Content, Content, Content!

October 15, 2012 by +Marj Wyatt  
Filed under Communicating for Success, Featured

A good friend of mine was recently driving around with a real estate agent, looking for a spot to open a new store. The agent kept saying, “Location, location, location.” In real estate, that’s the key, since you want people to see your store and shop there. If we were driving around in cyberspace, I would be saying, “Content, content, content.” Why?

Ann Handley, co-author of Content Rules, writes:

“Today, you have an unprecedented opportunity to create a treasury of free, easy-to-use, almost infinitely customizable content that tells the story of your product and your business, and positions you as an expert people will want to do business with.”

The Web is more or less nothing but content — from websites and blogs to articles and videos and the list goes on. Here are some facts to ponder from Joe DiDonato, Elearning! Media Group Editor-at-Large:

  • Technology renews itself every 12-18 months.
  • There are 3,000 books published every day.
  • The amount of new technical data is doubling every year

The point is, in order to have your content stand out, it needs to immediately grab the reader’s attention and then hold it.

The “grab” part is often easier then the “hold.” What makes content stand out from the endless chatter on the Web? The same reasons that are true for you are also true for your readers.

Here are a few points about what makes content outstanding:

Content must be relevant: Great content needs to speak to you about what’s happening now. If you are looking into how to write better content, for example, then this article is relevant. If you need to know how to make coq au vin, you should go to the Food Network website.

Content must be useful: Too much content on the Web is utterly useless. I’m not just talking about the low-quality stuff that pollutes the Internet. I’m talking about all the content that’s just mediocre or un-enlightening. The stuff that doesn’t tell me anything I can really use in my daily life. There’s lots of content about things, ideas, reactions, and opinions, and none of it is really helpful, except for the people who are telling me how to do something I need to do. Helpful content always finds readers.

relevant contentContent must be well-written: Outstanding content better be well-written or no one will read it, even if it’s relevant and useful. This is the toughest rule to follow. Really good writing is hard, and that’s why we have professional writers. So be honest with yourself: Either you write well enough to make your content work or you don’t. If you don’t, then hire a good content writer. This is especially true for busy entrepreneurs and business owners. If you can’t devote the necessary time to update your business’ website with useful content for your readers or customers, be honest with yourself and hire a pro.

Find the right topics: Don’t forget that the foundation of outstanding content is a fresh and interesting topic idea. No matter how relevant, useful and well-produced your content is, if a very similar article, blog post or video already exists, its potential is limited right off the bat. Always strive to find new and exciting things to showcase in your content. Here are a few ideas on how to find interesting content ideas from Handley and her co-author, C.C. Chapman, in their book Content Rules:

Chat with customers. Ask customers a single question, such as ‘What’s your biggest marketing challenge?’ or ‘What’s a strategy you used to grow your business this year?’

Interview luminaries. Q & A interviews with thought leaders, strategic partners, or flat-out interesting creative thinkers make for compelling text, audio, or video content. […]

Trawl industry news. Share an opinion about a recent news story that’s affecting your industry or audience. Be timely; you could benefit from the extra boost of being one of the first to comment on the topic.

Go behind the scenes. Show things that your readers or followers don’t usually get to see. Share photos that give an insider’s view of your company, or tease some new, compelling content, product or event that you’ll be launching soon.

Go to an event. Take session notes, conduct interviews, or take photos. Real-time blog or tweet the sessions that offer value to your community, and share with your audience what you learned, enjoyed, or were surprised at.

Share best practices or productivity tips. People are always looking for efficiencies, and this type of content is always highly useful and shareable. […]

What do you think makes content outstanding? How do you find great content ideas? We’d love to hear in the comments!

David Grebow is a freelance small business journalist for Vistaprint, a world leader in custom websites, business cards, and other marketing products for businesses all across the globe. David holds an MBA from Harvard and has been published in Harvard Business Review and The Economist.

Are You Confident or Arrogant?

January 23, 2012 by +Marj Wyatt  
Filed under Entrepreneur Mindset, Featured

There is a huge difference between being confident or arrogant.  This is a fine line that we often walk as we manage in our personal and business relationships. For the purposes of this post, I will focus on professional relationships but the information does apply personally too.

It is completely true that we must have confidence in our abilities in order to gain and keep the trust and respect of our prospects and customers.  If we become too forceful about the value that we feel we are delivering, that can be perceived as arrogance which will be off-putting to people.

your ability to be transparent shows if you are confident or arrogant

In this era of full-disclosure and social networking, whether that is through Instant Messaging or other well-known social networks, it is critical that we are above-board with regard to our accomplishments and skills.  One of the easiest ways to demonstrate your expertise is to reveal the value of the knowledge you’ve gained by sharing it openly with colleagues, where this is practical and do-able.

confident or arrogantIt isn’t enough to say to others that you are the best at what you do.  The ONLY way that your colleagues, prospects and customers will come to believe that you are an expert in your field, as you claim, is through their perception of who you are and by the  information you share openly to back up your claims.   If someone asks you why you are saying what you are saying, this does not mean that they don’t believe you or are challenging what you are sharing.   The way you handle yourself will show people if you are confident or arrogant.

I’m not suggesting that you should give away all that you know without compensation.  What will gain more respect and higher quality referrals will be to display a spirit of collaboration when you are in group settings or in pre-sales discussions.

whether confident or arrogant, remember that you are not always right

Even though you have spent years doing what you’re doing, you will be viewed as either confident or arrogant based on your willingness to accept the possibility that you still have something to learn and letting people see that this is the case.  Face it, people are inherently innovative and it is possible that someone has discovered something that can enhance your previously earned wisdom. 

The ability to hear a message without the background noise of your own filters is not easy for some folks.  When you KNOW you are the best at something and a new person inquires about the wisdom you are sharing, check your ego before responding.   The way that you respond will inform those directly involved in the conversation, as well as those looking on, as to whether you are confident or arrogant.

You can easily avoid confrontations by keeping an open mind.  If you feel that the person asking the question has less knowledge than you, do not react to their inexperience with a phrase like:

I’ve been doing this for years so I know what I’m talking about.

Kick your ego to the curb by admitting, to yourself, that nothing is static in our world.  Try to actively listen so you can learn more about their position.  You can experiment with statements such as:

I hadn’t thought of that.  Can you tell me more about it, please?

The first part of this phrasing validates the speaker by giving them credit for their idea.  The second part lets them know you are interested in what they have to say and leaves the door open for them to discuss it with you.

People will notice whether you are confident or arrogant, especially  if you have a genuine interest in learning more about them and what they have to say.  A good rule of thumb which I’ve discovered is that it is much better to be interested than it is to be interesting.  Besides, you actually might learn something new!

mean what you say!

Overly confident people rarely have the ability to truly appreciate someone else’s expertise, especially if it approaches their own.  If you are in this position and find yourself congratulating someone, make sure that your praise is sincerely offered because insincerity has potential to undermine the less experienced person with whom you are in conversation.

Always focus on building or improving your relationships by being honest.  Sarcasm or self-deprecating humor is a tactic that is sometimes used by arrogant people to draw attention away from others and to themselves, so be careful about how and when this is used.  If you can’t offer praise authentically, wait until you actually feel that emotion before dishing out your Kudos so the recipient knows whether you are being confident or arrogant when it is offered.

make yourself easy to approach

Your relationships will be enhanced and define you as being either confident or arrogant based on your ability to set aside your judgments that someone younger or having less experience automatically knows less about your subject than you do.  This will also make you seem more approachable. 

When you position yourself as an authority in your field, people will gladly follow you and have more respect for you because they want what you have.  They may not have decided yet whether you are confident or arrogant, and their decision is based on their perceptions of you.

As I used to quip:

She puts on her pantyhose one leg at a time too…  :)

When given the opportunity, provide your fans and followers with some personal information about how you arrived at your position of authority in your area of expertise.  I do not recommend being overly dramatic, as this will turn some people off.  What I’m suggesting is that it is totally OK let people know about things that bug you or mistakes you’ve made along your way. 

In the spirit of authenticity, always ensure that you are differentiating between what is your opinion and what is a fact, based on your knowledge. 

It is too much work to be perfect and it is probably an unobtainable goal anyway.  Your admirers need to know you are human in order to truly value the expertise that you have to share.

confident or arrogant?

confident or arrogantLeaders and mentors understand the responsibility of the characteristics that have attracted people to them.  Marketers sometimes appear to have problems weighing the balance between being confident or arrogant and, sadly, some do not even recognize that this is an opportunity for them to change and gain higher respect. 

It is my opinion that confidence and ego have the power to make or break your patterns of success.  As useful as it is to have an ego to propel you, that same ego will cause people to stop listening to you if you stomp on them in public or stifle their ideas by telling them they are wrong.

People will quickly spot whether you are being confident or arrogant. Truly confident people don’t have to prove that they are good at what they do for it is obvious without declarations.  Such people have a very firm BELIEF in their own capabilities, as well as a CLEAR UNDERSTANDING about their own strengths and weaknesses. 

An individual with a properly balanced ego will embrace what others feel is risky because that person believes in themself and knows that they have the ability to manage the risks and make it work.  Thus, these sorts of people will often take leaps of faith that would totally freak out a less confident professional.  But this can be inspiring to onlookers.

Having talent and being good at something is a gift.  Don’t abuse your power by diminishing those around you, no matter how much you know. 

Incoming search terms:

Where the Hell is Matt?

In these times of entrepreneurship and light-speed marketing, I’m frequently reviewing things that other people are doing online.  YouTube is a great place to locate innovative marketing techniques.  It is also a great place to wonder how people came up with their ideas but some things are better left unexplained … especially a video like this!

Make Your Business Fun!

Here is a video where Matt explains his business and how he has grown his ideas into something that not only is more fun but also is profitable. It is carrying a beneficial message to our world too.

Last weekend, I attended a reception for a well known nature photographer named Thomas Mangelsen.  He autographed my purchase with this message:

Dance while you can.  Scream when you must.

There is wisdom in those words, and Matt’s video and business plan reinforces them somehow.

Here is another favorite quote of mine by one of this world’s most famous writers, Mark Twain:

“Sing like no one’s listening, love like you’ve never been hurt, dance like nobody’s watching, and live like its heaven on earth.”

For those of you in the USA, have an awesome Thanksgiving.  For all my other readers, enjoy the day!

Incoming search terms:

The Proposal …

November 23, 2010 by +Marj Wyatt  
Filed under Business Basics, Small Business

In my business, potential clients sometimes ask for me to submit a detailed proposal that outlines deliverables and costs for milestones on a project.  This usually follows a lengthy phone conversation.  This is not an unreasonable request but preparing these proposals takes time that cannot be spent on other business activities and exposes details about my strategies and methods so my quandary is what level of commitment to ask of the prospect in exchange prior to delivering the document.  Although it is part of doing business, nobody likes paperwork.

Project Proposal GetIncomeBlog.comWhen I launched my business, I submitted detailed proposals without a second thought.  However, I modified my approach after a potential client failed to acknowledge the receipt of the proposal and ignored my requests for follow-up and negotiation until he contacted me to share a listing he had placed on a freelance site which was a verbatim copy of everything I had written in my proposal.  I was shocked.  He seemed pleased about the fact that he had sourced the project at a lower rate than I had proposed.  He has returned with new requests since then but I’ve declined.

My proposals now include a time limitation for pricing and a copyright notification that is intended to discourage prospects from using my content to shop their projects around.  In spite of these measures, there still are people who promise to meet with me after the proposal is sent, fail to return calls or emails for a while, and send a cryptic email saying that they “going another direction” with their project after a couple of weeks.  This is disappointing … and suspicious.

This isn’t a sour grapes post.  I certainly don’t expect to win every contract but I honestly don’t know how to handle prospects who leverage my copyrighted content to shop around for better pricing.  It is a bona fide conundrum.

These are the possible solutions that I’ve come up with:

  1. Withhold the delivery of all proposals until a mutually agreed to meeting time where we can walk through and discuss each point/price.
  2. Charge a flat fee for preparing and delivering detailed proposals and estimates that covers the cost of my time.
  3. Propose only an hourly rate for all projects in the future and track time, which is a big headache for me.
  4. Join the Circus and escape it all.  :)

Well, the last one isn’t really an option but it is fun to muse about sometimes.

Website Copyright: It Matters!

August 2, 2010 by +Marj Wyatt  
Filed under Communicating for Success

Last week, a colleague, who also is an RSS email subscriber to my site, told me they had copied a recent post and published it on their site.  Because I also had helped them set up one of their blogs and coached them a little, I presumed that they meant they had syndicated my content using a WordPress plugin that had been recommended.  However,because they said the word “copy”, it seemed like a good idea to ask a clarifying question.  The subsequent conversation felt a little awkward and I am still trying to determine if they were simply naive or if it was something else.

What is a Web Copyright?

www.GetIncomeBlog.com | Website Copyright MattersEvery WordPress Website theme that I have created or customized includes code which places a default copyright in the footer.  Summarizing an article on this topic that I read on Smashing Magazine, the same laws that protect printed copy also protect internet content.  Since April 1, 1989, all published content is “automatically” copyrighted and it is not available for use in the public domain throughout the lifetime of its creator plus 70 years.

An idea cannot be copyrighted so, if something you’ve come across on the internet spurs a new post for your site, you are not breaching copyright law.  You are allowed to cite excerpts from existing web content without crossing the line but you cannot replicate articles in their entirety without specific permission.

You also must have the permission of an author before you translate their content to another language.

The “fair use doctrine” is a doctrine in United States copyright law that allows limited use of copyrighted material without requiring permission from the rights holders, such as use for scholarship or review.  It provides for the legal, non-licensed citation or incorporation of copyrighted material in another author’s work.

Website Owner Responsibilities

As I was researching this topic, I was enlightened on a topic that may be confusing.  Web content is OWNED by the person who creates it.  In other words, comments are owned by the commenter, not the website owner.  Copyright law implies that you cannot alter content that is not owned by you and this may include removal of links, which is something that I have done myself.

This little nit will be covered in a terms and conditions statement on my website so that people who choose to comment about my posts are fully aware of my policies regarding links in comments.

Bottom Line:  Blog Posts are not like Daylilies

www.GetIncomeBlog.com | Website Copyright MattersIn the patio garden behind a house where I used to live, I frequently gathered up Daylily volunteers from between the cracks in the retaining wall and replanted them in the garden bed where I actually wanted them to grow.  That they were interested enough in survival to cast off volunteer plants any place that roots could take hold impressed me.

Bloggers are no different.  We publish our content and send it out on RSS feeds, hoping to acquire new readership and engage our audience in such a way that they will tell their friends on the social network.  We’re honored that you want others to know about our work, believe me.

Some of us put real research time into creating what we believe will be valuable and accurate content that we hope will be helpful to our target market.  The whole idea of spending time on a blog post is to build authority for the business niche that we are endeavoring to grow.  We want to help you but we don’t want to write your blogs for you.  I make no apologies for saying that out loud and will happily engage in discussion about it with anyone whose opinion may differ.

Copyright Resources

Some very helpful people have directed me to authority sites on plagerism and copyright protection for my reference. Here are those links, should you also have an interest:

Good Website Design and SEO are not Mutually Exclusive

July 29, 2010 by +Marj Wyatt  
Filed under Featured, SEO Strategies

Website design is a process of function and aesthetics.  I’ve just completed a project where the desires of the graphic designer took precedence over search engine optimization and website performance.  I had only heard about these sorts of debates before and had never been involved in one.

The designer admitted they cared more about look and feel of the site than they did about its features and functions.  Ultimately being forced to defer to the graphic designer’s logic by putting a scroll box into a post, for the sake of aesthetics, enforced website design tactics that have not been popular since the late 1990’s.  Neither the project initiator nor the graphic designer seemed to care at all about search engine visibility, website performance, or the impact their design-based decisions were having upon the website design functionality or the user experience.  Regardless of my feelings about it, I did as I was instructed and delivered a site that has absolutely no SEO value, much to my chagrin.  I contributed my ideas and they were ignored.  What else was there for me to do?  :)

website design seoBut, my position stands firm that graphic designer opinions should NEVER take precedence over website design performance, function, and search engine optimization.  I will augment this by saying that website design aesthetics and website functionality are not mutually exclusive goals.  With a little bit of understanding, beautiful graphic designs can be rendered to highly functional code that performs well and is also optimized for search engine visibility.

In my experience, graphics designers rarely have website design development or SEO skills.  I have the distinction of possessing wordpress website design, development and SEO skills, among other things, so this is not true of me.  My composite skill set is extremely rare, so I have been told.  Because it is important to my clients, I keep abreast of current online marketing tactics and website design and development trends so I can educate my customers and offer choices, should the need arise.  Of primary concern to me is overall website SEO and performance.  A properly designed website can garner organic traffic, especially if it uses the built-in features of a content management system like WordPress, and performance does not have to suffer if the developer knows what they are doing.

With the caveat that there are many people out there who know as much or more about this topic than me, I will share a little of what I know about these things in this post.   It is not all inclusive, for it would be impossible to encapsulate years of experience on such large subjects into a single post.

Why Should You Care about SEO?

A pretty website design pleases the eye, and aesthetics do matter, but your website SEO strategy can make the difference between a profitable website and a wasted expense.  If you are not doing your own development work, you have paid a professional website design developer real money in exchange for their time.  Viewing your website as a marketing asset should not be taken lightly.  With good planning, design, and a solid SEO strategy in mind from the onset, your website can become an extremely valuable tool that facilitates your business success.

Search Engine Optimization is not a huge mystery.  There are several sites with valuable and free content out there for people to study, if they are willing to invest the time and energy.  While each SEO “expert” seems to subscribe to their own philosophy, seach engine algorithms are based on math some factors are constants.

Generally speaking, there is on-page SEO and off-page SEO.  On-Page SEO is what you do with your website design and post content.  Off-Page SEO can be loosely defined as the linking strategies you employ to elevate your site’s authority on the internet.  Both are important, but the latter has very little to do with website design.

On Page SEO

Each page of your website is viewed individually by search engines.  Thus, it is possible for some of your pages to have a more elevated listing status in the search engines than others.  Content management systems, like WordPress, offer really cool SEO features like internal linking and frequent updates through RSS feeds and commenting features.  As a website design consultant, one of my functions is to help my clients choose rich keyword terms for categories.  While some Graphic Designers hold steadfastly to their belief that there still is a place for straight HTML websites, open source applications like WordPress, which is continually improving, make that belief all but obsolete.

Within a page, search engines are alerted by text styling tactics of using headings (H1 is best) or bold text to call attention to important content that contains the keywords you are pursuing.  Enabling WordPress plugins that permit you to specify relevant meta titles, descriptions, and post-specific keywords will assist with acquiring organic traffic and gaining better page listings and rankings.  Since I put up my first WordPress Website Design years ago, I’ve been using the All in One SEO plugin, although there are others out there.

Having a keyword rich domain name and page title goes miles toward a quick ranking.  Post titles and overall URL length matter.  The last time that I checked, search engines only read the first 256 characters of a URL.  This could have changed, so don’t quote me.  So, if you have a long domain name and a long page/post title, your effort in researching and placing keywords could be pointless.  WordPress setup defaults are not the best for creating links.  There are multiple opinions about what is the best way to customize the permalink structure.  In any case, finding ways to eliminate unimportant words and numbers from the link is the only way to go.

Off Page SEO

This is, in a nutshell, your linking strategy.  Over the years that I’ve been involved with website delivery, I’ve seen hundreds of offers for SEO automation tools that claim they can drive floods of traffic to your site by exploiting loopholes in search engine algorithms.  I’ve never taken that bait.  As for other tools that offer SEO link building assistance that is white hat, I’m skeptical that these products have delivered the results promised but I do confess to not having tried more than a handful of them.  In my humble opinion, high quality external links are earned through the time-consuming work of posting articles, providing high-quality responses in active forums, and building an online reputation for your site’s authority by offering sincere and relevant blog comments or appearing as a guest blogger on a high ranking site.

Freelancers offer SEO services of link building through article creation, blog commenting and forum posts.  I cannot compete with offshore service provider pricing so this is not a service that I offer.  I educate my customers on link building tactics and sometimes refer work out to colleagues.  There are article spinning tools that allow you to write one good article and spin it multiple ways so you can have unique content up on multiple sites.  As for automating blog comments, I don’t approve spam comments on my sites so why should I expect anyone else to do so?  :)  Forums may seem like old news but there are some very busy forums with high authority on which I’ve been actively pursuing links back to a few of my sites.  Just ensure that you become active in a forum that is related to the main topic of your site if you choose this tactic for link building.

Website Design Performance Notes

If you are using images on your site, upload and reference them with keyword rich names.  Embedding keywords as alt text for your images is a important too because search engines can read it.  More and more frequently, websites are being found through image searches.  Although it makes a site or post more interesting, excessive use of images is discouraged because each call for that image results in another http request which can inhibit performance.

Pages that are designed entirely in flash are … well, flashy.  I truly admire the skills that flash programmers have honed but I have never recommended flash introductions when text and images will deliver the same message.  Opinions may vary but mine is that flash intros and pages are not good for SEO.  Additionally, flash is a client-side application that relies on the technology configuration of the viewer’s computer.  Most non-technical people are not as fastidious about PC maintenance and technology upgrades as I may be and no website design expert can write code to overcome that.  Hire the flash developer, by all means, but keep in mind that your multi-thousand dollar investment for flash programming may be lost on a portion of your potential audience who is frustrated by the fact that they see nothing on the page or it is taking too long to load.

When moving a site from HTML to a content management system, I frequently hear my clients say that the site seems slower.  That’s true.  It is, by comparison.  This has to do with PHP and database access speeds.  Website design architecture and code that works as optimally as possible is my responsibility, so I’m not abdicating entirely.  Recently, when this protest kept coming up, I set up the same site on two other hosting services so they could compare site performance.  It was a proverbial “no brainer” decision.  Their hosting service was the stumbling block.  Both A2 Hosting and JustHost eclipsed Network Solutions for page loads and video performance.

The use of CSS sprites improve website design performance because only one image is referenced.  I do not advocate for the use of image-based menus, however, because their use removes text from the pages and eliminates dynamic addition of navigation links.  This is best explained by example.  One of the features of WordPress is that it automatically adds new category links to menus without having to alter site code.  This translates to ease of use for my customers, once they’ve gotten a handle on the difference between pages, posts and categories.  With the exception of the site that I was recently asked to develop, all of my site navigation code has been pure CSS, clean and simple.  After working with a beautiful theme that used one image for all of its iconography and backgrounds, my custom theme designs will be making much more use of CSS sprites.

Brand Revitalization

June 10, 2010 by +Marj Wyatt  
Filed under Featured, How to Market and Brand

The importance of creating a brand that sticks in the minds of your target market is obvious to people in stable businesses.  When the market paradigm shifts or a part of a product line is discontinued, it has potential to kill the brand.  Campaigns to create and obtain market share for a new brand can be very expensive so leveraging the investment you’ve already made in your branding strategy  by implementing a brand revitalization strategy is economical and important, especially these days.

When Volkswagen introduced themselves in the USA in 1949, only 2 vehicles sold.  By the end of 1955, the manufacturer had firmly established their presence in the United States. I’m not sure if it was the marketing experts or the public who created the “slug a bug” attachment to the vehicle but I certainly remember playing the game with my sister in the back seat of our family car.  I also remember my mother complaining about the odd appearance of the VW Beetle.

 

brand revitalization

Slug-a-Bug!

 

Lately, Volkswagen has been weaving this childhood game into their brand revitalization campaign.  The inference of the new spin, however, is that the vehicle is moving so quickly that the onlooker who has been “slugged” didn’t see it.  This is brilliant!

A brand can be established using imagery, colors, sounds or words.  Most times, it is a combination of some or all of these things. If a brand becomes “stale” or the marketing message has gotten muddied by exterior influences, like competition or economic constraints, it may become necessary to pursue brand revitalization to elevate awareness and increase market share.  Clever tactics for brand revitalization  or stabilization are not accidents.

Whether your business is small or large, there are a series of rules that must be followed steps that must be followed to accomplish the task of brand revitalization.

Refocus

This step begins by evaluating the market that you are pursuing and redefining the purpose and goals of the company and the brand.  Every member of the organization must aspire that message in their work and the communication from the company to the market must consistently reiterate the new goals.

Your message should succinctly state that purpose and be easy for consumers to remember.  Consider the branding strategy that AT&T is currently using for their wireless campaigns.  They want consumers to know that, using their technology, anything is possible.  This is a good message.  It conveys freedom and choice, something that is dear to all our hearts.

Relevance

Since the promise of a brand is what leads to consumer interest and loyalty, it must clearly and accurately convey what consumers can expect to experience every time they choose your product or service and how that is different from the competition.

As a business owner or executive, you must decide where you want to be and how you will get there.  You must understand the criteria your market uses to make purchasing choices in your niche.   You must also have an awareness about why people are choosing your competition’s products or services over yours. If you’ve lost market share due to global factors, your task is to repurpose the brand so you can keep your product or service viable.

Reinvent

This is where action comes into play.  The active components of any market are people, product, price, place and promotion.

Revitalizing a brand must begin with the people INSIDE your organization.  Every member of the company must feel committed to the new branding strategy if you hope to influence future success.

Products and services are tangible evidence of the brand promise.  Reinventing a brand image involves innovation of your products and renovation of services that support it.  This requires investment of resources and  and the talent of your organization.

Consider the variances you have witnessed with everyday use products like skin care, laundry detergent, or toothpaste.  With the rise of economical concerns, laundry products began to promote the fact that you could wash more clothes with less detergent.  Personal care products,like toothpaste, introduced and now promote their ability to make your teeth whiter.  Neutrogena has recently introduced a brand revitalization campaign that reminds women that they trusted the product as teenagers and should continue to use it to keep their skin looking young.  This is very clever…

Pricing is part of this phase of brand revitalization.  If there is a way to re-package your product or service offerings in a way to grab more market share, you will have expanded your revenue stream without having to develop new products.  McDonald’s implemented this strategy with their Dollar Menu items.

Inclusive in this phase of brand revitalization is the promotion aspect.  Your brand’s “face” is its place.  Whether the product resides on a store shelf or online, each time it is found, it must be easily recognized.  Packaging, colors, images, and sounds are all part of what makes your brand image memorable.  Promoting and maintaining the non-verbal aspects of your brand image are important, especially in a global environment where language differs.

Results

It isn’t an obsession, exactly, but measuring results is a topic that you’ll find me referencing consistently.  The entire point of change is to realize progress and, if you are not measuring the results of your brand revitalization campaign, you have no way to see if your efforts are enhancing your bottom line.

If your organization has staff, ensure that they are engaged in the results orientation efforts.  Stress the importance of bringing the brand to life for your market, especially if your employees are “on the front lines” and dealing with your customers individually.

Rebuild Trust

Expanded access to information has heightened consumer awareness, and there are many reasons for them to feel distrustful.  Your brand must acknowledge the social imperatives that drive consumers during their purchase decisions.  Speak to their concerns about ecological matters, privacy concerns, or false claims.  Re-establish their confidence by engaging in local activities and events that are not profit oriented and by being open and honest about all of your business affairs.

Realize Globally

Distill your brand revitalization strategy to a single document that is capable of expanding globally.  Make this resource readily available to your staff and your customers, along with the desired goals of your brand revitalization strategies.  If you have a brick and mortars presence, clientele will see that you are walking your talk by the experience they have as they are interacting with you professionally.

Leadership Required

Creativity is essential, but  the new brand vision and positive momentum is a result of committed leaders who are capable of providing clear direction and maintaining priorities.  The brand message must be consistent, whether you are interacting with the board room,  investors, employees, or consumers.  Trust your instincts, by all means, but remember that you ARE the personification of the brand you seek to revitalize.

Technorati Tags: branding and marketing,branding strategy,brand revitalization

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Website Conversion Tactics

May 14, 2010 by +Marj Wyatt  
Filed under Featured, Website Conversion

Designing a website for conversion is something that every business owner cares about, if they are savvy and have a solid business goal for their sites.  Top gun internet marketers sell memberships and consulting services to people who want to get income online.  It is a good idea to have a mentor when you are starting out, for sure, but I wonder if there really is a one-size-fits-all approach to building an online business.  My instincts say no.

As an Online Branding Consultant and website developer, I’ve been monitoring website tools and trends for years.  When my daily research introduced the idea that the color orange converted better than any other color, it seemed like a reasonable thing to try.  Within a few months, just about every site that I saw had an orange buy now or add to cart button.  Recently, this button has gotten much larger.   Does the image below look familar to you and did you feel compelled to press the button?  It took me 2 seconds to find one.  :D

www.GetIncomeBlog.com | Website Conversion Tactics

One trend that I have no argument with at all is to use WordPress website technology as the basis for a business and sales funnel.  The software is remarkable, easy to manage, and delivers great SEO benefits too.  Many top guns have migrated their sites to wordpress with good reason and anyone paying attention knows that WordPress is much more than a blogging tool.

Video capture pages are a very good idea and they have been for a long time.  However, there has been a disturbing trend with them recently.  The latest video marketing tactic is to enforce an opt in before one is granted access to the video.  This is a ploy to build a list, which I understand, but if you do this please manage your lists so you aren’t broadcasting the same message multiple times.  That is kind of irritating.

Another rising video marketing trend is to put up content with no controls or information about duration.  I find to be both inconvenient and rude, and I know I’m not alone.  If it is off-putting, why does it convert?  Perhaps someone who is doing this and tracking results can enlighten us all.

The OTO (one-time-offer) tactic has taken on new proportions of irritation.  When I opt in to something for free, I expect an obligatory up sell but is it really necessary to introduce two, three or more?  Newbie or not, I’m betting that I’m not the only person who loses patience and gives up.  It would be great to see the split testing results that support the claims of people who say this builds loyalty and increases sales.  :)

Please save us all from the disingenuous “fear of loss” call to action tactic.  If you aren’t sure what this means, it is the one that compels you to decide right now and threatens that, if you don’t, the offer will be lost forever.  If it really is a limited time offer then using this tactic doesn’t constitute coercion.  A high percentage of the time, however, the claim is not true.  How many times have you bought something because you were led to believe you needed to decide right away and found that same site months after the fact?

When internet marketers began to sell products that teach how to target local business owners, it intrigued me.  I wondered if they really knew what they were talking about.  As it turns out, few internet marketers have ever dealt with offline business owners so please don’t expect them to teach you everything you need to know in order to succeed in this niche.  I’m not saying it isn’t a good idea but, trust me, it isn’t an automatic gateway to wealth.

If you want to have credibility with a local business owner, you need more than a spiel and a ghost written book to hand to them at your first meeting.  You must understand THEIR business and be prepared to explain how you can help them improve their bottom line.

Think about the different businesses that you see in your neighborhood for a moment, excluding chains and franchises.  I doubt that the target market for an attorney, accountant, florist, or day spa lends itself to hype, being forced into opting in to view a video that has no controls on it, or the huge orange “add to cart” button.  Please let me know if you think I am wrong.

Small busines owners understand their niche and they’re good at sensing deception or they don’t stay in business long..  You won’t know how to help them if you haven’t done your homework.  Customer acquisition costs are a factor to small business owners, as well as return on investment.  If you want to play in that field, make sure you understand business basics first.

The bottom line is this:

No internet marketing formula is one-size-fits-all.

Facebook Taking Heat Over Privacy Policy Changes

Social networking is a great way to connect with prospects and friends.  Over the past few months, there have been a lot of internet marketers advising that Facebook is a better advertising spot than Google.  When you must advertise, it is good to have choices where your ads will be targeted but has Facebook gone too far to serve up data for their advertisers?  It would appear so, if the US Federal Government has gotten involved.

In a nutshell, here is what has changed.  Previously, Facebook flushed personal information from their cache each 24-hours.  The privacy policy revision states that it will be held infinitely and that advertisers may use it for targeted promotions.  Many internet marketers have picked up on this nuance and developed products for sale to help people get more bang for their advertising buck.

facebook-privacy-policy

Although Facebook users have the privilege of opting out, the user interface is confusing and most folks don’t know where to look for the opt-out.  Heck, finding your public profile link can be an absolute chore!  I do understand the genesis of Facebook as being sort of an online yearbook for a university.  This may explain the unwieldiness of it  but it doesn’t forgive the fact that we should be able to easily locate all news and important links by visiting out own profiles.  In other words, the obligation to track changes to the privacy policy of any social networking site is not the user’s.

Many Facebook users won’t care one way or the other.  Still, there are those among us who don’t enjoy unsolicited advertisements.  I’m sure one.  When I logged into my account today, I found a dozen ads that were geo-targeted to my location.  Local shops, product providers, service providers, Realtors and bars.  I’d rather not be bombarded like that.  I looked for a method of opting out and I just couldn’t find it!  :(

Facebook is not wrong to sell advertising space.  Their on-screen real estate is valuable and they must fund the site support.  All things being equal, Facebook ads are less expensive than Google Adwords.

The fact remains that nothing replaces good SEO with a solid keyword strategy.  In my online branding business, I never advocate that my clients use paid advertising.  I will provide some consulting services to help them learn the SEO ropes.  It isn’t a big secret or anything.  Most of the information someone needs to learn SEO is available online for free.  With interest, the ability to read, and the willingness to monitor results and experiment, perseverance will take your site where you’d like it to be.

Making a Difference Matters

April 14, 2010 by +Marj Wyatt  
Filed under Marj Wyatt's Musings

For those of you who may have missed me, please accept my apologies for having neglected my blog for so long, .  The thrill of operating your own business comes complete with the opportunity cost of having to keep your nose to the grindstone, at times.

There are some clients whose expressions of gratitude almost makes you feel guilty about getting paid for the job.  I have recently had that experience.

Here is a quote from a rave that one of my clients just wrote on their blog, about the service they received from me:

If you are blogger, you know that  your site is not unlike your child.  And when your child is sick, you tend to stop functioning.  You want answers.  You want certainty.  You want experts.  And we got absolutely none of that from our hosting provider Network Solutions.  From Network Solutions we got ticket numbers, escalation promises, and false assurances.  So we panicked and called in the real expert.

Virtually Marj. WordPress developer extraordinaire.

We love Virtually Marj for the following reasons:

  • She knows her stuff
  • She delivers exactly what she promises on time.
  • She is a human being.
  • I swear that I blushed when I read what they wrote.  :)  If you want to see this post on their site, visit MothersofBrothers.

    making-a-differenceEven though their praise is directed at me, the three things that they noted are essential to anyone’s  success in business so it bears repeating.

    If you don’t pretend to be good at something that you aren’t, are clear about deliverables and time frames, and  remember to  be yourself, you have a recipe for success.

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