Is your Small Business ready for the flat screen TV change?

Somehow, overnight it seems, flat screen TV’s are no longer available as an upgrade. Nope. Now flat screen is the default. In fact, if you want to buy a regular cathode ray tube TV, you’re going to have to go to an electronics store, or eBay or Craigslist. Because, Wal*Mart isn’t going to special order it for you.

I don’t recall it, but I imagine there was a day that color TV was the default – not just an upgrade option.  Just as there was a day that CD’s replaced tapes, and the automatic replaced the stick. In fact, can you find ice cream makers that require you to hand crank them? When is the day that all banks will have drive-thru’s?

Change is inevitable. The question is whether or not your small business is ready for the change? Just think about the simple things like popcorn ceilings that really make you look old and out-dated. How about business cards that don’t feature your e-mail or web address? And are you prepared to have a corresponding Facebook page should that become the norm?

Keeping up with technology is hard – there’s so much of it. But because it changes rapidly, you can begin to lose customers just because your technology is outdated – and thus foreign to today’s consumer.

Check  your website, is there a “contact us” tab? If not, perhaps there should be because everyone expects to find the hours, e-mail and phone number there. It’s no longer an add-on – now it’s the norm. Is your main web address a hotmail account? Today’s savvy youth see that as cheap and out-dated. Make sure to get info@yourdomainname.com right away.  Finally, are you ready to book appointments, sell products or communicate with your customers through your website? Soon enough the lack thereof won’t be tolerated.

Doesn’t sound like sitting on your hands is helping does it? What else is becoming the norm? More importantly – are you ready to grasp it? Leave your web address, we’ll look it over and tell you what we think about your site and the future “norms”.

Mistakes in internet marketing: conversion rate

One of the biggest mistakes in internet marketing is failing to understand the true nature of your conversion rate.

Conversion rate is such a lousy term, but for many business owners it has come to mean profit.

Unfortunately, businesses that want to provide you with internet marketing services will use the term conversion rate to get your attention and sell you services. But that’s precisely what you don’t want to hear.

What Can Dog the Bounty Hunter Teach Local Businesses?

Ever seen Dog the Bounty Hunter? He’s a Harley-looking dude in Hawaii who goes around rounding up the bad guys. But he doesn’t just round them up, he takes them down with style. Duane “Dog” Chapman and his family have turned their little bounty hunter enterprise into a full blown reality TV sensation. Since 2005 Dog has also turned up as a guest star on other popular shows as well.

Alright, enough with the show prep. What has that got to do with your local business? Well let me answer that with a question. If you live in Hawaii and need a bounty hunter who are you going to call? I’ll answer that for you, you’re going to call Dog the Bounty Hunter because he is the expert.How did he become the expert? He did it by allowing you to see what he does for a living – but more importantly he shows you how he does it.

There’s a roofer in Maryland who has achieved the same “expert” status in his community. He didn’t have a TV show though. He, like you, has YouTube. He films himself everytime he gets on a roof to make his initial inspection. He films the roof while talking about the problems he sees and the solutions required.

He’s created so many films that he’s featured prominently when you search for his local keywords. That ability to prove yourself by allowing others to see your expert knowledge creates a level of trust, appreciation and credibility. Not only that, but he uses the video when he talks to the client and proves to them he understands their problems and necessary solutions.

Become the Dog of  your community. Plan your work and turn it into a marketing and teaching moment. You’ll revel in the appreciation your local community shows and accomplish your marketing activities while you’re getting your work done.

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The Buying Process – Writing Ads for your Audience

So, I’ve written quite a bit about the buying process lately. I think that’s mainly because marketers don’t always understand. For instance if you’re an affiliate marketer and you write an ad that says:

    Nikon 30D Camera
    Lowest Price on the Nikon 30D
    No registration required

Now, suppose you write that ad because you’ve become an affiliate of a camera website and the Nikon is a popular camera. Does it make any sense to send that person to a landing page with a title like:

    Nikon 30D vs the new Canon SLR

NO! It doesn’t. Do you know why? It doesn’t make sense because the person who clicks on your ad (based on what you wrote) is beyond comparing features in their buying process. They want to be taken to the page that shows the price and the “BUY NOW” button. Anything less than that and you’re wasting your money on ads.

And speaking of how you write your ads, make sure you spend some time testing what’s written. A poorly written ad won’t get you anywhere (well, maybe you’ll get a spot in this blog) :)

Here’s an example of a poorly written (from a non-native English speaker, most likely), and highly humorous ad – just for fun. I got it in my spam e-mail folder today:

Christmas, Happy!
Hey, what are you doing lately? I’d like to present to you a very good company that I knew.
Its home page company: www.Ele-sky.com
If you have any needs, please contact the company Email.
They can offer all kinds of electronic products that you need, such as motorcycles, laptops, mobile phones, digial cameras, , x box, ps3, GPS, MP3 / 4, etc. Please take time to look at that there must be something you’d like to purchase.
Hope you have a good state of mind in buying your company!
Regards

Please check out these posts on the Buying Process as well:

enjoy!

Internet Marketing: Do You Know the Steps of the Buying Process?

I recently read Todd Brown’s Article on “the Greatest Marketing Lesson”, which I thought useful, and it made me think about reiterating this important lesson to go along with it.

Todd actually wrote about a concept he learned from Eugene Schwartz regarding the “level of sophistication” your audience has achieved and how to tailor your marketing to that. When you’re finished reading this post, go read Todd’s.

The Structure of Social Media for Small Business

Structuring your social media platform as a business gives you an opportunity not available to a consultant or sole proprietorship. While I spend a good deal of the time branding my own image, a company has the option of allowing it’s “employee faces” to brand themselves as employees or to make the “employee faces” anonymous giving all the credit to the company.

Does your company website make sense?

So you’ve got a website and you’re proud of it. In fact, many of you were probably excited to tell people once it was up and going.  I’ve got some questions for you. What is it for? What does it do? How do people find it? How do people use it? Do you know the answers to any of these questions?

What you need to know to increase reach and profitability

Bulb II

There are few jobs easier than blogging. In its simplest form there is little to separate the writings of a private diary to those of a blogger. With a computer, internet access and a willingness to pour one’s thoughts out over a keyboard –BLOGGING in essence is easy.

Unfortunately blogging as a business is anything but easy. Success, as we all measure it, isn’t the number of posts we write but the fans, “likes”, comments and money we get. Success rests on the fundamental understanding of the science of human behaviour, the mechanics of search engines, and that mysterious art of writing effective copy.

ENMN Conference Insights

I was honored to have a chance to speak at the Entertainment New Media Conference, the premiere blogging event for entertainment and travel bloggers. Screen Shot 2014-02-18 at 1.23.01 PM

One of my favorite activities is meeting with bloggers who have a different paradigm view of blogging. I absolutely love that. Sometimes it’s just bloggers of a different niche that are interesting, like the genealogy bloggers conference I attended, but this time it was something else entirely.

While travel, fitness and entertainment bloggers weren’t new to me necessarily, the culture in which they operate as bloggers was somewhat novel. But I didn’t “feel” it until several bloggers asked me what niche you had to be in to make money the way I help bloggers do.

Learning about that “mindset” was my favorite part of the weekend.

(Don’t let me fool you, meeting Mr. Sean Astin, hanging out with Erica I. Pena-Vest and meeting new people like Pilar Clark and Lisa Robertson were pretty darn awesome times, too. And meeting entrepreneur Andrea Schroder. . . come on. . super awesome. But that’s another story for another time.)

So let’s tackle that mindset.

Some of ENMN’s goals are to create industry-smart bloggers who know how to act around celebrities, what to ask of travel partners and how to be provide content that truly adds value. And they hammered it home all weekend using stories of great blogging experiences and great bloggers (and even throwing in some not so good examples).

During the training it was made clear that you’re not going to get paid cold, hard cash from hotels to blog about them, not that you won’t get unbelievable perks and value from them. But ENMN’s goal wasn’t discouragement by any means, rather education about the industry standard and expectation. With appropriate expectation comes grace and appreciation. Bloggers who lack this whine and make life harder for the rest of us.

But that in no way means travel and entertainment bloggers can’t blog profitably. In fact, unless you are independently wealthy or a spouse makes the income, you are ethically bound to produce revenue from that much work.

Take a look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Making sure that your family is loved, has shelter and enough food is the base of the pyramid. If you have no way to pay for groceries, spending 8 hours/day blogging for nothing isn’t in the cards.

How do we make money, exactly?

So the question was “how”? They asked me how they make money if the travel industry doesn’t pay. And the answer is simple as pie. The travel industry is the content you deliver. It is the goods. The money doesn’t have to come from the travel industry at all. The money comes from the readers . . . not only that but when your readers are also customers you have a lot more influence.

Readers not only will pay but they want to pay. You and I are one of them. We love buying stuff. We buy books while we’re at the airport, we buy umbrellas when it rains, we buy shoes because we want to, we buy tickets when we travel, we buy egg timers for the kitchen. When we spend money. . . it is because we WANT to spend money. If it makes our life better, we want it.

Let me give you some examples of things your audience would love to buy. Many would be excited to know that the product even exists

Doug Bowman (@stop) at ENMN, Creative Director at Twitter

Doug Bowman (@stop), Creative Director at Twitter

1. Ebook of your most popular tips
2. 1 tip per day travel club membership
3. Phone apps they can use to make their photos better
4. Insiders secrets club
5. Any “much needed” product via Amazon
6. Sample budget and vacation budget calculator
7. Your Guide to “____________” (Example Lisa’s Best Disney Secrets)
8. Book review videos where you review every travel book on the subject
9. Calendar of your favorite picks form some place
10. Your favorite niche “sayings” on shirts and hats from Zazzle or Cafe Press
11. Adsense and other advertising networks
12. Site, clothing, trip or event sponsorship
13. 21 Day Challenge to do something
14. Guide to saving $2,000 through phone apps and coupons
15. Webinar and interactive discussion with your favorite guru (Wouldn’t you pay $5 to be in a webinar with Bono?)
16. Complete budget, itinerary, grocery and shopping list
17. Printable coloring pages for kids to take on the plane
18. 30 Minute Strategy session with you to learn how to get the most out of . . .
19. Your actual book that you wrote
20. Audio Guided tour of a place they can listen to with their earbuds

The only thing you have to do as a blogger is serve. Serve them awesomeness. Make them better, make them smarter. And when you do charge money for your efforts. You, as the CEO of your company, are no different than Barnes & Nobles, Stephen King, Burger King, Fodor’s, or Nike.

When you produce value and others recognize it, they will trade their dollars for it. Gladly.

Remember. . . . There are no retired bloggers.

And guess what you get to do with the money. You get to bless your family with the rewards of their sacrifice. You get to bless another family if you hire a housekeeper. You get to donate to church and charity. You get to lend money to friends.

Be the professional you are. Your efforts deserve revenue. And that makes everyone happy . . .even the people paying you.

ENMN was great in its focus that you should learn what the industry is all about. You need to heed all that was said, listen to all whose experiences come before yours. Be the expert Erica expects you to be in her industry.

And make money doing it.

If you’re interested in learning more about monetizing your site, come to one of our Blogging Concentrated workshops nationwide and spend an entire day perfecting it.

Become a Power Pinner

I’ve been working on becoming a power pinner on Pinterest for a few months (in our industry, who isn’t eh?). I define a power pinner as someone who’s efforts have resulted in a vast number of followers. Fortunately, I did find a formula that seems to be working. To illustrate that I thought we would talk about two of Pinterest’s most prolific power pinners and how they achieved it. You’ll be surprised at their completely different paths and the one thing that makes them similar. Let’s start with:

Sherry Petersik

There is no way Sherry thought about becoming a power pinner on Pinterest when she started her blog YoungHouseLove.com. In fact, there’s a good chance she didn’t plan on making the blog as big a success as it is. But what her and her husband have built is nothing less than an internet Juggernaut.

Sherry and her husband started YoungHouseLove on October 5, 2009 on a part-time basis. Through unbelievable content and dedication to their craft they grew the blog into a full-time gig now receiving more than 70,000 visitors per day. Today’s blog post, for instance, has 332 comments already, yesterday’s 7,102 and 2 days ago 236. You don’t get that kind of love without working for it for sure.

They’ve built their Pinterest following by leveraging their web traffic. In the last couple years they’ve featured their own “Pinterest Project Challenge” on their blog asking readers to undertake a new “Pinterest-worthy” challenge, blog about it, pin it and then upload that pin to their site. I looked at one of the challenges and 688 readers had shared their project. What are you going to bet they followed Sherry’s Pinterest account as well? They merely had to share their love of Pinterest with their community to grow in on Pinterest as well.

And they didn’t have to pin 10,000 things to get to the top. Nope. As of today, they’ve only pinned 574.

Some would call that the iceberg syndrome. What’s visible above the surface doesn’t come close to describing the work that went into it behind the scenes. As bloggers yourselves, I’m sure you can relate to the amount of work they put into their site. That community is the bottom half of the iceberg.

Erin Dollar

Erin took a different route to becoming a power pinner on Pinterest, though it’s not apparent from the surface whether she fully intended to do so. Erin is an artist who sells her wares on Etsy.com and last year finished making fake silly beards on IMadeYouABeard.com.

Unlike Sherry, Erin hasn’t amassed an enormous 70,000/day following – in fact she just has a respectable 500 or so followers on Twitter. But like the rest of us, she’s started to build a “raving fan base” on etsy and her site, she just hadn’t hit super stardom prior to Pinterest.

An early adopter of Pinterest Erin started paving the way for Pinners yet to come. Because her boards were edgy, purposeful and smart, they often got noticed. In fact on August 26th, 2010 (2010? Hmmm. . . she’s been at this a while, eh?) Erin was interviewed by Pinterest on the Pinterest Blog. She didn’t get that honor by knowing the “higher-ups” at Pinterest. Nope. Someone liked her board and recommended to Pinterest that they interview her about it.

That same attention to great boards is what made her the winner of the Pantone Color of the Year Contest held on ChronicleBooks.com, a site that gets 50,000 visitors per day by itself. Similar to the Pinterest interview, she won that not by knowing someone who knew someone, but by creating a quality and engaging board called Tangerine Tango.

Constantly sharing her love of Pinterest with others (back before it was big) landed her interviews or mentions on sites like mademoisellecrankypants.com, juliacantor.com and PinterestPower’s “most followed pinners” board. And all of those interviews centered on her love of Pinterest.

The bottom line is Erin rose to the top because of her taste and dedication to creating engaging and quality pin boards. These mentions, interviews and contests got her in front of thousands of people she didn’t have access to alone. But there is a similarity between Erin and Sherry as both have about 500,000 Pinterest followers and both were early adopters.

For them becoming a power pinner on Pinterest meant not giving up, creating great quality pin boards, and having faith that their readership would grow over time.

Which brings me back to my goal of becoming a power pinner on Pinterest. I’m still interested in the viral approach that I wrote about in my recent article “How to make your photos go viral on Pinterest”. But I think quality, patience and hard work, exhibited by Erin and Sherry, are a much stronger community building strategy to get there than viral is for anyone.

Dan R Morris

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