Category Archives: Marketing

Google Webmaster Tutorials on You Tube

If you have a blog or web site, you have probably spent time trying to crack Google’s secret code.

You want visitors, so you want to rank well on Google. There are plenty of SEO’s ready to tell you exactly how to do that. Some are reputable, some are sleazy, some are incompetent. Then, there is Matt Cutts – the Google guy himself.

Matt has a series of short videos on You Tube answering questions about web site optimization. You can find out whether too many H1 tags will hurt your ranking, whether excessive use of no follow tags will hurt your ranking, whether great content trumps mediocre links.

The channel is called Google Webmaster Central and it is well worth a subscription.

Honoring Your Customer’s Trust

Stones Optional

Stones Optional

Do you shiver from a scummy feeling at the very mention of affiliate marketing?

Does the topic bring SPAM, ClickBank, and Satan to mind?

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Advertising and marketing are essential parts of selling – cheating and scamming are not. You can keep your integrity and make a few dollars by following simple guidelines (and you already know what they are).

1) If you wouldn’t promote it for free, don’t promote it for money.

2) Believe every word you write – don’t hype an affiliate product just to boost sales.

3) Be transparent – let your readers know you are an affiliate.

4) Don’t shill for products you don’t use.

5) If you would be ashamed if your customers, clients, readers or friends found out you were doing something – don’t do it.

I was inspired by Aweber recently when I visited their site. They were promoting a service that their subscribers could use. They had two links: one a clearly marked affiliate link and the other a bare link for those who didn’t want to use the affiliate link.

What a brilliant idea.

Is there a clearer way to say, “I would promote this even if I weren’t getting paid,” than to offer an unpaid link to the product?

Is there a clearer way to demonstrate that you have your customers’  best interests (and not your own monetary interests)  in mind?

Treat your clients with respect. Tell them the truth. Trust them to make a decision that can benefit both you and them.

If you do that, you won’t be making excuses – but you may be making money. Win/win.

Photo by seier+seier+seier Released under Creative Commons License

Do These Things Really Work?

Breaking Free

Breaking Free from Preconceptions

A friend in Boston was buying garden seeds. As the cashier rang them up, she picked up a packet, shook it, and asked suspiciously, “Do these things really work?”

The cashier wasn’t asking about the brand or the germination rate – she was asking if you can really grow a plant from a seed.

I knew a man who grew up reading Winnie The Pooh. Somehow, in his youth, he became convinced that honey came from bears. When he learned it came from bees, he was flabbergasted.

When I was small, I thought, after learning the words to Silent Night, that the Virgin Mary was married to a jolly, bearded, fat man in a red suit named Round John Virgin because that not only explained the otherwise inexplicable presence of Santa Claus in most Christmas scenes, it was right there in the song: “Round John Virgin, Mother, and Child.”

Go ahead and laugh – but when you’re done think about how little we understand about the world around us. We rely on accepted, conventional wisdom for the few things we really need and let the rest slide.

Like the Winnie the Pooh fan, we tell ourselves stories to explain those things we don’t understand. Like the cashier, we remain skeptical of outlandish claims. Like me, we hear what we expect to hear, and if we don’t, we change the sounds until the words make sense.

How does anyone separate myth from marketing and marketing from reality? It’s a wonder we can communicate at all.

Photo by aussiegall Released under Creative Commons License.

Admit You Are Good

Take time to appreciate every day perfection

Why are we astonished by every day perfection?

Naomi Dunford has a post on IttyBiz today called Talking About The Nice.

Naomi exhorts her readers to market a product by emphasizing the good points, rather than obsessing over how to hide the weaknesses. Certainly, that’s a fine idea. But it also made me think of how infrequently we identify our own good points – our talents, achievements, accomplishments – while we obsess over every mistake and failing.

Here’s a story from my email today:

Every quarter, I teach a one day workshop on self-publishing. One of my former students has her book all ready to be published. It is written. It is formatted. It is layed out very professionally. The book has an attractive cover. And, best of all, the book is aimed at a very profitable niche.

So what’s the problem?

The author cannot get alternating odd and even page headers to work.

She’s about ready to give up entirely because she is so frustrated. She feels like she is failing. All over a minor, technical detail that will have zero impact on her readers.

Listen up, folks!

99% of projects fail because people never finish them.

Hell, most people never even start. To write a book and then do all the additional work of the editor and the designer is a great accomplishment.

To see any project through to the end is an achievement.

Don’t look for excuses to berate yourself.

Take the opportunity to pat yourself on the back. Celebrate all the perfect things you’ve already done.

Photo by Kjunstorm Released under Creative Commons License

Don’t Make Your Customers Feel Foolish

The Jokes On Me

The Joke Is On Me

April Fool’s Day (April 1 in the USA) is an internet institution. At no other time of the year are the frat boy roots of computer science thrown into such stark relief.

Dozens of major web sites roll out practical jokes: some clever, some stupid, precious few worth the time or resources devoted to them.

A few of these practical jokes backfire badly by making the customer the butt of the humor. “Ha ha! More fool you – you fell for it!” may work well as a schoolyard bully’s taunt. As a customer relations strategy, it fails miserably.

Before you jump onto a bandwagon, be sure it is not rolling towards a brick wall. Otherwise, you might discover the joke’s on you.

Photo by Mykl Roventine Released under Creative Commons License

Banish The Phrase “Ethical Bribe”

The report is yours to keep...

The report is yours to keep...

Marketers use the term “ethical (or legal) bribe” to refer to the free come-on that makes you (the buyer) take the action they (the seller) want.

That action can be anything from subscribing to a free newsletter to signing up for a $3,000.00 online course.

The products may be wildly different, but the process is the same.

In order to lure the suspicious customer into giving you the chance to pitch your product, you offer them something valuable for free.

You may have learned this technique from Mary Popins, when she advised that “A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.” Or you might have picked it up from a late night viewing of Reefer Madness, when you noticed that The Pusher gave away a free taste to create demand. Or maybe you attended a workshop to learn how to sell.

There is nothing wrong with offering a free “this,” if you buy “that.” It’s a time-tested tactic, tried and true; nothing more.

What is unfortunate is the relationship it creates in the seller’s mind, between herself and her customer. The potential customer is now a dupe, who has to be bribed. The seller has to append the word “ethical”or “legal” to remove the sleazy taint. There is no hint that the seller is proud of the product or that the buyer might want it just because its good.

The chances of creating a respectful relationship are diminished just by the words you chose to describe your actions.

WHAT IS AN ETHICAL BRIBE

What is an ethical bribe? It’s the offer of something the potential buyer will find valuable – a report, a video, a mini-course, a discount, a bonus – that the seller offers freely.

In other words, it is a gift.

So why not call it that?

If you have been using the phrase “ethical bribe” to describe the small enticements you offer your clients, try consciously switching to using the word “gift” instead.

Are those who accept your gift still sheep waiting to be sheared – or are they now valued partners in your business?

Which relationship is likely to be more fruitful in the long run?

Photo by mike@bensalem Released under Creative Commons License

To Get A Good Answer, Ask A Good Question

Where's the one who isn't there?

How many lamps are there?

Have you wasted time with tech support, listening to a detailed response to a question you never asked?

Now turn that around.

Have you wasted time on customer service, giving a detailed answer to a customer’s question, only to receive in reply some variation of, “No, I meant my other left”?

Some fields have specialized, technical language that makes it possible for practitioners of the dark arts to communicate effectively with each other – but the jargon can leave the rest of us out in the cold. Other areas use everyday language, but the results are so imprecise that it takes repeated, detailed questioning to get a useful response.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if your customer support was right down the middle – precise enough to be immediately actionable but jargon free enough to be instantly understandable?

That may be an impossible dream, but you can inch closer to that goal through practice. Here are five simple steps to get you started

1. Make a list of frequently asked questions

This will help you narrow down the areas where you are not communicating effectively with your clients.

If  one out of every five customers has to ask if you’ll ship two items in the same box at a reduced price, “Hey stupid, that’s in the Terms!” is not the correct response. Especially if the question is answered in your shipping terms.

Is your use of jargon (“We gladly combine shipping”) instead of plain English (“We ship multiple items at a reduced rate”) confusing new customers? Should you reword your policy or description?

2. Have someone unfamiliar with your service read your copy and pay close attention to what they say.

It doesn’t matter if the nuclear scientist on the corner knows that you can’t sell Plutonium on eBay. Most watch buyers are neither physicists nor experts on eBay’s policies. If you are trying to sell me a watch with Mickey Mouse’s dog on the watch face, do not say it is powered by Plutonium, no matter how hard you laugh at your own joke.

Write clearly and accurately. Write to be understood, not to be admired.

3. Switch roles.

If you are selling, read everything you write – description, terms of sale, shipping and handling clauses, everything – as though you are the world’s dumbest customer.

You don’t know what FOB means. You don’t know what USPS means. You don’t know what PayPal is and you don’t know how to find out.

All you know is you want to buy that beautiful suede jacket for $250.00 and you have never bought anything on line before.

That is not a crime. That is a golden opportunity.

If you can ease a customer’s worries and make shopping with you a pleasant and simple transaction, you will create repeat business and customer loyalty.

4. If you can state something in everyday English, do it.

Avoid jargon.

Even if you are selling specialized items, try to describe them in common terms. Sometimes it will be important to use a technical description (for instance, you cannot sell a camera lens without mentioning focal length). But go on to define the term for the average shopper.

Maybe I want to buy a super-expensive camera lens as a gift. You can lose the sale by saying “150 mm, EOS DSLR, bayonet” or you can make the sale by saying, “Great 150 mm tele-photo lens for Canon EOS digital SLR, with standard bayonet mount.”

5. Put all the words in your head on the paper.

Don’t expect anyone to read your mind.

If you want the buyer to do something, say so. “Anyone should have known that” is not a sales policy.

 

Written communication can be confusing and frustrating, but you can take the sting out of it by consciously using simple sentences with common words. If you want to know whether your answers are helping or further confusing your customers, just turn the situation around. Read the answer, then ask yourself, “What is the question?”

Photo by kevindooley Released under Creative Commons License

Useful Snippets of Code

1. FOLLOWERS CAN RE-TWEET WITHOUT RE-TYPING MESSAGE

If you use Twitter, you know that Re Tweets can be a great viral marketing tool.

But asking your Twitter followers to Re-Tweet is inefficient. They have to copy, open a new Tweet, paste, send… really, on Twitter, that’s a lot of work.

Anything you do to make it easier for your others to take the step you’ve requested increases the chance that they will do it.

I just picked this up this nifty trick from Frank Kern’s latest pitch. (I’m not an affiliate of Kern or Filsame and I’m not recommending the product – just acknowledging the source of the code.)

Add the message you want re-tweeted in this code, in place of ADD MESSAGE HERE:

Would you like to see how this works in real life, click the image below.


Easy way for your Twitter followers to reTweet your messages


2. CHANGE YOUR PERMALINK STRUCTURE WITHOUT BREAKING YOUR LINKS

You know how important good permalinks are to getting good Google rankings for your blog posts.

But you may not have known which permalink structure to choose in place of the default when you started blogging. As a good fallback, a lot of WordPress users suggested using the day and post name (Permlink Option #2 under Settings).

Now you have 100 posts and you want to get the very best rankings for your new posts without sacrificing the traffic, links, and rankings you’ve already earned with your older posts.

So you can’t just suddenly change the structure of your permalinks.

There are plugins that will help, of course, including an excellent one by Joost der Valk called Permalink Redirect

But if you want to make sure Google is following your links, it is a good idea to use a 301 permanent redirect in your .htaccess file.

If you want to remove dates from your permalinks, try adding this to the .htaccess file in your blog’s root directory:

RedirectMatch 301 /dddd/dd/dd/(.*) /$1

If you want more information about how that particular redirect works, check out Remove Dates From Permalinks on Blog Traffic Exchange.

Make Money As An eBay Affiliate

How To Make Money with eBay Widgets DVD

How To Make Money with eBay Widgets DVD

Ghost Leg Media’s latest Training DVD is Make Money with eBay Affiliate Web Sites.

It walks you through the process of creating a “Set It and Forget It” web site to generate passive income.

These sorts of web sites are amazingly easy to set up and maintain if you have a well thought out system. And this sort of web site has become the hottest internet marketing trend of 2009.

Many internet marketers and web designers sell pre-packaged software to build affiliate sites for you. Some are very well researched and designed, some are just thrown together.

The danger with even the best pre-packaged software is that when Google arbitrarily decides to one day de-list sites built with them, overnight your once profitable site becomes invisible to those searching the web. As you’ve probably read, Google is rejiggering their algorithm again this year – and howls of pain are already being heard.

If you follow the Web Sellers Circle system outlined by Cindy Shebley in the Make Money with eBay Affiliate Web Sites, you will be able to build your own sites in minutes while avoiding the traps that lead to the dreaded Google Slap.

If you want to learn more – tomorrow – Monday, February 9, 2009, Cindy Shebley will be giving a free class about her system.

Sign up and tune in to find out if affiliate marketing is right for you. You may discover that a small investment in time and money could lead to a steady monthly income.

Have A Goal and Don’t Get Distracted

Danger hides while you follow the shiny stuff

Danger hides while you follow the shiny stuff

Following the latest bright, shiny thing down the rabbit hole can be death to your business.

Every day, some new bauble appears – and it is absolutely essential that you use it or buy it or learn it to survive.

MySpace, Twitter, Facebook….

…LinkedIn, PR Wire, BizNik…

…Bonanzle, Google Base, Amazon Associates…

…Aweber, Constant Contact, iContact…

Really – there is no end to it.

It is impossible to know everything, do everything, be everywhere. To try is to run yourself ragged while your business runs into a ditch.

FOCUS ON YOUR GOALS

Focus instead on your long term vision.

What are your goals? What steps are you taking today to reach those goals? Is your strategy working?

It may seem smarter to try something – anything! – new when you are stalled. But before you throw up your hands, abandon your plans, and hare off in a new direction ask yourself:

  • What worked six months ago?
  • What has changed?
  • How will this new thing help?
  • What tools do I need?
  • How will I know when the new thing is working?

Unless you have a goal, it is impossible to know when to persevere and when to give up.

Photo by Harpersbizarre Released under Creative Commons License