Marketing your business


Trying to save money by cutting your marketing budget?

Why? While many businesses fail for a variety of reason, bad management, poor reputation, hostile takeover etc. The most common reason though is simply lack of customers. If you have customers and, have ensured that you don’t lose money on each customer, then having more is good.

Once you have the number of customers you need to break even, you need more to make a profit. Sure there can be times when having  too many can be a problem, you have the newest widget and suddenly everyone wants it.

How do you supply 50,000 orders when you only have 10,000 widgets? But let’s face it, that’s not what usually happens. Normally you have your 10,000 widgets and need to find enough customers.

It’s at this point that many businesses decide that they must save money somehow, they look at their overheads and see that while they’ve managed to break even, they’re not actually making any money. They crunch numbers and come to the conclusion that they must make cuts.

Marketing is usually the first to be cut. It’s strange isn’t it? The money they’re already spending on marketing to bring in more business is not bringing in enough customers, so they cut it and hope that will cure the problem.

If you’re not getting enough new customers or enough return customers, how does cutting your marketing budget help? Before you get to this point, make sure you’re spending your marketing dollars wisely.

  1. Make sure your marketing is integrated and you have have a calendar where offline and online campaigns can be scheduled together.
  2. Social media is highly important for awareness, branding, interaction and feedback. It is not however a ‘quick fix’.
  3. Good on page SEO is important to your search engine visibility, make sure it’s tightly focused and unique for each page.
  4. Ensure your off page efforts are consistent, build good links, don’t forget citations.
  5. Plan ahead but be flexible enough to take advantage of serendipitous news items to create a buzz around your product or service.
  6. Send out press releases, regular press releases create good links, keep your name in front of people and allow you to showcase individual products and services.

marketing is necessary for the success of your business



Content Creation and Curated Content

Content Creation

Every day I search for interesting content for both myself and my clients. I read a lot of different articles, some are tech based, some are lifestyle based, some are automotive, some are…. Well I guess you get the picture, I read a lot of ‘stuff’.

The reason I do that is I’m always looking for ideas on content creation, looking for content I can curate and comment on.

I came across an article today that at first I thought was a real gem. Here’s the link –

Now as I said, at first I thought this was going to be a great piece that I could share, one that would add value to my offerings and be of use and interest to my followers.

The first part of the article makes a lot of sense as content is indeed what you need to create on a regular basis if you want the likes of Google to pay attention to you. The problem is creating unique, compelling, entertaining and informative content. After all, how many ways can you tell someone about bottled water or mil spec packaging? Which is where content curation comes in. Instead of having to add to the millions of pages already talking about these subjects you would fine and curate existing articles or other formats.

You in effect become the Smithsonian of your market niche because you save your followers time by presenting them the best content (in link form) on your specialist subject. Sometimes you may just come across something that you tweet out as a link, or share on FB or G+ as just a link and a quick comment. At others, you may do what I’m doing and write your own take on an article you’ve found both are curated content.

Whichever way you do it, your job is to provide not only good information but to make it easy for people to act on that information. This is where I found the article a little lacking. Yes it has some great ideas, which I’m not going to duplicate here, you can read them and decide yourself which ones make sense for you.

It gives you ideas but doesn’t in my opinion go far enough because it doesn’t give you any resources to help you implement those ideas.

So my first addition to this page would be tell you to go to Google and Bing and search for ‘trending topics’ because you want your content to be fresh and of the moment, even though you may actually curate content that was published months or even years ago. If it’s good evergreen content, especially if it ranks well, then adding it to your list of curated content is a good thing. But the subject matter has to be current.

Curated Content takes you to where Google curates the trending queries, if you can find something here that you can spin and link to your niche you could get a nice bump in traffic. everyone loves ‘top tens’ and at this links Google curates the most popular ‘top ten charts’ song to space objects. Children’s TV to Politicians, whisky to coffee and lots I between. It may inspire you to produce your own ‘top ten’. this site will always have something to offer, even if it’s got nothing in your particular niche it is a sea of great content ideas. will give you a list of trending hashtags and will give you what’s trending on Twitter. has general subjects and if you investigate you’ll see how sites like Huffington Post use the hashtag to create content that could pull in visitors. has the trending questions, well worth mining for anything you can answer or use. Maybe even a ‘top 3’ questions answered for your niche? if you’re in a tech based niche then Techspot may be of use. is another site that can give you ideas. It also has a widget generator you can embed so that people coming to your site or blog can get the latest news direct from you.

Finally of course there’s which has an eclectic and often funny series of trending topics for you to browse through.

There are of course many more one of which is which builds a page around your search habits and brings in new content as it’s published.

Your challenge is to take these resources and curate some content, giving your own take or spin and make it relevant to your niche. Then share it with us on Facebook, who knows you may create the next viral phenomenon

Doing SEO today – is it worth it?

Either you provide SEO services to other companies or, you ‘do’ SEO for your own. Why are you wasting time, money and effort with something that is so labor intensive, has more chance of getting your site ‘slapped’ and puts you at the mercy of the Mighty Google and a mathematical algorithm?

No question that you have to be found in Google and other search engines but is SEO the way to do it? Not any longer. Penguin 2.0 has just come out and once again people will lose position, even where they’ve not actually tried to ‘spam’ the search engines and have instead, concentrated on so called ‘white hat’ SEO techniques.

What’s wrong with SEO you ask? Actually nothing really except every day it becomes more difficult to actually do with any guarantee that tomorrow not only will the technique you use today not work, it may get you penalized!

I’m not going into the whole Panda, Penguin, Farmer and Freshness Google updates because there are millions of pages out there on that subject and you need only type ‘what is’ plus any of the update labels to get more information than you could possibly want including, opinion, factual, subjective, objective and just plain wrong or weird.

Therein lies the problem, you as a searcher want relevant information. The search engine wants to provide it, so you keep using them and they can make money displaying adverts. As a business owner, you want to be found at the top of the results. As an SEO provider you want to achieve top results for your client.

Those objectives create the problem. Let’s say you have a business doing auto repairs, you provide good customer service, your mechanics are well qualified and your prices are competitive. How then do you stand out from the others? Because that’s what it’s all about, do you as a business offer such a high level of service and expertise that no one else come close? Sadly not many businesses do.

As an SEO provider do you ‘interview’ potential customers to ensure you only work with the best? Or, like most businesses, do you take whoever will pay your fee? Why? Why would you waste your time on a client whose service or product makes your business much more difficult than it should be?

OK, let’s just recap here. I agree that you have to be found at the top of the search engine results. I agree that somehow you have to ensure that outcome, whether as a provider or as a do-it-your-selfer.

I disagree that traditional SEO is going to work long term. Yes, if you want to keep doing a ‘churn and burn’ type of campaign for your own websites (creating the website, doing all the old SEO stuff, white, grey and black before getting ‘punished’ and having to start again) the SEO will still work to a degree. But really, who wants to put that much effort in, only to have to start again?

The reason we have to do SEO is because so many people have abused it and, because there’s so much information out there it’s difficult to stand out.

Imagine this, on WordPress blogs alone 41.5 million new posts are published EVERY MONTH these figures are supplied by WordPress themselves even more staggering is the fact that over 368 million people view more than 4.1 billion pages each month. How do you ensure your page is viewed and read?

That doesn’t take into account the number of other platforms including places like Tumblr, LiveJournal, Weebly, Joomla and old fashioned html. So we can agree I hope that being found is difficult, difficult but imperative.

Royal Pingdom state that 51 million websites were added last year alone and that the number of websites as of December 2012 was 634 million.

The figure becomes even more staggering if you estimate that each site has only 5 pages, what is 634 million multiplied by 5? 3,170 million is the answer.

How do you do it then? How do you get yourself found online?

One way is sheer brute force, if you have the money you advertise, even though the return on investment is so much less than organic results (non-advertised results). If your pockets are deep enough you can overwhelm simply by advertising everywhere. Of course, if your service or products suck, then this may eventually bankrupt the company!

Another brute force tactic is sheer number of links, as long as those links are somewhere that someone will eventually click on, a million of them spread across the net, only need one click a year to bring a million visitors to your site. So your site had better be the best converting site in existence because only a small percentage of those clicks may be from a potential customer.

Well, I don’t know about you but I’d rather find an easier way than that. I don’t have the money to advertise and I don’t have the time to build a million links. The question then becomes, what is the better way?

Social Marketing

Oh yes, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, YouTube the list goes on. These are the places where people gather to chat, brag, moan, praise, snoop, romance, ask questions and make recommendations. They’ll moan about everything from the government to the state of their underwear. They’ll talk about the idiot who cut them off on the freeway, the hot guy (or gal) they saw in the coffee shop, the auto repair shop that wouldn’t fit an oil change in and they’ll do it all, almost immediately.

You can’t stop them, they’ll talk about you whether you want them to or not, they don’t need your permission and they certainly won’t ask you if you mind. They’ll do it from their tablet, book reader, phone, laptop, game console as well as their computer. Even cameras are internet enabled so photos can be taken and shared immediately.

It’s a tsunami you can’t halt and which will drown you if you don’t learn how to surf the wave.

With the almost infinite number of places people can and do talk about things you can drown trying to reach them all, so the answer is don’t.

With all the ‘noise’ out there you don’t really want to weaken your efforts by spreading yourself and your content too thin. Yes, if you’re a Nike or Coca Cola, Disney or Warner Bros, Microsoft or Google then you have the resources to reach people across many platforms but let’s face it, most businesses are not.

You need a plan, an integrated plan, one that incorporates all your marketing efforts.



A cautionary tale.

I have a client who’s just opened a new auto repair shop in Houston. He was told not to do anything without including us in the ‘need to know’ communications. He decided to get some flyers printed, then he was going to give them out to stimulate interest in his new business. The flyer had a free offer and you’d think people would be happy to at least take advantage of it.

Not so, locally a news item came out about RFID tracking chips being embedded in paper flyers. People got the wrong idea and the campaign fell flat. $2,500 wasted on a campaign I knew nothing about so couldn’t even talk about it online. I asked the client why he’d not told me about this (even though we’d had long conversations about marketing integration), his reply was “Well it was just a flyer and it wasn’t online.”

Now of course, he wishes he’d not only listened but actually paid attention!

No matter whether you’re a business doing your own SEO/on line marketing or a company that provides the service. GET A PLAN

A note to providers of SEO Services

If you’re concentrating on getting your clients ranked, or getting them visitors or any other metric you may have negotiated payment for, unless you get them business, they will be problematic and they will leave for what they perceive are greener pastures. Put another way, a smooth talking competitor who offers them an increase in business will steal your clients.

Which Social Media?

Once you decide to enter the social media waters, it’s tempting to think you can and should post on all of them. If you’re a national or multinational conglomerate, this may well work for you. You will after all have the resources to task individuals with managing your social media profiles and building a following as well as promoting the brand.

For small and most medium businesses though it’s insanity to try and do that. The sheer volume of unique, interesting and above all engaging content that must be produced is overwhelming. If you only spend an hour a day doing all that you must do to grow and get business from your social media accounts, it means that with only four (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest) you’ll need to spend four hours a day ‘doing’ social media. In that time who is taking care of actually running the business?

A short course in social media.

Create a profile, fill it out making sure it’s optimized for your broadest keywords and has a compelling bio. Upload images to personalise your profile pages. Upload content.

Now comes the hard work because now, you have to build a following. No good following Kevin Costner in the film ‘Field of Dreams’ and think that a ‘build it and they will come’ mentality will work, it won’t.

Firstly, no one is going to pay attention to your content unless they know it’s there.

Secondly, no one is going to pay attention to your content unless you give them a reason to.

Thirdly, without the first two, you’re not going to get business from your efforts and unless all you want to do is listen to your own voice, that’s why you’re doing social media, to grow your business.

Growing you connections on social media takes time and effort, you need to find people you want to connect with, preferably someone in your industry who already has a following. Connecting with them and posting something that they will share will put you in front of consumers with the added implied recommendation of a trusted source.

Now multiply that by the number of networks you decide to use and you can see that very quickly you’d have no time to actually run your business.


Search Engine Rank – Is It Time To Look At It Differently?

Search Engine Rank

Most people with a business and an interest in using online marketing obsess about their rank in search engines and in particular Google. In this day and age that may not be the best metric with which to measure the success of your online marketing efforts. In general, it’s probably true that the higher you rank the more visitors you’ll get and the more business you’ll do.

Unfortunately with the personalization of search, especially by Google rank is now very elusive to pin down. For SEO service providers this causes a problem. It’s difficult, if not impossible to provide clients with rank that they can verify themselves. For buyers of SEo services it causes the same problem in reverse, they get told they rank in certain positions for certain keywords, so they go to check. Then they find that either their site is nowhere to be seen, is lower than they were led to believe and in some cases they find they rank higher.

When this happens trust becomes an issue, how do they trust their SEO provider is doing a good job? before you either buy or sell SEO services you need to come to an agreement on what metric you will use as a measure of success. To do this you have to choose a metric (or preferably combination of metrics) that you have some historical data for that you can then use as a baseline. If you don’t track any metrics for your business you MUST start now. Without them you can’t forecast adequately, if you need to raise capital you won’t be able to as you have no way of accurately showing costs.

From a marketing point of view you need to pay attention to more things than search engine rank, you need to know where your customers come from. Where are you advertising, how much does it cost? You need to know how much it costs you to acquire a new customer. The simple way is to add up everything you spend to advertise and market your company, including printing, design, and all costs associated with providing marketing materials of any description on a monthly basis. Then divide this by the number of new customers you get each month and that, broadly speaking is your customer acquisition cost.

You can read more about this here and her’s a link to an online calculator.

CAC is only one of the things you need to measure, for example what is the lifetime value, the average value, the initial sale value? All of these can be measured and should be. You as a business owner need to know these things, how else will you know where to adjust to make the most profit?

If your CAC (customer acquisition cost) is $50 and the first time average sale value is $49 you’re losing money but unless you actually track these numbers you won’t know. Therefore you might want to measure success by how much it costs to get a new customer from SEO and what the value of that customer is.

Ranking A Website

So many website owners have a ‘build it and they will come’ mentality. When it comes to ranking a website there are a lot of things that are needed. One of the most important is information, this is what we call the content, it must be relevant to the theme of the website, it’s no good having film reviews on a site that sells coffee beans the 2 are not relevant to each other.

Ranking a website requires good content, it requires content that is informative and that can help a potential customer make the decision to buy from you.  This content should be provided in as many ways as possible, text, video, audio, images and slides. You want to allow people to ‘consume’ your content in as many ways as possible. I’m a reader, I like to read, my son is very visual, he likes to watch videos to get the information. My niece on the other hand likes to download her information as podcasts (audio) so she can listen to it while she drives to work and back.

Ranking Factors

Ranking factors are different than the content need to rank a website. Ranking factors are required by the search engines and each is different but they do have things in common. The biggest of which is genuine valuable one way back links and good engaging content.

Depending on whether you want to rank locally or nationally the ranking factors may differ, local rank needs local back links more than national ones. National rank is less dependent on local factors and needs a lot more citations and links, especially in highly competitive industries.

Concentrate on providing great informative content, spreading the word on social sites and building those relevant and valuable back links and you will improve the search engine rank for your site regardless of whether you do the SEo yourself, or employ the services of an Seo provider.

Happy ranking!

Marketing Revolution – Small Business Marketing

The way we shop is changing, it’s been changing since the beginning of the internet. But in the last few years the pace of change has become so rapid that many small and medium businesses are in danger of being left behind.

For a local business in the past, it was enough to advertise in local papers & have a listing in a print business phone directory. That standard approach is no longer enough. It’s no longer enough because people make the decision to buy with the help of the internet.

marketing for small businesses is changing

Let’s look at what happens, a consumer sees or is told about a product or service. This stimulates them to either want it or to recognise it would solve a problem they have. In times past, they’d go to a shop to find out about it and, possibly ask family or friends their opinion.

Now however, they go to the internet to do research on the product or service.

70 out of every 100 will look for reviews, the question is, will they find reviews for your product or service? If they don’t you’ve instantly lost the potential to reach those 70 people. You have now effectively lost or shrunk your market to only 30 out of every 100. Put another way you’ve thrown away 70% of your potential market. You’ve given that 70% away to your competitors – for free!

This is just one way that the internet has changed the way we shop.

What else has changed? Consumers are far better educated thanks to the internet. They can research not only you, your business, your products or services. They can research your competitors, do a comparison on prices, so by the time they actually come to you, they have a lot of information.

Most importantly, they’ve done it all on line. Imagine how difficult it would be for you to be part of that research if you don’t have a web presence. Just as important is the fact that your business details can often be found on line, even where you have no web site and have in no way listed your business on line.

How can this be? Do you have a Yellow Pages listing? If so, that listing will have found its way on line.

Customers can and do enter your business details on review sites like Yelp, Qype, Epinions and so on. Sometimes because they really like you, more often because they have a complaint.

You can’t stop it, so isn’t it better to actively control it?

By control I don’t mean that you can control what others post about you, I mean control the information and be aware of what people are saying. After all if you don’t know what people are saying good or bad, how can you respond correctly?

internet marketing is key for your businessLet’s take a look at the business information and why it’s important for you to control it.
If a customer has entered your details on a review site like Yelp or Quype (in the UK), have they got the details correct? Business name, address and telephone number, incorrect information here could lose you business (Yelp receives requests for directions every 2 Seconds)
If the address is wrong, people won’t find you. If the telephone number is wrong, how can they call you?

Remember the sheer amount of competition out there. It’s easier to move on to the next supplier than it is to search for the correct contact information.
Plus, if you control the listing, you can add things like opening times, special offers or special products and menu’s. It also helps prevent duplicate entries, where customers enter slightly different information. It also allows you to keep all your contact info up to date, change of telephone no. email, address.

So what about information pulled from printed directories into online directories?

Again it’s a matter of ensuring that all info is correct and current. Most online directories that populate themselves from ‘lists’ they’ve bought, allow business owners to ‘claim’ their listing, to edit it and keep it fresh.

So let’s go back to the consumer starting to research a product or service prior to making the decision to buy and from whom.

Something has happened to stimulate their interest. They’ve seen or heard something, or something has happened that’s caused a problem they need to solve. This is the stimulus.

The next step for them is to start their research. Even just a year ago they’d go to one or two places on line to do research. Now it can be as many as ten. If you’re not found during this initial phase, you’re unlikely to get this business.

To further illustrate how things have changed, let’s look at the standard mental model for marketing.

Stimulus-Something seen or heard.

Shelf-Go to the store, see the display, like the visuals, get questions answered, buy-

Experience-Use the product-hopefully it does what the adverts and store clerk said.

So our traditional mental marketing model has 3 points of interaction.

The new mental model has 4, a point between the stimulus and the shelf.

A mother is watching TV. She sees an ad for an educational game. The Stimulus. She reaches for her Smartphone, tablet or laptop + goes online to research (the new point of interaction (what Google calls the Zero moment of truth). She goes to Google to find the game manufacturer site, reviews and news articles. She’ll consult her favorite Mommy Blog.
She may go to Amazon to read reviews there. Once she’s got all the info, she may search local suppliers. She’ll go to Facebook and Twitter and ask for recommendations.
She may search Youtube for demo videos.

One thing is certain, before she gets to your ‘shelf’ whether on or off line, she’ll have made her decision, all without talking to you at all.

There’s something different happening after the last point of interaction (the experience) too. Now she’ll go online and add her opinion to the product reviews. Her experience will now become part of some one else’s research.

Today your marketing campaign has to address all 4 points of interaction.

  • Stimulus
  • Research
  • Shelf.
  • Experience.

You can’t control when the stimulus happens (unless you advertise – and then only control what the ad says).

  1. If you’re not found during the research you’ll lose out.
  2. Make it easy to buy (the shelf)
  3. Provide quality so that the experience is great not just good.

Best SEO Advice?

seo for small businessesI’ve been thinking about a question I found on Quora . I have to say I agree with a lot of what’s said here, in fact I can’t disagree with any of it. The one things that stood out for me though is the comment to be flexible, because on line marketing and SEO change as search engines tweak and change. Two things that never go out of style though are great content and great links. You can take a look at the page by clicking this link

Great content is not just about creating a video or article or even an infographic, it’s about creating a video, article or infographic that delivers and emotional experience AND answers the question WIIFM (what’s in it for me). Seriously do you ever read, watch or look at content on a website unless there is something in it for you? Even if that something is to tell you you’re on the wrong website?

I certainly don’t and I know I’m not alone. Sometimes I watch things that make me laugh, cry or get angry, if I’m bored however, I jump away. I read things that interest, inform or infuriate me, if they don’t make me feel something, guess what? I jump away.

After all I’m only nano seconds away from something else, all I have to do is click my mouse or touch the screen.

So stay flexible, never stop learning (who likes a know it all anyway?) Create amazingly engaging content. If all that fails, then argue with the people who’re succeeding, at least you’ll cause a reaction 🙂