Archive | March 2014

Be A Leader, not a Follower

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During the expansion of the USA to the West, the Wagon Train has become a cultural icon. A long line of trailblazers setting out as a group to discover something together, to put down roots as a community, to start a town from scratch. We comp[are this to the internet, today. A gigantic train of people following each other and doing exactly the same things for a common goal – something that can change with every ‘expedition’ heading to the badlands of Cyberspace. While it’s always good to be part of group by Plus-One-ing, Re-tweeting, or Liking, why not be at the head of the train? Every wagon train had its security force of scouts and gun hands that knew the terrain and agreed to lead the train, and protect it from malevolent outside forces. Why not become the scout, and invent – not just follow. It could mean a big difference in the way your company is perceived online. How can you become a trailblazer? Utilize Social Media as an unruly wagon train that needs a scout.

A ‘Keyword Event’ can be loosely described as a spike in a keyword search: Usually due to seasons, holidays, current events, or evolving trends. Predicting a keyword event means you choose the keywords before they become popular to get ahead of your competition and get a running start in search engine rankings.

Keep all of your posts, and online interaction for one year, and keep half an eye on what suddenly trends for no apparent reason, how long it lasts for, and why it wanes. This is almost ‘predicting keywords’, and allows you to prepare your online publications next year in advance. You know what worked well last Valentine’s Day, for instance, because you have posts and conversations from that time (Talking of which, this celebration is five weeks away – are you ready for it this week?). While you know what, therefore, will work again, you can get much lower bids on keywords weeks before they happen. Using what worked past year aslo works for blog posts, too. Your keywords are out before anyone else gets theirs ready. It looks like they are following you, not just posting ideas, phrases, and words on the net that accidentally appear after you. Us the following tricks to fill your saddlebags with the tools you need to be a true ‘Scout’.

  1. When predicting keywords, avoid keyword selection tools (like Google AdWords). If these keywords are being provided to you, they’re being provided to others as well. Try to get in when there is a dip (before a keyword is in demand) by using Google Trends to gauge popularity of a keyword over time.
     
  2. Subscribe to a wide variety of news outlets, and see what is likely to ge repeated year over year, or sudden trends that appear out of nowhere. Is your business affected by the economy, finance, or sports? Should your audience be concerned about trends in other countries? Ask questions, and you will find answers.
     
  3. If your audience wants something someone is going to eventually deliver it. Get there first by drilling into what your audience is asking, and pull keywords from their questions as well as provide answers.
     
  4. Buzzwords are important, because humans like to abbreviate their life (Really? ROFLMAO!), so words or phrases become trendy or fashionable can work in a specific niche. Spot buzzwords and use them before they’re hot, by either amplifying a buzzword, or creating a term that’s buzz-worthy, you’ll capitalize on the traffic wave as they start to become more widely used by others. Think of those “#” groups on Google+ You may have never heard of “#BaconNation” yet, but I think you will shortly.
     
  5. Finally target both long and short-tail keywords for a particular trend. As the trend begins, search users may not know exactly what they’re looking for yet and benefit from short-tail keywords. As the trend heats up, your audience will branch out to more specific queries and your long-tail keywords will garner more interest.

Ensure you have done your research and your keyword predictions and inventions will trend. Of course, trial and error will play a part, and this can be an exciting part of the process, but before long you will become a trailblazer. Wagons… Roll!!

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Three Basics of today’s Business

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Every day you need more clients. Every day you worry about how to get more people interested and aware in your goods or services. What has changed over the last few years that you can learn from? How has business changed, when every business can open a window on the world via the Internet? Now that the shingle over your door is open to every possible client you may ever need, how can you make sure they know it? Here are three ‘basics of business’ that today’s most successful are using to ensure that their message gets seen and understood. Three questions to ask yourself and answer.
1: Why you, and not one of your competitors?
There is only one correct answer to this. If you are in business, because it makes money you are in the wrong business. Customers don’t care about your financial state, unless it affects what they are doing. So, why are your competitors getting prospects, and selling to them, rather than you? When you start a new marketing campaign, this is the first question that you should be answering. Your competition is succeeding, because they are unique. They don’t just fill a need- they have found a way to show that they do it perfectly well. You cannot market just another business in a crowded marketplace, you need to find out what is unique about you. If you are a clone of an existing business, customers will make their choice on price, and this should be the final item they check off on their list, not the first.
Find out what you offer your marketplace that no-one else does, and make these reasons compelling. Everyone offers a great service, but what part of it is ‘great’? Everyone can offer testimonials, but what would your happy customers say that no-one else would?
This is the cornerstone of your business marketing. If you are accustomed to dealing with clientele that are price sensitive, or your word-of-mouth marketing isn’t filling your funnel, this is the one detail that will help you succeed. Oh, and you should check those two reasons, too – which your own ‘Value Proposal’ will help with, too.
2: How does your written, copy marketing ‘work’?
Now you have a sentence that you can use that shows who you are. Can it be written in a compelling fashion? Does it make the reader keep reading one? I hope that you are still here! Mistakes in effective marketing will be drowning a perfect idea in useless words. To offer any kind of reading material; Blog, E-Mail, or Brochure that isn’t a sales tool is just a waste of words. While it takes passion to write about your business, this is just the first step. It has to be a ‘page-turner’ for customers, but that takes some professional help. Prospects have to see your business through their eyes, and be motivated to buy from you. They have to be inspired, and to see how they will benefit from what you are offering. Look at the point of any written marketing. It has to make people want to pick up the phone, or e-mail you, so what can you do to make that easier for them to do that?
Your value proposition is the start – now find the way that makes prospects excited about it. Once again, look at how your competition is doing it, or how Companies that you admire anchor a new marketing campaign. How do people reach their customer? I always point to the example of a well-written chalk-board sign outside of a coffee shop. What would make you stop, and take a detour to that shop?
Marketing doesn’t only describe, it inspires. You can have that line!
3: What does your website look like to first-time visitors?
You have one sentence. It is your value proposition, and it forms a picture – that’s your marketing vehicle. Now, you can write your website around that: A site that visitors will click on because they want your service, and are in the market for it at this time. You will have a ‘contact us’ button somewhere on that landing page, so that they will be asking you for more details before they realise that they are doing it. In its basic form, this is what your website does. Again, look at someone else’s. How do they get prospects to call them, or send them an e-mail, or ask for more information?
How do websites turn someone from being passive, and reading, to being active and making an action based on your instructions? It should be a place where people feel at home, so that they will visit it to get information. This means that you have to be the expert in your field, and offer them a stream of new information. It has to fill in the gaps in their knowledge without giving away all of your secrets.
Your website should be a regular source of highly targeted business inquiries or sales. As mentioned above, it should be expertly written, so that when people find your website they are compelled to take action. It should inspire them to go from being a reader, (passive), to being someone who gets in touch with you, (active). This means that you need to know which pages of your site ‘work’, which one gets the most visitors, and which the least. You may have to re-arrange things, or tweak your message, but if your site isn’t bringing you a constant stream of prospects, it isn’t working: Whether it is your only marketing vehicle, or just one that supports others.
It has to be easily navigable for first time visitors, so that they move easily from page to page, following your instructions, and contacting you. It needs to be so much more powerful than the average marketing message. In fact, if it isn’t helping you with secure more sales, it’s almost certainly losing you business on a daily basis right now, as it stops people contacting you.
Three simple questions answered on how today’s web-dependant businesses are making more sales. Can you answer these with your businesses website?