Facebook, it seems, may have done something with a QR code others have been richly criticized for doing; using a QR code on a screen. Over the past few years I have read, heard, written about, and discussed the merits of using QR codes. Often my enthusiasm, and verifiable results, have been met with almost a disdain from people who hold a modicum of trust. Interestingly one of the biggest poo-pooings (I don’t think I made that word up) is for the use of QR codes on web pages or in mobile apps.
Any reader who has served in the military knows the concept of the “Battle Buddy”. The idea is multifold, but with one goal: accountability. Regardless of age or rank if a soldier has a battle buddy that battle buddy knows where the soldier is, what they are doing and that they are safe and compliant at all times. From making sure your uniform is squared away to keeping you from harm your battle buddy is like a guardian angel who goes with you everywhere.
Independent Business Owner Failure
Independent, in and of it’s self, means alone and separate. Remember the saying “no man is an island unto himself”? Well, it’s true. Too often, however, as small business owners we feel like an island and we operate with abandon because of that feeling. What we all need is a battle buddy, a coach, a guide, or whatever we call it. The buzz vernacular today is “sherpa”. Okay, whatever works.
Corporations, with larger numbers of employees, have an innate safety net simply due to their numbers. If one person falls short the remainder of the company is there to hold up the overall function and operation of the corporation. When a sole operator falls short it can be crippling or even devastating. One man, or woman, is no match for everything the world has. The solution? An accountability partner.
Selecting A Partner
Perhaps the best news is that an accountability partner is not a financial or obligated partner. Fulfilling the role of an accountability partner is often as simple as a daily chat to simply “take the temperature” of the entrepreneur needing accountability. While this is good on a base level it really is worth consideration to retain the services of a professional accountability company who will treat you more like a sergeant would his platoon to make sure your compliance with your own rules, and the world’s, is intact.
While there may be others, and there are, added to this list these are almost crucial to success. Can success be had without all, or any, of these? Yes, it can. These are the most common, high reward components which should not be easily discounted.
ANCHOR SITE www.yourname.com
Have a site you control, not on some free service or social network. Do your business here. Think about user experience and conversion ratio on this site as your most important tasks. Keep you blog separate or in a separate directory. Blogs have a tendency to overpopulate the index page and with today’s necessary trend toward flat and mobile design this is crucial to conversion success.
TWITTER ACCOUNT twitter.com/yourname
Having a Twitter site that matches your brand is one great way to push out relative content, build a following, and listen to the Internet on your topic. Learn to monitor Twitter with third party tools like Hootsuite and your life, and results, will be much better.
FACEBOOK BUSINESS PAGE facebook.com/yourname
While Facebook should never replace your anchor site not having a custom Facebook business page is a big mistake in today’s world. The content and design should emulate your brand and serve as a giant handshake to encourage people do to business with you.
Did you know I can help you assess or re-assess your online efforts and make dramatic improvements in the return you are seeing from your investment of time, resources, and money? Yes! In fact it is why I write all the articles… here’s one now.
Goals For Improving Online Performance
What better day could there be to talk about goals than here on the first full day of NFL football?
Suffice it to say most of us do not simply go out in the morning, get in the car, and start driving. Or, if you are one who uses public transit, you likely do not go to the subway and get on just any train. Generally speaking, we know where we are headed when we leave our homes. Perhaps it is to work, to school, or even to see a friend. Most of the time we know where we are going. In other words, we start with a goal.
For longer trips we have certain segments of our journey planned. On the subway you may know you need to take the M train to Sandler Ave., then change to the L train to Duncan Center. That change point is called a “waypoint”; it’s a method of knowing you are truly on the way, and on schedule, to your final destination.
Why is it, then, that we think it is okay to start a website, a blog, or a business profile in social media with no clearly defined strategy, waypoints, and goal?
Wait a minute, I know what you just thought. You just thought, “But Kenny, I started with a goal. Before I even registered my domain name I knew I wanted to tell people about my services and increase my business because of what I do online.” Continue reading
I have no idea. Thank you for stopping in. Good-bye.
That’s not fair of course, and in reality, I do have an idea. Together, in fact, we can probably come up with a realistic, working number for you right now. First you’ll need to know some things about your own business. I will give you the numbers to work with later but for now be thinking of the following:
- How much are you willing to spend to get someone to buy your product or service?
- How many new customers do you need, per month, to reach your goals?
- What amount have you budgeted to new customer acquisition?
Now that you have those numbers in mind …. what’s that? You don’t know how much you have budgeted? Well, consider yourself Jane or John Average. Most small business owners and entrepreneurs are in the same position. So, let’s begin with that first question, “How much are you willing to spend to get someone to buy your product or service?” Continue reading
Fortunes are made providing tools to optimize conversion rates on blogs and websites. Google searching on “visitor conversion tools” returns a few million hits and reading the first few pages reveals a very telling story: this is something needed, something people are willing to pay for and a topic on which many people have a wide ranging set of opinions. Since most people have, chances are, already spent many hours and possibly many dollars trying to cure the blog conversion rate on their sites the point of this article is to show factually accurate data on before and after scenarios.
You may say, “I write all the time and never get any results from my efforts.” The sad news is you are not alone. The good news is there is hope. More news, is it what it is, this is going to require more work or more money or both. Hopefully we will lessen that investment for you.
One of the greatest “sins” I see all across the board is having a pinpoint focus. It is far better to have multiple blogs, as do I, than to have one blog with multiple topics. In face to face networking they call it being an “And Also”. In other words if you introduce yourself and you say, “Hi, I am a real estate agent and I also sell Amwell products” you dilute your message. While it is okay to be both you truly need to keep them separate especially on your blog or your website.
Writing regularly is the way to build a community. People expect new and relevant information from you so if you write one article every 8 months chances are your community is going to be small. Granted there may be times when you slow down or speed up yet try and remain somewhat consistent using the acronym APE FUR*.
Assess – the A in APE FUR is assess your situation. How many readers do you have and what is your conversion ratio? Can you afford not to hire a professional to help you or at least get you started? How many conversions to you need to meet your goal?
Plan – make a plan to do what needs to be done to achieve your goals. Whether this is writing more text, creating more video or adding a podcast to your line up your plan needs to be a solid foundation. Plans change and can, and should be, easily modified as time goes on.
The same spirit that drives us to become independent professionals often is our own worst enemy when it comes to task performance. Our ambition and our recognition “if anything is going to get done I’m going to have to do it myself” leads us to take on important functions we are neither qualified for nor prepared to handle. In the end it may, put some emphasis on may, turn out fine but even then at what cost?
My First Audit
Back in 1985 I had my first IRS audit of a business. I had done all of my own bookkeeping and taxes throughout the years and kept my own record. The visit from the agent was not as frightening as I had expected but the follow up was quite intense. In the end it did turn out fine but the very real stress and anxiety I faced as we went through to process was in no way worth the $750 it would have cost me (back then) to have had the part I did done by a professional. From that point on I never did my own.
Tasks Like SEO or Web Content
Or maybe they are not really less crucial but less well know. At that same business I took quotes on having a 4′x32′ sign painted with my logo and some text. The total cost would have been $900 not including installation. Of course I could do it myself and I sat out to prove it. My final cash investment was $230 including installation. How’d the sign look? Well, it wasn’t bad as they say. It also wasn’t the professional, sleek look I wanted for my business.
Things We Never Think of Doing
Most of us never think of installing our own alarm system, doing our own electrical work or building our own office furniture. What is the difference between the two functions I mentioned performing on my own earlier and these? Why not just go ahead and build my own executive chairs? If you answered like I did, “because I can buy one already professionally built that looks and works much better than mine”, you’d be on the thought track I was searching for.
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”.
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.
Remember the good old days of the “Website Under Construction” banners? That is actually how I used to find a lot of clients. I would use my spider to go out and look for “construction.gif” and a short time later have a small business website client ready to go. It was almost like, well – you know, fish in a barrel. Only clients aren’t fish. Clients are people and they have the same personality traits as the rest of us. Heck, you’re a client to someone.