information because of poor website organization or content that is full of jargon.

Branding

Branding relates to how recognizable your company’s name and logo are, as well as the ideas associated with it. When you receive an assessment, you learn more about what consumers think about your brand as well as how consistently your different efforts (email, website and social media) are communicating your brand promise.

Analytics

It’s common for businesses to get caught up in the numbers – the number of followers, the number of hits and so on. A marketing agency can show you which numbers really count. You’ll learn how audience quality is more important than the number of followers your business has, as well as how to use demographic-related information to your advantage.

Email Marketing Strategies

In an age when spam is a four-letter word, email marketing is still a valuable digital marketing resource to nurture new prospects and engage existing customers. During your assessment, you’ll learn how your subject lines, list creation methods and current marketing methods work for or against you. By learning the best targeted approaches for your email marketing efforts, you’ll get your message out to individuals who want to hear from your business.

A digital marketing assessment can provide you with the foundation you need to deliver what your target audience seeks. When your prospective customers feel heard and valued, your marketing ROI will increase, and you’ll spend less time nurturing mundane leads.

My #1 Tip For Writing Great Email Newsletters, Blog Posts, Recording Videos and More!

Number one tip for writing great email newslettersI never talk about my number one tip for anything because things change, I learn something new, and generally marketing is moving target so I have to stay nimble like a tiger.

But today, I am throwing down with my #1, all time, most important, never goes out of style tip for writing great email newsletters, crafting amazing blog posts, recording stunning videos and every other sort of marketing that you do. In fact, it is one of the main, evergreen tenants of good marketing theory and I don’t we are talking about it enough!

You are only talking to one person.

There, for you High D’s who are worried that this is going to take too long, I have just blurted it out, for the rest of you, follow along!

When we are crafting blog posts or email newsletters, oftentimes we are thinking about all the people who are reading, listening or generally going to consume our info. We use terms like, “you all”, “you guys” or “everybody”. But think about it for a minute. Almost EVERY piece of content is being seen by just one person sitting at their computer or looking at it on their smart phone.

How To Go About Writing Great Email Newsletters, Articles or Blog Posts and Record Amazing Videos

Unlike “the news” which really is made for mass consumption, your written words are going to be sent out via email or over the internet. There will not be a gang of people sitting in a room waiting to read your pearls of wisdom, there will only be one person clicking that link and reading your words.

The easiest way to write for one person is to get a real person (or two) in your head and write as if you are talking to them. In another post I did for our Marketing and Media Monsters site I wrote today about new age marketing, I was thinking of two gals, Andye Murphy and Regina Sisco. Some of the ideas were specific to each of their businesses and I got double the great tips out because each has a little different business.

Another thing to check when you are producing content is are you saying YOU more than you are saying I or WE. If you are saying “we do this”, “I am” or “our tools” too much, your reader or listener will get grouchy and abandon all hope of you helping them! Howie Jacobson has my favorite saying, “are you we’ing all over them?” (read it out loud, it is really funny!) This is a SUPER easy way to tell if you content is great.

Last but not least, my besty the Colorado Connector talks A LOT about the WIFM (what’s in it for me) Channel that people are always playing in their heads. If your content is all about me, what I do or how I can help them, they will go away. Every person wants to know that you like them, that you care about their problems and that you have the solution for solving those problems.

Seriously, just making sure that you are talking to one person will make a tremendous difference in how your marketing is received! Now, go look at your web pages, listen to your videos and check out your last couple of email newsletters. Do not beat yourself up, just start a list of what you need to fix and grind through it. Then, start writing as if you are talking to your friends or best clients. Write as if you are telling them something and watch the accolades roll in!

Best iPhone and iPad Apps for Web Design and Marketing

Here are a few of the best iPhone and iPad apps that I found for doing web design and marketing. Now, I am not a techy girl, massive amounts of hardware that I lug around to the contrary so these are easy to use and do mostly one or two things REALLY well. I don’t need complicated apps, just pop in and pop out for ease of use.

RGBColorPal

Best iPhone Apps for Web Design Marketing - RGBColorPalI love this app! One of the main reasons is it so perfect is that I helped to develop it for use in Web Design and Marketing. It was made by the FABULOUS John Jacobsen, app developer extraordinaire and my hubby! It does three things amazingly well and it is super easy to use.

The three different functions including;

1. Slider to pick RGB colors and gives the hexadecimal code for that color.
2. ALL the web safe colors in a long row so you can pick the best one AND
3. The best part, the HTML codes for making special characters! I use this often when crafting emails or Craigslist posts! It lets you make funny characters like ★’s, ☂’s and ☞’s!

RGBColorPal Screenshots

Cost: FREE

⇒download the RGBColorPal from iTunes

Doodlecast Pro

Okay, this is my GO TO app for making movies where I draw stuff. I KNOW that is not the technical term for it, but like I said, I am a great marketer but not a techy gal! Here is an example of these movies…

All I need to make these is my iPad, a stylus (it works with your finger but I have to have a pen-like tool to make it legible). It even picks up my voice without a microphone. If you wanted more professional outcomes you could absolutely record it without your voice and the do the voiceover on your computer using a big program like Camtasia. I am more of a “get lots of stuff out there” kind of marketer than a make one “perfect” video.

Cost: $2.99

⇒download Doodlecast Pro from iTunes

SoundCloud

This one is great for recording your voice or interviews and having an easy share option with Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter and Tumbler. My best tip is to set your phone down on a hard surface for recording. The first one I did was in my hand and BOY did it cause havoc with the sound. Additionally there is a download feature that would be great if you were doing podcasts with Soundcloud (great info in the link). Here is an example of a quicky recording I did to demo the Soundcloud.

Soundcloud screenshots

Cost: FREE

⇒download Soundcloud from iTunes

Additional Apps for Web Design and Marketing

I have some go-to apps that I use a lot for helping with my (or my client’s marketing). Here are just a few others to consider.

  • Quicklytics – great for checking my Google Analytics, cost $4.99 so worth it!
  • Dragon Dictation – another great sound recording app that transcribes what you say, unfortunately it has a hard time understanding me! Cost Free.
  • Grafio – good for diagraming, flowcharts, etc. Cost free or $8.99.
  • TruHDR – my favorite for taking snazzy pictures. Cost $1.99.

Best iPhone and iPad Apps for Web Design and MarketingSo, this is working list of the best iPhone and iPad apps for web design and marketing. Please let me know if you have any others you would like added by leaving a comment below (warning, I moderate my comments so spamming me with your links won’t work!)

Small Business and Internet Marketing Tricks That Don’t Work Anymore

This post is for a friend who is just getting into internet marketing. She has been searching for help and came upon a number of different “ideas”. I REALLY want her to know what is and is not working working in the marketplace today, and if I want for that for my friend-friends, I thought I should also share it with my online friends!! Additionally, I have some great resources below for people I trust in the different marketing arenas. No affiliate links, just recommendations for good solid people who are providing good solid information!

Small Business and Internet Marketing Tricks That Don't WorkSo in my post, Keyword Marketing – Does Bad SEO Hurt I talked about old fashioned SEO tricks that used to work but no longer do. Today we are going to talk about Small Business and Internet Marketing Tricks that have gotten old and stale and which you might want to take out of your repertoire.

The reason most of these tips and tricks are out there are they worked for someone, somewhere, sometime. The problem with chasing the “get rich quick” dragon is that the people selling you stuff are not selling you current ideas, they only share them after they are done working.

Think about it, if they could make TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS a day, why would they be selling you a thirty dollar a month membership? Now, I am not putting them down for the original use of a technique, what I am sad about is that they have to know that the time for using that technique has moved on, yet they are now going to make some more money but trotting it out to the masses as a NEW get rich quick, or game the search engines idea.

Onto the small business and internet marketing tricks that don’t work anymore…

Recurring income – in 2008 I found out about recurring income and the allure of signing someone up for something once and then charging them forever-ish. In this model you do one thing, like have a software product and then instead of selling it to someone outright, you simply charge them less but bill them each month. You could also do a subscription like we did, write a marketing letter and web content that they could share…

the basis for any of these is that after you make the first one, all the other ones are free because they are already made and are PURE profit! The problem with this is getting a critical mass. We never got over 38 people at one time to sign up at one time (and we put a lot of effort into it). Additionally, about 10 percent of credit card charges fail each month and you have admin tasks to content with. Now, this doesn’t mean I don’t think you should do something like this, just that the pendulum has swung back around and many people now want to pay once up front (even if it is a little bit more).

Membership websites – a couple of years ago, building a membership site and getting reoccurring income was all the rage. People were looking for a place to be able to congregate and get updated information. Now-a-days people are tending to congregate on social media sites instead and are not so much interested in joining membership websites. Additionally, if you are going to have a membership site, you need to know that you will have to put A LOT of effort into growing it and maintaining the software. What I suggested to my friend instead was to do a private Facebook group, some private videos on YouTube and an email newsletter that she could charge for WITHOUT having to build a giant membership site.

Anything “just like” – So if you are a small business owner or just getting started in internet marketing and someone is convincing you that it is “just like Facebook but with”…or “it will be like Pinterest but”…run don’t walk away from them. If someone is interested in Pinterest, they are going to go there because they have a critical mass of people already. Your product that is just like something else will have to compete on an unlevel playing field (don’t forget, my readers are usually doing some other business than selling software or websites so they already HAVE a product or service and are using marketing to sell it!)

Overpriced anything – I have a really nice man I know who wanted me to promote an ebook for him. Unfortunately, it was obviously a beginner effort (although the content was great), but this still would not have caused me to decline to promote it, what made it impossible to share was that it was a hundred dollars. WOW. That is a LOT of money for an ebook, no matter how great the content is. Ebooks are on the internet and there is no cost (functionally) to distribute them. While I could see paying $30 or so for something AMAZING by an author and respected expert I knew, a hundred dollars is a lot for something from an unknown author.

This is a trap that a lot of new marketers fall into. Just today I signed up for a webinar that cost about fifty bucks. It is on time management and will be great I am sure BECAUSE it is from Chris Brogan, best selling author of numerous books, internet expert and generally amazing guy with a huge email list who produces great stuff. The last one of his I attended had about 300 people on it…300 times $50 equals…drum roll please…$15,000. Now that is good scratch and anyone would be happy to make 15 GRAND for one hour of work!

The problem is, new marketers see these types of numbers and think, well $50 is how much I should charge for a webinar…ummm…only if you ARE Chris Brogan!!! If you are an unknown, you might want to set the bar lower like at $5 or free. You have to EARN the right to get paid big money for your information!

False Scarcity or Upsells – For the last few years, a great trick was to create what is called false scarcity. This was when marketers would have a launch and then “close it down” in a certain number of days to get people to buy.

While this IS a good tactic, it doesn’t work when EVERYONE is doing it. I KNOW that they will open it up again sometime. I KNOW they aren’t just selling 100 copies of a $7 software, I KNOW that if I don’t buy on the first pitch, they will probably offer it to me for less later, or throw in some bonuses to buy or give it to me for free. I also know they will try to sell me something else that will make the first thing work better (these are called upsells).

As an internet marketer, you will need to make some decisions about what and who to promote. I won’t promote false scarcity offers as they mess up my SEO, if I had 100 offers that are all dead on my website, my rankings would drop like a stone. Instead, we look for offers that are ongoing (or evergreen) to promote.

So who ARE good roll models for new marketers? Here are some of the people that I follow and why…:)

  • Chris Brogan – Really great inspiration. He is down to earth and is very responsive to his tribes. I like his stuff on time management and working with people. Plus he emails back!!!
  • Gary Vaynerchuk – Tell it like it is, no BS advice on how to succeed…:)
  • Pat Flynn – LOVE his stuff. Great details about how to do affiliate marketing on his podcast and website.
  • Internet Business Mastery – More great info on how to get started with internet marketing.
  • Perry Marshall – Adwords genius BUT much of his stuff is about writing great content and sales copy.
  • Howie Jacobsen – another adwords guy but SOOOO good at getting to the heart of who you are talking to and why they would buy
  • Marketing and Media Monsters – the site I do with Rebekah Welch where we talk about more targeted affilate and internet marketing information

hmmmm…sad that there are not more chicks here….but I think the more cutthroat world of hard core internet marketing is dominated by men. That is why I am excited that more women are asking me about it!!!

Internet Marketing – Should You Write Major And Minor Blog Posts?

Internet Marketing - Should You Write Major and Minor Blog PostsIf you are doing internet marketing you are probably at least considering doing some blogging. Now, this can seem time intensive and it is, but you can save time if write both major and minor blog posts.

What are major blog posts?

Okay, a confession here…I made up major and minor blog posts, it is just how I think of my writing. Major blog posts (to me) are ones that I have to research or do some extra work for. Some of the things that make a major blog post are:

I would say that a major post can take between an hour and a couple of hours to write. They require more than my personal knowledge to write and are probably interesting to me and a smaller segment of the small business population than most of my posts! They are also generally longer than most with some bumping up on 2,000 words.

What are minor blog posts?

Minor blog posts are the ones that I can write off the top of my head. I have 15 plus years of experience in marketing and spend HOURS a week researching and learning about different marketing techniques that could work for our small business peeps. That means that I have A LOT of information that other people don’t know. This is key.

You probably have a lot of information in your industry that other people don’t know. Sometimes it can seem like what you are talking about is too basic but that is because you KNOW it. Other people probably do not know it and could use your expertise.

These posts usually take less than a half an hour to write because I write them from experience and they are generally around 500 words max.

Which are better?

So I like doing major posts because I generally learn something during the process and they tend to be interesting to me and very high level advanced marketing. Sigh…well come to find out, they are not the magic that gets people to my website. My top posts last year in order were:

So 4 of my top 5 blog posts were written off the top of my head. They total 13,872 hits to my website last year and just sit there like little soldiers, bringing people by to see my site daily.

Internet Marketing – Your Home Page Doesn’t Matter

Internet marketing is NOT about pretty and shiney anymore and the sooner you understand your home page doesn’t matter, the more money you will make and the more leads you will get!

Internet Marketing - Your Home Page Doesn't MatterAlright, this is blasphemy and I know that there will be outrage about it, but your home page doesn’t matter in web design.

I say this after looking at analytics from many different sites, and what I noticed right away was that there is a very small portion of people who actually come to your home page. Okay, I KNOW that some of you are optimizing your home page, you are driving paid traffic to it, etc. but in general, the majority of your traffic (if you are a small business owner) will come from blog posts on your site.

Why would that be? You want people to come to your home page so they can see the labor of love that you have done, with flash and an intro page and moving images. Oh the time you took to make sure it was perfect and looking EXACTLY as you wish.

Well, no one is interested in you or your company.

I am sorry to be the one to break this to you, but in todays always on, 24 hour news cycle, get kids to the soccer game, fight to keep your job, information inundated world, NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOU or your little website either.

They care about what YOU can do for THEM. The end. They don’t care if you have a great home page, if you have the right stock photography, if you have a splash page that loads, loads, loads (well they do care and probably leave before it ever gets loaded). They do not have time to try and figure out a complicated website. They want to be able to find the most important navigation links, see that your site looks professionally done and then get to whatever they need.

Prove it!

Okay, here is a lovely little video where I look at the back ends of some our (and my) blogs. You will see overwhelmingly that people are looking at pages that help them, tell them something or that they want to buy, NOT at any home page.

So, please stop trying to make the front of your blog or website look pretty (if you aren’t blogging, that is a shame and a post for another day). Make the most of your internet marketing efforts by producing great content and leave the looks for the other guys!

PS – want a bit of fun….check out Webpagesthatsuck.com…most of the problems with having a “beautiful” site are that they are counter to good design, non-functioning and basically invisible to search engines.

WordPress Internet Marketing – Categories and Tags

So when you are doing wordpress internet marketing (like we do for some of our clients), things change depending on what The Google is doing. Stupid things. Throughout this post I am going to be adding some ideas for you and then making suggestions – PLEASE read the suggestions so you don’t FUBAR your blog and then yell at me!

Wordpress Internet Marketing - Categories and TabsWhen I started doing marketing on WordPress years ago, the prevailing thought was to have your posts in LOTS of different categories. And oh, the tags, you should have small biz marketing, and small business marketing, and marketing your small business because the Goole had not figured out yet how to follow the rabbit hole down and know that all of those references lead directly back to one blog post (or even a number of them).

So today I was talking with a client who has done a FABULOUS job writing content for her corporate wellness blog and we were taking a peek at her blog posts, categories, tags and Google analytics. Wonderfully enough, she had started with us a couple of years ago AFTER the insanity had stopped and we had her content organized into just a few, highly relevant categories.

That having been said, they were not the best categories for where her business was two years later and we are going to move some stuff around (not two categories Gluten Free and Dairy Free, but now one Gluten Free | Dairy Free).

note – DO NOT change the slug (the url words) since it may already be indexed in google, if you have the ability, seo the title and description but leave the slug alone so that the Google doesn’t think it is a broken link on your website.

note – The straight up and down line is a called a “pipe” and is a neutral in programming language. We use it frequently so that we do not cause interent problems with using an ampersand or worse a forward slash which IS a programming keystroke.

note – Having 10 strong categories is MUCH better than having hundreds of disparate categories and each post should only be applicable to one category or maybe two or it is too broad!

Interenet Marketing WordPress TagsWordPress Tags

This is a picture of my tag cloud so you can take a peek. First off, I used to use them to make sure I was talking about the right things in my posts. They get bigger when there are lots of posts (I used to have a HUGE mindset tag which is nice, but my blog is about small business marketing, doh!)

Additionally, they allow for a subset of organization that could be below categories. For example, we have industry based marketing categories on our Marketing and Media Monsters site, but then we have tags that drill down to the type of marketing like video marketing or article marketing.

Tag clouds

So, just a year or so ago I came upon a site whose admin had put in HUNDREDS of tags using a plugin. Most did not have a post associated with them, but the thinking was that all these disparate words would help with the SEO (search engine optimization).

Whenever I have a question about whether something is right to do or not, I check with Matt Cutts, Google’s frontman who tells us things about how we are doing SEO-wise. A search for Tag Clouds and Matt Cutts turns up his take on these from 2010. Now I can’t say that I have ever seen the Google spontaneously change their mind and say that something they considered detrimental was miraculously made a good thing, so I listened to Matt and took my tag clouds off!

Why is there so much bad information about SEO data out there?

Okay, I am on a tear because one of our clients who hired a bad SEO company emails us almost every day asking if one or the other tactics of theirs is hurting or just not helping. I did a bunch of research with experts in this and watched a funny (funny sad not funny ha ha) webinar where the expert went right down the line enumerating the bad SEO tricks that people were using that hurt their website’s ranking ability. read all about it in my post Keyword Marketing – Does Bad SEO Hurt.

That having been said, I get asked often why someone would do that. They got bad SEO info. They are not deliberately trying to hurt my client (I don’t think), just they took a class for sale on the internet with ideas that were 3-5 years old and already rejected by the Google.

Doing SEO work is not easy and requires that you keep your own ear to the ground and research, research, research what is working and what doesn’t. Additionally, NEVER do anything that some guru is selling a quick trick to fool Google. Generally I find these all to be old “tricks” that might of worked years ago, but don’t work today.

Seriously people, there is NO WAY TO FOOL GOOGLE! They have the smartest guys in the room working day and night to keep ahead of the spammers who are working day and night to figure out new “tricks” to use until they are broken and then sell to the dupes that don’t know any better!

If you are a small business owner who is growing an internet empire to last, do not use tricks. Just hire a company that has strong white hat tactics and who will take the time to help your business grow online on strong foundations!

Display Ads – What Are Good Conversion Factors?

Whenever I work on display ads (marketing banners for the internet) I spend some quality time perusing the internet to find out what makes me click. Because the age and other customer demographics of my website are like me, I can guess that having ads that make me notice them, will make my viewers notice them to.

If your customers are not in your customer demographic, I would do a mini panel or quiz to ask your current customers which ads THEY would be most apt to click on.

So what is display ad conversion? In simple terms, it is when you have one or ads sitting there, and your ad gets clicked instead of the others. It also has to be compelling enough to make someone notice it outside of the content that they are already looking at.

Where Are Your Display Ads Positioned

Display ad locations

On the site (http://www.topmommyblogs.com/) the owners have ads at the top that direct to different areas of their website. The ads at the side (labeled sponsors) are outside advertisements. Now, they could be people who paid the site directly or they could be part of the google adwords network.

Display Ads - What Are Good Conversion FactorsSince I am doing ads for my own sites, I am going to be putting them in three main areas, in the sidebar, in the posts and at the end of the posts. Because I have my products and affiliate products to sell I am using my own websites and I can control which ads are sitting next to mine and where I want to direct people.

If you are buying ad space from someone else, you will need to make sure your ads are super special and generally AMAZING because they will be sitting next to other ads competing for space!

Some things I like about display ads

So I am not an expert in display ad marketing, I just have looked at hundreds of them and found some that I like and discovered some key factors for what would make me click them. Again, these ideas are just to get you started thinking, make sure to contact a company that is expert at this when you are ready to do your own ads!

Wix Display adI think this is my favorite ad of all time! I like the photography (Wix is a photography website – score!), I like how the cow is sticking out over the bottom part of the ad and overall it is a happy ad! That being said, there is no call to action, no click here or really anything else to do.

 

Retail Business Development Display AdThis is one we did for our client, they have a great internal graphics department and started the ball rolling. That said, we added a call to action and made the person stand out from the background which is eye catching. Speaking of the person, people like looking at faces (people faces, animal faces, etc.) so you can rarely go wrong by adding an attractive person or fun animal in your ad.

Zulily Display Ads Okay, whoever does the creative for Zulily is rocking my world! I do not buy children’s clothing and I am attracted to their ads. Love the contrast between the black and white with the pop of color and also the fact that they have a shop now call to action!

 

Coupon Money Saver Display AdsThese ads from Coupon money saver have a really neat premise…they have the coupon like border that we all know from offline marketing. They were interesting enough to jump out on a page of other display ads I was searching for!

 

 

Alright, enough about thinking about display ads, I have to leave you my fine friends and go make some for my business. Hopefully this has given you some inspiration for how you want to take your ad design and make sure there are some conversion factors included!

Display Ad Resources

Okay, can’t leave you hanging here, so here are some of my top display ad resources to keep you going!

Gary Vaynerchuk The Thank You Economy – Is It Scalable?

Okay, gotta get this out on the table first so there are no unpleasant police surprises…:) I am semi-stalking Gary Vaynerchuk…not in the creepy way, but in the way that my dog (who is a super scaredy-cat) thinks that it is okay to stay at home alone if one of Gary’s keynotes is playing in the background because I listen to them so much! Oh and I have seen him a couple of times in person, have both of his books…well…maybe need a 12 step…BUT…

Gary Vaynerchuk - is it scalable?He sent me a present!!! Okay, I know he sent LOTS of people a present BUT I still felt great about it and think he is an even cooler guy than before!

For those of you who do not know, Gary’s book, The Thank You Economy is about how having a connection with people from the online world is super important and vital to your small business marketing going forward. BUT, the one thing I hear about all the time is people asking him, “is it scalable” to have thousands or tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of “friends” online? How do you make them ALL feel like they know you?

Well, you send them an email asking them to help get your book higher on the Amazon rankings, PLUS a promise to send something super out later. No promises when later, just later. No promises what later, just later. No expectations, just a good communication.

Then, many months later, another email verifying an address. Asked and answered. Then….drumroll please…a box of really cool stuff comes in the mail!!!!

Now I am surely not on the scale of Gary, but I have some big networks, speak a lot in public and KNOW that a lot of people look down on the fact that I cannot honestly be “friends” with all of them….well no. Seriously, they are all not someone who I would see or talk to on a day to day basis, but they are people who at least know me a little and probably feel like they could reach out for help if they needed it!

For example:

  • Yesterday a fellow who had attended one of my classes called me and asked if I do website hosting, I DO NOT! But gave him a really great referral for a lady who could help. SCORE – helped the man AND gave a referral to a friend-friend.
  • Also yesterday, got an email from an old friend-ish. He was writing an ad and had some of his HTML messed up on a link. He sent me an email and I fired right back with the fixed code. Now, could/would I do that if I was super busy speaking or meeting with a client? Nope. BUT if I am there and he needs help, HELL YES I am going to help!
  • Lastly, I am often able to use my social capital to help charities who need a new roof, or a Facebook page like or even just a bump in traffic, all cool things I sometimes do for “friends”. I don’t do it every time someone asks, but if it is something I support I am glad to help!

So is The Thank You Economy scalable – pretty much! Do some people feel left out, ignored or otherwise disgruntled, I am sure they do! Are there always going to be that type of people? Yep!

Long story short (too late I know), so if you are worried you will have TOO MANY FRIENDS or TOO MANY CONNECTIONS, stop that. Get more friends, be nice to them and see what happens!!!

Thanks Gary…I think it is scalable!

Photo Sharing Sites and Apps – Small Business Internet Marketing

Photo sharing sites and apps are a big deal in small business internet marketing! These are the wave of the future so grab your board and let’s get going!

My prediction is that within 2 years and 9 months (used to say 3 years but gotta move the bar!) ALL initial contact with your company will be through a video or a photo first. Now, I am not one of those who say that tablets and phones will take over laptops and computers BECAUSE I am WORKING on a computer. Love to surf on my tablet, dabble on my phone, the portability of my laptop, but for hard-core, bang it out and get it done, I have to sit my happy ass in a chair and WORK. Not on teeny tiny screen but on a dual monitor, giant processor computer.

So what does this mean for me and using photo sharing apps on my phone? TODAY I draw the line in the sand and figure out which photo sharing app I will use! Here are the criteria:

  • Is it easy? This is my NUMBER ONE criteria. EVERYONE thinks I am a techy doll but I can’t even hook my mouse to my laptop so I need ease of use!
  • Can I get it from the phone to the other social sites I need (for this experiment I am considering primarily facebook, pinterest and google+ – just to let you cats know, NONE of them shared to either Pinterest or Google+ at this point so focused instead on facebook, twitter, flickr and email)
  • Can I take pictures on my phone and NOT have to email them to myself to access them online for other uses like blogging or posting later?
  • Who has recently been bought by whom? Instagram has recently been brought into the Facebook fold so this is where I will start BUT want to consider other options because I am not only interested in how it works with Facebook!

As with all of my experiments, this one will be highly unscientific and biased! I will be taking pictures in relatively bad lighting of a duck. SOOOO sorry to my actual social media friends who have to see this on my various walls! Let’s get started!

Instagram Photo Sharing App ReviewPhoto Sharing Sites and Apps – Instagram

I did not have to research to check this one out. Instagram was bought by Facebook and so will obviously be a good choice for them, BUT are they a good choice for my other needs?

First off, I downloaded the app to my phone. Rats, had it but forgot my login, heading to the website to see if I can reset it…yup! Easy peasy, they gave me my password AND username…score! No picture…I’m sure they want a picture picture but really, just use an avatar (clients could use a logo), not digging this so much but moving on (later was able to pull in my Facebook picture so it worked out okay after all).

Leaving the website and heading to my phone to take a picture of a duck! Push the camera button, bunches of style options come up,picked one, check mark, heads to screen to enable caption, twitter, facebook, email, flickr, tumbler, foursquare. Hooked up twitter, facebook, email and flickr for now. A note, facebook’s authorizer was in french (ack), I did NOT hook up foursquare because it hooks to my Facebook already.

DOH – forgot a caption so it said “just posted a photo” instead of what it is…trying again! Perfect.

Instagram Review – Okay, I like that I can tooggle on an off the the different services and there is an email with the picture as well as being able to pull it down from Flickr. BONUS – the instagram put the picture into my photos on my iPhone so I can upload it Pinterest from there if I wanted to! Seriously two thumbs up.

SUPER BONUS – if you are playing the Empire Avenue game, then one picture adds like a gagillion points (not sure how the points work so my numbers may be inflated).

TruHDR

Okay, this is an artsy fartsy one. It makes pictures look dimensional and I like to think that it makes me look like a brilliant photographer (I have ACTUALLY brilliant photographers all around me so I am a little touchy about this!).

So I took a picture of the duck, then went looking for the sharing bit, NOTHING! Hmmm maybe get creative? WOW!!! I could upload my artsy fartsy photo TO the Instagram and then share it on the ones that I had set up. Holy Buckets batman, have to see if I can find a good competitor to make this a fair race!

Photo Sharing Sites and Apps – Photoshop Express

Okay, take a picture of a duck…:) I am getting good at this! There are MANY more editing tools that I am used to from Photoshop like hue, saturation, cropping, etc. Have to say that I am not good at using a little tiny phone to edit pictures, if I was going to be manipulating them a lot, would probably take them down off the internet and do it on my computer.

Okay, BIG downer here!! I set it up so that I could share to facebook, email and flickr (no foursquare or twitter available like there is on Instagram although you could send it to TwitPix but damn, how many sites do I need?!?!!?) So all happy, hit the share button and I have to do them one at a time. Share to email, share to flickr, share to facebook, are you kidding me?!?!?!

For an editing software, I think this one is hand’s down, the winner. BUT for a click and go photo sharing app? Two thumbs down on this one.

Photo Sharing Sites and Apps – Wrapup

Okay, I am in. Instagram it is. Took a little over an hour to write this post and check out ALL of the different photo sharing app places and take pictures so if you budget an hour to learn it, you should get out the door super easy! The ONLY thing I can see ruining this commitment is if Facebook shuts off the other sharing features and turns Instagram into a Facebook only photo sharing site, but will keep the faith for now!

Internet Marketing – How Important Is A Website These Days?

So we do internet marketing and we get a lot of questions about websites, websites versus blogs and whether they are important anymore with the advent of social media. So let’s break down the bits in a way that my small biz peeps will be able to understand!!!

Internet marketing - having a hubHaving a hub…first off, let’s talk about what either a blog OR a website does. It makes a place (HUB) for all of your social media marketing to land and is your home base for your marketing efforts. ALL of your marketing materials, online and offline, should point back here.

Some of the places that you should have linking to your “HUB” include:

  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Email Marketing
  • Pinterest
  • YouTube
  • Your Blog (if separate)
  • Business Cards
  • Brochures
  • Photo Sharing Sites

the list goes on and on!

Why You Should Have A Blog

Okay, I have to say that as a marketing person, I am a HUGE blog proponent. The RSS capabilities of a blog make having one vital in today’s interconnected internet. There are two types of blogs, free blogs and paid blogs. Free blogs come from places like Blogger.com and WordPress.com and are a great way to dip a toe in if you are not ready to go the paid route.

Paid blogs have hosting with a company like GoDaddy and are owned by you, providing much more latitude to selling or pitching your product. We recommend having a blog because of the high SEO (search engine optimization) factors and the ability to target keywords with each post! MANY of our marketing clients have a website HUB and a separate marketing blog (which we recommend and is a post for another day!).

Now, blogs can be prettier than they were in the past, BUT we are not going for pretty with our blogs, we are going for FUNCTION! Hard core SEO and get you noticed on the search engines kind of thing. Find out more about our blogging setup and maintenance services!

Why You Should Have A Website

Medical websitesSo, am I anti websites with all this blogging talk? Nope! I do think that for specific industries a blog is not going to suffice. Blogs are for computers and a really beautiful, well designed website is for humans!

This website is for a pediatric office, and is designed by the internet marketing for doctors company, Officite. If you are considering taking your child to a new doctor, you DO care what the initial impression of the website is. Does it convey professionalism and reliability? Additionally, it offers functionality like appointment scheduling and an interface with the doctor’s office.

So who needs a website versus a blog? Doctors, lawyers, people who require confidential information be submitted online like mortgage pros, oh and Ecommerce peeps who want to have a big online store!

Wrap Up

So, with all of this social media talky talk, are you saying that you need Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, videos, photos, a blog AND a website? For some of my small biz owners, YES! I KNOW, having all of those properties and managing them effectively is a hassle and I would love to tell you that all you need to do is buy a yellow page ad and be done like in the old days…but that is not the way the world works anymore. Having a strong web presence is VITAL to having a success business in this day and age!

Great Display Banner Ads Examples – What Makes A Great Display Ad?

I was searching the internet looking for examples of great display ads examples and couldn’t find much using a google search. With that in mind, I thought that I would compile some of my favorites with why I like them.

The reason I was looking for ads was not necessarily for making “ads” ads, it was more to see what attracted me and would make me want to find out more design wise. The actual use for these ads was to use them as a design template for the new Facebook timelines and getting people excited to visit a timeline page or app. With that in mind, I am also going to post the Facebook Timeline Buttons for apps later this week that we developed for our social media marketing clients (keep your peepers open!)

Display ads - skinnytaste on pinterestI like this one for skinnytaste on Pinterest. Because Pinterest is is such a media darling lately and has brand appeal, having the logo prominently displayed with pictures they have pinned made an impact and I would have been happy to click through if that was my cup of tea. display ad courtesy of skinnytaste on pinterest

The difference between these two ads is very powerful for me! The left ad is all about “what is in it for them” – a free book and information about Steve Jobs. Additionally, after looking at about a thousand ads for this piece, I like the call to action button so that I know EXACTLY what to do! display ad courtesy of audible

Display ads - Illustration graphicsThis one is VERY interesting to me personally. I included a screenshot of the website where I found it and it literally jumped off the page at me. I have a feeling that this is because I am a graphics artist and the design elements were very powerful. Just one more thing to keep in mind…who is your audience? display ad courtesy of full sail university

Here are some additional display ads that I thought were either great calls to action or were visually appealing!

banner ads examplesDisplay ads examplesBanner ad examples

want more display ad examples? check out our display ad board on Pinterest

Small Business Marketing – Layering Your Marketing Message

Small business marketing is all about getting prospective customers to notice you. I KNOW, you think that small business marketing is about getting them to BUY from you, but first they have to know you exist!

Small Business Marketing - LayeringThe easiest way to get people to notice you is to show up everywhere they go, from in person, to their mailbox, online at social media and in their email inbox. This process of being everywhere is officially called layering and should be part of a planned structured marketing campaign.

LL Bean is stalking me. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the LL Bean gang! They have American made clothes (I am from the rust belt near Pittsburgh so this has always mattered to me). Their clothing is unbelievably high quality and they have a no questions asked return policy. Seriously, you can wear your shoes, clothes or coats for YEARS and if something goes wrong, they will make it right, no questions asked.

Years ago I got on their mailing list and they have continued to send me catalogs, even though I have not ordered in quite some time. Sort of nice, but did not compel me to buy.

Social Media Marketing

Social Media Marketing LL BeanSo today I opened my Facebook and they had posted a message about extreme weather clips on the LL Bean Facebook page. Not a picture of their product with a link (although they have them too!), a video from the weather channel about terrible cold weather.

Small Business Marketing Tip – So NOW I am thinking about cold weather in conjuction with LL Bean! They have snuggly warm coats and slippers in case it snows like that here.

 

Email Marketing

Email marketing LL BeanAfter cruising the Social Media and noticing the LL Bean clip (I didn’t watch the video but got the gist and the association stuck). I popped open my inbox to delete messages (I mean read my email…hehehe). What showed up there? An email from LL Bean!

Now I am in marketing so I tend to notice when things happen like this, but I am also human and the urge to buy something from LL Bean is getting greater and greater!

 

Direct Mail Marketing

Direct mail marketing LL BeanSo, as most of you know I am an internetty kind of gal. I get leads from the internet, teach internet marketing classes and have every whiz-bangy kind of appliance needed to access the internet at my disposal.

That having been said, I rarely BUY things on the internet. I go to stores and look at catalogs (doh, I just happen to have an LL Bean catalog handy!). Sending me a catalog will definitely make this layering marketing work better for the Bean!

 

How To Do Layering For Small Business Marketing

So you are a small business owner or entrepreneur and you are thinking to your self (in a really snarky tone, I can hear you) that you do not have the millions of dollar advertising budget that LL Bean has! That figuring out all that technology is going to take time and money you don’t have.

Here are some easy ways for small business owners to capitalize on what we have seen here today!

  • Direct mail marketing – There are two ways to do direct mail marketing on a shoestring. Print dinky postcards on colored paper, 4 to a sheet or buy them from Vistaprint for pennies on the dollar. I checked yesterday and the cost for a postcard stamp is 29 cents so the cost to do a 100 piece mailing should be less than 50 bucks total. I am getting ready to send a 100 piece dinky postcard mailing this week and will let you know what the response rate is!
  • Email marketing – if you are not using an online database like Constant Contact or Office Auto Pilot (the one I use) yet, start today. Figure it out and start building a list! Send them informative emails. I KNOW, you are all clamoring about what to send, send something that is related to your business!
  • Pick up the phone – Call them to see if they got what you sent! Your mailing made this a much warmer call.
  • Social Media Marketing – Post something about this on your social media like Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus or LinkedIn. Be careful not to be too salesy, just something good and interesting for them to enjoy that is related to your business.

With my coaching clients, I recommend that we have “theme months” where we pick a theme and market to that using multiple sales channels. I can’t stress enough that you should pick a theme for this month RIGHT NOW, set up some of these layered sales outlets and get started bringing in more prospects and sales!

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If you would like to find out more about my Small Business Marketing coaching programs today, give me a call 727-415-9165.

Small Business Marketing Magic – There is no get rich quick!

Small business marketing magic is a lie! There is no get rich quick scheme that can grow you a sustainable, ongoing marketing plan. Having a good marketing plan that feeds into your Small Business Lead Generating Sales Funnel, is hard work and not something that you should expect overnight.

Small Business Marketing MagicFacebook Business Page Lies

Yesterday I was working away diligently and got a call. It looked like one of my client’s numbers so I answered. A lady wanted to know if we sold Facebook fans. I asked her if she wanted us to help her grow her page with real people and she said no, that she wanted to know about getting 10,000 likes right away. Sigh. We have clients who have paid some money (eighty-nine bucks) for 1,000 likes. They got about 400 total new likes and honestly, they were not real Facebook people. They were profiles that were auto-set up with a photo and very limited info. They had no friends, they had no updates, basically they were just one like from someone who would never share your page, comment or care about what you do.

I cannot see any way that having 10 or 10,000 fake fans will help anyone grow and told her so. She then brought up the fact that there were LOTS of companies selling this so it must be real! I told her that I would love to lose 15 pounds a week and that there are lots of companies selling that also. Doesn’t make it so!

Social Media Marketing Will Result In Immediate Sales

Small Biz owners are always surprised when we tell them that social media will not be likely to get them SALES in the first month. The first month of getting your social media and internet empire set up is a building process. It involves building a Facebook business page, branding your Twitter and YouTube channels, making videos or writing blog posts. All of these things are vital to showing the world that your company has a strong online presence.

So, does that mean sales will start flooding in once you have your empire set up? Nope. Sorry to be the bearer of more bad news BUT, social media is a great channel for getting people interested, doing networking and talking about your business in a way that will spark an interest in what you do. No matter what the hype is, Facebook will not sell a million of your products if they do not sell at that rate in the open market. What it WILL do is act as a great source of leads, leads that have to be nurtured and grown, just like you would in the real world.

Many times I hear that people don’t want to spend all that time talking to people online. I think they want people to call and say, “give me 10 of those widgets”. The best way to think about social media is to equate it to real life networking. If you have ever gone to a networking event and had someone chew your ear off about how great their product is, that will give you an idea of how some people come across online. The SOCIAL in social media means that you will have to talk with them (either through messaging or emails) before they are going to want to call and place an order.

You Can “Go Viral” And Your Business Will Explode

I wrote a post the other day about Trying To Go Viral With Your YouTube videos. Some of the data that I found was astounding like only 80,000 hits on a video that had Eminem, a commercial on the superbowl and a cost of 9 million dollars. That is a REALLY high cost per hit.

Going viral online is like getting on the Oprah Show. We ALL dream about producing something that is so brilliant that everyone wants to share it and we can get rich and retire to Aruba. The fact is, Oprah rarely features companies on her show and going viral mostly involves people, pets or kids doing something funny and non-commercial.

It is much better to try and capture a target like “going viral to people who want to buy or sell a house in the Stratford Lakes subdivision”. Not going to be a lot of people, but are going to be people people who are interested in working with you! For a pizza shop, going viral nationally will not do all that much to increase business, but if you can get videos of the neighborhood kids enjoying your pies, they may share them with their friends who can comfortably reach your business by car or on foot.

So, there are three small business marketing magic myths busted! Really, all it takes is hard work and time to promote your business. Not sexy but the truth!

PS – Next post is going to bust the loch ness monster, yetis and the fat guy in the big red suit wide open!

Small Business Marketing – How Do People See Your Company

Small business marketing, sigh. In the past it was easy, take out a yellow page ad and you were done. Well times they have changed and small business marketing is now a million moving parts that all have to be working together to make a whole campaign.

small business marketing mazeWe talk to our clients every day and they are grouchy that they have make videos and answer online questions and basically be available to their potential customers who have not even said they are willing to buy yet, they are just exploring their options.

In this day of always on internet (remember when you had to log in and out and only got 1 hour a day), consumers are researching your company or product extensively before they are willing to give you their hard earned money. They are checking to see if you have good reviews on Yelp, seeing what your Facebook page looks like and if you talk there. Some like Twitter and tweet you first to see if you are a real person. I know what you are thinking, GIVE ME A BREAK, who has time for all that sillyness, I just want to run my business and make some money.

Here are two of the small business marketing quotes that we have heard since YESTERDAY

  • “She found us through an ad and went to the site and found Facebook there…. Don’t know why in the world she didn’t just call in the first place.”
  • we have a listing that would like to list with us but they do not find us on internet searches when entering XXX luxury or XXX waterfront etc.

These types of things come through every day. A customer of ours who doesn’t understand that the lady is not going to buy ANYTHING before vetting it on the Facebook. A realtor who doesn’t like the internet or blogs and who never saw the benefit of ranking well for keywords, until every other client asked why they didn’t show up in Google.

Unfortunately, if you are going to be in business in this day and age, you HAVE to be fluent in small business marketing online. Every day you are not out there, you are falling behind and may never catch up.

Small Business Marketing Solutions

So all the doom and gloom, what is a business person to do? Here are my top tips for getting started.

  • If you are OK at using the internet yourself, start taking classes to find out what you should be doing and then start small and do something everyday. I have a membership site that can help with your DIY Small Business Marketing efforts.
  • If you truly have a very small marketing budget and no computer skills what-so-ever, find a kid. They grew up on this and are technically savvy about how to use the systems. The problem with hiring a child is that they have no marketing knowledge and could hurt more than help your efforts.
  • If you have any kind of marketing budget at all, it is worth hiring a professional marketing company like us to do your marketing for you! I KNOW most yellow page ads cost about $800 a month, for that you could have a really good running start to a small business marketing online empire!

I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but this is just how it is and only going to get worse going forward. We didn’t mention QR codes, mobile or any of the other things on the horizon that you are going to have to master along with all the “normal” things we have to do small business marketing wise today. My best suggestion to the small business owner who wants to stay in business is to start today!

Small Business Internet Marketing – RSS Feeds

I am a small business internet marketing kind of gal. Notice the small business part? While I try to keep my posts non-techy so that my peeps can implement most of the concepts themselves, this RSS Feeds post is going to be a little technical BUT worth reading if you want free traffic to your blog, facebook or videos sites!

Small Business Internet Marketing RSS FeedsWhat Do Search Engines Do

Before we get too technical, lets talk about search engines and what their job is. Search engines are constantly looking for new information to show humans who have used keywords to do searches. So, if you do a search for “big screen tvs”, search engines will provide you with a variety of sites, some with reviews, some with sales and some with research data. They will do their best to provide a variety of content so that the human who is searching finds what they are looking for, be it a news story, blog post, picture, press release or any other manner of information.

Additionally, search engines have algorithms that allow them to know that when you type “superbowl” you really mean “super bowl”, that big football game played at the end of the season. They can also know that humans search for “cold remedies” when they really want to know about “sore throats”. Our language is diverse and keeps the google on its toes.

Small Business Internet Marketing – RSS Feeds

RSS Feeds and Small Business MarketingSo what are RSS Feeds and what do they have to do with search engines and content? RSS Feeds are technically “Really Simple Syndication” feeds that PUSH content you have developed to other places such as blogs, twitter and other aggregator websites who need to have LOTS of content. There are couple of ways to find these feeds, (1) if you are using the Firefox web browser they appear in the address bar as blue icon or (2) you can look around the page and see if you can find an orange icon that indicates an RSS feed is available.

As a small business marketer you can use these feeds for a number of different things like auto-publishing to your Twitter account or posting to your Facebook page, but today we are talking about the magic of other people using YOUR feeds to produce content for THEIR site.

Small Biz Marketing Rss FeedsThe picture above shows a screen capture of someone who took my blog post about Superbowl Demographics and posted it on his website. This site did a REALLY nice job of it, pulling quotes, recognizing me as the author and adding backlinks to my blog. See HIS post here. It is safe to assume that he has taken my RSS feed and is using it to publish content on his blog. The picture down here is another site that publishes my content, RealtorYou.com. They pull my posts and put them onto their pages, adding backlinks to my recent posts although they are not as good at crediting me as the author of the content.

So why would these people take my posts and publish them on their sites? I am trying to rank for certain keywords like realtor marketing, small business marketing and entrepreneur marketing. The RealtorYou.com site seems to be trying to rank for “internet marketing for Real Estate Agents”. Search engines DO put a lot weight on having the exact keywords people search for BUT they also add up different bits to make a whole. In this case it seems that RealtorYou.com is hoping that my Realtor Marketing articles, plus the work that they do will get them to the top of the search engines for the search term “internet marketing for Real Estate Agents”.

Additionally, they are running google adwords down the right side of the page so they get a little bit of money anytime someone clicks on one of those links. For all we know the whole site is nothing but aggregated feeds that they never have to do any work to update and which may pull them in a ton of money.

What are pingbacks?

When you have a blog, often you will get a message from your blog that you have a pingback. A pingback means that someone has published your content on their site with a link back to your blog. It is VERY nice and you should ALWAYS approve it unless the site publishing it is a “bad neighborhood” like porn, pharmaceuticals or gambling sites.

So what does that mean for small business internet marketing?

Is this post going to explain EVERYTHING about RSS feeds and how they help your small business internet marketing efforts, no. Is it going to tell you about everything that you need to do to get your feeds recognized so that complete strangers publish your content on their sites, no. As small business marketers, what I hope it does is open your eyes to why having a blog, Facebook or YouTube channel might be so important. As you publish content on these media which have an RSS feed, you never know who is going to pick it up and use it for SEO or to “plump” up THEIR content!

If you would like to find out how we help our clients use RSS feeds and other fun marketing items to grow their business, check out our Small Business Marketing Services!

Thanks to Richard Turcott for featuring my post in his RSS blog!

Blogging – When to post and when to just do it

Blogging is a GREAT lead generating tool and the best bloggers know that to increase traffic, all they have to do is post an article. That having been said, if you can not have a perfect blog posting schedule, do not miss an opportunity to get something out there!

Blogging When To PostI write blog posts about 2 times a week during normal times. This month I am writing 31 posts in 31 days so I have some good data to tell you about in regard to what a normal month looks like compared to a month where ridiculous amounts of blogging are happening every day!

The first Saturday of this month I posted and got 67 visits, last month when I did not post I got 24 visits. Weekends are usually terrible traffic days for me BUT by posting I more than doubled my traffic (Sunday was 63 and 40).

For the first full week of last month I had 377 visits and this month, posting every day, that number jumped to 743, a significant rise in traffic. Now, this is all organic traffic and I will have to stop my testing because I have started some paid campaigns which will skew the results, BUT just that little bit allows me to extrapolate that I can double my web hits just by posting every day.

So when is the best time to post to your blog?

In his article, The Best Time To Post, Socialnomics guru, Erik Qualman braves a train to tell us that these are some good blogging guidelines:

* Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are your best days
* Saturday is the worst day
* Holidays are slow traffic days (except commerce sites)
* 10 am – 11:30 am and 1 – 3:30 pm are best times to post
* Stagger posts based on time zones

I agree whole heartedly that these are the best times. I get the majority of my traffic on Tuesday through Thursday and find that both B2B and B2C blogs report this shift. It seems to me that business people are accessing information during working hours on weekdays and that employed people are accessing information during working hours on weekdays also!

I have to say that in a perfect world I DO like to get my post out by 9am Eastern Time so that I have time to bookmark it and have the majority of people in the United States available to see it all day. This practice seems to result in the most hits per post, not even taking into account the lifetime value on post that is sitting out there generating search engine traffic for me on an ongoing basis.

Okay, perfect world aside now! I am writing this post at 12:30 Eastern time and will still publish it today. I published one of my 31 posts at 4:30 in the afternoon and still got traffic, maybe not as much but there was still a response to my article. If you set a goal like posting every day or twice a week or every Tuesday, stuff will happen. Your client will call or your breakfast will catch on fire or some other calamity will happen. What I do not want you to do is give yourself such a tight time frame that if you miss it, you don’t post at all.

I have seen this happen with newsletters. Supposedly the best time to send a newsletter is Thursday morning. Clients will miss Thursday morning and then feel like they have to wait until the next Thursday morning to send it and then something happens, I am sure you see where I am going here.

Marketing done imperfectly still benefits your company! Getting a post out there is more important than waiting to have all the planets align just right and never posting anything.

How To Get More Blog Traffic On The Weekend

Getting more blog traffic on the weekend can be a real challenge. On the weekends many sites’ traffic drops like a stone, I know that mine does!

How to get more traffic to weekend blog postsIf you are targeting business traffic, there is a good chance your site traffic will decrease on the weekends when people are less likely to be working and more likely to be playing. Typically I do not do blog posts on the weekend BUT doing one yesterday doubled my (admittedly low) weekend hits for a Saturday. Since I am posting every day this month, I did not do an authority or evergreen post that would be wasted on a low traffic day and am writing more informational and less keywordy posts. No matter what we do, most B2B (business to business) will occur Monday through Thursday, so targeting that time is vital.

If you would like to find out more about writing evergreen blog posts, check out this link!

That having been said, some sites traffic INCREASES on the weekends and this blog post is for you! If you are selling something that is more personal, fun or family oriented, people can be surfing around looking for entertainment or shopping for themselves or their family. Here are some great posts that I found for this B2C (business to consumer) crowd!

  • 7 Easy Ways to Get More Weekend Traffic for Your Website – The big A HA that I took out of this one was to use paid or PPC traffic on the weekends. Much as I don’t post on Saturday and Sunday, I have never run a campaign on the weekend and may set up one just for that purpose. I DO think that it will have to be more tailored to new business owners and part-timers though.
  • How to Increase Your Weekend Traffic by Ehow – This one reminded me of how most Ebay contests end on Sunday evenings. You could run a contest that would focus on that deadline, BUT make sure YOUR weekend is open for work so that you can promote it continually on Email, Facebook and Twitter. Just setting up Hootsuite posts will not work for this, you will have to be available to “talk” with people who are excited about your contest.

Overall, I just think that after I do my death march of 31 days of posts I will go back to focusing on the days that are inherently better at generating traffic. I still feel that trying to get people to act differently just because I want them to is counter-productive. BUT I think I will do some weekend PPC just to see what happens with that!

How Can You Get More Blog Hits

Today’s post is about how to get more blog bits. I am on a roll to do 31 posts in 31 days if that gives you any hints!

How Can You Get More Blog HitsSo you have a blog and are ready for the flood of traffic that is inevitably going to beat down your internet door…right? Most people with a blog do not have a plan to post regularly, do not have a plan on what to post and get discouraged because they do not get many comments. Well, I have had a blog for quite a while now and can tell you that when you start out, no one comes. Then a trickle, then more and more until it does become fun to post because you know that people are reading.

Seth Godin wrote a book called “The Dip”, in which he talks about what it takes to find success and how you need to know ALL endeavors have a big dip in the road to success. His great example is a really tough kind of chemistry pre-med doctors have to take, most students fail that class and quit there. Seth’s thinking is that if you are not going to do EVERYTHING possible to get through that class, why even start medical school. Blogs are like that too.

You start off all happy and worried about what it looks like. You get your buttons in the right place and may even post a couple of times. BUT then life and work get in the way. You are thinking you will post weekly and wind up posting monthly or even further apart. You get worried that you haven’t posted enough and throw up something just to get the monkey off your back.

Post Often

I mean post at least twice a week if not more. I KNOW, you are not good at writing, do not know what to write about and worry that no one is reading them, BUT until you get a good number of posts under your belt you will not get better.

Set a schedule and keep it. I pledged to write 31 posts in 31 days so I WILL write a post today, one tomorrow and one the day after. Unless I break all my fingers, there is no reason why I cannot get them done. Generally I post at least two to three times a week.

Write About All Different Kinds Of Things

Last month I had traffic from search engines on 806 different keywords. 708 of those had only one hit. This is called the long tail of search. Chris Anderson wrote “The Long Tail” years ago, in which he discussed the fact that most of Amazon’s sales come from books that only sell one copy per month. This translates to the fact that I could never imagine when I am writing posts that people would search for “are email newsletters good for business in 2010″ BUT since I have written about email newsletters and business a lot, google served up my site as something that might interest them.

Learn To Do Keyword Marketing

Write your post and then figure out what good keywords are for the topic you picked. I wrote a whole post about “How To Write A Blog Post That Will Rank In Google” that you can check out if you are interested in that kind of thing.

Bookmark Your Blog Posts

Make sure that you are submitting each post to Stumble Upon, Reddit, Digg, Delicious and Google Bookmarks at the least. This is a free way to get more traffic coming to your site to read your posts.

Add Your Posts To Facebook and Twitter

I get a lot of free traffic from these social media sites also. You may not believe it but I like Twitter even more than Facebook for getting the word out about what I have written! There are computers all over the internet who are searching Twitter to find great content and I make sure to give it to them.

Quite Worrying That No One Comments

I get between 2,000 and 3,000 hits a month and I only get about 10 real comments a month. Now I am sure that there are ways that I could train my gang to comment more (asking them to comment comes to mind) but I do not care if they comment! I care if I am getting more traffic to my site this month than last month AND that I am converting that traffic to sales. That is something to get worked up over, not that no one talks to you.

Make Your Blog About Something You Like

This one is huge for me! I work with all sorts of people who are looking for a hot niche. They want to know what will get them big money fast. Let me tell you, if you pick a niche you know nothing about you will struggle to write about that topic. If you pick something because it is popular, not only will it be hard to write about BUT you will have a lot of competition. Now, don’t get me wrong, I write about marketing which is a HIGHLY competitive market BUT I LOVE IT! I can generate a post without having to do research. I can write a post in about 15 minutes if I have to. Liking your topic can make all the difference in your success.

If you are a small business owner who struggles to do their blogging, we can help! Check out our small business marketing services page for more information.

Small Business Marketing and Social Media Marketing Services

Check Out Our Social Media Marketing Services

Looking to outsource your social media marketing services to an affordable and reputable Marketing company with over 15 years of online experience? We have worked with hundreds of small business owners like you to make the most out of your website, social media and SEO marketing dollars.

Some of the marketing areas that we cover include:

Perfect Client Targeting – If you don’t know EXACTLY who you are marketing to, you can’t get the results you want! The process starts with a comprehensive marketing drilldown meeting to make sure we are on the same page as you are, ensuring that our efforts match your intended outcomes.

Social Sites Setup (Branding) – the next step is to build out your internet empire, including branding and graphic design. It is vital that your social sites maintain a consistent brand image and message across the various channels.

SEO – Search engine optimization is not just for websites anymore. We research the keywords that are most important to your company and make sure to incorporate them into all we do, including profile setup and posting.

Content Curation – All content shared by you does not have to be produced by you. We have a research team that will find and schedule relevant content from approved sources that we can include in your marketing and posting mix.

Content Creation – That said, content is a cornerstone of social media. We create blog posts, graphic images and other branded content that can be used on blogs, Pinterest, Facebook and other social media outlets.

Social Media Posting – Consistency is key with social media marketing. Our “elves” post for you on either a daily or weekly basis, ensuring that when a prospect or customer checks out your social media site they are current and relevant.

Social Media Monitoring – All the social media sites encourage communication, both publicly and behind the scenes through messaging. We will monitor those communications and respond either with “stock” answers you supply or by notifying you of the messages and facilitating the return communications.

Want to find out more about our social media marketing services? Either request a quote (a real live person will get back with you!) or check out our Social Media Marketing for Small Business email course which will walk you through how social works and how small business is using it effectively today.Thank you for checking out our small business marketing services!

If you have any quick questions about our services, please give us a call today…(727) 415-9165

Check Out Our Social Media Marketing Services

Top 10 Internet Marketing Lies

The TOP 10 Internet Marketing Lies! Okay, that may have been a little overly dramatic, but believe me, todays post is about over the top marketing.

Top 10 Internet Marketing LiesHere are my Top 10 Internet Marketing Lies in no particular order and with my own take on what is really going on. All examples are taken directly from emails that I have been sent and are less than 1 month old.

I am writing this because people are spending good money every day on products and services that do not work and which cost A LOT of money. Hopefully when you are done with this post you will be able to sort out good products from hype and get some real help!

Top Internet Marketing Lies #1 – “It’s about a new $2,367 a day secret. And the best part…It generates INSTANT results!”

This one is over the top. Your total income for this offer would be $863,995 a year. AND they say you get INSTANT results. Really? Don’t you think if someone was selling a way to make almost a million dollars a year instantly they would sell out immediately?

Top Internet Marketing Lies #2 – “Tara, $146,063 in on 30 days? No problem – Have you always dreamed about making an automated income as an affiliate marketer online?”

I am assuming it should be “only” 30 days but this one is even more ridiculous. Annual income would be $1,752,176 – yep that is right, this one is almost TWO MILLION a year, but wait it gets better…it is automatic. I have to tell you, most online marketers I talk with would be happy with ten thousand a month and most make considerably less than that.

Top Internet Marketing Lies #3 – “Video EXPOSES How $23.6m Was Made”

Okay, it is getting out of hand here now. BELIEVE ME, if I really thought that I could make $23 MILLION watching videos I would be watching them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It would take almost 12 YEARS of the previous ridiculous offer to make as much as this one promises.

Top Internet Marketing Lies #4 – “Newbie Earns $37,730 In His Second Month”

Alright, this one is ONLY $452,760 a year BUT it implies that a brand new internet marketer could be raking in the big bucks within a month. I can tell you, I have been on many trainings with newbies and they are ALWAYS left behind. They do not understand the vocabulary, let alone have the skills or experience to get off the ground within 30 days. That is not to say that Newbies can’t learn those skills, but it is not realistic to think they could learn them AND succeed within a month.

Top Internet Marketing Lies #5 – “RE: your $400 a day?”

This is one of least favorite email “tricks”. This marketer added RE: to the email subject. Because most email programs do this to show when someone is replying to you, it seems like they are answering a question that you asked them. VERY disingenuous and makes the offer seem shaky even before I open the email.

Top Internet Marketing Lies #6 – “It will do things like create over 10,000 social media accounts at the push of a button!”

I have to say this is crazy! It may create that many social media accounts but what are you going to do with them? I see lots of these when I am doing work for clients. Usually it is an account that has 1 link on it that goes to an affiliate product. While I am not anti-marketing on social media, I am anti having pure spam accounts.

Top Internet Marketing Lies #7 – “$1 gets you all the traffic you want…Become a Social Media Expert for Only $1″

OHHH this one makes me mad. I have been marketing obsessed for 10 years now and spend all my time reading and learning about marketing. The idea that you could spend a buck and become a social media expert makes me wicked mad AND makes me worry that there are going to be thousands of people out there selling bad social media marketing services.

Top Internet Marketing Lies #8 – “Make $557,22 every 24 hours!”

That is not my typo, this one says you can make $557,22. Well if it is $55K then your annual income would be $20,338,530 a year – that is right, $20 MILLION. And if it is actually $557,220 then your income would $203,385,300 – TWO HUNDRED MILLION a year. If someone has found a way to make TWO HUNDRED MILLION a year, do you REALLY think they would be selling an information product, really?

Top Internet Marketing Lies #9 – “Best Freebie I’ve Ever Seen…”

This one you have to be careful of! When the internet marketers launch a product they generally send out three free videos then go for the hard sell. Those videos are sometimes GREAT! So if you are careful that you don’t slip and buy something, you can get A LOT of great training for free. AND if the information that they are giving away for free is that good, consider buying the product. Just make sure that their pitch sounds realistic so you do not get burned.

Top Internet Marketing Lies #10 – That there is no good training online. This is my last one and it is going the other way. I have bought many training programs online that ranged from absolute drivel to mind-blowingly wonderful. What you SHOULD do if you want to find out if someone has good training is ask someone in the industry if they have ever bought training from that person and if they thought it was worthwhile. I have a number of people who’s training has been MARVELOUS and who I can recommend should you be interested!

Website and Blog Design – The Wrong Things

When small business owners having a website or blog designed, they are all happy and ready to start. They have been thinking about this for while and know just what colors and fonts they want. Sigh.

Website and Blog DesignWebsite and Blog Design – So What Are The Wrong Things?

  • Looks – Looks are important…BUT! Spending time on getting the right color purple font is a terrible waste of time. Websites and blogs should be about usability. Having snazzy fonts and colors makes it harder to read.
  • Fancy Flash or Movie Intros – Making users click through a landing page with a “skip intro” button is a waste of time and money AND confuses the search engines.
  • Picking A Fun URL – Your website should be easy to find online. Having a “fun” URL like WhizzyWigsAnDooDads.com will be fun to market, but will not help you in the search engines. Nor will having your company name. I bet you will rank well for that even if you do not try all that hard since hardly anyone else will be competing with you!

Website and Blog Design – So What Are The RIGHT Things?

  • Good Solid Design – You want a site that looks professional and which directs people to where you want them to go (like your products or services page).
  • Easy To Use Navigation – Having tons of different things for people to do is distracting. You should be able to tell at a glance what you want your users to do when they land on your page. They should also have an easy way to get to the subpages of your site. Generally, it is good to use the same words that everyone else does – not creative but effective!
  • Readable Pages – DO NOT have too much text on the page. Break it up with pictures and headings.
  • Great Content – Today there is nothing more important than having great content that internet users are looking for. They do not care what solutions you offer or any other industry buzzwords, they just want answers to their questions.
  • Keyword Research – This is the most important one! You can have the most beautiful site on the internet, but if no one can find you on the search engines it will not matter. Make sure to target keywords with high searches and low competition!
  • A Good Searchable URL – This is the second most important! If you name your site www.LakewoodBookkeepingAccounting.com, it will not be as fun to market, but it sure will rank better for important keywords don’t you think?

So if you are considering having a website or blog designed, make sure you are more concerned with things that matter than what it looks like! AND if you designer won’t have these hard conversations with you, you may wind up with a great looking site that no one ever sees!

Online Marketing – Internet Leads ARE Real Leads

I am just going to say this once, online leads are REAL leads! Not all of them, but enough to make your online marketing efforts worthwhile. Today I thought I would share some success stories with you.

Internet marketing online leadsI spend most of my day working on and looking at the internet. I talk with small business owners, marketers and Realtors about how their online efforts are working. Oftentimes I hear that internet leads are somehow worse than other leads. Off the top of my head…

  • One of my business pals Stacy Hansen, specializing in Clearwater internet marketing, throws off the term “oh they messaged me on Facebook” like it happens everyday. And for her, sometimes it does!
  • One of my Realtor buddies had her agents look at where their “A” buyers were coming from and at least 60% were “internet leads”.
  • A customer got a message this morning that EXACTLY matches what he does as an inquiry. NOW, will that turn into business? It might.
  • Colorado garage door guy, Rick Smith, gets requests for quotes about once a week.

The list could go on and on BUT what I want you to consider is the effort and money that goes into these leads. A blog was set up, they do a regular post about once a week, and they answer those leads promptly. Where else can you get generally free leads?

Do you have to wade through people who sent in a form but really didn’t want to be contacted? Sometimes. Do you get spam from people who promise to get you to the top of the search engines? Probably. But really, what do you have to lose except a little time and some optimism that it will work!

Small Business Internet Marketing Tools

Small business internet marketing tools can make your life SO much easier. In this post I am going to review a few of my favorite tools that I use for my business or my customers.

Small Business Internet Marketing Keyword Tools

Keyword research is vital for finding out what exact keywords you want to use to rank well in the search engines. When writing this post I spent about a half an hour before discovering that “Internet Marketing Tools” is a high volume, lower (200,000-ish) results term which is why I chose it over “keyword marketing tools”.

 

Keyword Research Tools For Small Business

Google External Keyword Tool

Cost: Free
Use: The google keyword external keyword tool is a workhorse for showing you what the search volume is for phrases you are considering using.
Tips: The best way to get a good idea of the actual data is to “show all” the columns. That way you can see what people are willing to pay per click for the term.

SEO Tools Keyword Density Checker

Cost: Free
Use: The Keyword Density Checker tool lets you put in your url and make sure that your site has good keyword optimization for the terms that you are targeting.
Tips: I check this often as I have thought I was optimized right for a search term, only to find out that I was WAY off the mark. This can happen even more with blogs as the content on the home pages changes frequently.

SEM Rush

Cost: Free or $49-ish Monthly
Use: SEM Rush allows you to see what keywords you rank on the first two pages of google for and also acts as an aggregater to show you what search terms rank well in Google and makes suggestions for additional terms.
Tips: The paid version shows you places that you could buy banner ads from based on similar keyword AND places who might buy advertising from you.

Scribe for WordPress

Cost: $17 Monthly
Use: Scribe basically checks your blog posts to make sure that they are seo’d correctly. You would think I would be good at this by now but on almost every post I find something that could be tweaked a little bit to make it even better. Here is a Scribe video demo.
Tips: For most of my clients the lowest version will be enough, I can not say that I have used more than 50 or so analysis a month even with seo-ing clients work also.

Website Design Tools

Photoxpress

Cost: 6 Free Per Day or $10 per month
Use: If you need photos for your site or blog posts, you can download and use these photos.
Tips: I pay the $10-ish fee for the premium membership. Have always gotten great photos and they are all large enough to use for print.

Web Resizer

Cost: Free
Use: Super easy peasy way to resize photos for the web. Just upload your pic and they will reduce the size for you automatically.

Attention Wizard

Cost: 1 Free Per Day
Use: This is my new favorite toy! Attention Wizard lets you see a heat map of where people look at when coming to your website or blog, just by uploading a screenshot!
Tips: Knowing where people look allows you to see exactly what the focus is and will increase sales to your products OR get you more newsletter signups!

Thesis Theme For WordPress

Cost: $87
Use: Thesis for WordPress is what we use for our clients! It has great back end features and there are a TON of skins to make it look pretty.
Tips: If you are going to use it on more than one site, just bite the bullet and get the developers license. The forum has some GREAT information about how to use the theme.

Internet Marketing Training

Offer Vault

Cost: Free
Use: Offer Vault has a TON of free internet marketing videos in the member area. All you need to do is sign up for free to get access. When I need a fix of new ideas, this is where I go!

Misc Internet Marketing

Flippa

Cost: Varies
Use: Flippa lists websites and domain names for sale. You can find old domain names and even some sites. Just be careful, one domain listed said it was registered in 1970!

All of the products in this post are ones that I use currently for myself or my client OR are products that I have used in the past but still highly recommend. There are some affiliate links in this post, if you would like to avoid my getting a little bit of money for referring you, please type the product name into a search engine.

Writing Evergreen Keyword Blog Posts

Writing evergreen keyword rich blog posts is a great way to generate traffic for your site. Once you target a keyword phrase, all you have to do is make sure that the technical bits are right and you should rank well for that phrase.

Writing Evergreen Keyword Blog PostsIn my business there are two types of blog posts (1) ones that I can write off the top of my head and that are great for generating a little bit of traffic and reinforcing my keyword ranking for may main three search terms, small business marketing, entrepreneur marketing and realtor marketing and (2) evergreen blog posts where I want to rank consistently over time for a specific keyword or long tail phrase.

What exactly are evergreen blog posts?

Evergreen blog posts are ones that do not change over time and which are keyword rich in content that you want your site to rank for. In my case I target marketing terms like social media, direct mail (newsletters, postcards, logos and collateral), email marketing, keyword marketing and blogging as subsets of my main three keywords. In this way I can rank highly for entrepreneur marketing PLUS postcards or realtor marketing PLUS postcards.

When you are just starting out it is great to have those major keywords in mind and then use minor keywords to add up to the whole. For example, you might write about bookkeeping tips and tricks, then how to do your general ledger and which accounting software is best to use, all which help google add up to the fact that you provide small business bookkeeping services. The Google is super smart and knows the little bits of the whole which make up the major evergreen keywords.

So how do you find out what keywords you should be TRYING to rank for?

  • I check my google analytics and see what search terms people are looking for that they use to get to MarktingArtfully.com even if I haven’t targeted them that way yet. For example, I found out that I ranked well for the term “funny realtor postcards” even though I did not have a post specifically targeting that (although I did have a direct mail post about postcards and did have those other words in there). With a laser focused post I was able to truly rank for the tip top of page one for that search phrase.
  • I use SEM Rush to see what words I rank in the top 20 of google for, and reinforce those so that I can keep my standings or branch out to different targets.
  • I check the google external keyword tool to see what keywords are better. For example, yesterday I wrote a post about Email Marketing Writing Great Subject Lines. When it started out it was actually a post about writing great email marketing headlines because that is how I thought of it. Luckily, I popped over to google and found that no body but me calls them that and that there are 14,800 searches a month for the phrase “email subject lines” as opposed to “email subject line” which is only 9,900. I will take that extra potential 5,000 visitors anyday!

Extra tip – I have a habit of writing about things that are not necessarily in my “marketing” niche. I rank on page one for such obscure terms as “customer demographics” and “selling to c personality types” which I rank twice on the first page for because I am interested in how the DISC personality types work with sales and marketing. BEWARE BEWARE that you do not let your personal interests drag down the focus of your site. Check your tag cloud on your blog to see which words are big so that you can tell if you have fallen off track. As you can see on the right side of my blog, I am doing okay with my keywords but sometimes “mindset” gets big and I have get back on track!

For August our DIY Small Business Marketing Membership will have videos on exactly how I do all these cool keyword researches for my sites and my clients! Make sure you are signed up to get the scoop!

Email Marketing Writing Great Subject Lines

Writing Great Subject Lines - Email MarketingEmail marketing seems like a breeze. All the top people are telling you to just grow a list, send out emails to it and watch checks start rolling in. Well, writing great email headlines or subject lines will add to your success.

The industry standard for email open rates in the third quarter of 2009 is about 22% according to Marketing Firm Epsilon, meaning that 22% of the people who receive your message actually open it. This is a little disingenuous as there are email systems which allow you to see the message without ever actually “opening” it and also programs which show as an open without the user having actually read it. But let us start there.

My last three mass emails have had an open rate of between 21.2% and 70.3% with the industry standard being 13.5% for both the open and click through rate for marketing companies (according to Constant Contact FAQ open rate chart). The best click through and open rates seem to be for Craft emails with a 27.1% open rate and 22.1% click rate.

So what do all those number mean for your company’s email marketing campaigns. Having more people open your messages means that you have more of an opportunity to engage them, sell your products or services or just let them know you are thinking of them. BUT, you will never get that opportunity if they never open up your message.

Your subject line is HUGE in email marketing. It is what is going to intrigue your reader enough to open your message and read what you have written. You would read a message from a friend who said big news, but would you read one from your phone company that said big news? I would assume that they are talking about big news for them, not so much for me. WIFM (whats in it for me) is what every email reader thinks when considering whether or not to spend their precious time opening your email.

Email Marketing Subject Line Case Study

I was talking with a client the other day and she said that she was GREAT at sending follow-up emails to people who had visited her trade show booth and requested a free product sample, but that she didn’t have a great response rate. REALLY? They met her in person, gave her their email address, SAID they wanted a free product sample and then would not even hit reply with their mailing address. HUM. I was confused until she told me her subject line, “Trade show follow up”. DOH!

Picture that potential client sitting at home or at work, going through the hundreds of emails they get a day and seeing trade show follow up. I would assume that someone was trying to sell me something or that I would be getting a “nice to meet you” kind of thing which I do not have time for! Now picture that same person sitting there and an email comes in saying “How to get your complimentary green cleaning product” or “Here is your free cleaning product sample”. There is a lot more in it for them that way! One note, having free in your headline may cause some of the spam filters to block your email so use it judiciously!

Email Subject Lines Examples

Here are some poor subject lines pulled right from my email inbox. There is NO way that I would ever open them in the mass of emails I get in a day.

  • Your daily dose from DSN news – this one comes every day and I generally NEVER read it. I do not know specifically what it is about today and have no compulsion to read it. Many emails come like this, it is easier for the sender but I have to think that their open rates would increase if they told me a little about what I would be reading.
  • One in a lifetime (open now) – this is WAY over the top! I would not open this as the claim is too ambiguous.
  • Discovering the keys to social media marketing – Too fluffy, would rather see 5 ways to increase your twitter followers.
  • Urgent, Last Chance, Heads Up or any other “tickler” subject lines with no indication of what it is about – If the sender can’t spend the time to tell me a little bit about why I should be so motivated I am not going to waste my energy.
  • Affiliate marketing “launch” emails – I get a ton of emails from internet marketers and I can always tell when they are launching a new product, my email box fills up with duplicate subject lines. If you are going to do affiliate marketing, PLEASE cut and paste the subject line and then do a twist to make me open yours instead of the 30 others I get in a day!

Here are some GOOD subject line examples from people who I read frequently. Most of them are marketing related so translate them into your industry!

  • Tara Did You Get This Free Google Tool? – it has my name (not all that necessary but some people like that) AND it talks about a free tool. Additionally this guy sends out great content that I always enjoy reading.
  • Great tools for business marketing – I obviously have a tool thing, but I like to know what is out there that can help grow my business.
  • Proven way to higher summer sales - Relevant time wise AND says they have empirical data to back it up, what is not to like?
  • Extended this weekend Free Shipping At… – If it is a product or company that I buy from, free shipping always hooks me and they get bonus points for the timeline call to action.
  • Networking Lead Gen Tips & Tricks – this is my last headline which had a great open rate, click through rate and I generated sales with it! It works because I send great content AND have a focus on marketing so they know there will not be cooking tips or extra “fluff” in there.

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Email Subject Lines Headlines

Small Business Affiliate Partner Programs

Small business owners are GREAT at doing referrals for other other businesses, what they are not great at is formalizing and monetizing that relationship with small business affiliate partner programs.

Small Business Affiliate Partner Programs

Small Business Affiliate Partner ProgramIn our post yesterday we talked about how small businesses can take advantage of formal online affiliate programs. Today we are going to go deeper than that surface and talk about Affiliate Partner Programs for small business owners.

These kinds of relationships are more in depth than plain affiliate marketing programs. Frequently they involve ongoing relationships with clients and partners and there is a stronger connection between the two companies than just shooting out a recommendation in an email. This type of arrangement can also sometimes be called a JV or Joint Venture.

How Affiliate Partner Programs Work

With affiliate partnerships, both companies agree that there will be a formalized referral process and a set amount of commission paid. This can be either a percentage of the sale, a one time “finders fee” or even a percentage of an ongoing monthly fee.

While it would be nice to have an online solution to track this (we are using 1ShoppingCart), you can also do it by sending a referral sheet for the other party to sign or by simply having a “handshake agreement” about payment.

Some Examples of Affiliate Partner Programs

  1. When I was a Realtor, I realized that they have THE BEST formalized partner programs nationally that I have ever seen. Whenever a Realtor gives a referral to another Realtor, both sides know that there will be a referral fee paid. The amount of that commission varies but falls generally between 25% and 35%. The downside to this system is that because of strict federal regulations, Realtors can only give referral fees to other Realtors, no one else.
  2. Marketing Artfully’s partner program is promoted to a very small number of select vendors. We are not looking to have 900 partners, just a handful or two of very specialized companies that promote our products and services. We work closely with other marketing companies, personal contacts and and our past clients so that they can “suggest” our services to others because of their belief in our company
  3. Trading your skills for compensation – If you are good at something, like sales or marketing, you can trade your knowledge and expertise for a cut of the profits. Conversely, if you have something great to sell, you can have a mini sales force out there promoting your product or service on a regular basis in exchange for a fixed commission amount.

Now, just because you have a program like this DOES NOT mean that you cannot accept referrals from people without paying or require that you get paid for every referral you give. I recommend my clients to other businesses all the time and would not even think of asking for a fee for doing so.

Having an affiliate partner program takes some time to set up (I would guess that I have about 20 hours into mine) and you have to keep in contact with your people or they will forget to promote you BUT the rewards are tremendous and SO worth the time!

There is an affiliate link to 1ShoppingCart in this post!

Small Business Affiliate Programs Overview

Small business owners rarely understand online marketing’s affiliate programs. They are more comfortable with the idea of referrals or small business partnership programs. Here is a basic overview of how internet marketing affiliate programs work and how you could incorporate them into your small business.

Affiliate versus partner programs

Internet Marketing Affiliate Programs

Internet marketing affiliate programs are pretty neat! Basically, they allow you to sign up, get a link that is associated with your account and then use that link to make money. When someone buys a product or sometimes just gives an email address and name, software behind the scenes records that and then once you reach a certain payout level, you get a check in the mail from the company that you are promoting.

Where do you find affiliate programs?

Link to constant contact affiliate programIt is easy to tell if a company you do business with has an online affiliate program! Simply go to the bottom of their website and see if there is a link to “affiliate program”. Once you click on that link, generally they will ask a bunch of questions, including your Social Security Number or EIN business number. This is so that they can send you a 1099 if you make more than $600 per year with their program.

How do you pick which affiliate programs to promote?

I am VERY picky about which affiliate programs I suggest to my readers or email list. I generally stick to products or services that I use like Constant Contact for email newsletters or the Thesis Theme Print Is Dead I use for Marketing Artfully’s home page. I then include the affiliate link in blog posts, email newsletters and other things I send out.

Pre-made affiliate marketing bannerAdditionally, there are often pre-made buttons or banners that you can place on your website which the company that does the program will provide! You would just insert the banner into your post or page about the topic, or into your sidebar if you wanted to promote them all the time. Just make sure include your affiliate link on the picture when you insert it into the blog post or webpage.

ADVANCED TIP – Always make sure your affiliate link prompts a new browser window so that you do not lose that traffic by sending them somewhere else. Let them go to your affiliate link but then return once they close that window! (if you click on the above button, you will see how this works in real time!)

Affiliate Program Bewares

When you get started doing affiliate marketing, there are a few things to watch out for:

  • Make sure you have a disclaimer on your site stating that you participate in affiliate programs and that you sometimes post links to them. This is an FTC requirement so that people will know that might be promoting something for monetary gain. (you can see the one I use at the bottom of this page)
  • I generally also mention at the end of my post so that there is absolutely no confusion. I am always happy to have people who recommend a product to me send an affiliate link so I am comfortable with doing that myself.
  • DO NOT have one disclaimer that you use on each and every post or your site will start ranking for your disclaimer instead of your wonderful content. I wrote a fun post about my FTC disclosures being out of hand if you would like to read more about this!
  • DO NOT get spammy! It can seem SO neat that you can get money for nothing that you might want to send it out immediately, put it on your website and send the email templates they give you to everyone twice or three times. Try to avoid that…:) Just put a banner on your site or send out a link in your monthly newsletter. Tell people about it and then offer to send them a link if they want to buy.

Difference Between Small Business Websites Versus WordPress Blogs

I spend A LOT of time trying to explain small business websites versus wordpress blogs to people. There are some major differences that matter to your web success so here is the difference for the final time!

Websites versus blogsI have been involved in making websites and blogs for over a decade now and have watched the progression from pure HTML sites to Flash to database driven sites. I have seen SEO (search engine optimization) change over the years also. When we started, a website was basically a fancy brochure with lots of obscure copy about solutions driven results and client acquisition matrix. In fact we used to play buzzword bingo the terms were so ludicrous.

Fast forward ten years and the internet has changed. Putting up a website with your brochure on it only works AFTER someone has made a buying decision and is researching your company. While they are searching they want Information – information with a capital I! They also want to be able to do a search on Google or Bing or Yahoo and find knowledge, not your sales pitch but active information about the topic that they are researching which you may know the answers to.

I have to tell you, about 4 years ago I thought blogs were silly! Who wants to talk about what they ate for breakfast or how many times they put the dog out (some of the same arguments people give me about Twitter, but that is different post on this same theme). Today I cannot see why anyone would want a website unless they were doing a big ecommerce launch or had to have layers of security because they dealt with people’s confidential information.

So what are the main differences between websites and blogs?

  1. Blogs have feeds, websites do not Part 1 – I got a voicemail from a client last night who had an urgent event she needed to post on her website. She is a new client and her blog is not set up yet so I had to tell her the bad news, if we put that info on her website, it could be four to six weeks before google comes back to spider that information…sigh. If we had a blog done for her, we could post that information and it would PUSH it out to the search engines today. Search engines are hungry to make the latest information available and so are glad to have new items every day.
  2. Blogs have feeds, websites do not Part 2
  3. Because blogs have a process to notify everyone when something is posted you can have an email sent out automatically by using Feedburner which is free and owned by google, you have the post automatically tell your Facebook page through Networked blogs, you can have Twitter post it automatically with TwitterFeed or Hootsuite. You can combine feeds from different places like we did on www.twitter.com/tweetinghomes, allowing all kinds of realtors to post their blog posts automatically.

  4. Blogs have LOTS of content to index – Every time I write a post there is a chance it will make it to the front page of google. I have written over 200 posts about small business marketing, entrepreneur marketing, realtor marketing, time managements, website design and more. Each of those posts stands alone as something that google may be interested in ranking well.
  5. Blogs have webpages too – I can guarantee you that some of my clients do not know that my small business marketing website Marketing Artfully is a blog. They saw a blog 3 or 4 years ago and do not know how far they have come. I have a contact us page, sales pages, product pages, policies and procedures pages, and events. Basically everything a website has along with about 200 mini sites built in because of the blog posts I have written.
  6. Blog posts are easy to share – EVERY time I write a blog post I bookmark it. Bookmarking is pushing those buttons that say share or tell a friend which allow you send your post to Digg or Delicious or Propeller. These bookmarking sites rank REALLY well and drive actual traffic to your website. Adding them to the bottom of blog pages is super easy which brings me to…
  7. Blogs are easy to use and update – Blogs look like MS Word on the back end. They have great content management tools like the Thesis Theme for WordPress which we use for all of our clients. They also have plugins and widgets that do almost anything you want. When I wanted a calendar for my site it took about 10 minutes to research the right one, upload it to my blog, activate it and start using it. No development time and no cost (we use Calender by Kieran O’shea). I have been in many marketing meetings with developers when we wanted to add something like that to a website. Just the time to do the specifications would have exceeded 10 minutes let alone the development time which could run to days or weeks with the associated costs.
  8. Blogs do not all have to look boring BUT having bells and whistles costs more and can take more time for upkeep. I changed the Thesis Skin on this site to something snazzier than just a plain Thesis theme with cool graphics. While I am happy about the look, it added about 15 to 20 minutes to the time it takes to write blog posts because of the special formatting of photos needed and how it is not just super easy peasy anymore. That having been said, if you absolutely want a custom look to your blog, it can be bought for a price!
  9. Humans do not care or understand whether your site is website or a blog – I have a client (and friend) who I have worked with for YEARS. We talked a couple of times about building a blog but her husband had his heart set on a website. It is finally up, over 6 months later and has 5 pages which include a contact us page and an about us page…sigh. Your prospects DO NOT CARE what technology your website is built on. They care about 3 things only – do they like you, do they trust you, do you know what you are doing.

So there you have it, my best information about the difference between websites and blogs. I am sure some of you have different opinions that I do and would be happy to publish them in the comments if you want to let me know. If you are a small business owner who would like to learn more about getting a blog for your business, please email me at support (at) marketingartfully.com and I will have someone give you a jingle!

There are links in this article to free small business marketing tools as well as affiliate links. If you would like to avoid my getting paid for referring you to them, please type the website addresses in your browser bar manually.

Outsourcing Marketing Do Inane Comments and Spam Work

Outsourcing is a great way to leverage yourself. Hiring a company or people to help is often the only way to advance your business beyond what you are capable of doing time wise or talent wise. BUT do inane comments and spam emails REALLY work?

Outsourcing MarketingI had a problem with my site this weekend and as a result my comment spam filter is not working. BOY do you get a new look at what is going on with the comments when you actually have to see all the people who are posting links to pharmaceuticals, organ enhancements and the like. That having been said, I saw an interesting one today. It was a bland comment like “I totally agree with everything you said”, the email link was an SEO company and the link went to a virginia beach roofing company website. Obviously they were attempting to get backlinks to their clients’ website.

OUTSOURCING INANE COMMENTS

HUH, it is disconcerting that an SEO company doesn’t know that most wordpress comment sections do not allow backlinks. You have to ADD a plugin to remove the no follow attributes for the comments and I know very few blogs that take that step. So WHY do we recommend that you make comments at all? If you add a relevant note with some thought behind it, humans will read that information and follow your link back to your website where you could get them to do something like sign up for your newsletter or buy something. Additionally, we always make our blogs so someone has to approve the comments before they are posted so that spammy link will never see the light of day anyways. Outsourcing at its finest for sure.

When you hire a quality internet marketing business to represent you, you may not get reports that a million links were attempted. You may not have a ton of new boucing traffic BUT you will have people who think you are a valid, reputable company with a brain in your head.

to note: the roofing company has no page rank, 1 incoming link and no discernible traffic

BAD OUTSOURCING – SPAM SEO EMAILS

So I am cc’d on email leads that my clients get so that I can make any changes that come up when a site launches based on feedback so I see a bunch of different websites’ contact us forms. Almost all of them got an email this week that said “We are interested to increase traffic to your website, please get back to us in order to discuss the possibility in further detail.” They also get ones that say they will get them on the first page of google and a date with George Clooney (okay I made up that last one but you get the picture).

Do you really think a company that sends out poorly written spam emails is the right company to represent you? Getting page ranking, building social networks and building a loyal following take time and energy. There is no magic pill people!!!!

If you are considering outsourcing marketing, Marketing Artfully works with two great companies that do good work for their clients on Social Media Marketing and overall internet marketing deployments. We have worked with Stacy Hansen of Personalized Marketing Corp for over 10 years and are proud to recommend her for helping to manage your entire internet package. Amber Montel of Your Marketing Voice is superb at helping you to build up your social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Taking Advantage Of Trends On Google

Taking advantage of trends on google is a great way to get increased traffic to your website! Here is how a website took advantage of the new iPad launch to get increased traffic to their website from google.

Taking Advantage of Trends On GoogleWhen using my new iPad, I noticed that it would be MUCH easier to have icons on the desktop that linked directly to websites rather than using the bookmark feature from within the Safari browser. I did a search for “how to add an icon to your ipad desktop” and found this link “How to Make an iPad Icon for Your Website or Blog” but below that was an indented listing of how to do what I wanted.

OfZenComputing did a great job of finding keywords that people are searching for now and having a post out there that was great bait for generating incoming links. Here are some of my observations about what they did right!

Ways that this site took advantage of trends on google

  • Using the keywords in their title that covered a number of different searches
  • Naming the picture on the page “ipad bookmark to home screen” which increased the chances of google listing them
  • Internally linking the first post they wrote with the followup post the next day, reinforcing the keywords internally
  • Providing valuable information that people need (what you needed to do was blatantly obvious after I saw it so don’t assume that your knowledge has to be extremely technical)
  • The second day they made a photoshop picture that you could use to make your own icon on your website so that people could bookmark you too and gave it away for free

Tools to find out what is a hot topic right now – so how do you know what is trending now?

  • Watch the real news – many times you find out what is happening on the interwebs by watching the network news. It is their job to cover topics people are interested in.
  • Go to Google News and see what they are covering
  • Use Twitter Search to see what is hot right now and to do searches on keywords that you are interested in targeting

Arbitrary Small Business Marketing Goals Part Two

These arbitrary small business marketing goals are part of continuing series about how Small Business Marketing Goals Make A Huge Difference. Read at your own risk, they coud make you do something!

Small Business Marketing Arbitrary GoalsSocial Networking or Social Media

If I get one more email that tells me that they can get 10,000 in 15 minutes I am going to scream! The best way to grow a marketing channel that will respond to your offers and listen to what you say is to grow it slowly and patiently.

Having a gagillion person list when you sell weight loss is silly. Most of the people will disregard what you are sending or unfriend or unfollow you. Having built a list of ladies primarily, who are concerned about their weight or appearance and who are looking for help…that is priceless to the marketer who is focused on the weight loss niche.

If you want numbers to shoot for…follow 50 people a day on Twitter (some will follow you back), friend 10 a day on Facebook and get as many connections as you can on LinkedIn. Hit Plaxo just for fun and then establish a presence only on the hundreds (or maybe thousands) of other sites out there.

Then, this is the hardest. Post every day. I post every weekday which says that I am interested in my account, providing great info to my friends and followers and are not using it as purely a spam-engine to sell them something.

Blogging for Business

Having a blog is harder work than having a website. A website takes a little time once and then fades into obscurity. A blog wants to be fed which in turn calls the search engines and also can help populate a bunch of your social networking.

If you do not have a blog start one today. WordPress.com has free ones and we sell business blogs that work. Start writing. If you are new, one post a week is a great way to start. It will take you what feels like forever but soon it will become a habit and will seem less hard. Also you will get in the groove of finding out what your readers like which takes me to part two of blogging…

If you have a blog, look at your stats and see what is generating traffic and write more about that. You KNOW google is sending people to your blog for that keyword phrase and will be reinforcing their faith in your site to provide great content on that topic!

If you have a blog, and you get more hits on the day you post, what would happen if yoiu committed to posting one more day a week? I get up to 10 times more traffic on the days that I post than on just normal days.

Last but not least, bookmark your posts. Get the little button at the bottom that says share and share on StumbleUpon, Digg, Delicios, Google, Yahoo and more. Set up your accounts once and then you can just fly through posting easily!

Local Marketing

This is a new field that is growing because of the capabilities of the GPS Phones and the growth of online marketing for local businesses. If you are not on there yet make sure you hit gowalla.com, foursquare.com, google and yahoo local.

Even if you are a work from homer or online business, set up your stuff!

There you have it! If you do a couple of these things your business will grow, if you do them all you should be able to count on getting more leads and increasing your revenue much faster!

Small Business Marketing Planning

Small business marketing planning is something most entrepreneurs and small business owners never do, much to their detriment. They spend their time jumping from the latest new thing to the next big thing, never stopping for a breath.

Small Business Marketing PlanningSo what does small business marketing planning entail exactly? Here are some of the steps that we take our marketing clients through that could help you to get your marketing efforts on track:

  • Who are the clients you are trying to attract
  • How have you found them before
  • What products and services do they like
  • What products and services should you offer
  • What channels (online, offline, social media, direct mail, etc) should you use to reach those people with your offer
  • What steps are you going to take this month, this week, today to implement your marketing plan
  • What metrics are you going to use to gauge your success? Added contacts, friends, followers, sales, leads, etc.

One of the first things you should notice about this is that at no time did I say do you want a new logo, blog, email program or any other specific thing that is the flavor of the moment. All of the shiney marketing things like Facebook, WordPress, and Email are just the TOOLS to use and are a HUGE distraction to your plan. Figure out WHAT to do BEFORE you figure out HOW you are going to accomplish it!

These are just a few of the parts of creating a SUCCESSFUL marketing plan. If you implement just a couple you will be MILES ahead of your competition. If you implement them all, you cannot fail!

Writing Blog Posts Do Good Grammar and Spelling Matter

Do good grammar and spelling matter when you are writing blog posts? There are people out there just waiting for you to mess up. Stop letting them intimidate you.

Blog spelling grammarSo, I was reading one of my favorite bloggers the other day and he talked about fears that bloggers have including using incorrect grammar and spelling. This fear seemed to be crippling their work and stopping them from hitting the publish button. Do not let this happen to you!

Fear of being judged

If you are worried about being judged for your commas, punctuation and spelling, there is a good chance you are terrified that someone will not like your ideas. Here is something that should make you feel better (or worse) – I guarantee you that everyone will not like your blog. There I said it.

If you are writing great content then there are going to be people who disagree with what you are saying. There are grammar police out there right now circling to tell me how wrong I am about this post!

This comment on a blog post epitomizes what I think is the worst of grammar policing.

Spelling Grammar Blogging

It is an anonymous comment by someone who obviously takes great joy in pointing out that there is a misspelling. Nothing about the great article, the author’s take on the content or anything else, just blatant criticism. NOW, because that was on a popular blog with LOTS of other comments NOT related to spelling, I am sure that the writer will sleep tonight. BUT I know that there are beginning and even seasoned bloggers out there who spend more time worrying about typos and grammar than they do about getting great words strung together. Which leads me to…

Do lots of content and do not worry about details

I write blog posts every day. Sometimes I do not read them before I hit publish because I am running behind BUT I like to post daily so I am trading perfection for getting information out there. I make sure that I have great content and BELIEVE me, someone will email me back with my spelling, grammar or mathematical errors.

When readers let me know about mistakes nicely AND actually have read my work, I LOVE IT! Thank you so much for helping. When they leave ugly, mean-spirited comments like the one above, I fix my work, delete the comment which does not add value to the conversation and hope they never want to hire me!

If you are blogging for your business, the goal should be to talk as much as possible. One PERFECT post that has been agonized over, written, rewritten, sent to the proof reader, reworked and THEN published will not get you as much traffic or interest as ten articles with great content and a couple of mistakes.

Search engines and humans are voracious. They need new content all the time and if you are providing consistent, wonderful words and thoughts you will win!

How to Choose the Right Keywords for Your Small Business

How to choose the right keywords for your small business is one of the most important things that you can do with your marketing efforts. This post features guest author Reid Peterson, Internet Marketing Educator at growthinharmony.com!

Keywords Small Business MarketingFor those of you that don’t know by now – your keywords do matter.

That doesn’t mean to choose a keyword like “Real Estate” because you are a real estate agent and you sell real estate. You would spend the rest of your life competing for a search result ranking that might make page 5. (if you’re lucky)

And you might think you’re clever and choose “Real Estate Denver CO” because you sell real estate in Denver, Colorado.

Guess what? Instead of taking a life time to rank high in search results pages, it may take a decade. (and if you’re a rock star- like one who would publish two or more blog posts per day, it you might get to #1 rankings in a year.)

Yes, SEO companies promise you page 1 rankings (and often #1 ) by tomorrow, but even if that is true (which I’m still waiting for someone to video blog their success of that), you would have to pray that the views of your website are converting to business. Are they?

So your website success (earning business from the people who view it) starts somewhere- where exactly is that “somewhere?”

It starts with keyword research and you have to be both very smart and creative about the keywords you choose. Here’s how to use your smarts and creativity to choose the right keywords for your business:

1) Know your customer. And I mean know them well- all five senses (maybe avoid what they taste like though.) You’ve probably heard that you must know your ideal customer’s needs (wants) but do you know how they react to the emotional umcomfortabilities that create their needs and wants? Yep, you must know that!

2) Listen to how your customer communicates. What words do your ideal customers use to speak or write? Those are your keywords right there! (I now feel complete but also compelled to write more)

3) Test the words your ideal customer uses. Now that you know what your customers say to express their needs, you have to see if there is enough search volume for these phrases. Google “google external keyword tool” for a free method of checking the search volume for these phrases. You can also use wordtracker (not sure if it is free) or a software that I think is inexpensive: Market Samurai (this is what I use and it serves me well.) When you select your tool, determine how many searches is enough for your business to prosper from.

4) Wordsmith the phrases that you select. You may have thought “Real Estate Denver CO” was a great keyword phrase because it has a specific location included in it, but guess what? Other real estate agents have also done the same thing. The competition is probably very high to compete for. Instead, get even more specific (and creative). People searching real estate online may be in the market to buy a home… Why not compete for the search term “buying a home in Denver?” (You may be surprised)

5) Use your smarts. Your final step is to analyze the key words/phrases that you’ve creatively crafted. Use analytics (in your head) to assess the relevancy of the phrases. Do they represent the language/communication of the community that represents your ideal client? If you were a good business person and listened to your ideal client speak emotionally about what they need, would you hear them say the keywords that you selected? If not, it’s time to go back to being creative and come up with new ones.

Going through this process of using your creativity and smarts will help you select the right keyword for your business; Ones that reflect the needs of your ideal clients. Also, ones that provide the comfort that your clients are seeking (which means sales for you!)

Reid Peterson teaches people how to market their business online. He teaches in focus group formats; empowering business owners to learn self SEO, Social Media, and Better Blogging methods. To learn more about Reid Peterson and how you can master your own online marketing, visit http://growthinharmony.com

Affiliate Marketing Where Is Your Passion

Affiliate marketing is a topic that comes up A LOT in my world. Bloggers are often affiliate marketers and I have just one word of warning for them. Make sure to follow your passion!

Affiliate Marketing PassionMany of the small business blogs that we develop are for affiliates. Oftentimes they have picked a topic that is “hot” by doing research on trends and search volume. I have done that in the past. Sigh.

Every time I have made the decision to do affiliate marketing with no passion behind it, I have petered out early. Now do not get me wrong, passion comes in many forms and it is easy to find a way to monazite your passion but pick your topic wisely!

The benefit of doing an affiliate blog with a hot topic is that you have the opportunity to get fast money. There are serious downfalls also:

  • AFFILIATE MARKTING COMPETITION – this is a biggie. If you are not serious about spending some major adwords coin on keywords, you are probably not going to see a huge amount of traffic right off the bat. Make money online is a great niche but the cost per click is about 3 bucks. Not cheap.
  • AFFILIATE BURNOUT – I can tell you unilaterally, if you are not at least somewhat interested in your category you will come to hate it more than life itself. I keep reading about fishing, lures, tackle, etc. So when Christmas rolled around I figured it would be a great idea to have a list of presents for fishermen. Argg. I HATE fishing. It took me 10 times as long to research fishing presents as it did for me to research crafting presents (I like crafting) since I had no background other than having fished 30 plus years ago with my grandfather.
  • ORGANIC KEYWORD COMPETITION – Now I am HUGE proponent of picking big keywords and having a long term plan for ranking well for them. That having been said, if this is just a little affiliate blog without tons of content, you will struggle to beat the established players in your niche market. If your category is not your passion, coming up with content or even content ideas will be a struggle.

So how do you make your passion pay? If you are a passionate green living nut, find a product or service to sell that goes along with your lifestyle, DO NOT pick something because it is hot. Today on clickbank the top selling product seems to be SatelliteDirect – Highest Converting Tv To PC Product. That is SO not a green item and would not be a good fit.

I was “watching” Seth Godin’s ebook the other day over at Vook and he talked about the farmers market Zeitgeist. Now the farmers had no way of knowing that eating well would be coming back into vogue BUT they had the products and systems in place to serve foodies when it did! Pick a topic that is trending but not super hot and then build a destination for people to come to.

Cathy over at Copy Cat Copywriting had a great post the other day about online marketing and picking a buying niche. It is SO worth a read!

Clearwater Local Internet Marketing For Tampa Bay

If you are looking for Tampa Bay and Clearwater local internet marketing, you can not do better than Personalized Marketing! Helping you understand and utilize website and blog design, social media marketing, video marketing or email communications for your business.

Local Internet Marketing Clearwater TampaStacy Hansen is really taking the internet marketing marketing world by storm and her clients are the ones benefiting from it! So what kinds of services does Stacy offer and why should you consider adding them to your business whether you hire Stacy or not!

  • Website and blog design – Stacy works with us to help get your blog off of the ground the RIGHT WAY!
  • Social media and networking – Facebook and Twitter are great ways to market your business and your blog! She will help you market goods and services through these powerful marketing medium.
  • YouTube Videos – Video marketing is one of the emerging forms of marketing and you can get your business on the cutting edge and take over market share!
  • Email Marketing – When you maintain regular contact with your client via email your sales and leads WILL increase!

Improving your business leads and sales with a blog, video marketing or email campaigns can make all the difference in your business’ success, especially in this more challenging business climate. I cannot say it enough, market share you gain now will not go away when the market turns again!

If you would like to find out more about your Clearwater local internet marketing options for the Tampa Bay, Marketing Artfully works closely with Personalized Marketing to provide the highest quality internet marketing solutions for your business!

Stacy Hansen
Personalized Marketing

http://personalizedmarketingcorp.com

727-505-5384

Small Business Internet Marketing Get Rich Slow

Small business internet marketing is not a sprint, it is a get rich slow scheme. As with anything that is important to your business, it takes time to build up a audience AND the skills to do the work. Here are a couple of the things that I do on a regular basis to market my company and the time it takes to do them!

Small Business Internet MarketingWrite Blog Posts – this is the MOST important thing I do for my small business internet marketing efforts! When I write a post and publish it more people come to my website – DUH. I have a goal of 10,000 visits per month and the ONLY thing that will get me there is having new great content AND making sure that it is written correctly so that search engines can find it.

There are three types of blog posts I write:

  1. Evergreen Blog Posts – These are meant to be information that will not get stale and which will help my small business owners no matter what happens with different platforms like facebook or wordpress. Some of my recent evergreen posts cover things like keyword research, naming your products and email marketing. While these things may change form from time to time, they are a part of doing business on the internet in our time. These posts can take between 1-2 hours and usually require a little research.
  2. Current Information Posts – These are posts that cover a new product or tool that I think my readers would like. Generally I put some content there with a link to whatever I am talking about and these take only about 15 minutes to write. Now sometimes I put a video up on how to use them over at the Marketing Artfully membership site which adds another half hour or so.
  3. My Opinion Posts – I think that I like these the best. This is one of those posts! Basically what I do is write about how I do my business or what I think about a topic that would be relevant to my readership. These posts take between 15 minutes for a shorty and half an hour for a long one like this.

Keep Track Of My Marketing “Stuff”

The next most important thing I do is make sure all of my marketing links, products and services are up to date. Things change in business and checking back regularly to make sure that your offerings reflect your current business is super important. Just this week I realized that an old post had a link to a service we no longer offer so I changed that link. I also saw that one of my profiles had old information and fixed that too. I HATE that I have to do this as I am no different than anyone else. I wish that I could just do everything once and have it be finished but that is not the real world and wishing for that does not help me or add to my success. I would say that once a month I take about an hour to look at different things and at least once a day I find something I can tweek and make better.

Promoting My Site

This is a biggie. I spend a lot of time each day doing something that will help drive traffic back to Marketing Artfully but all of it matters. Here are some things I do and timelines:

  • Speaking – I go out and talk to humans and let them know that there is a wealth of small business marketing on my site. This takes about 10 hours per week counting networking and teaching.
  • Bookmarking – This is a hoot! I was teaching class the other day and telling people to click the little link at the bottom of their blog posts to share them and get more traffic. Someone asked if I had to do that every time I posted and was horrified when I said yes. REALLY? It takes me exactly 6 minutes to bookmark to 10 websites like stumble upon, google, digg and more (I timed it today). Now it took me a couple of hours initially to get them set up but they drive hundreds of people to my site each month. Well worth the time it took!
  • Commenting on other blogs – HUH this takes about 15 minutes a day more or less. I have a bunch of blogs that get emailed to me or show up in my google reader so I don’t have to look too hard for things to comment on AND I like learning about new things so this is pleasure for me to do.
  • Setting up incoming links – I make free websites that have links back to my blog and targeted keywords. I do not do this regularly enough but when I sit down to do it it takes a couple of hours to make multiple backlinks.

Email Marketing

I only send out a couple of emails a month so I would say this takes me two hours a month. Nothing sexy here, just making sure that I send great information to people who really want to read it.

Making Videos

This is one I think small business owners are afraid of! It takes me 10 minutes to make a video using jingproject.com and pop it up to youtube. It takes me 10 minutes to do a video with my flip camera and pop it up to youtube.

Now when I do the training videos for my membership site it takes about an hour a video since there are intro and editing and uploading BUT that is only for people who are doing fancy-schmancy training. Most of the time I opt for down and dirty with great information and more of it than I could do if each video was a work of art.

Well I hope that helps – this post is running to just over a thousand words, took me about a half an hour to write and I actually enjoyed knowing that some small business owners would benefit from knowing how little time it takes to succeed online!

PS – I was prompted to write this post because I got an email in my inbox that said “How I Made $54,281 in 90 Minutes By Doing This One Thing” which implied that if I bought his product that I could make 54K with no work and with no effort!!!

Internet Marketing Keyword and Product Names

When you are doing internet marketing, keyword and product names are more important than almost anything else you can do. It is great to have a product or service, but if no one can find it then you are going to have trouble making sales!

Internet Marketing KeywordsFriday I wrote a post about Small Business Marketing Naming Concepts which covered the basics of generally naming your products but I feel like I missed something in the internet marketing translation.

Why Keywords and Product Names Matter

I cannot stress this enough, keyword and product names matter more today than ever! Getting sales or leads from the internet relies on humans being able to find your company while doing searches. People find information by doing looking on search engines. Every one of you has “googled” something at least once in your life so you know what I am talking about. Search engines are just databases of information that is indexed by taking words you use and comparing them to words other humans use and seeing if they match.

This is not rocket science. If I name my best product Small Business Internet Express instead of naming it the Marketing Artfully Success System I have more of a chance of showing up in the search engines for the search term “small business internet” which is closer to my product than using my company name or obscure terms like success system.

Just so you know what this would mean to your business in the real world:

  • Small Business Internet is searched 49,500 times per month
  • Success System is searched 33,100 times per month and
  • Business Success System has not enough searches to even estimate

So if I was trying to let small business owners know that I am selling internet products, the name I am using DEFINITELY will have a better chance of being found than something less fun and sexy. Now I KNOW it not fun to name your products what they are. It is more fun to make great marketing campaigns based on something funny or clever, BUT that makes it harder to get the word out there.

As a small business owner, I do not have the resources to do a branding campaign big enough to get the general public and especially the search engines to understand that a made up name is really a small business internet marketing program.

Realtor Marketing Most Real Estate Websites Let Realtors Down

Is your website submarining your realtor marketing efforts? Most realtors I know do not cruise the internet marketing sites and forums like I do so they are not aware of some the top things that effect their page rank or how high they are listed on google. Having worked with LOTS of Realtors with different brokers over the years, I can tell you FOR SURE that if you are using a website provided to you by Keller Williams, C21, Coldwell Banker or any of the other big guys you probably do not rank well for local search terms.

Different Realtor MarketingDo you know why? It is because google hates duplicate content! I wrote a post earlier in the week about Duplicate Content for Small Business Owners and MLMs but I didn’t want my Realtor buddies to think this was not about them also!

When we think of Google’s goals for their search results, this makes total sense. If you did a search for “real estate” and google returned 1,000 or 10,000 of exact same site with just a different realtor’s name on them, you would stop using google. This means that google is looking for new and exciting content that they can serve up to their searchers and that your cookie-cutter site will never be found!

At least those sites where free….sigh. My pal Deb Ward (Dunedin Realtor) has a fond wish that eventually she will have enough disposable income to afford a Number One Agent or other duplicate content website for her realtor marketing master plan. That is crazy in today’s day and age. Spend that money on a blog which you can optimize and then buy tons of content to plop into that site to help you rank higher in the search engines! I know I am fighting a losing battle when my best buddy still wants to throw me over for smoke and mirrors but I will just keep trying..:)

We have made a couple of really neat Realtor websites lately from sea to shining sea – Kathy Moore of Franklin Tennessee Real Estate News and Cecil and Charlotte Volsch of Homes For Sale Victorville California both launched recently with great content, keywords and IDX functionality!

If you DO have a duplicate content site from your broker, change it today as much as possible to help you rank better with the google. If you do have a little bit of money to spend on a website blog, give us a jingle today and we will see if we can build a site in your sales area or farm (we don’t make competing sites in the same area…:)

Internet and Keyword Marketing Are Constantly Changing

Internet marketing and especially keyword marketing is fun, challenging AND changing! It used to be so easy to define your business and then run with that for years or even decades. A barber was a barber and didn’t try to be a stylist or add things to his business. An accountant did books for small businesses and knew that tax time would bring a huge windfall to her business.

We do a keyword marketing analysis for each of our blog customers and I consider this to the MOST important phase of the project. I have often been floored when I find that there is little or no competition for keywords that I expect to be huge and also have been surprised that obscure keywords have such a high competition in the marketplace.

That having been said, it also pays to listen to what humans are talking about. Lately I have noticed a trend that when people call and ask me to speak they keep asking about “social media” instead of “social networking”. Now when I started out speaking and working with Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter a while ago, it was all social networking BUT times they are a changing and I am always curious to see what the numbers have to say.

DOH – Social Media gets 135 THOUSAND searches a month and Social Networking gets only 12 thousand. Sigh. That means that I had to go back in and change my graphics on my social media how to videos, on my buttons and re-write my sales pages. I have to re-think my adwords campaigns and even how I present myself as a speaker. I have to change my vernacular and even go in and add new tags to my old social networking posts. Darnit. I wish everything would just stay the same, but it does not and that is just how our new world is!

If you are a small business owner, make sure you are listening to your customers. Have their words or needs changed. Do they want you to provide something that you aren’t currently doing. DO NOT get stuck in a rut or resist change because it is hard. I was reminded of a book that I read years ago (Who Moved My Cheese) which basically said that if you are not willing to listen and make changes your business will wither and die.

SOOOO get out there and call your best customers TODAY. Find out what they are talking about and what their needs are that your company can provide. Check your keywords to make sure they are helping your marketing efforts and product lines. If you have not checked them in 6 months, today is the time to do so. Look at all this change as an opportunity to fix what was not working and improve your bottom line while you are at it!

If you would like to have a keyword marketing analysis done, we are honoring our $100 price point through this month only, then the price jumps to $250. Also, the book reference contains an affiliate link, if you click that I will get a little bit of money. If you would like to avoid giving me a little bit of money just do a search for that title on Amazon..:)

Duplicate Content for Small Business Owners and MLMs

As some of you may know, I do internet and offline marketing for small business owners BUT I also do A LOT of research into hard core internet marketing since many of the techniques I learn from those guys translate into something that my small business owners, entrepreneurs and realtors can use!

Sorting out duplicate contentThe other day I was reading about duplicate content on adwords websites and how that effects the rankings and the amount those advertisers get paid. That made me think long and hard about my small business owners who work for companies that offer “websites” and “shopping carts” for them to use to market their business.

If you have a Tupperware website (or candle or jewelry or weight loss) site that your company provides, there is a good chance that it has duplicate content on it! While it is great that your company provides an ecommerce or marketing solution for you, the chances of you ranking for that search term when there are thousands of the same sites out there is incredibly slim.

So what can you do? If you have some money to invest in your business you can have a blog like the one we did for Rae Ann over at Green Cleaning Products. She isn’t competing with all of the other people who represent her company anymore, instead she is representing herself and green cleaning products, with Wow Green simply as a product. Additionally, she DOES rank on the first page for Green Cleaning Products Denver which is one of search terms we targeted for her!

So what if you are just getting started? You could use free websites or blogs to set yourself apart from the crowd! Each time you leave a breadcrumb around the internet that is different from your company website, you increase the chance of someone finding you and possibly following that back to buy!

If you would like to learn about using free websites to market and are in the Denver area next week, consider coming to our Free Website Marketing Workshop (the sites are free the workshop isn’t…:)

New Google Search Features and What They Mean

There are some big changes in how Google delivers search results. The three that I am obsessed with right now are the Google and Twitter real time search results, the Google local search functions and the Google “your friends” search results.

Google Real Time Twitter SearchGOOGLE REAL TIME TWITTER RESULTS

Google returns twitter results in real time right on the search page. Did you know that? Did you think of how that could effect what you post on Twitter? Now don’t get me wrong, they are not posting up to the minute “tweets” on every topic BUT they are posting tweets on trending topics like they did during the superbowl for “superbowl ads”. There they were returning real time twitter results at the top of the search page right under the first organic listing.

So when you post to twitter are you using your keywords? Google is a giant database that has nothing to use to categorize your information other than words (OK – I know that they are working on categorizing videos too but that is a post for another day!) SOOOO when you post a tweet about your blog post or a Facebook note or something else that leads from your breadcrumbs back your main site, make sure you great keywords as part of your 140 characters!

Here is some great insider information on the google blog about the real time twitter search results.

GOOGLE LOCAL SEARCH RESULTS

This one is pretty annoying to marketers. Basically it means that Google can change the results you are shown based upon your IP address, whether or not you are logged into google when searching and even some of what you have searched for and clicked on previously.

This means that although you do a search and your site shows up in the top ten results on the first page, that may not be the case all across America (or even across town). The way to check and see if you are seeing a true result is to go to a proxy site like the elegantly named Hide My Ass and THEN type in the google search site. This will allow you to see what search results are coming up without all the baggage that comes with using your computer at your home or office.

Additionally, this means that there is no easy SEO solution!!!! If someone calls you and guarantees that they can get your site on the first page of google for a search phrase, ask them how they are going to accomplish that so it works globally. Additionally, paying lots of money for one search phrase is silly – if you are going to spend that kind of money use adwords and get lots of search phrases!

YOUR FRIENDS GOOGLE SEARCH RESULTS

Google Friend Search ResultsLast but not least, Google now tells me the search results that my friends are returning. My blogging buddy Michael Martine over at Remarkablogger is “ranking on the first page” of my search results for internet marketing because google knows that he is is in my gmail contacts. THAT IS HUGE! That means that people google thinks are connected to me will see MY results on the first page.

Many times small business owners want me to tell them how social networking benefits them. They want to know that all that effort they are putting in makes a difference. Well, if you had asked me last week for a really great reason to have friends, and twitter friends and big contact lists in google I may have answered differently. Today with google buzz starting up and then seeing these new search results, I am more committed to growing large networks than ever!

Social Networking First Responder Advantage

It seems like everyday someone invites me to join a new social network. From Facebook to Twitter to Google and about a gagillion more. So, is it worth your time to fill out all those profiles and does filling them out obligate you to actually USE the site?

Twitter BirdThis is a purely subjective answer based on my experiences, if you find that I have not mentioned one that works great for you or that you feel is awesome, please feel free to post in the comments!

While I don’t participate in every site I sign up for, I do think that there is first responder benefit to joining social networks as early in the process as possible. If I join when there are only two thousand people and it takes off to have fifteen million people later, every person who joins after me has a chance of finding me. If I join at the fifteen million person mark, I have to go find all those people myself.

Additionally, there is a tipping point to everything. Once you have about 500 Facebook friends, suddenly people start asking you to be their friend instead of you having to go find them. The same thing happens on Twitter and LinkedIn, making building large networks easier.

That having been said, I generally only use Facebook and Twitter with any regularity. They have lots of users and are the current media darlings. BUT (and this is HUGE but), do not get complacent and think that if you grow a huge Twitter following that you are set for the next five years. These things come and go in a matter of months or years!

That is why being spread out over a number of different networks can really make a difference to your small business or entrepreneurial online marketing success!!!

Here are just a few of the places that you can post your information online:

Google Buzz and Gist Updates

There are some really new things happening like google buzz and gist which could be a great way to keep up with your contacts and what they are doing across Facebook, Twitter and their blogs. Warning, if you want the world to be the way it was 20 years ago and not have to continually learn, change and figue out new technologies this is NOT the post for you!

Google BuzzGOOGLE BUZZ

Google Buzz is here (just FYI I didn’t know it even existed until 2 days ago so you are not very far behind the curve…:) What I have found it to be thus far is an incorporation between my google contacts and my gmail in conjunction with their blog posts and twitter tweets and more. It showed up as a little button below my Inbox. Now I did request to be added to it so I am not sure if it would have just showed up anyways or not – just in case here is a link to Google Buzz.

The way that google finds these items to post is by searching what you have entered in your google profile so make sure that your blogs, facebook and twitter accounts are up to date!

I will do a more in depth post on this alone once I understand what it is BUT there is always a first responder advantage so get signed up and worry about the rest later!!!

gistGIST

This seems like it could be really neat…or a huge waste of time! Basically what it is is a way to load all of your favorite people’s social networking and blog stuff into one place and then be able to keep up with them all at once across platforms. That having been said, it seems like it might take A LOT of time getting all that stuff loaded in initially. I think if it catches on A BUNCH then eventually other people will load their own stuff and you won’t have to do it BUT there are not that many people preloaded now.

I am going to write about the benefits of being first to market on Monday so make sure to check back!

How to market with press releases

While we are thrilled to report that New Business Denver featured Marketing Artfully in their Social Networking edition, is that really interesting to our readers? I feel like that kind of notification should be reserved for a press release (more about that later). That having been said, I thought that it would be good to tell you some of the ways that small business owners and entrepreneurs can capitalize on good press!

Blogs are not press release sites and I FIRMLY believe that writing a press release and posting it here does no one any good. It probably just makes you (my loyal readers) roll your eyes and it would definitely not attract the kind of attention that I am looking for, which is for other press people to pick it up and possibly use me as source for information or quotations in the future.

Fortunately there are press release sites that allow you to post your information in a structured format that notifies places like google news that you have published. In my world there is “NEWS” like I am on the cover of a magazine and then there is “news” like I am teaching a workshop.

New Business Denver SearchAs some of you may know, I am a pretty frugal marketer and so I do not like to spend the big bucks on press releases. I use the site www.free-press-release.com and I sprang for the big money release – thirty bucks. The super cool thing is that right now I am number 7 on google for the search term “new business denver” for my press release – yay! If you have “news” you can get it out there for one dollar which is a great value. If you are a little less frugal you could use the site www.prnewswire.com which starts at one hundred and twenty five bucks and works up over three grand.

So then I “tweeted” my press release news and will be tweeting my blog post about my press release also. I facebooked and asked my friends to vote up my press release so that I would get more eyeballs (my friends ROCK – I have 14 votes already…:) PLUS it has the added benefit of being about to watch my view stats obsessively just like I do my google analytics. Here’s a link if you would like to read my New Business Denver Social Networking Press Release.

I also social bookmarked my press release on sites like Stumble Upon and Digg (although I did not do all of them since I am going to be promoting this post also and I don’t want to be spammy).

SOOOO if you get great press, make sure you let the world know and try to do it in the proper medium! If you would like to read the whole Social Networking Article on New Business Denver click the link!

Super Bowl Ads Recap and Analysis

What is the purpose of an Superbowl advertisement? Is is branding, comedy or SALES? It is my understanding that all advertisements are supposed to generate twice as much revenue as they cost and at the very least should be able to pay for themselves with sales. Here is a VERY subjective look at Superbowl ads old and new and their sales effectiveness.

According to CNN Money, the 2010 super bowl ads cost “a record $2.6 million for a 30-second spot”. Add that to the approximately 1 million dollars it takes to produce the ad. That is a tremendous amount of money to have to recoup with sales and it doesn’t even touch what companies like Dorito’s and Papa Johns paid to be official sponsors of the event.

The other consideration is whether the ad is effective for just men or just women. At halftime my husband’s favorite ads where the Snickers where they slammed Betty White into a puddle and also the Doritos bark collar. I liked the irony of Oprah, Jay and Dave sitting together having a terrible Superbowl party BUT that is totally branding AND you have to know a lot of back story to have it make sense. That having been said, to people who DO pay attention it was worth a chuckle. I also like the ongoing Budweiser ads with the Clydesdales although this years was just okay.

I have been VERY disappointed with the ads and was particularly grouchy about one that had people flipping around in a pool like dolphins. REALLY? You are a Madison Avenue ad firm with a million dollar budget and the ability to do ANYTHING and you come up with slog like that?!?!!?

My Husband’s favorite commercial of all time is far and away the Nissan pigeons. We had a little talk about the effectiveness of the ad since he has never bought a Nissan, but John contends that it is a success because he talks about that commercial years later. He also thinks that paying this much attention to commercials is stupid, but that is a post for another day…:)

I don’t care what anyone says…I LOVED Pets.com and they were around just about the time that Stanley Brown Dog was a puppy so I have to say that single handed-ly tried to purchase enough new toys to keep them in business!! That having been said, having a business model that effectively loses money while spending gagillions on advertising may not be the exact way to go.

The Apple Computer Ad 1984 is my all time favorite commercial and the very first time that I remember noticing advertising as something I liked to study! It was directed by Ridley Scott and has set the bar pretty high for the competition. There IS something to be said for the fact that I did not purchase an Apple product until a couple of years ago – was it actually effective or just neat?

Real Small Business Marketing

Real small business marketing is NOT a lot of things. It is not social networking like facebook or twitter. It is not throwing up a blog and hoping someone will come. It is not signing up for the latest online directory or craigs list or usfreeads.

Real Small Business MarketingWhat real small business marketing is is hard work. It is old fashioned identifying your target market, then figuring out the best way to reach them, then crafting a great offer that you know will make them interested. Then the really hard work starts! It is contacting prospects, following up until they are ready to buy and even some wine and dining from time to time.

Just because there is more opportunity available on the internet does not mean that we can abandon our old business ways. Getting belly to belly with a highly targeted prospect will still result in a sale. Calling your suspect list and making sure that they know you are still in dialogue is huge. Sending personal note instead of emails really does work.

We live in fabulous times that allow us access to millions of new customers instead of the 200 or so that we know personally. Make sure that you transfer some of your old marketing tricks to these new marketing media!

PS – Speaking of old time marketing ideas…have you called your past customers lately to see if they need to buy something else?

Small Business Marketing There is no set it and forget it!

This post about small business marketing is a follow up to “There is no one marketing thing that works“. In that post I gave small business marketers the bad news that there is one marketing thing that works like the old yellow page ads used to. Well get ready for more bad news! If you would rather that the world go back to the way it used to be, then this may not be the post for you.

Loudspeaker SalesmanI LOVE the infomercial pitchmen! They are brilliant at separating you from your money with catchy taglines and REALLY strong call to actions. The best tagline I ever heard was “set it and forget it”. This was for a product that cooked an entire meal for you using one appliance and the salesman had the audience chant that over and over during the commercial.

Neato kitchen appliance notwithstanding, there is no set it and forget it for your small business marketing. Buying a website and blog, then ignoring it for a year will not get you top google rankings. Just setting up a business Fan Page will not grow your sales by thousands. BUT worse than that even, learning to use Facebook or Twitter will not carry you over then next 10 years of marketing.

If you had asked about the biggest social networking site a couple of years ago you would have been talking about MySpace, which has now fallen off the face of the earth marketing-wise in favor of Facebook and Twitter. If you built a state-of-the-art website 3 years ago, you may be surprised to find that an affordable blog may be the best way to drive traffic to your sales page.

Nothing stays still and if you are thinking that you can just “set and forget” your small business marketing, you may find yourself losing ground fast!

Small Business Keyword Marketing

In my post yesterday about entrepreneur internet marketing I talked a little bit about keyword selection but I feel like I did not explain how fun small business keyword marketing can be! Here is a little bit about what prompted my keyword obsession this week…

So I am always working on great keyword selection for my clients but sometimes I get lazy with my own keyword focus. This blog ranks well for realtor marketing and entrepreneur marketing but I wanted a little extra zing for my new Small Business Internet Express product so I was looking at some google adwords data.

While setting up my campaign I noticed that the keyword “entrepreneur internet marketing” cost $3.00 a click and only had about 91 searches a month. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Google wants me to pay three dollars for a keyword that might get seen by about one hundred people a month? Not this marketer I tell you!

Small Business Keyword Marketing So I set out to rank on the first page for that keyword organically and today, one day after posting that article on my blog I rank on page one – yay! Now it is a great win because I am on page one, not so great because (as we know) that search term only gets about a hundred searches a month even though there are six million google listings that come up when you search for that term…:)

Small Business Keyword Focus

So how do you rank well for keywords that really matter? Pick three that are going to be a main focus for your site and then pound the crap out of them! You can get really great ideas of other niche keywords by doing a google search and seeing what google adds to your search as a suggestion. Today they suggested that I might also be searching for “entrepreneur marketing plan” or “social entrepreneur marketing”.

So if I was trying to get a listing for entrepreneur marketing today I would make sure that that search term was in the title tags for my overall blog AND in the titles of lots posts with additional sub keywords added. Age of your domain DOES matter but so does great content so aim really high for you 3 main keywords and you will do well over time!

Entrepreneur Internet Marketing Tips

When I think of my entrepreneur internet marketing efforts, I have to say that I have some huge wins and some blistering defeats. In all cases I started with a great idea and then either implemented it well or became distracted and moved on to something new. Entrepreneurs are a strange breed, we enjoy the thrill of the chase and are always willing to try something new, even if it means neglecting something we loved just moments before!

entrepreneur internet marketingKeyword Selection for Entrepreneurs

Keyword selection and focus is the one thing I see entrepreneurs struggle with the most because they can find something to love in many different types of businesses. They start a blog focused on home health care and two years later have spent more time talking about internet marketing than healthcare. They are in business doing real estate but their real love is boating and they wind up with a crazy mix of the two.

Now don’t get me wrong. I am all about blogging about what you love and having a business based on your passion. I just don’t think that you can have both on the same blog! Google and other search engines do not reward entrepreneurs for their audacity, they punish us for sending a mixed message!

My best suggestion to you is to pick one of your passions and then have a blog focused entirely on that for at least six months before adding anything to it or starting a new one with another topic. Over the course of six months, posting twice a week with targeted keywords, you will wind up with 100 posts that are laser focused on your topic.

Oh, and no more than 3 keywords – I KNOW it is hard to pick just three but it will make a huge difference to your success!

Blogging for Entrepreneurs

Okay, I talked a little about keywords but now let’s get serious now about how entrepreneurs can succeed with their blog! Yes keywords are important, but so is quality content. Fortunately for non-writers, today’s content can include pictures, videos or the written word.

So what you should you write? Start with “evergreen” blog posts that relate to your business and will not grow stale over time. These are the posts that will serve you long after your daily content has fallen off the front page of the search engines.

This post is an evergreen post for my blog. My keyword is Entrepreneur Internet Marketing and that is something that I want to rank well for so I am writing a GREAT blog post that will be of value to my readers as well as have lots of content and focused keywords.

After your evergreen posts, make sure you have a nice mix of posts that are fun to read and ones that are informative but still related to your three main keywords. These additional keywords will be “long-tail” keywords that can get you on page 1 for a specific search term.

Pay-Per-Click Marketing for Entrepreneurs

Another thing your keyword focus can help is with Pay Per Click marketing. It is VERY easy to spend a lot of money using PPC marketing. If you pick too broad a selection, you wind up paying for keywords that are not going to convert well for your product or service. If you pick too narrow a selection or too few regions to advertise in you will save money but not get much exposure either.

While I do do PPC marketing for my site, I do not consider myself expert enough for teaching you, my loyal readers. I use the tools and training in PPC Bully. It is great for researching keywords and where you can place your ads as well as how to write ads that should convert well. If you are considering getting started with pay-per-click I heartily recommend you check out PPC Bully.

That IS an affiliate link and I am happy to recommend them – I love messing around in there doing research on keywords and figuring out how to write better ads to succeed!

Information Products for Entrepreneurs

Information products are things like ebooks, membership sites and video training. I have done all three and some have sold like hot cakes while some died a horrible death. My social networking videos have done REALLY well in conjunction with in-person networking and hands-on workshops while my ebooks have really only been great for adding to email marketing lists, not selling outright.

The best things about info products is the low cost to produce them and the ability to get immediate feedback about what people like and are willing to pay for. The main thing to do is fail early and often, then modify your information product to sell better.

For example, my first social networking videos were okay and provided great content but they were slow to download and didn’t have a lot of professional touches that the new ones have. That having been said, it would have been a horrible waste of time to produce professional level videos which no one wanted to buy!

Free ebooks are a great way to see if anyone is interested in what you are considering producing! If you can’t “sell” a free ebook for the cost of someone signing up for your email list, there is little chance that someone will pay you big bucks for a full blown information product on the same topic.

Hopefully this information will help you with your entrepreneur internet marketing efforts! If you have a great success (or failure) story, feel free to share in the comments with the other entrepreneur marketers!

Should you digg your own site?

I have to admit, I digg my own site! Because of how we build our blogs, at the bottom of each post is a little button that says “Tell and Share” which allows me to fly through submitting my post to all sorts of bookmarking sites like Digg, Stumble Upon, Delicious and Google Bookmarking.

Digg Delicious Stumble Upon GoogleSharing my posts this way has a couple of great consequences including site traffic and people who follow my suggestions. Because I am sharing my blog posts on these bookmarking services I get between 30 and 50 free hits each time I post.

Now a word of caution! If you just start bookmarking today, you will probably NOT get that kind of response. I have been bookmarking for close to a year so I have friends and followers of my bookmarks just like you would have on Facebook or Twitter. Because I always suggest quality content (mine and other people’s), they can feel confident that if I recommend a link it is going to be informative.

So what are your thoughts? Should you bookmark your own posts or is there some sort of bookmarking etiquette that I am violating?

Marketing Artfully members – this week’s “free” post is about how to be deliberate about bookmarking and growing your bookmarking following!

How Often Should You Post To Your Blog?

I have been blogging about small business marketing for years now and one of the most frequent questions I get from beginning bloggers is – how often should I blog? To me this is NOT a one size fits all kind of question! There are a number of factors to be considered including…

How Often Should You Post BlogsFirst – Do you like to write?

Posting blog entries is not a chore for me. I can write about anything (once I even wrote about toenails in conjunction with marketing on a dare!) Since it is not hard for me to do, making sure to post at least three times per week here is easy. If you are not a natural writer, I would suggest starting with once a week and building up from there!

Second – How often does your audience expect to get updates?

My audience is small business owners, realtors and entrepreneurs and I know that they are only avid readers of my content basically Monday through Thursday. Friday through Sunday are dead times for me so I rarely post then. Also, they are not necessarily looking for me to post multiple times per day so I am good with a thrice weekly schedule.

Third – What are you trying to accomplish with your posts?

I have close to 200 posts on my site that I have done over the years. While much of my daily traffic comes from today’s posts, an equal number of new visitors are coming in response to a search engine listing on an archive post. This is the long tail theory of marketing which says that I could never figure out EXACTLY which keywords people might use to search for my content BUT if there is enough content out there then I will get eyeballs.

For example, today someone found my site by searching “differences between facebook, linkedin and twitter”. Now I have never written a post for that and the page that came up was the sales page for my social networking videos that I need to change BUT the cool thing is that they bought! Writing lots of content is the closest thing to money for nothing and the chicks for free that I can find!!!

If you have not read Chris Anderson’s “The Long Tail” yet it is definitely a MUST READ if you are just getting going on internet marketing! This is an affiliate link but that doesn’t make my ABSOLUTE recommendation any different…:)

Finally – What can you commit to?

I have found that some bloggers start off hot and heavy and then peter out because they get busy. Busy with life, busy with following up on all of their blog sales leads, busy with work. Now those are high quality problems to have, but if you blog 30 times your first month, 10 times your second month and 2 times your third month, you are going to disappoint your readers who have now come to expect a high volume.

My thought is that it is better to set a reasonable schedule and then live up to it. If you do write more then you can just schedule that they be published at a later time.

Well bloggers – hope this helps! The photo with this picture is my original blog design from 2006! I liked my meerkats and other cute pictures but they did not necessarily scream small business…:)

There is no one marketing thing that works

I have been talking about this with humans A LOT lately so I am just going to get it off my chest here. There is NO ONE marketing thing that works! Facebook is not going to change your life, getting a blog or a website will not get you 1000 prospects tomorrow, new business cards – nope, print advertising – nitch, direct mail – nil, video – nada. Small business owners, entrepreneurs and realtors need to get a grip on the fact that anyone selling them THE ONE THING that will take care of all their marketing needs is lying (and not just a little bit, a big fat lie!)

small business entrepreneur and realtor marketingThere are a bunch of small business owners who are sad. They do not like doing marketing much and prospecting (calling) is out of the question for them. They are pining for the good old days when they could just place their yellow page ad once a year and then sit back and wait for the phone to ring. Realtors are looking for a time when sitting in the office meant that you got the next live buyer or seller that walked in the door for floor time. Pine away, those days are gone and yearning for them just means your small business is slower to get going in the new, more competitive marketplace.

Think about what has come and gone even in just the last decade…

  • I started 2000 arguing with business owners that having a flash movie between their website and the search engines was harmful (and expensive)
  • HTML built websites were hard to build, expensive to change and gave way to…database and frame websites that were hard for search engines to find!
  • No one even knew about google
  • Direct mail fell off the map in the latter part of the decade (smart marketers know that now is the time to get in when competition is low)
  • Advertising in newspapers stopped being the other easy way to market
  • Snazzy marketing materials and design became affordable at Vistaprint.com
  • Blogs showed up as a great way to get found by search engines and were easy to use
  • Social networking like myspace came and went and new ones like twitter and facebook took their place
  • AND people started using the internet to find small businesses instead of using..wait for it…the yellow pages!!!

Now-a-days small business owners have to be more marketing savvy. They do not have to learn HOW to do the actual technical parts but they DO need to know what works the best for their business AND get involved. I can guarantee that no one will love your business like you do so handing over your marketing to a snake oil saleman could be death of it!

I am putting this out there loyal readers – before you spend more than $1,000 on any type of marketing please post a link to what you are thinking about here. If I think it is great I will publish it and give  your marketer some great publicity and you the thumbs up. If I think it less than great I will message you behind the scenes and let you know my thoughts. I have talked to too many small business owners lately who are spending a FORTUNE on snake oil…:(

There is an affiliate link for vistaprint in this post, if you click that and then sign up I will get a little bit of money, if you would like to avoid giving me a little bit of money type it in manually.

My FTC Disclosures are Ridiculous and Out of Hand

I am as afraid of government agencies as much as the next gal but I have to say that the new FTC Affiliate Link Disclosure non-guideline threat has definitely set me off! Admittedly I am a professional business woman who should be able to comply with a modicum of dignity, but that just isn’t the case…

ftc affiliate link disclosuresMy FTC affiliate disclosures started off relatively tame and somewhat coherent:

the link to the flip camera is an affiliate link – if you would like to purchase one of those without using my link, search for flip at your favorite online retailer…:)

The next one got a little more specific and consistent:

There are affiliate links in this post that if clicked will result in me getting a little bit of money. If you would like to avoid giving me a little bit of money, type in the URLs manually…:)

Finally I noticed my FTC Disclosure yesterday entered the realm of the ridiculous!!!

I have literally millions of affiliate links in this post (okay, like 4) and some links to my friends websites which gives them google juice. Oh, and I made a link to my website and blog design site in case you want to buy a blog before the prices go up! Soooo…if you click on some of the links in this article I may make a little money, if you rather I didn’t, type in the URL manually!

I AM sure that it complies with COMPLETE disclosure but now may be bordering on the out of hand! If anyone out there knows about a disclosure 10 Step program, please email me the URL!! For a grown up take on FTC Disclosures please visit Scott Fox.com!

On a side FTC Disclosure note – do you think that if I was consistent Marketing Artfully would start ranking well for my disclosure text rather than my target keywords? I think I will continue to change it around to avoid that.

Is Honest Affiliate Marketing An Oxymoron

I have a huge question for you! Is honest affiliate marketing an oxymoron? Is there a way to make a little bit of money and still keep your integrity? Should you care?

My Take On DISHONEST Affiliate Marketing

honest affiliate marketingAs you know, I am a big marketing reader and learner. I have taken courses from people who recommend cloaking and using pseudonyms and having software download on people’s computer to guarantee that I get the credit for affiliate links rather than someone else (like having dibs when we were kids).

I have even set up some accounts (like one) using a pseudonym. I got all stressed out like the rest of the internet world when I heard that review sites where getting banned from google (I have done some reviews!!! am I going to be sent to google hell?!?!?!)

My take on it was that it was A LOT of work to keep the “gray hat” stuff straight. It also took more work than I was used to because it was separate from my name and my marketing artfully empire. So I tried it and said no! But that having been said, it is very lucrative and if you are an organized snarky person it may be worth your time to do!!!

The sites that are being banned tend to be sites where the blogger “reviews” three products (all with affiliate links) without having used the products or knowing much more about them than they pay well. Unfortunately some good guys got caught up in this net too.

My Take On Honest Affiliate Marketing

So what is honest affiliate marketing and does it apply to internet marketers only? Is it worth your time as a small business owner or entrepreneur to learn? I think so but you tell me…

Example 1 – Copywriter extraordinaire – Nancy Juetten

Nancy Jeutten had a boutique, highly paid PR company before the market turned in 2008. She was not looking to become an internet marketer or affiliate rockstar but circumstances required that she become one! Now Nancy is a TREMENDOUS advocate for the people she promotes. She has an editorial calendar that offers just one spot per month for affilate marketing links and then the rest is promote her amazing prodcuts like her Free Ebook – 32 Articles to Unleash the Power of Publicity.

Example 2 – Dunedin Realtor Deborah Ward

Deb recommends a product called Infusionsoft that she uses to keep in touch with her clients. She thinks it is great and it works well with her real estate marketing efforts. She signed up for their affiliate program and gets a commission when she recommends it to her realtor buddies. Is that HONEST? I think so if she is actually recommending it AND I would think that anyone who signs up and loves the product would thank her for it!

Example 3 – Michael Martine Remarkablogger

Michael recommends the Headaway for WordPress theme. He uses it on his site and recommends it to his clients because he thinks it is the best thing for them (I recommend the Genesis Theme because I like that one the best). If he TRULY feels that theme is great and that it serves his clients well, is it wrong for him to get a little bit of money if someone buys it? (please note Michael’s clarification – “I earn a percentage of sales for the work I do with them.”)

Marketing Artfully Examples

So I DO do affiliate links for products and services that I think are beneficial to my readers. I make sure to note that I may get a little bit of money if someone buys the products when I blog about it (this relatively new as that rule was not in effect until recently so older posts do not include it). I also tweet links for people to find great information, products or free stuff. Let me know if you think I am out of line…

  • James Wedmore has AMAZING YouTube training videos. I have purchased his products in the past and been happy. People have purchased his products through affiliate links of mine in the past and not asked for a refund. I plan on tweeting this out to people who follow me on the interwebs. Is that honest?
  • My friends send me affiliate links when I am going to buy something they recommend. My buddy Cyndee Haydon (Clearwater Realtor) and I were talking the other day about something she had tested and she said she would send me her affiliate link to buy it – I was not offended, I was just happy to know about it AND that she would get a bonus for telling me!
  • I bought Gary Vaynerchuk’s book Crush It! AND got to see him in person (it was fabulous!) I think everyone in America should read it and then become motivated to do what they love like I do. Is it appropriate to include an affiliate link in my recommendation?

I KNOW there are hundreds of other examples out there of dishonest affiliate marketers but I tend to think that most small business owners and entrepreneurs could find SOMETHING that they could recommend that would make them some money. Especially if they are doing it in an honest and above board manner…I welcome your thoughts!!!!

I have literally millions of affiliate links in this post (okay, like 4) and some links to my friends websites which gives them google juice. Soooo…if you click on some of the links in this article I may make a little money, if you rather I didn’t, type in the URL manually!

Outsourcing is the new black!

So you are considering outsourcing some of your tasks – YAY YOU! Now that the rah-rah is out of the way, what kinds of tasks can you honestly get off of your plate and onto someone elses? One last thing, outsourcing does not always mean sending your work out of the country, just remember that because the standard of living is lower elsewhere, sometimes it just makes sense for certain tasks!

So what do I outsource?


Outsourcing Administrative Help – For any of you that read my blog regularly, you know I use THE Shell Marketing Manager for email database updating work and managing my schedule and clients. Michelle is in the US and very selective about the clients she will take so I am assured that my clients will be handled with the utmost care. She also does phone calling for me – after having had a bad experience previously, I am VERY careful about who I give my database list to call on my behalf!

Outsourcing general admin help that can be done not on site, I generally check first at oDesk . They offer all kinds of support and manage the workers so that you can be sure that you are getting work for the time you paid for! They are good for non-client contact work like submitting my websites to places, posting content to my niche blogs, basic admin tasks AND most don’t need to be hand held through the process because oDesk tests them first…:)

Outsourcing setting up my speaking events – I let Amber from Your Marketing Voice (online and offline networking) handle advertising my Denver area monthly internet marketing training events. She handles setting up events in Facebook, finding a place, answering attendee questions and so much more. Great speakers are not necessarily good admin people – don’t let people fall through the cracks just because you don’t follow up!!!

Outsourcing Blog Writing – I NEVER let anyone write for me for Marketing Artfully as this is my main blog, that having been said, I do hire writers to write articles, blog posts and free website content for some of my other web 2.0 properties. For cheap writing I use http://www.need-an-article.com/ and have been VERY happy with the results. I have to tweek it some to make it great but it is SO much easier to edit than to have to come up ideas from a blank screen. For content that I can just plop in there without having to worry I use a couple of different US based copywriters who I like very much!

There are people I outsource my technical problems, my accounting and also people I outsource my cooking too (LOVE that Colorado Home Chef..:) ANYTHING you do not like, have time for or do not know how to do is fair game! Find someone to help and get going working on what you ARE good at AND if the first one doesn’t work out, do not give up – try again!!!

There are affiliate links in this post that if clicked will result in me getting a little bit of money. If you would like to avoid giving me a little bit of money, type in the URLs manually…:)

Internet Marketing – Making the most of your marketing efforts

internet marketing successWhen you start internet marketing, or real life marketing for that matter, you are all fired up. You are going to tweet, and facebook and get a blog and free websites and and and…. Then one of two things happens A) nothing works because you did one thing on each of those mediums or 2) you get lots of business so you stop doing what worked!

The other thing I hear is that small business owners, entrepreneurs and realtors don’t have the time to do this kind of marketing. They are too busy running their businesses to do lead generating to get more sales. Sigh. Their ONLY business is getting more customers and prospects! If they have no customers they have no business! So what is a smart marketer to do?

First – Determine what you like to do!

If you like to sit in front of the computer, make sure you are spending your time wisely…

  • Watch TV and follow more people on twitter
  • Take the time to write thoughtful blog posts instead of watching HGTV or Spike
  • Set up multiple twitter accounts in the niches you would like to target
  • Set up multiple blogs in the niches you would like to target
  • Answer your emails
  • Stop removing yourself from lists
  • Set up google alerts to get the latest information and inspiration on what to talk about
  • Get a database like aweber or constant contact and learn how to set it up

If you hate sitting in front of the computer, take 15 minutes a day and do these things

  • Answer your emails from the night before (if it will take more than 1 minute to answer them then put them on your list of things to do and move on)
  • Follow 50 people on twitter using twellow.com
  • Go into Facebook and accept your friend requests then post your status and “talk” to a couple of people on your live feed
  • Add a link from google alerts about something interesting to your fan page

(membership site gang – watch out for a really neat video later this week that shows how to pick your best marketing opps!!!)

Second – Stop Whining

This one is going to be a little bit mean so if you are having a bad day skip it…:) I do SO many things on the internet. I do everything I have suggested and more. I have client work to do, I have articles and blog posts to write, for goodness sake I have over 20 blogs, 5 twitter accounts, 4 Facebook pages, the list goes on and on. Sometimes I get overwhelmed and think that there is too much to do – then I look at the time I am actually spending working. I mean nose down, no phone, no emails, no nothing, just work. It is about 8 hours a day.

Can you say that you are actually working 10, 12, 14 hours a day. Really? When you are honest with yourself, couldn’t you carve out an extra hour (or even 15 minutes) a day to schedule dedicated time to growing your business?

Third – Get help!

Okay, back to being nice..:) When I say help I mean whatever help YOU need. I don’t need much help with setting things up because I am good at it. I have been doing it A LONG time and some things that may seem overwhelming to you are not hard for me. That having been said, balancing my checkbook is too much for me. All those numbers, ick. So – here are some ways you can get help!

  • Hire an assistant (virtual or real) to do some stuff for you. An assistant is only as good as what you need though. I need someone who can make sure I am doing my client work in a timely manner, enter all the people I meet in my database and add people to my membership site. I cannot expect an assistant to fix my blogs when they break (I hire a programmer for that), I cannot expect my assistant to be an accounting wiz (I hire my CPA and bookkeeper for that). DO NOT give your assistant more than they can do technically and DO NOT try to farm out your internet empire to them. If you do not know what to do hire a marketing person to SET UP the systems for your assistant to manage.
  • Learn to use tools – All those twitter accounts I have, most of them update themselves automatically when I post on any of my blogs via twitterfeed.com. Updating all those Facebook pages is super easy with hootsuite.com. I use writers to help with the heavy lifting of content for my niche blogs. I use my database to talk with people all at once. I automatically follow people using socialoomph.com. All these things make it easy to manage multiple accounts BUT I had to set them up first. Get your online empire built the right way and managing it is easy for you or your assistant!
  • Schedule time – Do you see a theme here? If you do not put time in your calendar to do these tasks you will never get them done. Take the first 15 minutes or hour of your day, shut off your phone and do your online marketing (or if you are having an assistant doing it, stop bothering them with “real work” while they are doing it..:)

Anyways – if you are down here, you are probably interested in REALLY starting to do some internet marketing. Congratulations! Your business will thank you and your bottom line will thank you.

Small Business Marketing – How To Get More Traffic

All small business marketers want more traffic to their website, blog or facebook pages. These are where you can actually make content and build a brand and a following rather than just talking to your readers. So how can you get more traffic?

This is NOT a get traffic quick scheme! This is a slog it out, build a following, talk to them kind of post so if you are looking for a quick hit, move along.

Still here? Okay here goes…The first thing you need to do is figure out where you are sending all of that traffic and what you want it to do! I send all my marketing traffic to Marketing Artfully and until recently had kind of mixed the message once you got here. There were tons of things to look at and click and places to go. Now it is very clear that I want you to click over to my membership site. SO….look at the site you are going to be sending all that traffic to and make sure it has a call to action.

Back to traffic….

There are a gagillion ways to send generate traffic and the first thing I want you to do is STOP and figure out what you like to do!!!!

  • Do you like to write?
  • Then blog A LOT and then use the little button at the bottom to “share” your content on Stumble Upon, Technorati, Digg and Delicious (I use the tell a friend wordpress plugin by social twist for this!)
  • Write articles on Ezine Articles and point links back to your site
  • Get out there and comment on other people’s posts
  • Do you like to teach?
  • Hold seminars and webinars that drive people to your website
  • Make a little video class series and offer it for free
  • Do you like people?
  • Join the social networks and get involved – you cannot just put a link on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter and let it sit there forever without any love
  • Are you a Salesman? (I LOVE salesmen!)
  • Call people with complementary blogs and talk to them. Ask them if they would let you put a blog post on their site with great content.
  • Ask them if you can do a teleseminar with them that you can tape and distribute
  • Call your database and tell them all the great things you are doing on your main site
  • Email your database and ask them to share the big changes with their friends
  • Email someone with a complementary blog and ask them to NICELY to feature a link back to your site! I got the nicest email today that sparked my interest from Ethan over at Sparxoo which prompted this post.

So there you have it, some ideas to increase your traffic that are not hard, but take some work! Some will provide you with direct traffic and some will help your google rankings. Any which way, all will get more eyeballs on your site!!!

If you would like to see the email that sparked this post and find out more about how to generate backlinks from other sites, visit our Marketing Memebership Site – the great letters I responded to are available at the $1 level!!!

Email Marketing – Hiding your list

Super secret email newslettersI like email marketing as much as the next gal! I have numerous lists of people who have subscribed to receive my message and I email them twice a month with great marketing information in my newsletter. Do you know something funny I noticed recently? You can’t subscribe to my “real” email newsletter! HA!

Over time I have noticed that people who signed up online to receive my newsletter unsubscribed faster than everyone else. They sent me nasty emails and said “take me off your list” – just so you know, I send out about 1,200 emails and get only one or two unsubscribers per mailing so it is not a common occurrence to me. And it makes me sad. I spend a A LOT of time writing my newsletters and make sure to only send out great information so when someone sends me a mean email it really does hurt my feelings.

So how do I get new people on my list you ask? I meet them! I go to networking and ask them very politely if they mind if I send them out a marketing newsletter twice a month. BRILLIANT! I also teach them. I teach classes on marketing and ask THOSE people if they would like to hear from me too!!!

Sometimes I “meet” fun people online who I don’t really know but it feels like I do – I ask and add them too!

So how do you get on my super cool, very informative small business marketing email list? Wouldn’t you like to know!

PS – I have been working really hard on my membership site and may be a little punch drunk BUT I had SO much fun writing this I don’t care!!!! Happy New Year…:)

Making a Membership Site

Making A Membership Site is HARD! If you are planning one or even considering making one I have some tips and tricks that I have discovered while making my Small Business, Entrepreneur and Realtor Marketing Membership site.

Step One – Figure out what you are going to sell on your membership site

I have A TON of marketing information all around the internet, some free and some paid. It is on different blogs, on different pages and some is even hidden from the world right now (I am a great marketer, NOT a great organizer). So a membership site allowed me to get it all in one place at one time. It also allowed me to get up and running with content quickly. If you do not have “stuff” made already, you are going to have to build that into the timeline or cost of setting up your membership site. Here are some things I am going to be adding to my site:

  • Videos
  • Recorded webinars
  • Recorded teleseminars
  • Ebooks
  • Posts for members only
  • Photos of how I do my internet marketing
  • PDFs and Word Doc of forms I have set up for doing each part of my business

Step Two – Figure out what software to use to make your membership site

I have checked out a number of membership site options online including WildApricot.com, iGroops.com and a WordPress pluging called Wishlist for WordPress. While wishlist seemed like it would take more time (and money) to set up initially, since I planned on going for the long haul it just made sense. Here are some of the things I liked about Wishlist:

  • It allowed me to pay one time ($99) instead of a monthly fee like some of the others had
  • It allowed me to set up different levels (I have realtors and entrepreneurs who are interested in different things so I HAVE to be able to separate them)
  • It allowed me put everything in one place
  • I can add people on the back end without having to have them come through my shopping cart (this was SUPER important to me since I have people who have already purchased services and who I don’t want to have to charge again)
  • I could set up one time charges for a lifetime membership instead of having to bill monthly (I am anti-subscription because I CAN NOT HAVE one more thing that I pay for monthly AND I don’t want to have to keep up with monthly billing hassles….:)
  • It integrated with PayPal and 1ShoppingCart so while I am using PayPal right now for ease of setup, I can switch to 1ShoppingCart down the line if I get all fired up to do affiliate programs

Lastly you have to Figure out how to get people to sign up for your membership site!

I am fortunate to have a vast network of people and internet properties where I can market my membership site. If you do not have that you need to figure out a way to get people interested in your topic or information. Here are some of the ways that I plan to market my membership site:

  • On my blog(s)
  • In my newsletter
  • When I speak for free
  • When I speak paid
  • Tweet it
  • Facebook page it
  • Direct mail
  • Ask for referrals
  • Have my project manager call my database
  • Give away free memberships to get people interested and using the site (my “free” memberships cost a dollar because I can’t figure out how to make them free-free…:)
  • PPC – Pay per click

Final thoughts! DO NOT let anything stop you if you want to make a membership site. It was scary and frustrating getting it set up for the first time. I am not sure it works exactly right (I think some levels can see things they shouldn’t be able to and the navigation bar is a little wonky) BUT it is up and ready to roll. If you think you are going to be able to roll something out on this scale without a few hiccups you might as well stop right now and read The Dip by Seth Godin! In every endevour there is a dip where you think it will never work right and if you start not knowing that you will get through it then you have failed before you began!

The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)

Right now this post is the only way to access the site, since I wanted to give my marketing artfully readers the first crack at banging around in there. I will keep you up with how it goes over on the membership site AND if you have gotten this far and would like to access the site for half price lifetime memberships – please call me and I will send you a payment link and get you set up personally (this will come off as soon as I know that the site is working properly and will not be repeated)

Learn To Use You Tube Videos – Top 10 Internet Tools

Video For Small Business MarketingIn my top 10 Internet Tools post I talked about learning to use You Tube for your small business – this one is HUGE!!! AND I mis-spoke, I don’t want you to just use You Tube, I want you to use VIDEO on your blog, on your website, in your newsletters, basically anywhere you connect with your people!!!

So if you have NEVER used video, how do you get started (do not worry video junkies, more for you later)! I have found two easy ways to create video for my blogs and newsletters:

1. Using a Flip Video Camera for small business marketing videos – Why a Flip camera?

  • Because it is plug and play AND comes with its own software that works on a Mac or a PC
  • Because it is easy to operate – push one button to start, push one button to stop
  • Because it makes videos you can take directly from your computer and upload to YouTube!

If you are just starting out, buy this camera! I have SO many small business owners who email me and ask how to use their fancy digital video camera (because they got talked into upgrading at the store) because they can’t operate it. I use a flip or my iPhone to shoot videos and have NO IDEA how to manage a fancy schmancy video camera.

2. Using www.jingproject.com to do screen capture videos

For the last two years I have been using the $15 a year version of Jing to make my screen capture videos. If you are not going to be doing professional quality work (and I think most people are wary of professional quality work right off the bat), then use the Jing! It is SUPER easy to use and allows you provide information to people who follow your message.

So what can you use video for? Here are some ideas off the top of my head!!!

  1. Do a powerpoint and use jing to screen capture your analysis of the content (DO NOT just read the slides)
  2. Use your flip to document someone using your product
  3. For realtors – do a video tour of the house in addition to your virtual tour, show all the things that the owners liked about it OR film the current owners telling the great things about living there
  4. For retail store owners – film one of your favorite (and lucrative) products and include a link to how someone can buy it
  5. For non-profits – film an event where you help people by utilizing contributions
  6. For internet marketers – show how easy it is to use your product (or your affiliate product), show them how you use it in YOUR business and why you recommend it!!!
  7. Make sure to check out eyejot.com for sending video emails (if you want to learn more about eyejot I wrote a post a while back…:)

If you have a business that doesn’t fit these ideas, make a comment and I will give you some more!!!

the link to the flip camera is an affiliate link – if you would like to purchase one of those without using my link, search for flip at your favorite online retailer…:)

Big Changes Coming!

Hi All – Just wanted to let you know that are some BIG (exciting) changes coming soon to Marketing Artfully in the Small Business Internet Marketing, Realtor Marketing and General Marketing Info Arenas!!!

Here are just a few of the things we are going to be doing:

Creating a membership site where we can keep all of the great information that we produce like videos, teleseminars and content all in one place. YAY! OF COURSE, some will be FREE and some will be paid but all will be the same high quality info that we always give!!!! Just a note, if you were thinking about getting the social networking videos DO IT NOW! The price is just $24.97 for lifetime access and that will be the very first thing that gets updated in the new membership site SOOO you can get your social networking videos now before the price jumps to $47 on January 1st!!!

Changing around how Marketing Artfully is set up! I think that I will have to go back to the old layout so people can see the membership login area. I don’t know if you noticed but I added a search the site feature so you can find exactly what you are looking for easily from the hundreds of posts.

Telling you guys more and more specific information about internet marketing, keyword research and blogs. Some of you have been with me a LONG time and I know that you are not newbies anymore. For the new year I am going to be breaking out some tougher marketing concepts and pairing those with webinars and teleseminars!

Anyways – hope you all have a great Christmas (or similar fun holiday) and I will see you next week!

PS – If you have any burning requests for information, specialized seminars or how you like to buy stuff (one time fees or subscriptions), speak now or forever hold your peace!!!

Learn to make hyperlinks from Top 10 Internet Tools

How to make hyperlinks
How to make hyperlinks

One thing most small business marketers avoid learning is how to make hyperlinks into your blog comments, facebook pages or anywhere else they are most beneficial. I am not sure why this is so intimidating but we are here to fix this!

Hyperlinks are the words that you use to link BACK to your website. They help to tell google and the other seach engines what you site is about. Many small business owners use their company name to link to their website rather than keywords that would be beneficial to their website or blog.

Instead of linking “Marketing Artfully”, I link “small business marketing”. For realtor marketing it is better to link “dunedin real estate” than to link “Deborah Ward”. Make sure you know your keywords and link those instead of your website address or name!!

I can almost guarantee that you rank in the first couple of positions for your company or personal name – it is not hard to rank for this as almost no one else is competing for that!

Here is the code to use to write a hyperlink OR use the editor in your blog, website or even MS Word and paste it in…

<a href=”http://yourlink.com”>Keywords go here</a>

How To Use Social Networking | Learn How To Make You Tube Videos

Learn how to use Social Networking from Top 10 Internet Tools

Social Networking for Small Business
Social Networking for Small Business

This is not a “how to use social networking” post. It is more a why social networking can help your small business and how you can set up systems that will allow you to use it the right way – not as a stand alone marketing magic pill but as a stable part of your small business marketing plan.

What Kind of Effort Will You Have To Make For Your Social Networking Marketing Success

If you are looking for a get rich quick scheme to do 5 minutes of social networking a week and getting major benefits, you are going to be disappointed. That having been said, it doesn’t take much time to get your social networking set up and then minimal time a day to keep it going.

It should take you about 4 hours to set up Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter plus your other programs that make using them easy. There are some tricks that make a real difference but mostly you need to make sure you:

  • Pick a hub to drive everything to! I drive people back here to Marketing Artfully from Facebook but send people from LinkedIn and Twitter to my Facebook page sometimes instead of right to my site
  • Include a link to your website, blog or whatever you are using as your Hub to send all of your people to
  • Fill out anything they ask you to – many times they use the information in past jobs and volunteer activities to find connections for you
  • Remember to use a call to action that benefits your readers like “check out our information to help you..” or “find out more about making the most of your..”
  • DO NOT try to overtly sell on Social Networking sites, do that by driving people to your home page and then sell there

I offer a social networking how to video series that will help you get up and running fast if you like to do it yourself. NOTE: We offer lifetime updates and will be raising the price to $47 starting January 1st so if you think you are intested in it, please buy now before the price increase – you will get all the new videos too!

What Kinds of Leads Can You Expect To Get

Social networking leads are strong leads! They are from people who have some kind of relationship with you, not just people who stumbled upon your website and filled out a contact us form. Some leads that I got recently are:

  • Digital Pickle – a digital conversion for photos and vhs tapes company to set up their social networking
  • A social networking class attendee who found me through Facebook
  • Blog prospects and LOTS of website hits from twitter!

If you have any great recent social networking success stories, please make sure to leave them in the comments!

What Tools Should You Use To Make Social Networking Easy

The two primary tools that I use to make my social networking easier are Twitterfeed and Hootsuite. These two tools allow me to spend about 15 minutes a day and get great results.

  • Twitterfeed.com – sends all of my blog posts to twitter.com automatically
  • Hootsuite.com – allows me to update all of my social networks at the same time AND also allows me to schedule tweets for later

Overall, it should not take more than a couple of hours a week to keep your social networking updated regularly!

If you would like to have your social networking empire set up for you, we do a $250 social networking setup that makes getting started effortless!

How To Use Email For Marketing | Learn How To Make Hyperlinks

How To Use Email For Marketing from Top 10 Internet Tools

How to do email marketing
How to do email marketing

How to use email for marketing is simple. It is not easy but the benefits you get FAR outweigh the time it takes to become proficient! In Learn Use the Top 10 Internet Tools for Small Business, I talked about 10 things that I thought were super vital for your internet success. Here you will find out about how to make the most of email marketing.

For each of these items I am going to start with advanced ideas and work back to beginner basics. The reason for this is that there is A LOT of information out there about basic email marketing and I have found that if I tell my readers hard concepts they get them (after a while..:)

EMAIL MARKETING – THE MONEY IS IN THE LIST

When you have a list of people who have agreed to receive emails from you, you hold great responsibility. They have said that you can take their time in exchange for providing them with good information.

What software should you use for keeping track of your lists?

Email Marketing Software Programs – If you have over about 250 people in your database I highly recommend that you start having your people in a “real” email program.

  • Aweber – This is the one that I recommend to all my non-realtor clients considering starting with a “real” email marketing program. Aweber has great email and autoresponder capabilities, meaning that if you are targeting different types of prospects you can do it from one place. The one drawback is that you cannot manually add people individually after your initial upload so be careful if you are wanting to use this as a general contact database (you can have them signup via a web form). Sign up for their FREE trial and see if it will work for you.
  • Constant Contact – This is a friendly email program that is great for beginners but it really makes me mad that they do not have multiple autoresponders so you can not target multiple types of clients (although you can set up multiple types of lists). That being said, it is SUPER easy to use and has really pretty email newsletter templates if you have only one type of client.
  • Brokers Helper – BEST Email marketing program for Realtors with lots of templates and ease of use. They have a FREE trial also!
  • My Red Tools – Brokers Helper program for KW Realtors (you get a little discount) They have a FREE trial also!

Almost every small business owner I speak with wants to know what database they can use for everything. Their shopping cart and email marketing and direct mail and the list goes on and on. I wish that there was one UBER program that could handle all of these things well that was affordable for everyone but I have yet to find it. Once you know that you will be managing multiple lists you can get to the business of marketing and stop complaining about how hard it is!

Here are some things you can do to monetize your emails:

  1. Send out information about your product or service. This can be done in a non-spammy way by providing great information and then adding a link to find out more about your offering. This is number one because generally your highest ROI is from selling your own products or service. For example – a garage door guy could send out an email about how to winterize your garage door and then put a link to his page or post that offers that service on a paid basis.
  2. Send out emails with affiliate offers in them. This requires that you sign up to be an affiliate with a company or to have a referral agreement with a partner. Almost any business has affiliate programs that are relevant to them and it is easier than ever to get information about available offers. I like to use www.offervault.com to find great offers easily.
  3. Email information about your industry. This is the most passive kind of email as there is no call to action to buy anything. That having been said, Lori Crawford of Trinity Eastlake Real Estate gets a lead almost every time she sends out a newsletter about local real estate information to her list. You would be surprised at how just contacting your list on a regular basis will get you more business!

ADVANCED EMAIL MARKETING

So now you have a regular email marketing program set up..what’s next? Autoresponders! Autoresponders work by sending out a series of emails once someone has signed up for your email list online. All of the email marketing software programs that I recommended you use have some sort of autoresponder built in.

Top Autoresponder Mistakes – Here is my take on the top autoresponder mistakes people make once they get people on their list

  • Sending out too many messages – I KNOW, everyone says you should send out messages to your list daily or at the very least weekly. I think that people can get overwhelmed when you send out too many messages and that the impact can get diluted. I like to send out two messages a month and have had great feedback on that amount.
  • Numbering their messages – I have one list I am signed up to that tells me I am on message number 235, etc. I think that they did it for ease of use in setting up their autoresponder series BUT it just reminds me that they have sent me LOTS of messages.
  • Not adding their blog posts to their autoresponder series. I know that I am a prime offender for this one. DO NOT assume that everyone who signs up for your lists reads your blog posts regularly. This is a great place to get extra content for your autoresponders.

This post is a part of my ongoing posts Top 10 Internet Tools! If you would like to learn more please visit…

Top 10 Internet Tools Writing Great Headlines | How To Use Social Networking

Writing Great Headlines from Top 10 Internet Tools

Writing Great Headlines
Writing Great Headlines

In my last post Learn Use the Top 10 Internet Tools for Small Business, I talked about 10 things that I thought were super vital for your internet success. Here you will find out about writing great headlines for email, blog posts, article and website marketing. Get the dos and do nots for all your headline writing!

HOT TIP FOR HEADLINE HELP!
One of the recent resources that I found helpful for writing great headlines was Master Wordsmith (which offers a FREE 7 part email course on how to write an effective sales letter). Good stuff there! PS – I also ordered the $9.95 Ebook and it was WELL worth the price! It has great ideas for headlines, copy and ads.

WRITING GREAT EMAIL HEADLINES

I personally think that a great headline is one that compels me to read an article or open an email. That having been said, there are a number of different reasons for writing blog posts or emails so be careful to know your motivation up front!

Great Headlines for Emails – DO NOTs

  • I have found that fantasmagoric headlines like “make a million dollars today” or get “5,000 twitter followers in a minute” make me think something is up and hit delete without even opening them
  • If your email vendor doesn’t allow you to write individual headlines and every time you send something out it says “a message from…”, get a new vendor! I do not have time to click your email to find out if it might be something I might find interesting and neither does anyone else. I recommend AWeber for my clients AND they have a FREE trial!

Great Headlines for Emails – DOs

  • I track my emails to see which have the best open rates and the ones that do the best are honest about what the content is (duh) because if someone happens to be interested in that topic right then they will open it and read it!
  • This was my highest open headline “My BEST Email Newsletter Marketing Tips EVER!” Now I spent A LOT of time writing that email because I wanted to be truthful, and I don’t often claim to be sending my best stuff out so it was a compelling offer to my readers.
  • Know your audience! If I was marketing soap, then the best email newsletter tips headline would have flopped. Make sure your topic is relevant to your list.
  • You can be MUCH more creative with your email headlines because they are not intended to be seen by search engines.
  • Bonus tip – Once you have sent your email newsletter to your list, make sure you post it to your blog a couple of weeks or months later. Because this is unique content that has not been posted on the internet yet, it is silly not to get it out there!

WRITING GREAT BLOG POST, WEB PAGE AND ARTICLE HEADLINES

Writing great headlines for the internet is different than writing great headlines for humans. When you are writing headlines to be published on the internet, you need to make sure that they are words that the search engines can index and then direct other people to.

Great Headlines for Blog Posts, Pages and Articles – DO NOTs

  • Search engines do not have funny bones so cute headlines won’t work, neither will plays on words or catchy phrases. When I started blogging I used to write headlines like “what is the difference” which did NOTHING for increasing my SEO because there was nothing there to index. It was a GREAT post but no one got to see it because the title was bad.
  • Don’t make stupid claims in your blog post or article headlines. If you do get something indexed and then no humans will read it because the title is obviously bogus (like lose 35 pounds in 2 minutes) then what have you gained?

Great Headlines for Blog Posts, Pages and Articles – DOs

  • Do KNOW YOUR KEYWORDS – can you tell I am yelling? Each post, page or article should have separate keywords intended to rank well in the search engines. This post is intended to rank well for “writing great headlines” and should do that within a couple of days. You should have multiple levels of keywords you are targeting (overall blog, individual channel, parts of the channel) and use them when writing headlines. If you do not know your keywords we have a keyword analysis report that you can get over at www.websiteandblogdesign.com!
  • My top post this year (view-wise) is Twitter Tools – How To Use Twitter Effectively! with almost 300 page views over a one month period right after it was written. It ranked well in numerous places because “twitter tools” is a hot topic with everyone right now. Find things of interest to your audience and write about them!
  • Notice in the last one there was a one month period I talked about? Very few of your blog posts or articles are going to be “evergreen” – meaning that they will rank well forever. Make sure to write multiple articles and posts that have similar titles when you find something that ranks well.
  • Here is a link to the Top 100 Headlines of All Time from Jay Abraham – use it when you are stuck for a great headline. BUT make sure that you SEO it in addition to using the “CUTE” version. You could use WHO ELSE WANTS A SCREEN STAR FIGURE? if you added “lose weight the easy way” after it!

HOT TIP FOR HEADLINE HELP!
Dan Kennedy and Bill Glazer are a powerhouse marketing team. Bill’s newest book Outrageous Advertising That’s Outrageously Successful: Created for the 99% of Small Business Owners Who Are Dissatisfied with the Results They Get has great sound marketing advice AND examples of every suggestion that he makes. PS – I get a little weary of the “outrageous” theme BUT the content is STUPENDOUS

Learn Use the Top 10 Internet Tools for Small Business

Internet Tools
Internet Tools

I feel strongly about this – you should learn how to use the Top Ten internet tools that will make a difference for your small business! These are in no order and come from the talks that I give and questions I am asked by small business owners on a daily basis.

I do not know about you but I sometimes procrastinate about learning how to do something new. I assume that it will be really hard and will take forever to learn and that it will possibly make my head explode. I have to say that most of the time, I am wrong!

That having been said, figure out what makes the most sense to set up yourself and what you can farm out. I had a little problem with Widgets on this blog. Figuring out how to fix it was going to take A LONG TIME and it was something that doesn’t happen a lot – I had a programmer do it so that I could keep working on my actual work. Throughout this post I will give my take on whether learning how to set up some of these things is worth it or if you should get help.

TOP TEN INTERNET TOOLS FOR SMALL BUSINESS

  1. Learn about writing great headlines – Whether you are writing an email or a blog post, you need to know how to make a reader take notice AND how to make it search engine friendly! This post started out about “learning internet things – arggg” and morphed into a topic that you were interested enough in ready to click through to AND it has keywords that the internet can index rather than a “cute” title.
  2. Learn how to use email for marketing – I have an email list that I contact twice a month. They are a great gang of people who look to me to be a source of marketing information and many have purchased something from me at some time. I don’t sell sell sell BUT when I find something that I think works I make sure to let them know. If you are going to have one list only I suggest using Constant Contact, if you are going to have multiple types of email subscribers make sure to use a fuller service like AWeber. If you are technologically or administratively challenged, have someone set up your list for you and import or data entry your contacts. It cost me about $100 / month to have someone data entry my new contacts and it is SO worth it!
  3. Learn how to use Social Networking! – I have to say that I have had more success getting business from Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter from anywhere other than speaking to groups. Just this week I “met” a lady who is attending one of my speaking sessions next month and also got a social networking setup gig from a LinkedIn contact. I would NEVER have met these people in real life so having these FREE marketing tools is brilliant! I offer a social networking how to video series that will help you get up and running fast if you like to do it yourself. If you would like to have everything done for you and ready to go we do a $250 social networking setup that makes getting started effortless!
  4. Learn to make hyperlinks! This one is HUGE and is the question I am asked most about during my classes. As you see above I link to my offers using keywords like “social networking how to video series”. That lets google know what the page I am linking to is about. I do this this also when I comment on a blog post. This one is SO easy once you know how – just use this code <a href=”http://yourlink.com”>Keywords go here</a>.
  5. Learn to make YouTube Videos – Get yourself a Flip Camera and start taking movies. The reason why I recommend the flip is because it is so easy to use. Press one button to start, same button to stop, then plug into your computer and upload to YouTube! This one is VITAL and SO EASY, there are tons of videos on YouTube about how to do it and it will take you less than 10 minutes to learn!
  6. Get a blog - This could be numbers 6-10 it is SO important!!! Many small business owners think that a website is the way to go without understanding the power that having a blog brings. Blogs PUSH your message out to google as soon as you publish it. Blogs are easy to use so you can pop your videos into a post and hit publish. You can put each blog post on facebook or digg or twitter. Blogs are easy to change. Blogs rock! If you would like to find out more about small business blogs visit our website http://websiteandblogdesign.com.
  7. Learn to use the filters on your email program - DO NOT unsubscribe or send nasty messages back when someone sends you an email. That is a potential customer that you are eliminating from your business. Instead set up a filter to send them to a “special folder” or even the trash automatically. Learning to use your email better will eliminate your aggravation and reduce the amount of time you spend.
  8. Sign up for google alertsGoogle alerts will send you a daily message with all the information about your industry or topic. Realtors, ask for alerts about your area + real estate. Small business owners use your industry. THEN take the information that you find interesting and write blog posts about it OR just post the link on your Facebook business page. This is a GREAT way to become an expert in your industry!
  9. Sign up for i-google – This is a way that you can use your google homepage to see blog posts by your favorite writers. I did a video explaining how to use the google reader. This one will take you less than 5 minutes to set up! Then you see what people are talking about in your industry and can make comments with text links back to your website or blog!
  10. STOP PROCRASTINATING! If you don’t know how to do something important, learn how to do it. Pay for training, hire someone to set it up for you or figure it out! You will be amazed at how some of these tools can change your business and life if you learn to use them right!

If you would like to learn more please visit…

Top 10 Internet Tools Writing Great Headlines | How To Use Social Networking

How To Write a GREAT Sales Letter!

You know I never re-post stuff from other people but Gabor Olah of PLRwholesaler sent out one of the more informative emails that I have gotten recently. His email about how to write a great small business marketing sales letter was very informative and easy to understand. PLR is Private Label Rights and this guy offers a bunch of great content (make sure you get on his mailing list)!

Many people have asked what’s the secret to writing a compelling sales letter that sells. Every communication you send to customers or prospects should have a clear purpose – and your sales letter is no different.

Now there’s simply not enough space to go into detail about every aspect of your sales letter, but below is a
brief summary of some of the major points you need to address.

Before sitting down to write a sales letter make sure you are clear about the product or service you are offering, the price, any bonus offers, whether there is a time limit, etc.

Think from the point of view of the customer. What will make them interested in your product or service?

Do not make the letter about you or your company. You will not make sales by telling customers about the latest events in your office or the history of your company’s expansion. The letter should be about the customer, their problems, and how you can solve them.

Headlines are the most important part of a sales letter. So it’s important that you try to come up with at least twenty different headlines and then select the best.

Generally headlines should be longer than 3 or 4 words, but less than 17 words. Take a look at newspaper headlines and other sales headlines for inspiration. Be specific. If you have a figure of 37% then use it, do not say ‘over 30%’. Do not exaggerate in your headline to get attention. If it cannot be believed readers will not bother to look further.

When you first begin writing the main body of the letter do not edit it as you write. Just write what you think is the main, important message and do not stop to correct spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. If necessary stare determinedly at the keyboard as you write, or better still turn the monitor off on your PC.

The reason for this is that if you continually stop to make corrections the words will not flow and the message may become confused. Don’t get me wrong, it’s vitally important to make sure that your final copy contains no spelling mistakes. But this should be done once your first draft is completed.

Avoid long sentences and paragraphs in your sales letter. You want to make the letter as easy to read as possible and the most effective way to do this to “trick the eye” by creating whitespace.

You can do this by breaking the letter up into subheadings that refer to the contents of the next section. Your subheadings should give enough information for someone skimming down the page to understand your offer.

Once you feel your letter is complete put it aside for a while before reading through it again. You may spot
mistakes or areas of confusion that you didn’t initially notice.

If you cannot leave it for a period of time give it to someone else to read. Ask them to skim through it to see if they get the main points of the message. If they do they can then read each sentence and give you their impression of the letter.

Now as I mentioned at the start, this is only a very brief summary on the steps you need to follow to create a sales letter. While it’s by no means a full-blown explanation, it gives you a place to start.

Sincerely,
-Gabor

Find out more about PLRwholesaler!

Small Business Marketing – Breadcrumbs and Daisy Chains

Wow does that sound friendly! What could be happier than daisy chains? Well Daisy Chains and Breadcrumbs are actually hard core small business internet marketing concepts that you (as a small business owner, entrepreneur or realtor) would do well to learn, know and love!

I have been talking about leaving breadcrumbs around the internet FOR YEARS! It makes me feel like all the little things I am doing online are leading to something much bigger than the tiny little parts.

So what are breadcrumbs? Breadcrumbs are little pieces of data that you put around the internet leading back to your website. There are literally millions of places that you can leave breadcrumbs but here are my top 10 for ease of use and effect:

  • Facebook fan pages
  • Twitter
  • Squidoo
  • Leaving a blog comment
  • Writing a guest post on someone else’s blog
  • Aricle marketing
  • Blogger
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • Stumble Upon
  • You Tube (I know this is 11 but I was on a roll)

So what kinds of breadcrumbs do I leave? I leave links to my main site and I leave links to specific blog posts that I think are relevant. I leave links to my affiliate products or sales pages for my products. Basically anything of yours you can make a link to is fair game!

So what is a daisy chain?

A daisy chain then doubles the power of your breadcrumbs by spreading the link love around. When you are making your breadcrumbs, link them to your target page but then also link them back to another breadcrumb. Here is the main part of this – DO NOT link them back and forth in reciprocal links! Your daisy chain goes from your breadcrumb to your main site and to one other breadcrumb.

So here is my daisy chain for today!

  1. I was trying to get Marketing Artfully to rank better for the search term “realtor marketing”
  2. So I linked my squidoo lens Real Estate Marketing Pro to point to Marketing Artfully WITH the search term “Realtor Marketing – Direct Mail Postcards” pointing to the blog post about that topic I wrote yesterday
  3. Then I went to Facebook and linked my Business Page to marketing artfully and squidoo
  4. Next I am going to submit this post to Digg, Delicious, Reddit and Stumble Upon

All these little interconnected links quadruple the effect of my breadcrumbs!

Realtor Marketing – FREE Social Networking Workshop

This is quicky because there are only a few seats left! Join me Friday afternoon in Largo, FL for a FREE Marketing for Realtors Social Networking (Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter) Workshop.

You will walk away with your social networking sites set up (the right way) and tons of information about how to use these FREE tools to get more buyers and close more deals.

Super Secret Realtor Marketing Info About The Free Workshop

Social Networking Workshop! October 19-20th Westminster CO

Small Business Owners, Social Networking is Not A Gimmick, Hype Or A Fad … It’s Just A Smarter Way Of Generating REAL LEADS!

Marketing Expert Tara Jacobsen can show you how to make the most of your time using Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter

Every Small Business Owner knows that social networking SHOULD be part of their marketing toolbox, but who has the time to spend weeks (or months) getting it set up? What if I told you that you could have your entire social networking empire set up in just four hours, with no stress?
Workshop info:

Where – ASK Training Conference Room 18 Garden Center, Suite 102, Broomfield, CO 80020
Dates & Times – October 19th, 8AM – 10AM October 20th NOON – 2PM
Class Sponsored By Your Marketing Voice!

Cost: ONLY $100

Seating is limited to the first 12 people to respond – don’ t miss out

Social Networking Hands-On Workshops

Here are just a few of the things we will cover….

How social networking works – there is a lot of confusion out there about how to get actual business from social networking
· Why it matters to google
· How it can increase your website traffic

Twitter – simple secrets to automate Twitter entirely while still getting results!
· How to set up your account the right way!
· How to find followers (even in your town)
· Tools to increase your followers
· Hook up your blog

Facebook – pages, groups, profiles, what really works to get more customers!
· Facebook overview
· How to set up facebook the right way
· How to set up your facebook business page
· Adding events
· How to get friends

Linkedin – how to make the most of the opportunity to connect with past friends, clients and customers!
· How to set you your account
· How to get connections the right way
· Linked in groups

How To Track Your Social Networking Progress
· Numbers of followers, friends and connections
· Number of incoming hits
· Setting up a plan for social networking success

On Purpose Networking:
· Goal setting and tracking
· What to write about (hands on idea generating) So how exactly do you get all this great hands-on help?

Marketing With Webinars

So I have been thinking about marketing with webinars, sigh. I KNOW that they are great and that they allow people to sign in from the comfort of their own home. I know you can charge a little bit and get some revenue for your time. I know that you can reach more people and sell more stuff….

So here goes! The universe (actually some guy from Citrix – the go to webinar people) called me today at 6am to talk about webinars. He actually was looking for someone else but got me. What more can the universe do to let me know that I should jump into this arena and get started!

So what do you guys want to know about? The first couple will be trial runs and will be free so get the ones you want in first!!!!

Some ideas I had were:

  • Marketing with free websites
  • How to use YouTube to market your business
  • How to pick your keywords
  • How to use your blog effectively
  • Social networking how tos

What are your suggestions?

How To Market Your Small Business

Small Business Marketing Day!
Small Business Marketing Day!

People ask me all the time what I do to market my small business (and my Realtor Marketing clients). I KNOW when I hear those words that they want to know the magic bullet – the ONE THING that I do to achieve online success. The ONE THING that I focus on that makes the traffic and sales flow.

Well today is marketing day! I do lots of things on the fly, but today I have the luxury of spending all day marketing my websites, products and referral sites! I am going to be starting at 9am and only have one phone call to break up the day (and it is with one of my favorite people on earth so that is alright!)

So what is the plan? I thought that I would let you know what I plan to do and then I will pop back in and let you know what actually got done. Sometimes it is more and sometimes less, but without a plan I am going nowhere fast!

Marketing Artfully – Small Business Marketing Company
Fix social networking video landing page
Fix marketing artfully layout
Add ads to Marketing Artfully
Monitor new adwords campaign for article marketing
Set up twitter blasts for websites and blogs

Realtor Marketing – Trinity, Foreclosure, Dunedin and St. Pete Real Estate Websites
Set up twitter blasts for blogs
Add social networking buttons to each site
Either do posts or articles for at least two of them
Add MLS search button to all sites

There you have it! I am also listening to some training videos so may swap some in and some out but in general am going to be rocking the internet – watch out other marketing people, I am coming at you!

PS – So I never liked putting pictures in my blog posts because I am lazy…:) That having been said, since I load them onto facebook and the pretty pictures show I have been adding more – yay facebook!

Small Business Marketing – Success Is HARD!

When you think about small business marketing success, there is no magic bullet! I am sorry to be the one to tell you that, but I sick of hearing about “get rich quick” schemes.

I work in the trenches everyday with small business owners and they are busting their humps to succeed. They are learning new skills, networking online and in person, attending tradeshows and training events. They try and fail AND try and succeed!

Some people who make me proud:

  1. Deborah Ward – My real estate buddy who does stuff that I tell her do and never asks why. We are in the process of taking over the St. Petersburg Real Estate and Florida Foreclosures market.
  2. Cyndee Haydon - Cyndee is a Clearwater Realtor who has been working like a demon for 4+ years and now is reaping the rewards.
  3. Mary Dado - Mary and I work together to make blogs for small business owners but her company writes all kinds of business writing. She is working her tail off networking and following up. I am awed by her strength!
  4. Tara Becker – Tara has a great Denver Area Networking group. She is great at talking to people face to face and has grown an 8 meeting a month group. She is NOT a whiz at online marketing but she is learning and slogging through it.
  5. Kirsten McKay Smith – Kirsten of Passion Parties is running hard and has set goals that she is working towards. She is one of the few people I know who have as many things on her plate at one time as I do and I am so glad she is in my High D mastermind!!!
  6. Lori CrawfordTrinity Realtor, Lori Crawford is a great marketer. She is the only person I know who gets a lead EVERY time she sends her newsletter. Into every life some sanity must fall and Lori shows me what professionalism looks like.

I am sure that there are MANY MANY people who I missed but those are the ones that came to mind today. WHATEVER you marketing style is, take a page from one of these gals and JUST DO IT! Start a big audacious goal today, knowing that it will be hard but DO IT ANYWAYS!

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Small Business Branding – Give it a name

Small business branding is NOT an art! It is also NOT a science! But it is vitally important to your business. If you have not done so yet, do (or get some done) keyword research so that you know the two or three terms that matter in your industry to whomever is purchasing your products or services.

Then name your business – NOT NOT name it something cute or personally fulfilling. Can you guess what Safer Dates sells, how about Business Writing Ink or Marketing Artfully? What do you think Etsy sells (crafts), Endodis (kitchen and restaurant supplies) or Geico (insurance). As a small business owner you do not have enough money to start a branding campaign to convince people that geckos go with insurance!

Then brand (name) your products or services. Products are easy because you have something tangible to work with, services can seem harder but giving them a name and a set price. STOP, I know that everything you offer has variables and that you CAN’T put a price on your services because they are flexible. The internet and humans HATE flexible. Put a name and a price on it and then put a disclaimer that it could be higher or lower depending on the circumstances!

I offer a Small Business Marketing Inspection: ($100) Review your current marketing plan on a two hour consultation call (or visit if you are local to Clearwater or the Boulder area) detailing areas of excellence and suggestions for areas you may need some additional work on!

This is something people can understand and call to ask me about. For startups, this is enough but sometimes small business owners are ready for the next level of service which is $500 and which offers more. And sometimes they want a custom solution to their marketing needs, BUT if I never got them talking with a solid, BRANDED and PRICED offer I would be dead in the water!

So to recap our branding talk:

  1. Do some keyword research to find out what the internet and your potential customers think your business or products should be about
  2. Name your business something that will help your sales
  3. Name your products or services and give them a price

Next time we will talk about how to take that brand online!

Small Business Marketing – Free Tools

So I have been talking A LOT about free marketing tools lately since I think this is the best way to “pad” your marketing budget. Make sure you pay for things that matter and get great free tools where available!

Here are three of my favorite free tools!

Free Marketing Tool #1 – Google Local Search Listing

Google Local Free Tool Screen Shot
Google Local Free Tool Screen Shot

If you are a local business with a BUSINESS address, there is nothing more powerful than making sure that your property is listed in google’s local search. I did a search for denver mary kay sales people and  the ones that have registered with google come up front and center.

Think about that – 3 Mary Kay people are being highlighted in the ENTIRE Denver Metro area. They are not struggling to get people to notice them, we can guess that they get incoming calls asking about their services!

Free Marketing Tool #2 – Eyejot Emails

We love Brian P. Forrester of TriCounty Mortgage, he gets the fact that he has to do marketing and that he should be paying us to help so that he can write loans. BUT I have to say that I respond the most to his FABULOUS eyejot.com videos!

When he sends out his video messages about realtor information he is accomplishing NUMEROUS things! He is giving valuable information to his clients. They may share it with potential realtor prospects (Brian, start suggesting sharing at the end), he is establishing himself as an expert in the area that he talks about AND he is training his people to expect regular communications from him (Brian, send these out weekly!).

While Brian pays a couple of bucks to have his eyejots branded, you can get started with the free ones right out of the box!

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Free Marketing Tool #3 – Jing Project

I use www.jingproject.com to make all my screen capture videos for my online training series (check out my social networking training videos). It is as close to free as humanly possible ($15 a year) for the pro version that makes excellent screen capture videos that you can post on your blog, put up on YouTube and use for many other marketing opportunities.

Again, you are establishing yourself as an expert in your industry, leaving more breadcrumbs around the internet to draw people back to your website (we call those linkbacks or incoming links) and generally providing great information for your clients and prospects.

I KNOW – I have told you about some of these before BUT I am wicked mad that only Cyndee Hadon (fabulous florida realtor) and Brian P. Forrester (tremendous mortgage man in Tampa Bay) are the ONLY ones that send me eyejot videos!

How To Pick New Small Business Opportunities

This month’s second small business marketing newsletter was about having multiple streams of income, which got me thinking about how we should choose those streams for ourselves. I have a confession to make…I am a huge proponent of multiple streams of income and I have an entrepreneurial spirit so I spend lots of time considering new things I COULD do to increase my business opportunities. This post is about what I (and you) SHOULD do to maximize my time and effort and minimize pain!

John Jonas gave the best description I ever heard about how to pick what to do. He said you should never get more than one step away from what you do now or more than one step away from the kind of customer you serve now when deciding new things to try.

Here is my one step approach for Marketing Artfully. The three main things I do for my business are blogs, information products and speaking. Because information products often have affiliate programs, starting my own or joining someone else’s is a good fit for me and makes sense to add to my resource page. Also, doing internet masterminds involves speaking (which is one of my things) so it is okay also.

ma_blocksSome other things for me that would be a good fit are things that provide services to entrepreneurs and small business owners, social networking items and other business related items.

Now here comes the brilliant part – when I get a great idea of something to do that is NOT one step away, I can drop it quickly. Instead of spending time and energy on researching something (or more likely diving into something) that will not help my business, I can easily determine if it is a good fit and, if not, move on!

This system works for ANY business! My buddy Deb Ward of Deborah Ward and Associates is a realtor in the Tampa Bay area. You can see from her blocks that there are some things that match well with her business model and some that don’t. She does coaching, sells real estate and owns a team of realtors. Getting referrals and owning shares in a title company are great for her, she could also add speaking to realtors easily because of her coaching focus. BUT, adding non-real estate related items would dilute her message and efforts.

dwa_blocksSo, to all you entrepreneurs out there considering new ventures…make sure that you are checking your blocks and keeping on track for success!!

The Power of Your Lists – List Building for Businesses

There is power in having lists of people who are interested in what you have to say! It used to be that you had to spend thousands of dollars to have access (one time) to a list that someone like infousa.com had, and the people on the list didn’t even know you. That is SERIOUS cold calling and is SO not for me!

Today’s small business owner can build their own list super easily and for VERY little money!

BUT you are going to have to give up the feeling that you can can control your list(s). It used to be that I had one list – my newsletter subscribers. I DO have control of that list. I send out bi-monthly newsletters with marketing information and have a VERY low unsubscribe ratio because I deliver EXACTLY what I promised when they signed up! That list comes from having a blog and a newsletter signup (if you are brand new to blogging and want some help setting one up we have small business blogs for sale!) The newsletter signup is done through my database and is a little more convoluted, although Constant Contact does make it much easier to grow a email newsletter list.

Super Easy Ways to Grow Other Contact Lists

Nowadays, it is easy to grow lists all over the internet. I consider these to be my micro-lists and point them all back this blog with almost everything I do. Now that micro-list moniker doesn’t mean that they have fewer people than my “real” email marketing list – in fact my Twitter list has over 1,300 people on it today. What I do mean is that my influence on that list is smaller. They do not anticipate contact from me the way my email list does. They come and go more easily than my email list does. That doesn’t make them less important to me, just different.

Here are some of my list places:

  • Twitter – ABSOLUTELY the easiest place to grow a list. There is LOTS of following over there and now that I am driving people from Twitter to Facebook, I feel like I am accomplishing something! Find out more about How To Use Twitter For Small Businesses
  • Facebook – It is easy to grow your list on Facebook too! They are called “friends” and to start get your real friends, then their friends, then people who share your interests. Want another friend? Add me on Facebook!
  • LinkedIn – I think the hardest place to grow a list BUT worth it! You can join groups that allow “open networking” where you can add people.
  • Meetup – These are people who like to meetup with me in person (I like that!), you can email these people ONLY about the meetup that you are involved with, nothing else!
  • Individual Groups and Communities – I belong to Iwomanlife.com and freeenterprisewarriors.com and activerain.com where I have communication opportunities with other people. I will say that I have not had the success with these media that I have had with the big three (Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook)
  • Smaller Sites – I have people that follow my youtube.com updates and who are on mybloglog.com. Some people follow my digg.com updates. All these things are bonuses that come from things I do anyways and are never going to set the world on fire but it all adds up!!!
  • Feedburner - Last but not least, Feedburner sends many of you updates when I post to this blog. Some of you get them on a reader and some get them via email. However you get them, thank you for reading!

Google Local Business Listings – Great for small business owners!

Want another way to get more clicks to your website? For FREE? Google local business search is free, easy and sent 22 people to my website last month. Is that a lot? Not compared to the regular search, but considering that I set it up a couple of years ago and never touched it again, I am pleasantly sureprised.

Google sent me a message today that I can now get reports on my local search clicks so I popped back in, added my new Colorado location, uploaded some video testimonials and bang I am live!

Make sure you verify your business with a phone call or email. If you use the phone option, they call you within seconds and give you a pin number to enter to verify your given phone number is active.

Absolutely Free Ebook – How To Pack An Event

Here is the link to a totally free ebook on how to get people to attend your event. Whether you are holding a seminar, workshop, party, open house or anything else, you will find some gems here to help get people in the door! I cover using meetup.com, facebook, linkedin, email marketing and some other really great ways to get your message out.

http://marketingartfully.com/How_to_pack_an_event.pdf

How come it is free?

Well, I moved to the Denver area 2 months ago and I was having my first big event (my internet mastermind in Denver) and wanted people to come. I also wanted people to sign up to say they would come to the event, even if they never showed – WHY!?!??! Because people like to go to things that other people are doing – genius I know…:) So anyways, I was in the process of writing a Ebook on how to get people to come to your events and I thought to myself, “how can I get people to sign up even if they aren’t coming?” Then cam a flash of brilliance – bribe them!!!

So, long story short, (too late I know), I am giving this book away, no questions asked, no email required, share it with anyone you want (Seth Godin would be SO proud!). If you like, please comment. If you hate it, don’t bother to complain, it is free…:)

Happy speaking…Tara

PS – I had 10 people who were very interested in internet marketing show up (thanks guys!!), two people who called to say that would have come but heard about it too late, one person on facebook who said the same thing and all the people at the mastermind said they would share the goodness with their friends and colleagues. Can’t ask for any more than that!!!

Eyejot – a free email marketing tool!

There are SO many free tools on the internet to get your marketing message out – Eyejot is a winner! One of my absolute favorite marketers – Brian P. Forrester of Mortgage Communication Spot sends out an eyejot most Mondays to tell his sphere important information about the mortgage industry. It takes him less than a minute to record and he reaches many realtors and home buyers with his message!

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If you want to get great updates from Brian, email him to get on his eyejot list…:)

How To Leverage Google – Do More of What Is Working!

So I was looking at my Google Analytics the other day and noticed that I was getting more organic click-throughs from the search term “Realtor Email Newsletters” – YAY! While I work with all kinds of businesses, we have a product called Thrive that focuses on marketing for Real Estate Agents, Mortgage People and Title Companies. 

I have been trying to make it REALLY clear that this is not a real estate blog and that MOST of my clients are small business owners NOT realtors BUT that was just too big an opportunity not to tell you about!!!

So what will I do to leverage this great search term?

  • Wrote this post with a link to Google to tell them I love them!
  • Wrote a post over at Active Rain (a blog for realtors and real estate) that links to my product 
  • Will post this blog post on my Facebook page to add to the effect
  • I will make pages on sites like Squidoo and Wetpaint that capitalize on the search term

Another great problem I heard about this week comes from Julia Fishel, a fantastic Palm Harbor Realtor. She emailed me to ask what she could do about the fact that she wrote a great blog post that ranked high for Palm Harbor Realtors on Active Rain that was showing up high on Yahoo but that did not “hook” to her real blog. Here are some things she can do!

  • Put a cool banner at the bottom that drives people from the high-ranking post to her blog where she can collect data like email addresses
  • Make sure she uses that term in some of her post titles and other online info – I am huge fan of the path of least resistance. While it is admirable to try and rank highly for ALL the search terms you could, I tend to figure out what works naturally and then reverse engineer my stuff to capialize on it!

So there you go – Do you know how people are finding you on goole or yahoo? Make sure that you have google analytics loaded on your site so you can see all the incoming search terms people are using to find you!

Social Networking Will Replace Google?

So why do I think social networking will replace google and how does that make this post a followup to telling the truth? (I wrote a post a couple of days ago about why I think that telling the truth is the best way to conduct business!)

Firstly, I attended a Jeffery Gitomer training session and he said that “truth” is going to be the new standard for business and he cited the Enron bunch as people who scammed the system and got caught, much to the detriment of their businesses. Well that training was BEFORE the huge financial meltdown that has occurred because of what is perceived as Wall Street defrauding the public.

Secondly, I then attended a training session (I get A LOT of training!) where a tech guy said that google will be irrelevant in 5 years. GOOGLE and IRRELEVANT in the same sentence? How can that be?!?!?! Well it just so happens I agree with him to a point. I DO think people will still “Google” you to see if you are who you say you are, BUT I also think that social networking will become so large that if you need a referral you will just ask someone you know – online!

Many of my online “friends” I have never met in person but I trust them and their judgement. If I needed a plumber here in Colorado (I am new), I would NOT go to the yellow pages OR google, I would ask my online realtor friends if they had a good referral! If I needed a dentist, doctor, printer, good travel agent, ANYTHING, I would ask my “friends” first. And as more and more people join these networks it will become more apparent that goole will be less attractive and referrals more-so.

So have you googled yourself lately in relation to your business? Does it show you? Check out “Tara Jacobsen Marketing” and you will see LOTS of entries that show that I am who I say I am on google – that is a very good thing!

Social Networking, Blogging and Sanity

How do you keep up with all your social networking and blogging? I use Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, digg, Plaxo, Thrive Contact System, Marketing Artfully and Active Rain often. It drives TONS of traffic to my websites, adding more people to my email database which means more people to talk to about my services and speaking gigs!

Here are some of the easy things I do to make all of that a little easier – commonly known as a system!

SOCIAL NETWORKING
It is VERY fun to watch what your friends and business associates are doing and finding new information on social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, Plaxo and Twitter and I check most of these once or twice a day. BUT if you are using these to lead generate for your business it is also important to be “on purpose” when you are using these sites. Here are some do’s and do not’s that I follow:

  • DO – Make sure to post links to your blog posts (see below)
  • DO – Update your status with new products and services that you are offering
  • DO – Make comments on your friends’ and business partners’ status
  • DON’T – Spam them with self-serving updates multiple times a day (putting links to great information is NOT spamming, posting every one of your products or listings over and over is)
  • DON’T – Put ANYTHING on there that you would not want your best customer to see – the internet never forgets!

BLOGGING
My goal is to blog on one of each of these everyday. I am not always successful BUT the goal is there and I generally get an email everyday that some kind of lead – either for a marketing consult, a referral to one of my business partners or just someone who wants more information about a service I offer. A lead a day is 365 over the course of the year and helps to feed my pipeline!

  • Marketing Artfully – My main site and the one that I spend the most time on. It has all my product offerings, my shopping cart and is where I send the most people. WHAT I DO: When I write a post here I then add it as a link on Facebook, I often write a mini-post over on Active Rain to drive people back here to read the full post, sometimes I digg it and it automatically goes to Twitter and from there to Plaxo.
  • Thrive Contact System – This is one of our products and I post info on Database Marketing, Systems and (surprisingly enough) client contacts. I am not as vigilant about this one as I should be BUT it still gets some good organic search traffic and is on the list. WHAT I DO: When I write a post there I then add it as a link on Facebook, sometimes I digg it and it automatically goes to Twitter and from there to Plaxo.
  • Taradactyl on Active Rain – This one sends LOTS of people my way. It is full of Realtors, Mortgage Pros and Title people (one of my target markets) and I should be WAY more aggressive about posting there! WHAT I DO: Because it is a feeder for my Marketing Artfully blog I don’t tend to do more than write a post BUT it does automatically feed to Twitter and from there to Plaxo.

Hopefully this will help you get your arms around all this work and you can see that it does not have to be overwhelming AND can help generate more business for your business!

Marketing in Colorado! How to get started

So I have finally arrived in my new home and will be up and running on Monday. I thought that some of you might like to know what it is like to do (another) start-up on an existing company. 

First off I am going to make contact with humans!

  • Visit local real estate offices and offer to teach classes (I love teaching and miss it A LOT)
  • Check Meetup.com for local meetings I can attend – I will be focusing on small business related meetups. It is always a little scary to go to something new BUT it is SO much easier now that you know you will be welcome…:)
  • I am starting an internet marketing mastermind in conjunction with www.twbaonline.com here in Colorado (probably somewhere between Denver and Boulder to start). I will be working with Chris (www.CommanderBlue.com) to get this going over the next few weeks!

 So what could you do this week to meet more new people? It is fun and could lead to more business!!!

Tracking your statistics – How can that help?

So I had a small business marketing seminar a couple of weeks ago with a focus on real estate professionals like Realtors, Mortgage Bankers, and marketing experts. One of the Realtors who attended (Cyndee Haydon – Clearwater Real Estate Specialist) has been tracking her numbers since the seminar and she is setting the world on fire! Her leads are qualified, consistent and…holy cow there are LOTS of them!!!

Now I cannot take any credit for the number of leads or the quality of them or even how she has developed the system to manage all these leads. What I can humbly attest to – Cyndee is now able to hyper-focus on dollar productive things that she needs to do and all the rest is just fluff. She is NOT answering stray and random buyer calls anymore. She is NOT spending tons of time with unqualified buyers. She IS focusing on her strengths which are generating leads, blogging, networking and all the other things that she is good at and likes!

My heart is SO happy! Not only has Cyndee focused her business, but she tracks her stats so she knows how far she has come! She knows how many leads, where they came from, where they went AND will be following them to see the conversion to clients. If you do not track these numbers you will never know if you are getting better!!!

Just hearing that today made me want to be a better person and track my leads more! I am currently blogging between 1-2 times per day, everyday for a month (which will get ME more leads…:) but the next thing I am doing is setting goals and tracking ALL my leads!! How about you?

Realtor Marketing – Market Like A Maniac Class Available December 22

Small business speaker and trainer Tara Jacobsen is teaching Market like a Maniac for Realtors in the Largo market center of Keller Williams Realty, December 22 2008 from 11-2. This class is designed to help realtors with an overview of things they can do to increase their business through marketing techniques and tips! Keller Williams is located at 2401 West Bay Dr #603 Largo, FL 33770. Call Tara to confirm at 727-415-9165.

Topics we will cover include, direct mail marketing, email marketing, low cost and free realtor marketing ideas, and more!

Everyone is welcome! A Helen Maday of Charles Rutenberg Realty, arecent attendee of one of Tara’s classes said,

Your training sessions today were so terrific – like I said that is the 1st time I’ve been at a seminar or training session that I didn’t put on my sunglasses even once (to take a quick snooze)!!!!! Also, I’d like to thank you for the personal help you gave me afterwards – that meant so much to me because it would have taken me forever to figure out what you did so quickly & effortlessly!!!!! You’re quite a gal & I feel very fortunate to have met you!! Keep up the GOOD WORK!!!!! Helen L. Maday REALTOR

How To Add A Video To Your WordPress Blog

I LOVE WordPress blogs! They are easy to use and basically FREE except for the domain name registration and hosting costs! I had a client (Ken Rossi of www.HomeBuyingTampaBay.com) who wanted to add a video to a post. One note to WP users – you do not have to do “turn off visual”, just go to the the “HTML” tab and don’t switch back to “Visual”!

Here is how! THANK YOU JACK HUMPHREY FOR THE VIDEO!

How to tell what to do – obsessing over stats!

So I am on a mission this morning to analyze our stats, see what we are doing right and what we could be doing better. I am going to check Marketing Artfully and see how that traffic is, check our Thrive Client Contact System website, and see how I can generate more hard leads for our websites. I am NOT going to do this in any organized fashion as I am a free spirit who can’t be constrained by logic or orderly-ness (even though that would make life SO much easier!)

The Thrive Contact System is a partnership between Mary Dado of Business Writing, Ink. and myself. We send out monthly marketing information for small businesses to send out to their clients, generating new business, increasing their name recognition and encouraging repeat sales and referrals. This great material includes newsletters, call scripts and emails. We have been managing the Thrive Client Contact Program for Realtors for about 6 months but expanded our offerings and branded the program Thrive just last month. The Thrive site has been live since November 16, 2008 (less than 30 days). 

Screenshot of Thrive Client Contact System

 Let’s start with some overall statistics. On November 20th we had our best day ever with 26 visitors. There are some days that we have had none due to the utter lack of initiative on the part of the chief marketing officer (sigh). I will review what was so special about November 20th later. We have had 116 total visitors (I screen my IP address out) and they have had 436 pageviews with 3.76 pages per visit.

What does that mean?

The content we have is great! They are looking around once I get them there. This activity has translated into about 3 leads and 2 sales to date. Because we have an affordable entry level price and reoccurring billing, that translates to estimate of about $600 of income over the course of the next year. I am okay with that for now! Let’s see what the good, the bad and the ugly things are!

The good

On November 20th we sent out an email to 195 people from our database, had 99 people open it and 19 people came to the site as a result of that. WOW – over 50% open response and about a 20% click through rate, I am pleased with that! How did that happen? I sent a really good message, with interesting content to targeted group of our clients, sphere and prospects. If I had used a bought list those numbers would have been very different. We also provide great content EVERY time we send an email to our database so they are more apt to open something we send. I think this a problem many marketers have, they want to get SOMETHING out so they are willing to just send anything instead of making sure each communication is valuable in itself.

The bad

So why so few actual leads? Using analytic tools, we will try and infer what the problem might be and how we may be able to fix it!

If we look our pageviews, you can see that we have had 29 people go to the sign up now page. 29 people and only 3 leads – arggg. So what to do – I added a line to the top of the page that they could sign up OR request more information. It could be that they are worried that by filling out the form that they are going to be obligated to pay. While I would like them to be ready to pull the trigger, I am also happy with someone to add to my database as a prospect and then set them up on a drip campaign that we have to tell more about the Thrive program. Hopefully this will increase the number of leads that we receive!

I DO have to say that we have a flaw in our system – neither Mary or I like to call people so we tend to answer by email. I sometimes wonder if we called those people whether our conversion rate would be better (you think?) We have two fabulous women who we are going to have coming on as sales people so that should help with the whole non-communicating thing!!!

Finally, back to the good things – we are number one on google for Client Contact Program AND got click through from it already!!! We are on page 2 for “small business lead generating” due to a post that I wrote about (ironically enough) “Small Business Lead Generating – Why you can’t do it!“.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s exciting episode – “Generate more website traffic – how the heck do I do THAT?”

Affiliate Links and Leads

So I wrote a FABULOUS post about arbitrage over on the Thrive Contact System website. Arbitrage is the practice of taking advantage of a price differential between two or more markets.

I always feel like Affiliate Links, Buying shares in a company you believe in, and Leads are a lot like arbitrage – making money for nothing, multiple streams of income, call it what you like – it means more gold crossing your palm!

Affiliate Links – If you work with companies that you like and recommend to others, it may be a fun idea to place affiliate links on your website. These links can be incorporated into your posts, added to a link page,  OR you can have a banner like the one on my right sidebar. That link is to AWeber, a great email newsletter company that I recommend to my clients and friends. I also have a link to Vistaprint which I recommend to EVERYONE. Your readers can sign up, work with a quality company and you can make some money.

Writer’s note – I don’t EVER put a link to ANYTHING on my sites that I would not recommend to my father. When I use that criteria I wind up making great decisions about what products to recommend!!!

Buying Shares In Companies You Believe In - If you want to make some good money, buy shares in small local companies that you do business with which have great leadership! I own shares in a Title Company (Star Title Partners) which is headed by Mimi Patrick who does a fabulous job with Short Sales. I recieve periodic dividends from them when the company is running in the black! That having been said, I also work alot with Somers Title where Joyce and Diana also do a great job and help with my Speaker Series!

So how do having these kinds of resources lead to leads? If you become a trusted resource for great companies and services, if you recommend people with integrity, if you make sure that YOU work with integrity – people will want to work with you! They will visit your website or blog to find out what you think and who you trust!

I get requests A LOT from companies who would like to have access to my readership and client list. They think that the way to get more clients is to have someone like me recommend their services to my “people”. Sometimes they offer big dollars to “recommend” them. I don’t do that. If it is not a company that I believe in, you won’t hear about them!

While it is great to generate extra income, don’t do it at the expense of your values and integrity!

Your Database – How Use It For Emails!

So now that you know what a database is (your database a how-to), let’s talk about how to talk to your database! I was going to do all of the contact ways in one post BUT then email part started getting pretty long so I will split it up into a multi-part post!

General Thoughts

Having a database and just using it as a mailing list is just not right! If you are only using it to print out mailing labels, you can make a change that will really have an impact on your business. A great database, excel spreadsheet or solid Outlook program can mean more money in your pocket!!!

If you have categories for your contacts, make sure to send the right emails to the right people. I send general small business information to my whole database, but when I have something real estate related I send it to ONLY the realtors NOT everyone!

Emails

You should have a list of email addresses for your clients. I am NOT a spammer and only believe in sending information that is helpful to my clients. Some recent emails I have sent:

  • Information about an upcoming webinar on Listingbook, inviting them to sign up for the class (sent to people who have attended my Listingbook classes)
  • Thank you for attending my class email, WITH a followup email campaign that attendees can use to contact their clients
  • Thank you’s to people who attended my booth at a recent networking event
  • Emails through my blog when I post a new message (I use feedburner.com for this since it is automatic)
  • Email sent to all prospects when we changed the model of our 33 Touch Program for realtors 

All of these things benefited the recipient of my email. None of them was a blatant advertisement for my product or service. In this day and age, no one has time to study an advertisement that tells them what my product offers, makes them figure out how it will benefit them and then ask them to do something that they weren’t already inclined to do!

I think that the “rules” of email have changed! Sending a long and informative email WILL WORK – IF you are sending something worthwhile to the reader. Sending an email on Saturday will work (I sent out the Listingbook followup email on Saturday night and got 7 responses almost immediately) – you don’t have to time your emails as much as you used to have to IF you provide an item of value when you send it!

To make even more of your emails, make sure to add a little something to your signature line! I have a link to this blog on every email that I send out. I get A LOT of click throughs from mail programs from this. I also will sometimes add a links to a recent blog post if it is something really exciting! It should look like this:

– 
Tara Jacobsen
727.415.9165
Marketing Consultant, Speaker & Trainer
Marketing Artfully / Listingbook / Keller Williams Realty

Visit my blog www.MarketingArtfully.com for great marketing tips!
__

Doing just these few things can make a huge difference in how well your emails are received! To review: send interesting or valuable information, don’t be a spammer, send out targeted emails to the correct people and lastly, SEND MORE EMAILS! They are free and can be fun!!!

Small Business Marketing Case Study – Body and Mind Enrichment

So I met with a GREAT gal this week – Emily with Body and Mind Enrichment. She won our drawing at the WIN (Women in Networking) Symposium for a free Marketing Plan! 

Mary Dado of Business Writing, Ink and I started out by taking a tour of all the plants Emily has around her house that she uses in organic natural products that she makes like bug spray, itchy creams, ointments, oils, scrubs and LOTS more. I used her bug spray and itch cream – it is all natural (very nice!) and has a fresh, woodsy smell because it is made of herbs!! Emily also composts and makes things like tea from lemongrass.

Emily’s life is dedicated to healthy living through eating, exercising and working WITH nature!

We talked with her for a while and worked on her mission statement (still in progress) and discovered that she has been keeping the different parts of her business separate (pilates instruction, natural products and overall health instruction). Through analyzing her favorite clients we found that it was people she helped with their WHOLE lives that she most enjoys working with. We also discovered that she does her best lead generating by attending networking events and having a table. She needed to have some materials that she can put on the table that show her products, her services and that tell people what she likes to do. It is VERY hard to sell concepts like healthy living without showing pictures of how that looks. We decided that she would use a collage format for her materials and I heard from Emily just today that she got a tri-fold flyer together for her first show today (I will keep you updated on how that went!)

We also talked about her website (www.bodyandmindenrichment.org) which is not something that Emily is married to keeping in it’s current format. We will probably convert this to a blog where Emily can talk about her healthy living philosophy, her products and her services. 

Some neat things that Emily does or can do that could help differentiate her –

  • She does a group meeting that features vodka infused with herbs (this one I can get on board with…:)
  • I just saw today on Best Friends (Dog Town) that there is such a thing as catnip bubbles to play with Kittys – I think this would be a GREAT way to reach people who are dog and cat lovers without their having to be health oriented! 
  • With a blog Emily could reach MANY more people with her ideas and also grow a following, making her an expert in healthy living
I will let you guys know how everything works out for Emily! Mary and I have agreed to help her since she is SUCH a wonderful soul and has such great enthusiasm for her business!!!

Convergence – When Need Meets Timing!

So, I know that you have all been thinking about Convergence and what it means to your business? Right? Okay, well maybe not but it is important to your sales!

I was talking with a small business owner the other day and she said she felt more comfortable in a consultative role with her clients (her semi-exact quote is “I have never SOLD anyone anything, I help them figure out their needs and then help them achieve them”.

Well I think we can all benefit from that attitude, but at the end of the day EVERY business owner has to sell something to survive! From the top of wall street to the small business owner, we are in business to SELL something!

Okay, how does convergence matter to selling? Convergence (according to Wikipedia} “denotes the approach toward a definite value, as time goes on; or to a definite point, a common view or opinion, or toward a fixed or equilibrium state.” Holy buckets batman! What it means to me is the meeting of needs with a product.

As you can see in the graphic below, it is a movement from satisfaction with the status quo on through some pain to a buying decision. 

Convergence Slide
Convergence Slide

How about some example to clear things up!

Grocery Stores – In my area we used to have Albertson’s grocery stores. Now given a choice of ALL the grocery stores around the country, I would choose Wegmans but they are not in my area so I used to shop at Albertsons. I was in the green light for Albertsons. If they stayed the way they were, offering low prices, specials and half way decent service I would have continued to shop there indefinitely. They closed – sigh. So now I have to find a new grocery store (pain) and so I chose Publix. Not as cheap, cleaner and better service.

Web Browsers – I used Internet Explorer and Firefox until recently (these are different programs for accessing the internet). About a month ago Firefox did an update (that I hated) about the same time as Google offered a new browser Chrome. Well I tried the new browser and I like it! It has some great google features in addition to all the things that I had liked about Firefox. I would NOT have been in the market for a new browser had Firefox not made my back button big (I know – a stupid reason to switch) but since I was, Chrome came out at a good time for me to adopt it.

Homebuyers – My husband and I are considering moving to Colorado (our move is NOT a sure thing at this point) so I am going on websites to try and see what houses are available in the couple of towns we think we MIGHT like to live in. I DO NOT need to talk to a realtor at this point so I have not registered with any websites. I am in the green area of need, but there is no pain. Say that Johnny’s transfer comes through and he moves out there ahead of me, leaving me with 2 dogs, a cat, a mother-in-law and 2 more dogs. THAT IS PAIN! I will be SERIOUSLY motivated to find a realtor – RIGHT NOW – and get house hunting.

In each of these cases a change happens to the status quo of a buyer’s life. It is VERY hard to make enough noise in the marketplace to cause a change to people who are satisfied with a product that is working great for them BUT if they have a broken product or system OR no product or system and pain happens, they will be looking for help. 

This is where you come in with your direct mail, websites and emails. If you have been talking to that person about how your product, service or store can help them solve their problems, you can capitalize on their need! If you have built a great website that is easy to find on the search engines with lots of information about your product, services or store, they will find you and approach you for help. 

Make sure your marketing house is in order so that you can capitalize on changes in the marketplace that will occur in your favor! Advertise to people who MIGHT need your services so that when they DO need your services you are ready to sell them something!

How To Increase Your Real Estate Website Hits – What Does A Girl Have To Do To Get Noticed?

STOP – Think about this BEFORE you spend a ton of money on Adwords or paid search engine listings!!!

The first thing you want to think about when trying to increase your website hits is are you going for quantity or quality? You can get great traffic to your site but if it is wrong kind of traffic (ie people who don’t care about what you have to offer and who will not turn into readers or use your services) what does the number matter? I know people with HUGE numbers of visitors who don’t have the volume of sales that should go along with those numbers. Just make sure that you are fishing for the right kind of traffic.

You can now resume your reading….

I don’t pay for websites hits very often. I did when I started my site just to get going and also do currently when I am trying to sell a specific product or service (like the 33 Touch Program). But in general I use the power of the internet to bring people to me.

I get hits on my Google Analytics that say my readers come the most from Active Rain (54 in the last month), Google (53 in the last month) and triiibes (20 in the last month). I also got clicks from 33 other sources in the last 30 days.

What does all that mean to me and how does it affect my readership and business? I have great readers and quality traffic. My average time spent on my site for the last month is 3:40 (3 minutes, 40 seconds), the average number of pages per visit is 2.39 and 49.31% of the people are new visits.

I did NOT have a million visitors (I had 361) but the ones that I do have come, stay and talk to me. I am a trusted source for information about marketing to realtors and have built a strong business with good customers.

So what can YOU do to increase the hits to your real estate or small business website?

  1. Name your blog and blog posts something people will search for or something you want to be known for. I wrote an ezine article about Niche Marketing For Realtors which drives traffic to MA. It ranks #2 on page 2 for google and #2 on page 1 for yahoo. Marketing Artfully ranks #1 on Google and not in the first 10 pages of Yahoo for Niche Marketing For Realtors. Which leads us to…
  2. Do not put all your eggs in one basket! Spread the love around!!! Make sure you have multiple streams of traffic to your main website. You can write articles at www.ezinearticles.com, set up a squidoo lens on a certain topic like I did for Real Estate Marketing Pro, or just post your Craigs List listings with a link back to your website.
  3. Join some social media websites like Linked In, Twitter or Active Rain.
  4. Comment on other peoples blogs, they will visit yours and may sign up to get your emails or feeds!
  5. Last but not least, be interesting! Do not make your stuff one long sales pitch. Think “what if I was reading this? Would I be interested if I did not own the company?”. Give value, link back to people you enjoy reading about. Answer readers comments, show them that you appreciate their readership. And ALWAYS talk about something you like! If you do not like your topic it will be PAINFUL to write every week, let alone every day!
  6.  

    Oh, did I mention, every one of those items are FREE!

B2B or B2C – What great companies like Listingbook and Keller Williams are doing right (and wrong)

In this day and age, the line between Business To Business (B2B) and Business To Consumer (B2C) has gotten blurred. Many consumers are small business owners (like realtors) and all companies are made up of consumers. The internet has leveled the playing field for many but has also allowed us to get complacent about making sure we know our focus.

Business to business is generally based on the model that the good of the many outweighs the good of the few (my last star trek quote I promise!). With this model you try and make/market you product so that it appeals to most types of businesses. Business to consumer is the good of the few – they want to know what is in it for them and do not care about anything your product has that does not relate to their world view.

Does that mean that we have to develop a product for each and every one of those people. That we need to limit our services to a niche that we have chosen and smite everyone that comes along who does not fit into that niche – NO!

What we need to do is market to those different groups differently. The nice thing about this is that it basically costs thought, paper and time. No big development budget, just lots of brain cells.

Let’s look at Listingbook first (I contract with them to teach – I did this for free before I came on board because I SO believed in the product). They already have a niche, providing MLS internet services to realtors for their clients.

They also have a problem. One of the focuses of their niche is B2B, contracting with MLSs to use their data and then working at the broker level to provide additional value added services at an office level. Their other focus is B2C (realtors are consumers at this point rather than businesses).

What works for B2B is hard to extrapolate to the individual agent level. BUT WAIT! They can’t be everything to everyone you say, they have to build something that will have enough bells and whistles to sell to the MLSs and the brokers you say. This is where the brain cells and marketing come in!

Realtors have problems to solve. How to get more buyers, how to get more sellers, how to keep those sellers happy over a long sales cycle, how to market themselves while still conducting business. Here is the crazy thing – they all think they are unique. They all want to know what is in it for them and making it personal is a niche thing that is relatively easy to solve.

Instead of trying to market to all the different agents, segment them into groups and only show them the features of the product that are relevent to their lives and businesses. Have a class for buyers agents, have a class for sellers agents, have a class showing how to use the product for FSBOs and Expireds, for investors, for lead generating.

BUT WAIT AGAIN! Listingbook does more than that you say, it can revolutionize your whole business you say. Well CONSUMERS don’t want revolution. They want solutions – to their problems!

Now let’s take a peek at Keller Williams (another great company – I am an agent there). They also have a B2B level where they are working with business owners who have market centers (offices) and team leaders (managers). Their consumers are also realtors. What I think they do particularly well is rely on user generated content to reach their customers. The market centers allow KW agents to teach classes and conduct training in their specialty (I teach marketing, John Dietz teaches FSBOs, etc.). They also provide support on a micro level by having the team leaders coach the agents individually.

What they do have is a problem with perception. There is a perception in the minds of non-KW agents that there is A LOT of unsolicited micro managing and that they HAVE to go to classes. What KW doesn’t understandd is how to frame their message so that it is not a sales pitch for KW but a solution for how to do business in the information age of real estate.

Homebuyers and Sellers need something different from realtors today. They HAVE access to the MLS for the most part. The information is there for them and they are using it freely. What realtors bring to the table is knowledge and experience and that is the message that KW helps their agents to get out to the public through training, coaching and systems.

So Realtors, now is my time to take a shot at you! Are you aware of what your focus is? Are you B2B or B2C. Are you both? Could you be both?

In today’s market there are scads of opportunity to be B2B. Banks need help selling their inventory through REO sales. That is a message that you could send. Your vendors are hurting too, could you work with them to cross sell to your databases? Handymen know people who are getting ready to move, bug guys know people who need a bigger house, and banks know who has gotten a home loan approval.

On the B2C front, are you framing your message to “what’s in it for them?”. Are you talking to niches like sellers, buyers, first timers, baby boomers, dog owners, condo dwellers and water lovers? Are you saying it in a way that makes sense to you OR are you saying it in a way that appeals to them? You do not have to change your services, just frame them in a way that will provide a message that consumers can understand and appreciate.

Listingbook and new people!

So I am out of town this week in Jacksonville training a million (okay probably about 500) agents how to use Listingbook. We have a great team that all loves the product and I get to meet A LOT of people and talk to them. What a nice week!

Anyways, I was reminded yesterday of how much it takes to make a successful presentation. A great speaker, good subject matter and an audience that is willing to listen. I have to say that I do a LOT of speaking and I can tell you in all sincerity that people want to know how what you are talking about benefits them. How will it change their life? That applies to your online presence and marketing too!

I met a great agent in JAX, Mandy Morrow, a Keller Williams gal who said she will be adding a link to her Listingbook on her website! I will be keeping my eye on her to make sure she does…:)

I also “met” a great new client virtually when she called in to get some branding. This always amazes me about the internet. She did a search, found my site, checked out the pages, saw one of my associate’s Business Writing, Ink. stuff, picked up the phone and called. I will keep you up with how Denise’s branding goes but in the meantime, WHAT CAN PEOPLE LOOK AT ON YOUR SITE? Is there neat stuff to tell them about your business? Do you tell them the benifits of working with you or are you just listing features? Don’t forget to make it all about them – they don’t HAVE to visit your site, make them want to!!!!

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog post – the sizzle versus the steak!

Bad Marketing Hurts Everyone – Email Edition

Ever heard of Phishing? It is like fishing but for email! I just got an email from “Mike” who looked like a friend and who was recommending a program to go along with “The Secret”.

Now I have friends named Mike (doesn’t everyone – that is the point) BUT my email program did NOT recognize this guy. I did a google search for his email and got nowhere. I did a seach for the 800# in his message and got nowhere.

He references a website but has not link or address. He also talks about things that would interest a realtor and references the bad market.  His signature has generic Coldwell Banker contact info.

NOW – I may LOVE the link that he directs me to but I will never know. I REFUSE to click on it as that is the point for lying to me about who he is and that he is my buddy Mike. AND you never know – it may lead to a computer virus. Just take a second to look at your email before clicking away. Think about if it is a trusted source or just a phisherman!!

Here is the copy of that email –

From Mike <realtormike1952@yahoo.com>
To Tara <tara@cometoclearwater.com>
date Mon, Aug 11, 2008 at 9:17 AM
subject the secret
mailed-by bounce.secureserver.net  

Hi Tara how is business? Listen didn’t you tell me about that book – The Secret? Just ordered their program for my wife http://thesgrprogram.com/?a_aid=c9e0de82 and thought you might be interested too. She’s totally into it and will attend Bob Proctor seminar at the end of the month! Perhaps this will help us get through this Real Estate disaster :) take care!

Mike

Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
Broker 30 Year Expert
CRS, SRES, NOTARY, QSC
800-840-4480 Toll Free
Fax 800-325-2444
“Showcasing Your Home”
More Advertising and Exposure

Visit my web site for a full resume and Marketing Plan for your Home and Search for a Dream Home.

How To Add A Postlet To Your WordPress Blog

Postlets.com offers a great mini posting that you can put into your blog, your Active Rain Blog or on Craigs List. This tutorial will go over how to add a postlet to your wordpress blog. If you need help on how to make a postlet, please visit our How To Make A Postlet page.

If you would like step-by-step instructions for how to add a postlet to your wordpress blog, they follow the videos.

This first video will show you how to do a basic postlet!

Wordpress screenshop
Wordpress screenshop

Advanced Postlets in wordpress – if you would like to know how customize your postlet for wordpress and are not afraid to delve into the HTML code a bit, this tutorial is for you!

(please be patient – it is a large file)

Wordpress screenshop
Wordpress screenshop

Step by step Guide To Adding a Postlet To Your WordPress Blog:

  1. Log into your wordpress
  2. Write>New post
  3. Title>Add your title
  4. Open a  new browser and log into your postlet account
  5. Go to my postlets
  6. Select your listing and choose>post
  7. Pick the size you would like to have in your post (if you have a big content area use the default code, if you have a smaller content hole then double click on the medium until the entire box is highlighted0
  8. Right click to copy
  9. Go back to your wordpress post
  10. Click the HTML tab (beside the visual tab)
  11. Paste your postlets code
  12. Hit save
  13. Preview your post
  14. Hit Publish
  15. Tip – Make sure to put some words in your post so that the seach engines see something besides just HTML code!

If you would like advanced help please watch the videos!

How To Make Your Blog Load Faster

So I am on a mission (again) to try and make my webpages load faster. Sigh.

It is vital that you have a fast website so that when you generate traffic don’t lose them before they even have a chance to know how great your site is! I am going to be doing A LOT of marketing my site in the coming weeks and want to make sure I put the best site forward!

The first thing I did was analyze how fast my site was to start (I like The Website Optimization Site) It told me that I had a lot of objects and to try and combine them, so I did.

Then I made my beautiful header images smaller by reducing the quality of the graphics. Then I took off the My Blog Widget (I know – it is back! It literally reduced the load times by one-hundreths of a second so I kept it!!!). Then I took off the “archives” section as it was just by months and didn’t seem helpful anyways. I made all the sidebar items on the right in one textbox instead of having 5.

And I reduced the load time of my site from 7.68 seconds to 7.49 seconds. Sigh.

The last thing I am trying is to see if I can be a little smart about this. I have two HUGE posts that are showing on the homepage right now (how-to’s with graphics and BIG links). I am going to check and see if I can make a difference by having a post with more text and less graphics. If that is the case I will try to alternate between graphic heavy posts and “plain” posts like this one. On a side note, I already have limited the number of posts that display to 3 which helped the load times greatly the last time I was on this bender!

UPDATE – I have achieved sub 7 second scores! I hit 6.9 seconds. I guess almost a second is okay, not fabulous but better than nothing!!!

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE – I got down to 5.96 by deactivating the plugins that I was not using. I have a couple, like CommentLuv that are frivolous but I like them too and I am keeping them…:)

Free Tools For Realtors – How To Add A Postlet to Active Rain

So I have been making active rain blogs for some of my clients lately and they are VERY excited about using the service BUT they don’t know how to get their listings on there. Well that is super simple using postlets.com, a free website that makes pretty html postings for your listings.

If you would like to learn how to add your listings to postlets visit Free Realtor Tools – How to make a postlet.

If you have graduated and are ready to start posting your listings on Active Rain, click the image below for step by step instructions! (please be patient on the download, it is a pretty big file BUT it is worth the wait!)

How to add Postlets to Active Rain
How to add Postlets to Active Rain

Free Realtor Tools – How to make a postlet!

It is really hard to figure out how to get exposure for your listings. You can put them on one of the hundreds of sites that will send your listing out to any number of other sites BUT it takes forever to load your listing onto all of those sites. Enter www.Postlets.com!. This site will build a great little HTML template that you can cut and paste into many different sites. One entry – multiple sites, what is not to love about that?

The sites that I have found to be the most beneficial for generating interest in my listings are craigslist.com for local traffic and open houses, and activerain.com for getting access to other realtors. Here is a basic tutorial for how to add your listing to postlets (stay tuned for future episodes where I will show you how to add your postlet to craigslist and activerain.com.

Now you know how to make a Postlet – find out how to add it to your active rain blog!

Check back often for other great free tools for realtors!

Where should you spend your time?

Time is money. I know, it is trite but true! I had a client ask me today if I thought she should spend some of her time on adding her real estate listings to a website. (See my response on Active Rain)

It made me think about what I spend my precious time on. Sometimes I spend time with my friends and favorite clients (good), sometimes I spend it lead generating (good), sometimes I spend it writing blog posts (good) and sometimes I spend it doing something that ultimately does not benefit my business (bad).

When I was an active Realtor I got lots of emails from companies that would “let” me post my listings on their site. They would then sell that feed to other sites who wanted real estate listings. While it did give my listings more exposure, I could have done that all day, everyday, rather than spending my time doing actual things that could sell my listings like contacting other realtors, marketing the home, attending pitch sessions, holding open houses and a million other things besides posting my listings on sites that had no traffic.

Are you doing something that you “could” do rather than stuff you “should” do? DO NOT get me wrong, I am an early adopter who likes to try new marketing efforts BUT if what I am doing does not benefit me dollar for time then I should focus on dollar productive activities and save my energy for things that have a chance of working for me!

Time Management – As In Where Does It Go?

When you think of all that you have to do, what feeling comes to mind?

A. Bliss – you love to be busy and have just enough to do to get through the day and leave at 5:00 OR
B. Horror – this cannot be your life, your todo list is longer than a garden hose and there is NO WAY you are EVER going to get everything done

I have a feeling most of us are somewhere in between! These are the problems with time as I see it – when you have lots of time you are bored and when you have none you are grouchy. I have developed a handy dandy survey for you to fill out so that we can all see where we are timewise – BUT first I will give you my opinions so that the survey comes out the way I want…JUST KIDDING!

PHONE CALLS

Should we do the “I answer calls from 11-12 and 3-4″ thing OR should you answer them as you go? I am not so great at returning calls and so I got Phone Tag. It answers the phone for me and then sends an email with the content! I can then call back the people who need immediate help right away and the others later on when I have time. It is a beautiful thing!

EMAILS

Emails – I keep hearing that I should check my emails once or twice a day, first at 11:00 AM and then at 4:00PM. I will tell you, in all sincerity, that if I wait until 11:00 to check my email I will be spending until 4:00 answering them and cleaning up the thousands of spams that will have accumulated.

My thoughts – I do check my email a lot throughout the day. Mostly I can fire off a 5 second response and check it off on my todo list as a WIN for me. BUT I also get sucked into reading stuff when I should be working. Mini Solution – I am seeing all the things I delete automatically or always send to a folder without reading and setting up filters. PS – If you email me dear readers and do receive a response you may be stuck in folder purgatory!

ADMINISTRATIVE TASKS

I AM NOT A SECRETARY! I am working my tail off to get to the point where I can hire a secretary. In the meantime I am spending HOURS a day doing data entry and busy work. I am sad. Maybe I will check out a virtual assistant. Excuse me, I have to go add a notation to my database and then commit hari kari!!!

LEAD GENERATING

I am GREAT at this and love making calls – okay here is the truth, I hate making calls but LOVE coming up with ways to see people face to face! I like sending out emails and mailers. I attended social events and organize master minds. I have lots of friends and do okay for myself BUT I AM calling more and getting more business!

BUSY WORK

This is a big one. Sometimes it seems like doing a bunch of the small unimportant things first will make you feel productive. Brian Tracy tells us to Eat the Frog – i.e. do the worst thing first and then all the rest will seem easier. I am trying to focus on my most important tasks and then letting the rest come out where they may!

SURVEY – I have developed a 5 questions survey to see where we are all having trouble – please take the minute and a half to fill it out so we can all know how messed up you are (just kidding, results are NOT linked to any one person!!!)

Click Here to take survey

Men With Pens – A Drive-By Critique

DISCLAIMER – I have had a NUMBER of people ask why I would subject my ego and my site to criticism. Well, I want to have the best product possible AND it is almost impossible to critique your own work. I can produce fabulous products for other people with a focus on optimizing and providing great design BUT like the shoemaker, my site was the last one to get the star treatment!  Thank you men with pens for the kick in the pants I needed to re-visit my site!

So I was surfing around one day and came upon a site (Men With Pens) that offered to critique blogs. It seemed like a good idea at the time so I offered up Marketing Artfully for abuse!

Here is the breakdown of what I am doing wrong:

She was a looker, this victim. She was into the ponies. Meerkats too. Odd combination. What she’d done, I didn’t know. It was something to do with the declining real estate market, I assumed.

The MWPs think my Random Rotating Header is off track. They think that I should have pictures of houses. Since I am marketing now instead of selling houses I disagree about the house thing, BUT I do agree that the site doesn’t look like my other marketing materials – which all feature realtor-ish people. HMMMM should I change the headers? I like them and they are artful. Will take this one under consideration!

All I knew was my company’s new mission statement. Exceeding customer and shareholder expectations with flawless execution. It wasn’t much of a statement. Hell, it wasn’t even a sentence.

The MWPs hate my mission statement! I didn’t even know I HAD a mission statement. Anyways, this is unacceptable and will be fixed once I find it! Obviously they want all my sentences to BE sentences too – not sure I can do that one. – UPDATE: I never found my mission statement BUT I did update my about us page, it is MUCH more informative and professional now. I can ABSOLUTELY say that I got the site up with “stuff” and now am finessing the content for SEO and also more targeted information!

Anyone who knows my pet peeves knows that the first thing I looked for was an archive page. Unfortunately, there was none to be had. Marketing Artfully uses category and month links, as well as a list of five recent posts. The lack of an archive page hurts MA’s ability to get its posts indexed by Google, and it shows. Very few individual blog posts have been indexed. About the only thing you will find in a search is the main site. One of the keys to long-term success is a good archive page. It allows readers and search engines to find the articles you want read.

I do have archive links but will research how to get a better placement with an actual archive page. The MWPs also suggested submitting a site map to google, I will hit that one too!

“The navigation really fades into the background too. I don’t like that it isn’t clear and easy to see. Tabs, maybe, nicely visible, or a navigation bar. Why doesn’t she have a ‘Services’ page? Why isn’t her name in the About Us?

Rats. A services page for a services company. These guys are tough! I will make a services page, with services. I can’t do much about the navigation at this point because it is a WordPress template BUT I can make the content better. Like most of you, I got the site up with STUFF in there and had every intention of fleshing it out when I had time. I guess it is time to make time. UPDATE – I have re-done my services page with added data capture forms and a link to case studies.

The theme colors are lime green, light blue and gray. The colors are attractive and professional looking, with an upbeat feel. I think it works well for the site. I would probably change the subscription button to a lime green so that it matched. Marketing Artfully does a good job of emphasizing the feed subscription options. It’s right there at the top of the right column.

YAY – they like my colors and my feeds! Small victory, but I will take what I can get!

I would get rid of the MyBlogLog and Amungus widgets though. They make the blog seem more casual than professional. This blog is promoting professional services. It is fine to look creative, but a site like this should avoid any gimmicky widgets.

Blasphemy! I like my widgets! Ain’t happening Men With Pens – and because of them I know where you are!!!!

Having removed the widgets, I would move up the ads for her services. They are attractive and blend well with the site colors so there is no harm in moving them directly underneath the subscription form. Make it easy for people to do business with you. DONE!

And improve the copy,” James mumbled absently. “‘Hire me.’ To do what? Plus, with that lack of clear navigation, people can’t see right away that there are services being offered…”

Clear SERVICES are now in the navigation – I left the right side button as is as it is supplimentary now!

For the most part the posts stay close to the stated purpose, but I notice that many of the posts contain long paragraphs with few headlines or other visuals to break up the text. Readers on the web tend to get bogged down by large blocks of text. I would consider adding some graphics to the post and using more headings and lists.

Long rambling posts? Moi? Okay, after today I will reform!

This is a marketing blog, so I expect great headlines. Blog owner Tara Jacobson has the appropriate creativity when it comes to writing headlines for her articles, but her references can be a little obscure. Headlines are not meant to entertain your existing readers, they are meant to draw in new readers. If I came across an article titled, Your Favorite Medium, I could only guess what the article was about. A headline such as, Reaching Your Market: Is Your Medium Too Small?, identifies what the article is about while staying creative. The key to good headlines is to be creative AND informative.

I am on it!

So, overall I am pleased with the verdict. A few tweaks, totally changing my writing style, adding some services and I am good to go! I am going to be implementing these changes over the next couple of days. THANK YOU Men With Pens for the great critique and keep up the good work!

Tech Expo – Blogging On Active Rain

Tech Expo – Presenter Tara Jaconben

Hi All! This is intended as a reference for today’s class on Active Rain. If you have any additional information or reference materials please add them as a comment! I interviewed Cyndee Haydon (a Fantastic Blogger!) and I include her note after each item – they are paraphrased, any mistakes are mine!

Sign Up For Active Rain

Pinellas County Realtors On Active Rain
As you can see we have 435 Realtors In Pinellas
There are 81 in Clearwater
In 5 Days of Posting I have gotten to position 7! Tara Jacobsen On Active Rain
Recommended cities – Clearwater Beach, Dunedin, Largo, Oldsmar, Pinellas Park, Safety Harbor, Tarpon Springs

- Cyndee Haydon – Pick a city you can rank well in. There is nothing to stop you from posting an article about Tampa or Clearwater or St. Petersburg, BUT it is easier to place higher against smaller competition.

How To Get More Points On Active Rain
Jimmy McCall wrote an excellent post on maximizing your points right off the bat by filling out all the areas that Active Rain requires. I cannot agree with him more AND I think that this will help you in all your marketing efforts. For example, I had to contact some of my clients to get additional testimonials – what a great way to get an extra touch in AND they say nice things about you!

- Cyndee Haydon – While getting points allows you to rank higher in Active Rain, I have seen a number of agents who posted non-professional comments and/or posts just to gain points (you get points for up to 10 comments per day and for each blog  post over 200 words). This is NOT the point of blogging since you are trying to increase your professional appeal to consumers and also to hopefully generate referrals from other agents. Stay on track and on target, providing relevant LOCAL information.

Writing A Blog Post
Dustin Luthur has written a series of excellent articles on how to succeed at Active Rain. These are used with his permission!
Staring at a blank screen wondering what to write can be daunting! I would go back through your emails and see what you have sent to clients. If you get questions about a particular neighborhood, blog about that. If you have learned some useful information (like how to get rid of oil tanks in Dunedin), blog about that. Basically anything can be a blog post!

- Cyndee Haydon – Remember that time is on your side. Write something and then you can go back and revisit it, expanding on what you have talked about. The search engines like to see that you blog (or site) has been in existance for a while to assure that you are not a scammer, so having your posts around for a while will help you. Also, it can be overwhelming to try and generate enough content for an entire site in one day. Set a timer for 15 minutes and only write for that long. It will take the pressure off of you. Also, blogging has made me a better realtor, when I am asked a question from a reader I research the entire answer and then post it. When you have to know enough about a subject to publish it for the world to see, you better know what you are talking about!

Commenting On Blog Posts
On stand alone blogs, as well as Active Rain Blogs, the VERY best way to generate new visitors to YOUR site to comment on THEIR site! I have a number of blogs that I visit including Cyndee Haydon’s Sandbars To Sunsets,   Kris Berg’s San Diego Blog, The Bloodhound Blog (LOT OF READERS – make sure you know what you are talking about!) What you want to do here is add something meaningful to a conversation (which is what a blog post is) – DO NOT just say “great post” or “I agree”. Basically you are auditioning for a new reader – if you say something like “I enjoyed reading about your position on the cost of gas, did you happen to read the article in The Times Today….” or “While I agree with…”

- Cyndee Haydon – Do not say something on your blog or a comment that you would not like to have published in the newspaper. Remember that the internet remembers EVERYTHING and that before you hit POST you make sure that you blog or response is professional and represents you and how you run your business!

Additional Resources
Commenting On Blog Posts
Inserting Widgets Into Your Blog
Engage In An Active Rain Group

Do What You Do and They Can Do What They Do!

Do What You Do and They Can Do What They Do! I know this seems very deep and cryptic BUT it is true!

I was with some of my favorite investor realtors today (Fred Collis & Larry Arth) today and we got to talking about what we can do to generate more leads (their idea of a great lead is Bird Dog who can help them get the word out about real estate investment opportunities). Fred was talking about how his coach keeps giving him tasks which he doesn’t always complete. I think the operative part of that is his coach GIVES him tasks.

I have taught a BUNCH of agents lead generating. In each class I ask the agents and small business owners what they are currently doing. They ALWAYS say that doesn’t matter, that they want to know WHAT to do. I ALWAYS say that they will really only do what they do right now, but more!

If they make calls, they will make calls to more or different people, but they will NOT start blogging on a daily basis if they don’t like to write. If they blog every day and send tons of emails but NEVER pick up the phone, they will not suddenly start making 20 phone calls a day! (I KNOW – there are always exceptions to the rule BUT generally people will do what they do!)

What brought this home for me today was the developer we met with! He is a GREAT charismatic speaker who has been able in the past to sell LOTS because he was able to talk with each client personally in either seminars or on the phone. We are working to market these programs to LOTS of Bird Dogs who have LOTS of clients – there is NO WAY he can talk to 50 clients of 50 Bird Dogs (or over 2,500 people!).

We developed a way to get standardized info out and also to allow him to “talk” to people via a webinar on the internet! We will also record him so he can get his message out via MP3s. Even though these are great ideas, we also need to develop marketing materials for Larry and Fred to get out to the Bird Dogs. The developer never had to do this before because he talked to everyone directly and he isn’t very excited about doing it now BUT to grow the number of people they can reach he will have to adapt or go extinct!

The great thing about this situation is that the Developer has hired us to help him market to new people while maintaining the practices that made him successful in the past! If you are NEVER going to do something then hire someone else to do it so you can concentrate on doing the “fun” tasks you like to do!

Nobody Told Me THIS About Active Rain!

So I was surfing around this morning and somehow got to the Active Rain website. For those of you who do not know what Active Rain is, it is a real estate site where agents can list their services, set up a blog and connect with other agents, sellers and buyers. I had NOT signed up for this service until today and still have reservations about putting my information and efforts into somewhere that has LOTS of other realtors, but that is a discussion for another day.

PG 13 Warning – Do not read any further gentle readers unless you want to experience the carnage of rampant competitive megalomania!

What no one ever told me is that it is NOT a popularity contest like Facebook or those other networking sites (I am not all that interested in being popular). It is a good old fashioned BRAWL to get the most points! You get points for all kinds of things and can “WIN” if you get the most points! Well I am always up for trying to win contests so I got started right away!

When I started I had 0 Points and was ranked 81 for Clearwater, FL (as there are only 81 realtors listed on Active Rain for Clearwater, I was NOT in a good position!). Then I added my picture to my profile, did some other fun things like adding Testimonials, an About Us overview, etc. and I was off to the races! I currently have 986 points and am ranked 22 – yahoo!!!! I also added a link to Active Rain from my website which will push me up to 1486 after they review my link over the next 4-6 days. I calculate that this will push me up to 1498 points and number 14 (just above Jack Johnson – a GREAT Keller Williams agent).

AND I haven’t even written a blog post yet! I am on fire here!!!!

Now to add some sense of reality here -My new pal Cyndee Hayden is the top dog Realtor for Clearwater, FL and has had great success using the service (and other online means) for lead generating. She has 226735 points – that’s right over TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND! Dang.

Anyways – if you are a realtor and are not at least considering adding this to your arsenal of online spots, consider it now! It took about 20 minutes and could add to your book of business (at the very least it can’t hurt!)

PS – if you sign up using this link http://activerain.com/action/referrals/taradactyl I can get even more points! (I just need another 200 points to beat the next guys on the list and slip into lucky number 13! – Being aware that you have a problem is supposed to be the first step in fixing it, right?)

Relevancy and Niches

I got an email last night from a lady who runs the ABC School of Polish. She seemed VERY polite and offered to put a link to my site on her site if I put link to her site on mine.

On the face of it, this seems like a good idea, you can never have too many links right? Also, I did attend the Polish National Alliance College in Cambridge Springs, PA for a couple of years so I like the whole Polish concept (subsequently the college was shut down and turned into a women’s prison, guess I got out of there just in time!)

BUT, here’s the kicker. What is in for me OR them to have a link to each other’s sites. I do not think that people who are looking for great Polish holidays are going to come from my marketing website. I also do not think that people who are thinking about taking Polish classes or going on holiday are going to suddenly have a yearning to learn more about niche marketing.

This practice is called link building and is designed to trick the search engines into thinking that you are VERY popular world wide, with links from all over the globe. The search engines can figure this trick out easily, but more important, people visiting my site can figure out that I have a huge links page with nothing relevant to marketing and leave (I hate when people leave!)

If you are going to exchange links with people, make sure they are a complimentary site. I could link to mail houses, printing companies, articles about advertising, niche marketing tips and tricks, realtor websites, internet marketing sites, etc. which would INCREASE my relevancy in the search engines…rather than just adding another anonymous link.

So Anna, thank you for your kind offer but count me out. I would rather have one good link than 100 mediocre links diluting my brand!

Your Favorite Medium

No this is NOT about psychics or charlatans! This is about what YOU think works and how that affects what you DO.

Now to give you some background on where I am coming from, before returning to marketing, I built my highly successful real estate business in Clearwater by using direct mail marketing pieces and networking. I am more than willing to drive across town to visit someone in person rather than call them on the phone and I hardly ever send marketing or informational emails to my clients.

I was sitting in a meeting this week with a realtor who ONLY sends email, no direct mail and who also networks very well. She is adamant that direct mail does not work, she has tried it before and got nothing for her effort. I told her that I had tried email before and it didn’t work AT ALL. Come to find out that both of us had sent ONE or TWO pieces, MONTHS apart and then decided that it didn’t work.

I hate to talk on the phone so I assume that everyone hates to talk on the phone. She LOVES email, the internet and all things technology related and so she thinks she has the best chance of getting her message across by doing what makes the most sense to her.

What we found out is that one way doesn’t provide a whole message. Some people who you communicate with will get the most from your emails, some from direct mail and you can never go wrong talking with someone on the phone or face to face. The key is to talk to them EVERY month in EVERY medium to remind them that you are still in business and still want to serve them!

Constant Contact – Let’s Play Hide and Seek!

While I was an active realtor I was VERY good at keeping in touch with my clients and prospects. It was my favorite part of the job (which is why I am now helping agents and small business owners with their marketing instead of actively working with clients)!

Lead generating is like a really neat game of hide and seek with the prize being someone calling or emailing you with an opportunity! There is nothing more fulfilling than preparing a well thought out marketing piece, generating the content, doing the sticky-sticky of the labels and stamps, then sending it out into the world and having someone notice it and contact you! (I KNOW – I really need help with this, like a marketing 12-step program)

What I have found is that not everyone loves this part of owning a business. It can sometimes seem overwhelming and can fall by the wayside while you are busy doing your “real” job. It can seem really pointless to get MORE business when you are feeling swamped by the business you already have BUT… if you wait until you are less busy then you have lulls in your work (and income).

Some tips to make your marketing less intimidating:

  • Do what you like to do (Part 1)! If you like to talk to people then do it more – join a small business networking group, go out for dinner at the same place and get to know the clients and staff (tell them what you do and they WILL refer you!), visit businesses and tell them about your service and how it can help them.
  • Do what you like to do (Part 2)! If you like to talk on the phone do it more – call your friends and remind them that you give great service, call your prospects, call your past clients. Make it a part of your daily routine and it will get easier – I promise!
  • Do what you like to do (Part 3)! If you are an online guru do that more – send emails with a signature line from your business, have a great website to capture leads, comment on blogs with a link to your site. Internet marketing is a VERY affordable way to go!
  • Mail stuff out – Don’t wait until you have the “best” direct mail piece or the most extensive marketing plan finalized, send something. Send just listed or just sold postcards, send your brochure, send a market snapshot or a great article you found, send out helpful tips for your industry, just do it!
  • Start an email list – Find out how to set up an email list subscription on your site (I use www.feedburner.com) OR call everyone you know and tell them you are setting up a GREAT mailing and need their email address. DO NOT SPAM them! Make sure you send relevant content and not too often.

Marketing is fun and anyone can do it (remember that at the end of it you will have new clients to work with!) I have one realtor friend who gets a new client EVERY time she sends out her newsletter! It takes her a little money and a while to send them, BUT knowing that it gets her results makes it all worthwhile. While you may never be a marketing nut like me, think of it like a game of hide and seek or an Easter egg hunt and it may seem easier!

PS – If you are a realtor and would like to hand off some of the work to us visit our 33 Touch page for more info!

Small Businessses – How To Survive In A Down Market

I have a great admiration for small business owners! The entrepreneurial inspiration hits and they are ready to go out in the world and start selling (either products or services).

I am currently doing work for a fabulous mortgage banker, Brian P. Forrester (who is honest and hardworking and doing great right now, despite the downturn his entire market has taken), some STUPENDOUS realtors, a great friend and business partner Tammy Leventis at Mail Marketing and some other start up small businesses.

All are making it happen in a market that is not easy and getting harder by the day. BUT they have decided that a downturn in the market is a great time to increase their market share through branding and exposing themselves to the market with a focused message!

What are some things you can do to make an impact? Here are my top ten! I know – you have heard of these before. There is no magic here, just common sense.

  1. Have a website or blog that allows you to communicate with other people – this is the most affordable and user friendly way to make an impact right now. People ARE looking for your services and products online, can they find you?
  2. Make sure your business card is distinct and DOES NOT have a hundred ways to contact you – one number, one email, address and fax – anything else confuses the user and they do not know which means to use to get a hold of you!!!
  3. Have a brochure – This should list a little about you and then have your services. It provides a way for people to learn about what you offer without you having to tell them.
  4. Contact your clients (part 1 CALL THEM) – These are people you work with or have in the past. They should like and respect you. They should refer you to their friends. If they do not like you, take them out of your database and free your soul for people to work with who DO like you. Now call them. They like you, remember, and will NOT be offended if you pick up the phone to communicate with them. Have something interesting to say, say it, tell them you like them too, ask for a referral or two, hang up. See how easy that was!
  5. Contact your clients (part 2 MAIL THEM) – Anyone who knows me knows this is MUCH easier for me than calling (I don’t talk to people on the phone normally). Mailing stuff to people works. You can send them a postcard with your services or testimonials or information. You can send them newsletters or great articles you have found that are relevant to your industry. You can even send them recipe cards (I CANNOT believe I just said that!!!…:) BUT whatever you do, send them something on a regular basis.
  6. Contact your clients (part 3 EMAIL THEM) – All of us get emails every day. We take the time to read those that are personal and from friends and contacts who we KNOW are going to be interesting and relevant. This is the opposite of the mailing someone, sending just anything will not do. You risk being added to the spam list or removed from their approved email list EVERY time you send something. DO NOT send recipe emails if you are a pest control company, do not send funny emails if you are a mortician, DO send emails that are timely and will ADD to your readers knowledge or life. DO NOT spam people.
  7. Send personal notes – When you get a personal note it makes you feel nice. You know someone has taken the time to think of you, put pen to paper and then added a stamp. They have walked to the mail box or drop off point. Make sure your personal notecards are professional. They can brand your company or have inspirational quotes or just be pretty. They DO NOT have to be long, just a sentance or two to let someone know you have thought of them. DO NOT send personal notes from a mass mail company, it is disingenuous.
  8. Network - Go to events with your co-workers, go to Charity functions, go to sporting events, amusement parks, open houses. Go to service clubs and formal networking events. When someone asks you if you want to do something, say yes. Ask someone you do not normally spend time with to lunch and learn more about them. Make time to talk to your friends. In today’s world we hear constantly about time management, but we rarely here about making time for people. Listen to them, most are really interesting.
  9. Do what you say you are going to – The best indication that you are going to succeed is doing what you say you will. DO NOT promise a turn around time of 1 day if something takes 3 days. Under promise and over deliver. Do more than you said you would. Surprise someone with something they did not expect. Ask what your customer wants and give them that.
  10. DRUMROLL PLEASE – Get a Niche (or two) – Figure out what you do well and do that more. Give the general public a way to catagorize you in their mind so that they can refer people to you. Give great customer service, market their home to 20 different places, capitalize on your Irish-ness, specialize in Investors, work a farm, always start your appointments on time, be a stable influence in unstable times, focus on golfers, bowlers, non-profits or car dealers.

Thanks for listening.

A Wicked Case Of Blog Envy!

I have been on a mission to make my blog load faster! I have visited other blogs that load faster and I have experienced BLOG ENVY!

Blog envy occurs when you feel like your blog is inadequate compared to everyone else’s blog. When you know your blog is less than perfect it makes you feel like you are living under a big black cloud (OKAY I admit that is a little melodramatic but I have spent the last two days analyzing EVERY square inch of my blog and I believe I have earned the right!)

The way that I knew there was a problem is that I frequently had 100% bounce rate from my google adwords campaigns. The bounce rate is how many times someone comes to your site and stays for less than 10 seconds. When they DID stay they were spending 4-6 MINUTES looking at everything so I knew my content was not driving them away.

I used a great tool on www.websiteoptimization.com to find out how fast my page loaded and if changes that I made reduced the load times. I have reduced the size of my pictures, reduced the number of posts I have on the home page and made sure some of my favorite widgets are not slowing me down (I LOVE Blog Log but if it was the culprit it would have had to go – luckily it is a weensy little widget so it got to stay!!!)

I also talked with my internet buddy Sean today and he said he had done something to his blog and it looked funny on Internet Explorer. He figured that out by checking (he uses Firefox usually), if he had not checked it could have gone on for quite a while before anyone told him.

The moral of the story is that you want to check your site or blog every now and then. Go to different computer and see how your site loads. Use a different browser (if you always use Internet Explorer download Firefox and see how it looks). Make sure you have a way to track your traffic and see if people are staying on your site (Google makes a great Analytics tool that is FREE!)

I am going to move on to other things in my life now (the beagle REALLY has to go out!) and stop obsessing about load times. I am hoping that I can break the habit without a 12 step program!

Hire Who? Hire You!

So I was reading a blog post this week about asking for business*. Basically the author said that too many times online we have all this great information available and OF COURSE someone would know to send you an email to request your services! But do you ask them directly? Do you ask for the business the way that you would if you were face to face? I always joked around about “three copies press hard”, meaning that I was staying until I got a listing agreement unless it was a listing I wanted to turn down.

I am also very good in person about explaining the next steps in the process. “After we do the analysis of your needs I will send you a written inspection report by Tuesday” or “I will call you on Thursday to set up a time for the photographer to come out”.  Online we forget to set expectations and so sometimes inadvertantly disappoint people who are expecting a certain level of service. If your auto responder says you will get back within the next 24 hours and fail to mention that you take weekends off, they could be VERY put out when you answer their Friday email on Monday morning!

This time I have practiced what I am preaching! I have added a “Hire Me” button and listed some of my services. In the future I will have a cool email form with a dropdown box so they can tell me exactly what they are interested in and I can capture their contact information BUT for now at least they know I want them to call me! I will also have additional products  with cool links to flyers so they can see everything I have to offer, but what if they want to hire me before then?

DO NOT wait until everything is perfect before you start. Start today. I am including a variety of “hire me” buttons for you to use on your site! Please feel free to copy any of them and put it on your site so someone can hire YOU! All I ask is that you post a comment here so we can all see your site with the “hire me” button!!!!

hire me button

hire me button
hire me button
hire me button
hire me button

* If it was your post please let me know and I will add a link!!!!

So You Have A Blog – Who Cares?

Who cares if you have a blog? Well I guess it depends on a number of things – how interesting your content is, what it is about and how often you post. The really great thing is that it is all under your control!

BUT (and this is a BIG but) if no one knows you are there no one is able to care. So how do you get people interested? I have had my blog going for 2 weeks and 1 day and have 20 registered readers through Feedburner and had 172 visitors on my best day! YAY! How did that happen and who is reading?

The how is by doing some really easy things:

Be a friendly blogger – I have been a loyal blog reader for a number of different sites with a variety of interests from Marketing to Real Estate to How To Live A Debt Free Life. I have my Google homepage set up with about 30 different blogs that I can see the 3 most recent posts on and click through often. IF there is something that is written and I think my comments would add something to the conversation I will comment. If there is nothing I can add, I keep my yap shut and just watch other people chatter. When people see that you are adding to the conversation they sometimes will click through to “meet” you on your blog. That is really nice!

Visit Social Sites – I like Mixx and Digg. The premise of these sites is people submit either their own work or something they have seen on the Internet and then everyone gets to vote on what is interesting. If you are interesting you will get voted on BUT you can also vote for things you find interesting. I have gotten a couple of readers from checking out someone else’s interests and voting for them or emailing them to let them know I like their work. Because I focus on Marketing and Internet and cute pictures of animals (I know, how lame), I tend to find other people who might be interested in what I have to say too. Mixx has sent me 3 visitors who have spent an average of 12.5 minutes on my site – not a bad average!

Spam your friends – If you have read my posts you know that I have people who I consider to be friends who I torture with all my great ideas! I ask them if they like my stuff and if they know anyone else that might like it. Because I talk about marketing all the time I have “Marketing Friends”. Think about anyone you know who might have an interest in your Blog and tell them (ONCE) that you are writing and ask for their input.

Add it to your email return address – This is an easy one that let’s you tell your aquaintences and business associates you are in business without spamming them!

Stumble Upon – Download the Stumble Upon toolbar and add your site to “I like its”. I got over 175 hits from this alone. It is set up somewhat like the Social sites in that you tell Stumble what you like and they give you pages that you might find interesting. One thing this will do is bring A LOT of people to your site and it had a really good response. People that came this way visited 1.69 pages on average and only 35.8% Bounced (meaning that they were on my site for 10 seconds or less). This has been my best source of readers to date!

Adwords – This one cost some money so use it wisely! I think it is a nice way to get some early traffic but it is not what you should base an entire business on unless you are willing to watch it VERY CAREFULLY. My Adwords visitors are the group that spends the least time on my site on average (less than 1 minute) and has the highest bounce rate (78.95%). That having been said, it is a way to get guarenteed traffic quickly. It is also important to make sure to monitor your ads and make sure that they are working well. Have several versions and test them against each other to see which have the best results.

Please let me know if you have any other super secret ways to get traffic so we can share it with the whole class!…:)