Archive | General Marketing

5 Be’s to Build Your Business in 2012

Some folks say, “What will be, will be.” But to be successful, you’ve got to take a more proactive approach.

Here are five Be’s for making 2012 your best year ever!

1. Be Known. Your website’s About page is a great opportunity to tell who you are and the passion behind what you do. Customers and prospects want to know about the people in your company. Adding bios and photos makes a personal connection and builds trust.

2. Be Found. Website optimization is the gift that keeps on giving. When you have SEO working on your behalf, you attract traffic to your site and become a contender for purchases you would otherwise miss.

3. Be Recognized. Providing helpful information on a company blog positions you as an expert in your field and gives visitors a reason to come back to your website. A recent study shows companies that blog attract 55% more website visitors than non-blogging companies.

4. Be Clear. For the new year, out with the insider-speak and in with customer-friendly language. Keep your message concise, easy to read and focused on benefits for the buyer.

5. Be Remembered. People remember stories. You can tell your persuasive stories using case studies. In them, your company is the hero, solving customers’ problems and saving the day.

Get the free report! Contact me, and I’ll be happy to send you my how-to guide for generating leads with success stories.

How do you plan to make 2012 your best year ever? Share some tips here.

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Yourdomain.com — Who owns it?

You came up with the perfect dot com, dot net or dot org for your business, and woo hoo! – it was available. So you quickly purchased and registered it, signed up for a hosting package, and launched your online business.

Two years later, when it came up for renewal, you signed on for another five years and went about your business.

That’s the best case scenario. Here’s the worst.

This recently happened to one of my clients, a tile contractor.

Seeking to simplify the process, the web designer registered the domain name and purchased a hosting plan under his own account. That way, Mr. Tile wouldn’t have to worry, and when it came up for renewal the designer would notify him and take care of it.

Sounds good, right?

A year later, the unthinkable happens – the designer suffers a massive stroke and doesn’t survive.

Now what?

Time was running out on the contractor’s domain name and he did not want to lose his site.

After a few calls to Network Solutions he was told he needed to get a copy of the death certificate. Well…that was out of the question. The next option was to make me, as the writer on the website, an account admin which would enable me to then turn the domain over to Mr. Tile.

Bottom line, after lots of back and forth, the contractor was able to work it out with Network Solutions, save his domain name and purchase a hosting plan in the nick of time.

Moral of the story: Register your own domain name and closely monitor your account so you don’t risk losing it.

Be sure to renew your url and hosting package in plenty of time before they are due to expire. Don’t be like a friend of mine who wasn’t paying attention to her renewal notices and bingo – someone scooped up the name and turned it into a porn site!

Have you had any hair-raising experiences around your domain registration? We’d love to hear about and learn from them.

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5 tips for taking your website from blah to blossoming

Is your website littering the landscape with self-serving content, confusing navigation, a call to action that’s missing in action?

Well, what better time to clean up your ‘Net presence than spring? After all, like all growing things your website just needs a little TLC to produce amazing results.

Here are five easy ways to nurture your most valuable green marketing tool.

Give your website a little TLC and it will reward you with amazing results.

1. Clear navigation – visitors expect to find your nav bar across the top of every page. Don’t disappoint. Create a clear path through your site by labeling the navigation tabs with standard terms such as About, Services, Contact. This is not the place to be cute.

2. Juicy text -let’s face it, web searchers are looking for information, so make sure your site provides it. Rather than going on about what you do, give them conversational, jargon-free copy that addresses their concerns. Then, format your text for the way people read online using short paragraphs, subheads and bulleted or numbered lists. Make your message compelling and visitors will spend more time (and money) on your site.

3. Call to action – Sign up for our newsletter. Call for an appointment. Order now. Whether it’s a link to a download or  asking for the sale, a direct call to action gets results. While this may seem obvious, it’s amazing how many businesses overlook this important step.  Help your visitors (and your company) by being clear about how to take the next step.

4. Update often – make it a living, changing, growing site by posting new content frequently.  Add new products, articles or blog posts and Google will reward you with higher rankings. And, you’ll be giving customers a reason to visit more often.

5. Add video – build trust and show your brand personality with a short, punchy video clip on your website. Not only are videos engaging, they also enhance your SEO. According to SearchEngineWatch.com, Google and the like are programmed to display a mix of content types in search results. For this reason, they give more weight to video than to other forms of Web content.

What  have you done lately to take your website from blah to blossoming? We’d love to hear your tips.

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A copywriter’s wish – may your new year be jargon-free!

No more bla bla blaAt the end of the day, on Christmas Eve, I hope Santa brought your deliverables on time and on budget. As the global leader in innovative solutions, he strives to exceed expectations and always thinks outside the gift box. After all, that’s his core competency. And for you, as one of his key stakeholders, it’s a win-win!

Uhhhh….what I really mean is: Have a happy holiday and a jargon-free new year!

The Wall Street Journal recently pointed out, “as corporate complexity collides with fanciful phrasing…it’s getting harder to tell what some companies actually do.”

Resolve to bid farewell to overblown language.

Unfortunately, we’re surrounded by examples of this kind of writing. Here are a few I love:

  • Your Full Service Food Service Service Company (this wordy slogan gets the repetition award!)
  • A company called Universal Business Solutions says they “Deliver new business process management solutions to automate core processes.” (Can somebody please translate that for me?)
  • Another boasts: “We take a structured approach to our implementation engagements.” (And they do it in their brochure, no less).

You wouldn’t use this kind of language in a conversation, so why expect your copywriter to use it in your marketing materials?

Customers and prospects want to know that a living, breathing human is behind what they’re reading.

So say what you really mean in an engaging, fun style and you’ll connect, establish trust and build relationships.

What are some examples of bla-bla copy that you’ve found?

Please share them with me so I can add them to my collection.

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Dropbox – a cool tool for sharing files on multiple computers

Let’s say you have a computer in the office, a laptop at home and a netbook for meetings and travel. Having access to the files you need when you need them can get dicey. You either have to remember to email them to yourself or put them on your flash drive and hope you don’t lose it (I’ve been there…).

Here’s a great solution – Dropbox is a free download that allows you to store, share and sync your files on all of your computers.

And, you can share them with co-workers and clients so they can add their comments without having to use the distracting markup in Word.

There’s even an app for the iPhone which lets you download files, sync photos and videos to your Dropbox as well as share links to your files.

Download your copy here, and let me know how you like it!

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Marketing 101 – You gotta have a plan.

Ok, here it is. January 2009. If you’re anything like me, you know you’ve got to do something to get the phone to ring. We’ve all heard more than enough recession talk, now we’ve got to get busy and prevent our own recessions.

So where to start?

You know you should write a marketing plan, but the notion can be daunting. A little like your resolution to lose weight–you may start out with good intentions but they soon fall by the wayside.

So today in my inbox comes an email from Ilse Benun, the Marketing Mentor. She’s touting her newly updated package: 2009 Grow Your Business Marketing Plan + Calendar. She even has a version for startups and one for us veterans that makes it painless to create your plan and stay with it.

And, get this–every day for the next two weeks she’ll send you a 3-minute audio clip with a tip to help you keep your marketing on track.

Whew, I feel better already.

Check it out at marketing-mentor-store.com »

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Direct Mailers: An out of date list could cost you, big time!

You never know where a valuable marketing tip may come from. While I was perusing the November issue of The Costco Connection this sidebar story caught my eye and I wanted to share it with you:

Outdated mailing lists will cost you…

According to the article, the USPS wants to reduce the amount of undeliverable addressed mail which costs them about $2 billion every year.

The main cause? People on the move. (And in this year of rampant foreclosures, you can imagine.)

So, on November 23, 2008, the postal service is instituting new Move Update requirements to include all standard mail in addition to first-class mail, and also to shorten the minimum frequency of change-of-address processing from 185 days to 95 days prior to the date of mailing to be eligible for automation and presort discount rates.

Update or pay the price.

If you rely on mass mailings to market your product or services, make sure your list is clean and current.  If it is filled with bad addresses, you could miss potential customers and lose touch with customers who have moved. But that’s not all. If the USPS finds mail pieces that are noncompliant, like the rotten apple in the proverbial barrel, the entire mailing is considered noncompliant and you could be fined 7-cents for every piece in the mailing.

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Does your marketing message stand a chance?

These pearls of wisdom were uttered by Carlos Segura, an award-winning designer and founder and principal of Segura, Inc…

Communication that doesn’t take a chance, doesn’t stand a chance.

His words really hit home with me. Why? Because all too often businesses want to take the safe and familiar route in their marketing communications, a strategy that results in bland copy that doesn’t connect (i.e., stand a chance) with their audience.

In one of my favorite newsletters, The Monday Morning Memo, Roy H. Williams (aka The Wizard of Ads®) gave some examples of copy that didn’t connect. He’s talking about ads but his comments hold true for any marketing communications:

1. The ad was so predictable that few people even noticed it.

SOLUTION: Get a new ad writer or remove the handcuffs from the one you’ve got.

2. Prospective customers noticed the ad, received the message and understood it perfectly. They just didn’t care.

SOLUTION: Dump the irrelevant subject matter. Discover what people actually care about and talk about that instead.Good advice.

Before you unleash your next piece of written communication, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is your copy free of technical jargon?
  • Is it written in a friendly, conversational tone?
  • Is it loaded with benefits, not just a list of features?
  • Does it reflect the personality of your company and set you apart from your competitors?
  • Does it take complicated information and make it easy to understand?
  • Does it talk about something your customer cares about?

Hopefully you answered yes to all of the above. If not, look back at point #1 above—hire a new writer or take the handcuffs off the one you’ve got.

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Case studies…and why you need them.

I recently co-authored an article for North Bay Biz magazine talking about the many benefits of case studies (or success stories, as I prefer to call them).

When you first hear the term, you may think: bo-ring. But think again.

What’s more compelling than the story of a challenge well met, a customer well served…especially when it’s told primarily from the customer’s point of view? They’re touting your services, not you, making it all the more believable.

One of the main benefits of using success stories as part of your marketing mix is their versatility.

That’s right, you pay a freelance copywriter once for a case study that you can repurpose in a myriad of ways.

For example, I am currently writing case studies for DriveSavers Data Recovery Services. This savvy client is adapting their success stories for use in press releases, trade show hand-outs, newsletter and ads. And oh, did I mention on their website? Not a bad ROI!

To learn more about this affordable, effective, multi-tasking marketing tool, check out my free report. Then think about your own success stories and how you can leverage them in your marketing materials.

Are you using case studies now? I’d love to hear how your business benefits from using this powerful tool.

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