Have you ever been to a business lead meeting or a meet and greet where each person was given “about” 30 seconds to stand up, tell what they do and then sit down? Have you ever heard how hard it is for most people to get it out and still get out the message including enough information to relay enough about what you do to interest the right people.
The idea of an elevator speech truly is not to sell. The idea of going to a leads swap meeting isn’t to sell. I don’t know how many times I have been to a leads swap where the facilitator says, “The idea is not to sell each other the idea is to become a trusted referral source for the others”, only to have one of the first few people use up their allotted time … selling. Would you rather use that technique and try and sell to 30 or 40 people or would you rather have 30 or 40 people trust you, remember you and refer people to you?
What is an elevator speech and how do you write one?
Yesterday I joined an impromptu meeting at CheepMonkey Companies world headquarters and the audio snippet below tells what happened.
There are plenty of guides on writing short introduction and elevator speeches available on the web. I have quite literally given hundreds and hundreds of them – most likely well over 1,000. And I have messed up a big chunk of those. When I was representing a mortgage technology company I simply stood up and said, “I have nothing to sell but I love to play golf and I like to eat sometimes too. So, if you love golf or if you love food let’s play or eat – I’ll buy.” I stayed kind of busy.
We call it “user experience” (UX) for a reason. Users can have a good one or a bad one. They can have a memorable one or a forgettable one. My vote is to have all my clients give all of their users a memorable, good experience. How does this happen? What can be done to help it along?
Facebook, Twitter and WordPress are all phenomenally successful. Owing in greater part to the layout of their sites the user experience they offer is quite memorable even if the site itself seems mundane and average. Sure to be the bane of wildly creative graphic artists you’ll see the reason for this is because every element on the page is generally where the vast percentage of visitors expects it to be or the design is so simple it is impossible to miss “what to do” or “where to go”.
Granted there are elements and functions of Facebook which seem to be hidden and the same can be said for Twitter but the more important features are basically “in your face” from the first visit. Whether this is by design or simply due to the designer’s human and personal preferences I do not know but what really matters is the layout, positioning and visibility of the necessary interactions are neither obscured by design nor are they obfuscated by content. Busy pages are UX killers for new users and you can’t get repeat users if your new user experience sucks enough to permanently dissuade them from revisiting.
I read an article recently about a Computer Associates (CA) study done back in 2010 where users were wired to an EEG machine, which reads brain activity, and put through a series of online experiences included UX challenges. The results were overwhelmingly conclusive that bad online experiences, including looking for links, buttons and functions, excited the parts of the brain associated with anxiety and frustration. The test proved that a bad online experience caused the user to concentrate with 50% more effort and even resulted in contortions of the face though subtle they may have been.
Different users have varying thoughts on what a bad user experience is. Site owners must determine which users to cater to because, as in all things, it’s virtually impossible to please everyone. Twitter did it by being simple and above the fold. Facebook did it by making it pretty simple to get started and highly rewarding for one of the greatest emotional needs, acceptance and involvement, once you did. WordPress does it because although themes may vary the common layout which exists among most means always having a good idea where the search box is, what the header does and how to use the features like the menu, comments and login.
My 7 top examples of Bad User Experience and User Interface Design
Mobile “optimized” site – that looks like a table of contents
Flash – I have an iPhone, iPad and a MacBook
Pop Up Ads – I click to close them. Period.
Flashing Banner Links – again, it looks like an ad and I will not click
Site Consistency – your user needs to feel comfortable
Auto Play Video – huge problem on major media/magazine sites
Keep it simple – the best design is often the most clean
For the most part I think we all agree on the majority of the site. Although only a small percentage of us have only Apple products the disdain for Flash extends far and wide. (In case you aren’t aware Flash is memory hungry, not necessarily that secure and is really just a way for the code challenged to make a website perform like a video. Basically is sucks for all real and useful purposes.) Her inclusion of Auto Play Video, as regular readers know, is on the top of my list.
In this quick click trick we talk about two buttons, two clicks: 1 button says “Like” and the other button says “Buy”. Which came first the Like or the Buy? Which one is an investment and which is a return. Since there has been online media, social media and “web traffic” the war has raged about which is more important between mass numbers of traffic with a low ratio of transactions or highly targeted traffic with a high ratio of transactions.
Today is no different and the question is not completely answered. Hopefully this is enough thought starter to make sure your social media efforts are on target with your cost and revenue goals. If not let’s talk about what those may be and see what it will take to get you where you want, and need, to be.
It happens. It happens to almost everyone at some point. Usually the bigger the target and the higher the reward the more likely you are to be hacked. Or, if you are hosting on a community site which serves large numbers of people. It also happens to sites with very little traffic but low site security including old widgets which may be running on the site.
Last week my friend Danny Brown had his Facebook page hijacked and there was a lot of buzz about that in the social sphere but that’s not what I’m writing about today. In Danny’s case someone, someone he knew obviously, guessed his Facebook login and proceeded to have their way. What I am writing about today is the anonymous hacker who uses your platform to launch their attack. That attach may be a vicious attack or simply spam. Either way it’s bad for you and bad for all netizens.
When you think of hackers in this case don’t think of some pimple faced post-teen cowarded in his parent’s basement surrounded by pizza boxes and Dr. Pepper cans. In this case think about sophisticated programmers who have written automated scripts to dig for vulnerabilities and seize on them automatically when found. There is no human involvement other than turning on the application and letting it do it’s work. The target? Installations of big scripts like WordPress or Joomla with outdated plugins, themes and widgets which provide an easy hole to walk right in and take over.
What is a URL redirect hack?
The most common attack these days are URL redirects where the script finds the vulnerability and leverages that to re-write something called the .htaccess file. This file tells the browser of any visitor, human or bot, how they can interact with the server. It contains directives about the site including where clicks are directed to and how quickly. It’s very simple to write a replacement .htaccess file if you have access to the server which can be gained by finding a plugin which opens the file for writing. So happened, and is still happening, with a particular version of the timthumb.php script which is widely used in hundreds if not thousands of themes and plugins.
How do I know if I’ve been hacked?
If you have any level of readership they will probably tell you. If not there are a few things you can do to check. First you can go to your site and click on a link. If you end up on a squeeze page selling drugs to help you get it on or get a bigger unit you’re hacked. Unless you are a reseller for such stuff that is. You can also search Google for your site and if you have links to those types of pages show up … you’re contaminated. You can also use the free scanner at Sucuri.net which also is a company which can help clean your site and protect you.
How do I prevent my site from being hacked?
You can’t completely. You can, however, take precautions to make it much less likely. One thing you can do is hire a professional to check your site and see if there are any open vulnerabilities. You can also make sure any installed web applications are up-to-date and compliant. Let’s face it, if you downloaded and installed a script from a Russian file sharing site you just opened the door wide without any need for a hacker. On the other hand if you’re just a casual small business website owner there really are “people out to get you”.
Have you ever logged in to Twitter to see that you have been posting, mentioning people or maybe even sending instant messages to people but you haven’t been near your account for hours? It happens. When it does, provided you haven’t given some rogue programmer or site master your login information, you can control access to your account. There are several legitimate applications who ask for permission to access your account for varying reasons. Seesmic, for example, needs to be able to login as you, post as you and send instant messages as you. Paper.li needs to be able to read as you to work and wants to post as you so it can spam all of the people it copied when it posted.
You can turn off access to your Twitter account to any application using the Twitter API by following some very, VERY simple steps. Watch this short video on YouTube for a quick walk-through showing exactly how to do this.
Of course it is! If you are starting a small business for the right reasons I can’t think of a bad time to start a small business. Take a listen to this short audio presentation, and the first in my new podcast series, Take 2 With Ken. You’ll also want the resources that I used to compile the report and they are linked below.
Listen to the two minute, ad free, audio report below
What the data shows is people are starting small businesses again. With a sharp increase in the number of businesses with 1-19 employees we see small businesses, the backbone of the nation, are finding ways and reasons to exist in spite of continuing negative reports. My rule is find a need and fill it. Be the best in your niche for any number of reasons and you’re going to experience success to some degree. Just look at the world around you and the reason you may find a wide range of opportunities each containing a wide range of possibilities for varying success is there – in plain view!
One of the biggest reasons for failure is people try to do everything their self even when they have no experience, no education and limited resources. Trust me when I say spending money can save money and not always in the long run! Get out and network. This report is heavy on networking and visibility and it is often the crucial element to your success. Let me hear from you. Ask your questions or make your comments but get active and don’t be silent when it’s time to speak up! Best of success to you in your ventures.
On at least one occasion in the last few years I have been asked various forms of the questions, “how do I blog to be sure and get sales”, “what can I expect from my efforts on Twitter”, “how does this translate to food for my children”, and so on. The good news is I don’t know. The bad news is “they” don’t either. But in all hopefulness and by careful examination of the data we see it is possible and there are some guidelines to be followed which are more likely to lead to sales success than the poorhouse. I don’t like the poorhouse.
Being named a Reuter’s Top Ten Small Business Expert on Twitter is pretty cool. Translating that little puppy to a paycheck is work. In spite of what everyone may believe I don’t check my PayPal account daily and, surprise, see three or four thousand dollars that popped in there over-night just from me hosting Social Media Edge Radio and writing a few blog posts. In fact until I write some code or create some content the money flow direction is ebbing toward the negative. Chances are that’s not what you have in mind for yourself. You, like I, must sell some widgets or face the piper, er, spouse.
While the social media gurus who tout their wares and charge really small fees, snark, for their workshops and seminars may assure you their oil is the best for snakes you can bet most of their ROI is derived from the attendees. However, and let’s keep fairness in play, most attendees likely found out about the event through … social media. Hey, I do events. I get it. What you need to know, however, is not how to get people to attend your seminars and buy your books or your retweet campaigns, you have widgets for sale. Darned good ones, too! You need to sell those puppies and you need to sell a lot of them every week. You probably suffer from a food and shelter addiction – just guessing.
Listen, I can’t guarantee your success but I can give you a few pointers that I know work. How do I know? Been there, done that, got the t-shirt and finally paid off the credit cards I used for the trip. The first thing you can do is forget everything you’ve done to this point because you are now going to create a new plan, implement a strategy and learn to measure your success. In fact this topic is so broad I’m only going to look at one element and that is your website – you know, the one you may or may not have purchased from me. We’re going to look at three crucial elements of your website and a 10,000 foot view of marketing it – with some information contrary to what you may have learned from others. Or not.
Every Business Needs A Website
Every business needs a website. Seems like I may have read that somewhere before but it’s worth repeating. Every business needs a website. In today’s connected environment it is almost hard to imagine that even in 2012 about 1/2 of all small businesses do not have a website. I challenge you to come up with a small business which should not have a website and a single valid reason why. Every business from puppy daycare to vacancy clean-outs and restaurants to small airports, from my perspective, really needs today’s calling card. They need it because today’s yellow directory is Google. With that said …
Three Things Every Small Business Website MUST Have
Every small business website must have a landing page with some way to contact the business. It can be the phone number, an email address or a form which allows the visitor to send a message to the site owner. I recommend the form for every site because it can be automated, used to build your list and allows some level of anonymity if the site owner really needs it.
Every small business website must have relevant content which is indexed by Google. This is how Google knows to look for you and this is where the great and furious SEO battles are waged. Even if you’re not doing battle someone at least needs to be able to find you with a long tail search. I have looked at websites in the past to give quotes on helping them perform well that didn’t even turn up in a Google search when you searched for the name and address of the business. Scary.
Every small business website must have visitor tracking and analytics. There are hundreds if not thousands to choose from and these have been around for years. I developed the first one back in the mid 1990’s called PageGuard™ but now there are so many I don’t think it’s possible to get a correct count. The main things you need to know are: Who clicked on what to visit your site. That’s it, that’s the main thing. It actually will give you the search results in the referring URL. While this information is the most valuable piece of information to have, because it tells you who visited and where they came from, there are other very important bits of information you can learn from tracking services like Google Analytics. While GA is free and powerful it’s not necessarily as accurate for my purposes as I like for most of my clients to be. Still it is far better than nothing.
Getting the Word Out
We’ve come pretty far from smoke signals, cross country runners and town criers. Still the word needs to get out. Coincidentally and fortunate for us the Internet offers several options for a great platform to share the news. I bet you can name at least one way great to get the word out – Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, LinkedIn, Craigslist, and the list goes on … and on. Some may be better for your needs that others but at least one should produce web traffic for you. That’s what you need – eyeballs.
My amazing uncle Ben Hale, Sr., told the story many times about how he was the number one Chevrolet salesman in his small, poor, West Virginia mining town because he went to where the people were. He went to the Five and Dime on Friday night and passed out business cards. Hello Facebook. Hello Twitter. Hello Craigslist, Backpage and Kijiji. You can do the same and in less time. Socializing on the Internet with a transactional intent does not take hours a day. It takes minutes. Once you have created your APE FUR you can trim your time way back.
Here is the most important part about social selling. Be consistent, be regular and be honest. Respond to questions and requests quickly and make sure you follow illegitimi non carborundum. If you make ripples your may ruffle a feather or two – just be polite, firm and consistent and you’ll be fine. Consistency means staying on topic or on topics of interest to your buyers. If you sell deer repellent and start talking about pink tutus you’ll probably mess up your signal. Badly. If you talk about football and fishing along with a little gardening you’re going to be okay. The idea is to engage, entertain and impress. Check your signal to noise ratio within what you say and make sure you’re on topic or topic relevant.
Facebook has two faces: your personal page where you can talk about the donuts you had for supper and your business page where you are all about business. You cannot, by Facebook and community standards, create a personal page for your business. If you do just plan on losing it when Facebook shuts you down. They make it simple and free to create a Facebook business page. In fact it’s so simple I’ll do it for you for a fee in just a matter of a couple of days.
LinkedIn really isn’t the place to sell. It is the place to connect, however, and you can pursue your sales after your connection. LinkedIn is also a great place to find qualified contractors such as web developers, list sellers and PR firms. Don’t worry about uprgrading your account just create one and start connecting to the people you most would want to meet at a community cookout.
Twitter is fast, small and spam crammed. When you get in the Twitter pool you need your big girl pants on because you only have 140 characters and professionals h8 abrvi8shns. Twitter is about engaging with others who have common interests. It’s not a place to monologue it’s THE place to dialogue. Some of the best relationships I have today are a result of connections made and nurtured on Twitter.
You know, that’s a lot of stuff and I’m far beyond my normal word limit. There is much to learn and if you’re not yet connected to me let’s connect.
A couple of years ago I had a wonderful encounter with a twit by the name of Chris who joined Twitter on March 7, 2009 and as of the writing of this article has 424,607 tweets. That’s 424,607 tweets in 1,218 days. You can do the rest of the math but that’s about one every 5 minutes for 3 years and some months. I mentioned this on Twitter and he blocked me. Sometime in the last few weeks or months he changed his Twitter account to privacy. Come on Chris, it’s all fact and they say all publicity is good publicity!
Normally I don’t call people out like that, but when it’s so obvious I figure I’m not exposing any secrets I reserve the right. I am, after all, only reporting facts. It is because of this reason we have discussed that “over-the-top if you can’t beat the noise be the noise method” of invading the social space. It’s a tactic and several people use it, perhaps none more successfully than our friend Guy Kawasaki through his own account. Guy makes the point that Twitter is not an engagement tool – it’s a broadcast, marketing channel. He pays people to tweet, and makes sure to respond when he is directly tweeted. I know this because he told me, personally, live on the air.
Yesterday something very interesting happened when someone I follow retweeted an interesting tweet from someone I have never heard of in response to someone I had never heard of. In this case it had nothing to do with the volume of tweets. It had to do with the number of people twit A follows and twit B using a little snark asked of twit A, “What does following “0” mean?”
This is where the fun began.
Feeling a bit cantankerous, I tracked the tweet down. After all, it looked like it was the best tweet ever. So the trail lead me into a little twister of twitter chatter all with the point of … well, something we can all learn from I hope. In fact, many lessons may be learned from this short, but entertaining journey.
Let the images tell the story …
This is the first tweet that I saw retweeted by David Newman. It also caught my attention. What could this be in response to? What kind of question could have ilicited such a response. Of course I had to follow it back to the source – this is something that begged to be understood. Read along …
Yesterday I had two people individually ask how to slow the flow on their Facebook news feed. If you don’t know where to look it can be frustrating but it is very simple to hide status updates or photo posts from your Facebook friends without un-friending them.
In words here’s how to do it:
Log in to Facebook (duh)
Click on the Facebook logo in the upper left corner – this puts you in your news stream
Find the offender
Move your mouse to position the cursor over one of their posts
See the dropdown arrow to the right of their name (appears when you hover your cursor)
Click the dropdown arrow to open the action menu
Select the action you wish to take
That’s it – there is no “save” or “apply” thanks to JQuery
How to hide Facebook status updates is something every Facebook user will probably want to know at some point in time. This video shows how to hide someone else’s posts (status updates, Foursquare check-ins, Twitter tweets, etc.) from your news stream but not blocking them and without removing them from your friend’s list. Let’s face it, annoying friends are still friends.