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Archive for December, 2009

The One Question All Your Advertising Should Answer

December 30, 2009 4 comments

For years advertising has tried to answer the questions of “what” and “how much” and that’s been a fine way to advertise.

However, we’ve reached a level of marketing saturation that has made those methods that used to work obsolete.

To be really successful in today’s highly competitive marketplace, we need to start answering a different question in our advertising…”why.”

Consider the fast food hamburger as an example.  There are a lot of different foods competing for our dollars when we’re in a rush.  The super easy choice is a hamburger.  The big three are McDonalds, Burger King and Carl’s Jr.  They all make and sell hamburgers.  They all cost about the same.  So how can they gain market share?  By answering the why.  Of the three places, I admit I eat at McDonalds and Burger King more than Carl’s.  Of those two, I like Burger King the best.  Why?  Because of the flame broiled burger.  I think BK makes the best mass-produced hamburger in the country, if not the world.

I drive by a tune up place in Murray fairly frequently that has a message on its marquee saying, “Follow us on Twitter.”  Every time I think “why?”  I can’t think of a reason.  Maybe they’ve got one.  They probably wouldn’t go to the trouble if they didn’t, but it’s not being communicated.  A better message would be “Follow us on Twitter because you can get a free tune up.”

I tell people to read my blog because they’ll learn how to use Twitter and Facebook and blog in a profitable manner.  More importantly other people say the same thing. 

The key to answering the “why” question is to include the word “because.”  I got this idea from Copyblogger, but I’ve heard it from other sources too.  Your because can be anything, just use the word because it answers the question “why.”  I like Burger King burgers because they’re flame broiled.  The question of “what” is answered by the product and the question of “how much” doesn’t matter because it’s the best tasting burger out there and the price differential between my other burger choices is nominal.

Answering the question “why” removes the price question altogether so long as consumers are clear on what your product or service is.  Your “why” should be your competitive advantage or unique selling proposition.  Price doesn’t have to, nor should it enter into your advertising, if you answer the question why.

Last year I had the opportunity to test drive a Bentley.  I always wondered why someone would spend over $200,000 for a car when a perfectly good BMW or Mercedes costs a fraction of that price.  Once I drove the car, I understood why.  Other than the fact I couldn’t afford it, price didn’t come into play at all.  From the massaging seats to the powerful engine to the hand stitched interior that looked so well put together it could never fall apart, I learned the “why.”  I would have bought the car on the spot if I had the money.

We’re not all out there selling Bentleys, but if we answer the question of “why” in our advertising, we’ll never have to answer “how much.” 

What is my “why?”  I make websites successful.

Ten Fearless Predictions About Internet Marketing in 2010

December 28, 2009 8 comments

It’s that time of year when predictions, goals and lists dominate the media.  Who am I not to oblige?  Here is my top ten list of Internet marketing trends that will dominate the year:

10.  Mobile media – The introduction of the Android operating system is going to create new demand for smart phones from the world’s largest manufacturers.  Gartner research predicts Android will be the number two operating system in the world by 2012.  That’s a lot of new phone hardware and a lot of people who will use the mobile web that haven’t in the past.  When Motorola’s Droid phone went on sale last month, it sold 250,000 units in the first week.  Most of those buyers were not iPhone deserters.  Ignore the mobile web at your peril.

9.  Bing becomes the number two search engine – Since Microsoft’s purchase of Yahoo! earlier this year, the perennial number two search engine has continued to lose market share to Google and now Bing.  I can’t help but think it’s because of the heavy TV advertising that was done.  Instead of building a stronger brand to challenge Google, Microsoft has simply cannibalized its most recent acquisition.  Expect to see more of that and make the effort to be found on Bing.  New Internet users and those easily persuaded by TV commercials are there.

8.  Businesses are going to make concerted efforts in social media – I’m seeing more and more companies creating business pages on Facebook.  I fanned a page for Grey Goose vodka the other day because they were running ads there.  They’ve got nearly 100,000 fans and a vibrant community on Facebook sharing and discussing drink recipes.  That’s the way to do it.  Pepsi is withdrawing all its Superbowl advertising in favor of a social media campaign with a charitable partner.  That’s 23 years of Superbowl commercials and millions of dollars being shifted online.  Pay attention.  There’s a reason.

7.  Non-commercial applications and uses will drive online commerce – Besides Pepsi’s alignment with the non-profit arena, government’s are using technology more to create engaged citizens.  CNN tells how mobile apps allow users to point out potholes and graffiti in larger cities.

If the inconvenience had happened a few years ago, Newmark said he would have just gone on with his day — maybe complaining about the temperature to a friend.

But this was 2009, the age of mobile technology, so Newmark pulled out his iPhone, snapped a photo of the train car and, using an app called “SeeClickFix,” zapped an on-the-go complaint, complete with GPS coordinates, straight to City Hall.

If government can engage citizens, businesses will have to as well.

6.  Relationships will mean more, social media will be the gateway – Over the past decade, two events have changed our country.  The first was 9/11.  It made us fearful, but also cognizant that anything can happen, any day.  When I first read about those towers coming down on the Internet, I couldn’t believe it.  I had to turn on my TV for proof.  It was that inconceivable.  The attitude that developed post 9/11 was one of staying home, remodeling and not travelling.  Many people made a lot of money staying home and remodeling their homes and the Gulf War brought the country out of recession.  Now we’re in a bigger recession, our homes have lost all their pumped up value and we’re realizing its people, not posessions that are important.  Social media is making it easier and easier to connect with people.

5.  A company will implode due to social media – I have no insider information, just a feeling that some big company out there is going to take on a social media campaign and screw it up so badly it either damages the company for years or takes it down completely.  We’ve seen hints of this in the past with AOL and Best Buy, but this is going to be a very special mistake.  Here’s why it’s going to happen –  most of corporate America doesn’t understand the Internet.  Here’s how – people online act like they’re yelling at their TV’s at home.  Social media is like turning up the volume on that TV, but with it becoming two sided.  It’s if Elvis was shooting the TV and the person on the other side had some danger of being hit.  They do and I believe it will happen in 2010.

Corporate America thinks they can still lie and misrepresent and set up patsies in this age of transparency.  They can’t any more, but it will take a gigantic implosion before the rest of them catch on.  Social media will be that catalyst.

4.  Blogging is going to make a comeback –  Over the past year, blogs have seemed to become passé.  Twitter (microblogging) and Facebook have become the brand names of social media.  Meanwhile the old standbys; forums and blogs keep chugging along.  The reason I think blogs are going to come back stronger is the emergence of Posterous as another platform.  It doesn’t replace existing platforms, even though it can.  It complements them and makes it even easier for bloggers to blog…by simply sending an email.  Posterous showed its getting serious when it recently added multi-author capability, a feature that prevented business adoption of the technology.  I think we’re going to see a new form of blogging I’m dubbing “mini-blogging” that will be longer than Twitter, but shorter than a blog like mine.  Posterous is going to help make that happen.

3. Twitter gives control back to consumers – I think quite possibly the most annoying thing about the Internet is spam.  I get an email from the Chicago Cubs a few times a week in an email I don’t use very often.  I probably got on their list when I created a March madness bracket five years ago, but I can’t seem to be removed.  It’s an indignity I’ve learned to ignore…and delete every time I get an email from them.  On the other hand, if all they had was my Twitter address, I retain control since I can unfollow them any time I want.  This is the direction smart marketers are heading.  If you’re starting a new site, use Twitter to build your list because it will build trust and a loyal following.

2. Advertisers will ask for less, but know more – Along the same vein, smart marketers are asking for less information on contact and landing pages.  When I first read this article suggesting not to ask for a full name, I was a little flabbergasted.  Any email marketer knows personalized emails with the prospect’s name in the subject line have a higher open rate.  Mark was right, you’ll get the rest of their information…when they buy.  Then you can personalize to your heart’s content.  In the meantime people who Twitter would rather give up that information, even though it can supply much more than an email, because they know they can unfollow at any time.  Are you using Twitter and Facebook on your landing pages and contact forms?  You should.

1.  Coupon sites will rule the year – It seems technology and the economy have combined to create an amazing opportunity for consumers through the old standby – coupons.  Who doesn’t like to save money?  In some of the email newsletters I still subscribe to, I’ve seen the word coupon pop up more and more frequently and I believe 2010 will produce an amazing winner in that vertical space.  There’s no doubt demand exists.  “Printable coupons” gets searched over 100,000 times per month according to WordTracker and SmallBusinessNewz wrote,

Of course big-name brands were often accompanying the keywords, but the fact that people are looking for printable coupons should tip you off that it is a good idea to offer them if you run a brick and mortar store. I guarantee that not everyone who is searching for coupons is associating them with a specific brand.

Online coupon businesses are doing very well.  Groupon.com has experienced explosive growth this year and just received a 30 million dollar capital injection that could make it the break out coupon site of 2010.  Whether or not it’s Groupon, I do think at the end of next year, coupon sites are going to be very top of mind.

There are my ten fearless predictions for 2010.  Any thoughts…agreements…disagreements?  Let me know by leaving a comment.

Yes Salt Lake City, There is a Santa Claus

December 22, 2009 3 comments

I spent part of this afternoon volunteering with my networking group at the Road Home, a local charity committed to help people overcome homelessness.  It’s something I’ve always thought about, or talked about doing, but never done before.  Thanks to Corey and Erin to organizing and getting about a dozen people down there to help out.

The amount of donations coming in was overwhelming.  In the two hour period we were there, I saw three 14 foot trucks full of donations be emptied.  The Road Home is a little bit different than other charities and they have a very specific use for the items they receive.  For the people they serve, they try to use only new items, but have had to make an exception this year on coats and outerwear because of a shortage of donations.

Used items are sent to Deseret Industries where they earn a credit to provide furniture to the families and individuals they serve.  Unfortunately some items like “sample size” toiletries can’t be used at the Road Home.  Besides the Fiscal Networking group, the two prominent groups that turned out while we were there included a large contingent from the Brighton High football and lacrosse teams who managed to empty those trucks in just a few minutes each time they rolled up to the loading dock.  The Salt City Roller Girls made up another contingent that helped out immensely.

It was heartwarming to see so many donations of various types coming in these trucks.  Some people donated brand new coats, toiletries and blankets.  Others even wrapped their donations in wrapping paper.  Sadly, the wrapping has to be ripped off to identify the contents, so please just donate the item in the future.  Our group was in the back of the building the entire time, so we didn’t quite realize the trucks full of donations were being filled from the front of the building because of a huge media drive.  It wasn’t until Santa himself came through that I realized economy be damned, there are a lot of generous people in Salt Lake City.

Homelessness is a huge problem and more people than ever before are dying because of it.  We all have limited resources and have to pick carefully where we donate our money or time.  It’s easy to have charity on our mind this time of year, but what about March, or July when donations dry up?  Charity has to be a mindset.  Let’s give back a little to our community and make it a better place to live, work and do business.

Analog Marketing Using Send Out Cards

December 20, 2009 5 comments

At the end of October I had the opportunity to visit the Send out Cards facility in Salt Lake City.

What I like about this business is it allows people and businesses to send out their message in a form people will open – a greeting card.

From a marketing standpoint it’s analog marketing at its finest.  The company takes advantage of technology to provide personalized printing solutions and distribution for a very low per unit price.

Two things allow Send out Cards to do what it does;  technology and efficient systems.  For example, the company orders paper in certain quantities so it doesn’t age or dry out.  This “just in time” ordering allows a quality product to go out every time.

The technology driving the company is mind-boggling.  They can print one custom card or post card, score it, fold it, stuff it into an envelope and stamp it for less than $2.00 per unit. 

Think about what that means for a small business that uses direct mail for marketing.  You can send out a direct mail campaign with a mouse click, have someone else do the work and actually reach your customers because most people will open a card!

How important is this in today’s digital world?  Very much so.  Consider this example from Andy Sernovitz:

We have a member of our team who got hired because she sent a great cover letter in the mail. It was the only paper resume we got, so we noticed.  We weren’t even hiring, but the letter was so great we had to grab her before someone else did.

In today’s highly competitive marketing world three things need to happen for you to be successful; be found, be noticed, be remembered.  Do you think Send out Cards can do that?  I do.

Having done targeted direct mail for a mortgage company, I see immense value for any company that sends out small quantities of direct mail.  In addition, I see the open rate for greeting cards to be superior in every way. 

Consider that with a traditional direct mail campaign, a good response rate is going to be 5%.  95% of the people who get your post card, coupon or letter are going to throw it away.  Most will do it without even reading your message.

For a message wrapped in a greeting card, the numbers are much different.  Another Send out Cards representative told me he put together a campaign for a local restaurant and they saw a 30% response rate to their offer in a card.  If you do any direct mail, I think Send out Cards has to be part of your tool set.  I know it’s a part of mine.

It’s easy to start and set up.  I sent a dozen Christmas cards to clients and family this afternoon without licking an envelope or buying stamps.  If you’re in the insurance business, mortgage business or real estate business and not taking advantage of this amazing tool, I highly recommend you get started today.

WordPress SEO – Don’t Make This Fatal Mistake

December 18, 2009 Leave a comment

The other day I wrote about a challenge I was facing with a client of mine who was using a WordPress site

Their web designer had possibly nefariously tagged the entire site to be invisible to the search engines…like a vampire unable to see its own reflection.

While I worked for a while on unravelling this mystery by looking into the deepest, darkest corners of the code and then the web that encased it, I found no solutions.  I tried a work around that failed, even though sucking the blood out of other methods succeeded.  Ultimately, getting my hands dirty in the cobwebs of WordPress found success.

As I suspected, the culprit was a simple checkbox with a universal application.  Unfortunately I didn’t know where to look.  The WordPress gurus I consulted had no idea.  To be fair, I fired off questions.  Channa is awesome.  I was looking for answers, not explorations.   

While setting up a new WordPress site last night, I discovered the answer to my question.  I’ll save the screenshot for another time.

Settings-Privacy-I would like my blog to be visible to everyone, including search engines (like Google, Sphere, Technorati) and archivers.

If you have this checked, your website is golden.  If not, your website is dying an anonymous death.  Like a rare disease, nobody but the experts knows why your site is dying from a dearth of traffic.  I do.  Let’s fix it.

Is Twitter a Good Traffic Source?

December 14, 2009 3 comments

Last week I met with a potential client to discuss an Internet marketing strategy.  Because of the type of business; very customer centric and people oriented, I suggested they use Twitter.

This company had a specific traffic goal in mind and based on their reaction I don’t think they really liked it.  I suppose if they used Twitter like I used to use Twitter, I’d probably have the same reaction.

Fortunately for them, I do have an effective Twitter strategy and when they hire me I’ll be happy to share it.

Yesterday was a record traffic day for this site.  I had 378 unique visitors, barely eclipsing the old record of 376.  What drove such high volumes of traffic on those two days?  You guessed it; Twitter.  In fact, when reviewing my stats, Twitter is the second largest traffic generator for this site behind search engines. 

Twitter and search are about to be combined like the perfect cup of coffee.  Pete Cashmore recently wrote about the “real-time” web and said,

If this new paradigm stimulates our seeking behavior, it follows that search is central to the real-time Web. Before Google entered the fray, OneRiot and Collecta stood out among real-time search engines.

The reigning champion of real-time search, however, is Twitter Search, which provides instant updates whenever new Tweets are posted.

If you’re not using Twitter or using it properly, you’re missing out on some traffic.  As more people adopt Twitter use, you’re going to be missing out on 6,000 new potential followers per day.

I’ve spoken about the volume Twitter can drive, how about the quality?  Every “big” Twitter day I have, I get quality comments and new Twitter followers.  I’m up to nearly 300 now.  Here’s the important part.  Twitter users offer social proof to your potential customers.

How did Pabst beer turn into one of the fastest growing brands in the country…without any traditional advertising?  It’s not the cheapest beer this recession has to offer.  That’s the question the company set out to answer in 2002.  Keystone Light, Busch Light and Natural Light are all less money per can, but they found -

“We found it was the hipster crowd, the music crowd,” says Stewart, who became the PBR brand manager in 2002 before leaving the company four years later. “They liked it because it didn’t have a lot of advertising behind it.”

“People don’t like to be shouted at,” says Jack Anderson, CEO of brand design firm Hornall Anderson, which works with beer companies. “It’s more authentic and cooler if you discover it or you’re told by a friend. “

 Twitter makes it easy to tell your friends and the more customer facing a business is, the more it needs other trusted sources to tell their product’s story.

Three Twitter Tips for Building Tons of Traffic:

1.  Use hashtags for every important word you use because they make your tweets get found. 

2.  Do your research for keywords and tweets.  I found the phrase “twitter tools” is searched 80,000 times per month.  It was no mistake yesterday’s popular article started with those words and no mistake I used them with hashtags when I tweeted the article.

3.  Be consistent without being annoying.  I see people tweet in bursts.  I unfollow those people.  If I have something to say I think others will benefit from, I say it.  If I have a few things to say, I space them out using Hootsuite or TwitJump so I don’t look like a spammer. 

If you’re not using Twitter as a traffic source for your website, you’re missing out on a great way to drive high quality, high volume visitors.  What’s stopping you?

Product Launch Meetup by Kevin Davis

December 11, 2009 3 comments

I’ve spoken about Kevin Davis before and how well organized he is in his business and how he leverages outsourced labor to complete his projects.

Kevin hosts a meetup once a month and last night he shared all the details of his product launch for “Cash in a Flash.”  In his typically transparent fashion, Kevin shared the what, why and how of his most recent product launch.  I’m not going to share all the details because you really need to attend to understand the entire operation.

What I will share is the product is grossing $100,000 a month in sales and netting high five figures.  Traffic is being generated at 150,000 unique visitors per month.

There were pitfalls along the way that Kevin also shared.  He actually shut down the operation for a week five days after launch because there was a serious technical difficulty.

Kevin hosts these meetups once a month, so if you have a product or service you’re marketing, get over there!  It will be totally worth it.

About 26 people attended the meetup with many of the usual suspects; Spencer and Erik at Paidin14days.com, Josh and John from RapidDev, Andrea Warner from Stompernet, but we did have some gurus in our midst like Jon Davis from Launchworx and Utah Top Blogger finalist and SMCSLC award winner Janet Thaeler.

Kevin’s presentation was amazing and it was really great getting to talk to everybody afterwords.  Janet even gave me a copy of her new book!

This was the first time I’ve attended Kevin’s meetup and if there is only one meetup you can go to each month, this would be the one.

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