Tag Archives: branding

There Is More To Selling Than Social

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Or “How To Post Your Way To The Poorhouse”

Image by Cate Sevilla

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.

5 tips to deal with inherited branding

I wish my parents had known more about SEO when they named me.

ken cook

Embrace the name!

Sometimes when we in the digital branding and marketing sphere take on a new employer or client we face a few “name” challenges. We really cannot do much about it because the company is already born and we’re late to the game. I understand. I mean my name is Ken Cook for Pete’s sake. Google me by name and you’ll have to dig way down to find me. On Google, in fact, I am currently 9th and 11th in raw search results and those are my Twitter and G+ accounts respectively! I feel as if I have no respect. But alas, it is my fault.

Say you inherit the reigns for SEO and social evangelism at a company already named. Say that company has been around for a while and they “just don’t get it” about the importance of a well designed and scientifically engineered name space. It happens. It happened to me – a few times. Remember your training, stick to the basics and don’t make any big, sweeping changes. Here are five bullets I use to win the name shoot-out:

Embrace the name – even if the company has a very unusual sounding or what you would consider negatively branded name. Like say, Toothpaste by Toilet or Plane of Death Airlines. While I’m not saying they should not immediately change names and carve their own eyes out with a broken toothpick that’s not our jobs as lowly brand engineers. Embrace the name as though it were your baby.

SoLoMo – the convergence of Social, Local and Mobile

 

mobile-local-social

SoLoMo - Social Local Mobile

Like every other piece of buzz, or most other buzz at least, SoLoMo is not the end all. You will still be able to market other ways but for the local business: the chiropractor, the real estate agent, the auto repair center, and other services offering services within a relatively narrow diameter – SoLoMo is now.  Much like the yellow directories of yesterday SoLoMo focuses on local market areas with a higher transactional focus.

 

Breaking it down

Social is the first of the trinity of flavors. For our purposes, new media/online marketing, social begins online and ends in personal space. Sites like MeetUp and the horribly abused Facebook Events make it easy to plan and coordinate live events. (Yes, I know there are others – feel free to spam your own in the comments section.)

Real time influence means live transactional reward

Twenty years ago when you applied for a business phone it took about a week for the yellow directory sales pitches to start. They would drop in, phone, send cards and letters, rinse and repeat. My very first purchase of a yellow directory ad just about made me regurge but I knew I had to have it back in 1980. In fact without a yellow directory listing back then if you depended on people who did not drive by your storefront, I was in the entertainment electronics retail business, you may as well put on a monkey suit and stand on the street corner … selling rocks.

The cost of my first add, a half-page, was $3700 for a year. It reached roughly 180,000 people in 112,000 homes if I remember right. It worked. Most of my business back then came from the yellow directory with my second amount from storefront advertising.

The yellow directory was, for all practical purposes, the top search engine of the day. It produced a significant amount of revenue for shops like mine, plumbers, lawyers, auto-repair, tailors, doctors, squirrel catchers, and many more.  There was, however, a major catch: once that ad was printed and distributed it was set for the next 12 months. If you were specific about discounts or hours or special product offerings you better still be able to deliver.

Enter the digital age and live engagement

The ratio of use of yellow directory to purchase was in some cases staggering. Clients did not, generally, surf the yellow directory. Only when a real solution was needed do one look for the book and take a walk with their fingers. This point of need rendered a higher rate of return per “impression” than we generally see online today.

However …