Is Your Website a Beautiful “Hotel Nowhere?”

Lately it seems I’ve been explaining to more and more people about Internet Marketing. You see, for some reason, folks think that IM (Internet Marketing) is really all about putting up a great looking website. It’s not – it’s so much more than that.

In fact, although a website is a crucial piece in the online marketing puzzle, you can still beat the best-looking website with great online marketing. And what still surprises me is after all the education, all the articles, all the proof, people still think, “If you build it (better) they will come!”

Sorry to disappoint folks – but that’s a dangerous assumption.

— Just Do It Over

For instance, I was just speaking with a prospective client; they were explaining to me their newly developed site was not working for them as they had hoped. During their explanation, they told me they had a ‘solution’ for their problem – they were going to replace all or part of the site with Flash elements.

I politely explained to them Flash wasn’t necessarily going to solve their problem and what they had on their hands was a beautiful ‘Hotel Nowhere’ website, lost in the Internet Wilderness. A ‘do over’ wasn’t going to solve their problems. Permit me to explain my analogy – I think you’ll like it.

— Hotel Nowhere 101

A Hotel Nowhere website is beautifully designed one, it may have some Flash animation, perhaps some cool rollover images, maybe even active menu buttons that pop up and disappear as you move across them. It’s likely to have shading and other graphical elements that are visually appealing. And it’s probably got some words written on it too…but they’re secondary to the ‘look.’

The #1 problem with these types of websites (and some are not as bad as the image I painted above) is that they all suffer the same affliction…

They’ve been built in the middle of the Internet Wilderness!

Now let’s think about this for a moment. What good does it do to knock down your nice shiny new ‘Hotel Nowhere’ website and build another one in the same spot if no one knew about the last one?

If your Hotel Nowhere website is ‘out there’, how do you expect people to find you? A real hotel needs roads leading up to the hotel, it has tour guides, maps, TV shows promoting vacations at the resort, radio adverts telling people about the next special, advertising in the nearby towns, agents and reps out there talking it up and generally promoting it and creating buzz.

In other words, your ‘Hotel Nowhere’ (your website) needs to be promoted and connected to the rest of the world AFTER it’s been built. Simply knocking it down and building another is a waste of time!

— Going from Room to Room

If we continue the Hotel analogy, you need to know your lobby is your main page (usually index.html or default.html) and it’s where guests arrive once they’ve been brought to your hotel. By the way, the bus or coach analogy is a good one for search engines – think traffic and you’ll start to see the imagery.

So you have people in your lobby. If you expect them to stay you’d better give them a darn good reason to ‘stick’ around. And if you want them to explore your hotel you need to give them a map. Oh yes, and more importantly, you will need to ensure that they can get from room (page) to room.

It sounds goofy, but many sites are built with no ‘doors’. A door is a link between pages. I know, you think that I’m wrong – sure You can click on the button and be taken to a page. But did I tell you that search engines are visually impaired?

They don’t see the picture buttons or the image maps like you do; they look for text so they can ‘read’ it. If your doors are not described via text links too, you can expect a lobby full of visitors for about 2 seconds before they get back on the bus and leave.

— Going from Hotel Nowhere to Hotel Somewhere

Building the site should be the second phase of the project – the first phase should have been creating the architectural Internet Marketing plan. However, this is often not the case and the I.M Architect (consultant) is usually ONLY called once the client realizes they have a ‘Hotel Nowhere’ website on their hands!

The good news is that even if you have done things ‘backwards,’ it can be remedied quite easily, and a good I.M Architect (consultant) can work with your designer and other web resources directing them accordingly for proper changes.

In addition, a good I.M Architect will also help you develop other strategies and tactics for connecting your website to the rest of the world and into your overall Internet Marketing plan. Then, and only then, will you start to significant differences. Your once Nowhere website will have become a found Somewhere site.

Online There’s a Sucker Born Every Second

The great P.T Barnum once said “There’s a sucker born every minute” and with the advent of the Internet those same snake oil salesmen, con artists and charlatans are back – this time with the power of technology to ‘prove’ their rakish claims. So now (paraphrasing P.T) ‘There’s a sucker born every second…online!”

For instance, if I gave you the very best oil paint, the best brushes and the best canvas do you believe you could be Picasso or Van Gogh? Of course not – they had great creative skill learned patiently over their lives. In fact, if memory serves, Van Gogh couldn’t even afford the best tools and yet was still able to produce beautiful (if somewhat strange) artwork – now that’s skill.

I’m sure you’d agree the tools do not make the master. Yet every day on the Internet we are bombarded with claims of push-button success – mastery at the push of a button. Admittedly the allure of this dream is tempting, who wouldn’t hope for such a thing, but we need to temper our fantastic wishes with a healthy dose of skepticism.

We give too much ‘authority’ to technology – probably because many of us simply don’t understand the details. Some newer technology is so fantastic it almost seems like magic. However, I can assure you after more than two decades of working with computers there is no magic.

But what has that got to do with online and Internet Marketing – a great deal actually. A computer is a finite state machine; this means that the rules of its operation are fixed – even if obscure. It simply cannot deviate from the rules encoded within it.

So I ask you, do you really think someone ‘out there’ has cracked the code required to express a sunrise, or write real heartfelt poetry? What about defining the rules for creating a news story, or a love story?  And just in case you think they have – remember this – once defined, the rules are finite. Imagine the same sunrise every day… how boring!

Now I agree and accept we can define basic templates and to some degree there is ‘filler’ content that we can auto generate – but the real meat of any story, any copy, and any creative piece needs a person to inject it with life. Computerized language parsing is one thing, but true creative expression – now that’s an art form beyond the scope of a PC.

So why am I telling you all this, because it was only yesterday I received yet another ‘exciting new offer’ for some silver bullet claiming to put my online promotional efforts into the stratosphere through automated content creation and syndication. Knowing that quality content creation is king, and being a curious sort I followed the link – plus it always pays to keep an eye out for good examples of marketing.

Anyway, what I found (and I won’t name the product) is a well packaged and well presented idea…with one hell of a big hole in it – it downplayed the importance of the quality content creation aspect. It minimized the absolute requirement for creative skill and allowed the prospect to believe that the tools would make the master – “Just push this button and out pops a masterfully written article for syndication…” Hmmm.

This tool will syndicate your content to a myriad of possible publication venues (which is fantastic.) It will help you learn with resources and support (which is wonderful)…but what it cannot do, what it could never do – is overnight make you into something that you are not. Learning any skill takes time, ability and patience (and for each person it’s unique.)

So the next time you are offered a ‘cure-all’ for your online Internet Marketing success which includes automatic content creation, remember this: GIGO – “Garbage In, Garbage Out.” And using technology to publish garbage more effectively doesn’t improve its quality – it’s still garbage, there’s just more of it!

And lastly, Marketing 101 tells us to aim for uniqueness and differentiate ourselves from the pack. Does a rules-based auto-created piece of content sound like it will make us different from all the others doing precisely the same thing?

That’s my 2 cents worth for the day

PS. I ghostwrite and copywrite for a limited number of select clients. If you’d like to get in touch we can see if there’s a good fit.

The 7 Subjects That Sell Well Online

Are you an expert in any of the following subjects? Have you ever considered ‘publishing’ your knowledge? Information is the new universal currency and profiting from your knowledge is easier than you may think.

FREE REPORT: Turn your passion into profit.

In no particular order, here are the 7 subjects that sell well online:

Small Business

Advertising, marketing, PR, selling, Internet marketing, copywriting, mail order, management, negotiation, deal making, and related entrepreneurial topics.

Business Opportunities

How to get started in specific careers — e.g., make money as a copywriter, photographer, registered massage therapist, locksmith, electrician, graphic artist; get rich quick offers; franchise offers.

Self Help

How to be a better person, find happiness and fulfillment, live more spiritually, overcome anxiety and depression, attain enlightenment, improve your relationships, and discover your true calling or higher purpose.

Relationships

How to pick up girls, how to find a mate, dating advice, parenting, advice for singles, advice for couples, divorce, adoption.

Major Consumer Purchases

How to buy a used car, find and buy a home, sell your home, buying a boat, buying a vacation home, select a diamond engagement ring, plan a wedding, plan a funeral.

Investments

Make money in the stock market, mutual funds, financial planning, retirement, gold and precious metals, energy stocks, currency trading, options, commodities, futures, real estate, coins, collectibles.

Medicine

Health, fitness, nutrition, weight loss, disease prevention, medical treatments, alternative medicine, exercise, meditation, yoga, massage, acupuncture, dietary supplements, overcoming infertility, avoid heart attack or stroke, joint pain, memory improvement.

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FREE REPORT: Turn your passion into profit.

7 Ways To Accidentally Get an Online Brand

Lately, I’ve been promoting using strategic content to develop and actively protect your online brand and reputation. I’ve found people have little or no knowledge of their personal brand and how it is often created for them – whether they like it or not.

I’m advising people to actively create their own Personal Branding & Online Reputation Strategy and then implement it ASAP! The objective is to pre-empt any bad news or negative content. Be proactive, not reactive. Dominate the basic search results in advance so as to assure a suitable reaction from anyone surfing for You.

I point out that “being Googled” is now a part of the hiring/buying process and it often reveals more about you than peeing in a cup or a cursory background security check! Think office party antics, camera/video phones, and ’shared’ email.

The head in the sand tactic is no longer working (did it ever?) Create your online brand before it gets created for you. And if you don’t think it can happen to you, double-dog-dare me to prove it to you…

7 Ways To ‘Accidentally’ Get an Online Brand:

   1. Someone mentions your name in a blog posting

   2. Someone mentions your name on a social networking site

   3. Someone mentions you in a press release

   4. Your kids list their parents on their FaceBook page

   5. Your family shares pictures of you on a shared photo server

   6. Your home videos end up on YouTube

   7. And there are more (disgruntled employees, an “ex” and so on…)

Think it can’t happen to you… THINK AGAIN.

Marketing Your Business on Twitter

Twitter is a real time micro-blogging platform that uses very short messages to share information. It’s format is similar to SMS text messaging without the fumbling thumb typing.

 

What I’ve been asked — more than a few times lately — is this:


“How can I use this social media platform to market my business?”


Here’s a few simple, yet powerful ways to put the power of Twitter to work for you:


Continue reading “Marketing Your Business on Twitter”

How Your Small Business Can Survive a Trade War

Game match king 59197According to the news and various experts, a global trade war would be bad. Very bad. And while it’s unlikely the trade war would directly impact most small businesses, it’s safe to say … INDIRECT IMPACT is assured.

A trade war can affect sales, reduce revenues and ultimately push many small businesses under unless they take special measures to mitigate the impact.

The following 16 recommendations will help navigate the turbulence of a trade war and help your small business survive … and hopefully thrive!

Continue reading “How Your Small Business Can Survive a Trade War”