10 Fun Facts About #MothersDay

Sea dawn sky 51953Like many special occasions, Mother’s Day has become a large commercial event. Mother’s Day gifts including jewelry, candy, flowers, and dining out have made this a great holiday for businesses. According to the National Restaurant Association, Mother’s Day is now the most popular day of the year to dine out.

As with other special occasions, we need to remind ourselves the day is not just about giving gifts and eating fine foods, it’s also about giving appreciation and becoming closer to our Mothers.

If you want to make your Mother’s Day special, give her the gift of time – yours. Spend time with your Mom and if you are short on cash, don’t worry – tidy up, make her dinner, turn the tables and take care of her for a change.

And if you wish to buy her something special, there’s always the ever popular bouquet of flowers. Remember, just about any type of flowers will be well received – after-all she’s your Mother and is unendingly supportive, however white carnations are the official flower of Mother’s Day and you can thank Anna Jarvis for that.

Here are 10 Fun Facts About Mothers Day …

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The Trouble With Audio ONLY Marketing

There’s a newsletter I enjoy reading and it contains valuable information I can often use immediately.

Picture this… The email newsletter shows up I click on the “read me” link. I’m taken over to a new page … with nothing on it. Huh? OK, it had something on it, a “<Play>” button. Now I’m starting to get irritated, I’m pushed for time, I don’t want to play “find the freaking facts!”

So I push the button and after what seemed an eternity (maybe 2 seconds… I told you I was in a hurry) a voice started speaking. I know the voice, I like the guy, his stuff is good but here’s the part that really drives me bonkers – he speaks at a measured pace. Aagh!

Darn it, now I’m locked into absorbing his valuable information at the speed of my buddies voice — which I do enjoy listening to — just NOT when I’m in a hurry, and not when I want the information NOW!

Glaciers Move Faster…

Most of us speak quite slowly, we digest words at the rate of a few hundred a minute. Glacial time in comparison to the speed at which I *READ*. These days I can visually absorb information at one heck of a pace – I’ve learned to do so from necessity – and I want the information ‘in my head as fast as humanly possible’ so I can use it now.

When I want to curl up with a good book, I do. When I want to listen to an audio cast, I do. Now is NOT the time 🙁

Being given valuable information in an AUDIO ONLY format has totally cheesed me off, now I have to go elsewhere to get what I want… And did I mention I was in a hurry?

And the point of all this?

Don’t overlook the fact each of us likes to ‘consume’ ideas and information in different ways, I’m mostly visual with auditory as back up. Some folks are primarily auditory and experiential (they like to touch and experience the moment) and then there are a few poor souls who experience the world from a smell and taste perspective – but we won’t worry about them shall we *smile*

Remember most of us can read a heck of a lot faster than we can listen, and people are asked each day to make many decisions about how to spend their precious time – Don’t force them to spend it at 120 words per minute… Give them a choice.

The Secret Internet Money Making Formula

In any statistical population there is always a percentage that will accept your offer. In other words, if you keep asking you’ll get a “yes.” Kids do it all the time. As adults we ‘learn’ to stop asking very quickly in our lives because we don’t like rejection. It hurts.

A Sad Young Man

But what has this got to do with Internet Marketing? I’m getting to that, bear with me. I once heard a tale of a sad young man who had limited social skills. His idea of getting a girl involved hanging out in bars where he’d approach a young lady and simply ask her if she wanted sex!

Can you imagine the rejection rate…and the number of times he got slapped or had a drink thrown in his face? Now that’s rejection! But there’s an upside to this story…this guy always got a girl…in the end. He kept asking.

And the moral of that tale? Asking is the key, and we know asking the right way is even better, but we know trying different approaches makes us vulnerable to rejection. It’s quite the conundrum!

Back to the ‘Secret‘

Hold that thought for a moment while we get back to the secret.

So if we simply ask enough times we will eventually get a yes, and if we improve how we asking we’ll get more yeses. Ok, now we’re getting somewhere.

On the Internet a large population is simply called TRAFFIC. And if you have enough traffic you can afford to ask badly and still be successful. Of course, if you ask in more effective ways you’ll do even better – but we’ve got to start somewhere.

Traffic Is the Key

So the secret to making money on the Internet is simply getting enough traffic and asking people if they’re interested. So if you can get enough people marching past your website (where your offer is made automatically and without personal rejection I might add) you will eventually make sales. Granted if your offer is bad and your website is worse, you’ll make very few sales – but you will make some. As the old saying goes, “Even a blind squirrel eventually finds a nut!”

This ’secret’ holds true in the real world as well because the secret to making money in a retail store is still all about having a steady stream of prospects (traffic) walking around your store.

Write & Share

Now making your traffic (prospects) stay long enough to see your offers, and improving the conversion rates so you sell more stuff, well that’s the subject of another article.

But rather than leave you hanging without a practical way to implement the “more traffic” solution – here’s a clue. It’s free, it’s easy and it’s been under your nose from the very beginning: provide meaningful, appropriate content and the search engines will love you for it. In other words, support the Internet at the fundamental level – it was built to share information… so write and share!

7 Small Business Survival Tips

No matter type of business you operate you’ve got to know how to keep your business alive during economic recessions. Anytime the cash flow in a business, large or small, starts to tighten up, the money management of that business has to be run as a “tight ship.”

(1) Pause Before Paying

Some of the things you can and should do include protecting yourself from impulse expenditures. We’ve all bought merchandise or services we really didn’t need simply because we were in the mood, then we sort of “wake up” a couple of days later and find that we’ve committed hundreds of dollars of business funds for an item or service that’s not essential to the success of our own business, when really pressing items had been waiting for those dollars.

(2) Using Professionals

While you may think you cannot afford it, be sure that you don’t “short-change” your self on professional services. This would apply especially during a time of emergency. Anytime you commit yourself and move ahead without completely investigating all the angles, and preparing yourself for all the contingencies that may arise, you’re skating on thin ice. Regardless of the costs involved, it always pays off in the long run to seek out the advice of experienced professionals before embarking on a plan that could ruin you.

(3) Your Financials

Your company’s books should reflect your way of thinking, and whoever maintains them should generate information according to your policies. Thus, you should hire an outside accountant or accounting firm to figure your return on your investment, as well as the turnover on your accounts receivable and inventory. Such an audit or survey should focus in depth on any or every item within your financial statement that merits special attention. In this way, you’ll probably uncover any potential financial problems before they become readily apparent, and certainly before they could get out of hand.

(4) Advisory Boards

Many smaller companies set up advisory boards of outside professional people. These are sometimes known as Power Circles and once in place, the business always benefits, especially in times of short operating capital. Such an advisory board or power circle should include a lawyer, a certified public accountant, civic club leaders, owners or managers of businesses similar to yours, and retired executives. Setting up such an advisory board of directors is really quite easy, because most people you ask will be honoured to serve.

Once your board is set up, you should meet about once a month and present material for review. Each meeting should be a discussion of your business problems and an input from your advisors relative to possible solutions. These members of your board of advisors should offer you advice as well as alternatives, and provide you with objectivity. No formal decisions need to be made either at your board meeting, or as a result of them, but you should be able to gain a great deal from the suggestions you hear.

(5) Joining Associations

By all means, join your industry’s local and national trade associations. Most of these organizations have a wealth of information available on everything from details on your competitors to average industry sales figures, new products, services, and trends. If you are given a membership certificate or wall plaque, you should display these conspicuously on you office wall. Customers like to see such “seals of approval” and feel additional confidence in your business when they see them.

(6) Free Advice

Whenever you can, and as often as you need it, take advantage of whatever free business counseling is available. Your local chamber of commerce or small business advisory will likely have numerous free publications. Most local universities, and many private organizations hold seminars at minimal cost, and often without charge. Take advantage of the service s offered by your bank and local library.

(7) Direction Is Everything

The important thing about running a small business is to know the direction in which you’re heading; to know on a day-to-day basis your progress in that very direction; to be aware of what your competitors are doing and to practice good money management at all times. All this will prepare you to recognize potential problems before they arise.

In order to survive with a small business, regardless of the economic climate, it is essential to surround yourself with smart people, and practice sound business management at all times.

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Are ‘They’ Stealing Your Web Traffic With This Trick?

I got an interesting email recently, I was advised by a new website they’d acquired a database of 36,000 articles…and they wanted to know if any of my content was within it.

So I visited the site and I found they had indeed ‘acquired’ some of my articles. No big problem at first blush – that’s what article marketing is: you write great content and in exchange for someone else promoting your work, you get the bio box with active hyperlinks to your chosen web-page (great for increasing your web presence.)

However there was more to this…

They were stealing my traffic and here’s how they did it:

Generally publishing your article to an official article syndication site is safe, but there’s always someone out there looking twist things up a little. You see, most publishers do things properly – they search for relevant content and then they selectively review it and if it works for them, they’ll publish it. Great – that’s how things are supposed to work.

Then there are the other types of ‘publisher’…

They’ll harvest anything and everything and put it all on to a website…but that’s not the end of it. If they simply did that your articles would be ok. But no, these guys don’t want to create a content specific niche portal site, nah – these guys are looking for traffic to monetize and here’s what they do – they steal yours!

And here’s how:

They take your article content and they ALTER it. This is a MAJOR NO NO and is a violation of your rights and your terms of use. And get this, the way they alter it is dead sneaky. They don’t do it on their site… they do it JUST BEFORE THE PAGE IS SERVED UP (which makes it very hard for people to spot) by adding extra hotlinks to your article copy. If you want to know how they do this I’ll happily explain it because it involves some very clever programming and some underhanded tactics the search engines don’t approve of (but that’s another story for another day…)

Back to your altered article. So your article, which had a couple of links at the very end directing people to your website or product is now sending traffic away from you and over to them – because they stole your traffic by adding extra hotlinks to their chosen words.

And the really clever part is this, your article could be about gardening and lawn-care, and you made reference to a certain brand of lawn-mover in the content – these sneaky traffic stealers can dynamically turn that ‘lawnmower’ word into a hyperlink so it becomes clickable and steals your traffic and offers the lawnmower for sale! I’ll admit it’s clever, but it’s contrary to the spirit of the publishing exchange idea and another example of a writer getting the shaft!

This is big business.

There are some major players on the Internet promoting the technology to do this. In fact, they’re making a pretty penny selling the software to do this. Ironically the technology that performs this little miracle of traffic theft is freely available elsewhere (and I’m not telling you where…)

Anyway, ‘rant’ over. If you use articles to market your products and service (and you should – it rocks!) then you also need to protect your Intellectual Property. Remember, you are creating content to drive traffic to your product or service so when some else adds their links to your content they are in fact stealing your potential customers.

If you need to ’see’ what’s going on here, imagine this: You sell widgets from your store. You spent time and energy promoting your store, you have great advertising and people visit you regularly. Business is good. Then a competitor who doesn’t want to take the time to create valuable marketing and advertising promotions decides it’s easier to simply walk into your store, tap your prospect on the shoulder and while they’re walking them out of your store – they’re selling them their product!

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PS. If you think some scoundrel is hi-jacking your hard work, let’s talk!

A Simple Content Marketing Strategy

The Internet is a network of interconnected nodes of information (content.) The more densely interconnected the information becomes (the density factor) the more useful and valuable it is.

Data + Interpretation = “Meaningful” Information

Without ‘parroting’ the obvious, content (meaningful information) is what people seek online. And in all fairness what people really seek is an answer to some question. Further compounding the challenge is the fact people use words and phrases natural to them – not to a computerized search engine.

It’s quite the conundrum… What key unlocks the door to untold ’search’ riches?

Cornerstone Key Phrases

Keyword phrase demand and supply is at the cornerstone of content provision and armed with an understanding of the search terms, and the modalities of the user’s presentation (how a person perceives the world), you can begin to provide answers to their questions in the form of articles, white papers, blog postings, forum inserts and so on.

Writing is an art, and although most people think writing is easy they’d be incorrect in that assumption: bad writing is easy, good (or great) writing is hard work.

The Artful Dance

And writing to balance the needs of a human with the needs of a computer is an artful dance for sure.

But there is some relief, since the dawn of the Internet the search engines have aimed for purity of search. In other words the engines are attempting to understand the true meaning of your question so they can return the best possible answer.

This means that so long as you write truly to meet the needs of the people (and keep an eye on the engine requirements) you will undoubtedly be rewarded for your efforts.

The ‘Real’ Reason

Writing content so the engines find you is great, however the real reason for this publishing process is the embedded links back to your select sites. As you publish and share your content, those that pick up your work and republish it will also republish your links to your selected websites.

Article marketing (for this is essentially what this is) is incredibly powerful and results in a strong and wide web of connections and links back to your sites.

Of course you need to provide content that people want to read and share…

You’re Not A ‘Blue Chip’ Company, So Stop Copying Their Marketing!

‘Blue Chip’ or not, success isn’t necessarily tied to how good they are, but rather to repetitive advertising. Mega corporations of this world advertise to build distribution and brand awareness. They do ‘image advertising’ which melds certain emotional responses with their product, so you feel the same way too when you buy from them…

Soul For Sale

These large blue chip companies spend literally billions ‘buying’ your purchasing decision. GM spent over $3 billion just a few years back to make you hum “like a rock!” – And it worked. Brand marketing and institutional marketing works, but here’s the catch: you have to have a fortune to pull it off successfully. If you spent $3 billion on making people aware of your company, do you think you’d have issues with sales?

BS Alert!

It’s a fact most advertising is almost all fluff, puffery and unbelievable platitudes and generalities: cheapest, greatest, professionalism, quality, speedy, best and so on. You hear overused phrases like “We’re number one!” Oh yeah? These overworked phrases do nothing to impart anything unique about what you do and why your customer should patronize your business.

The Big Question…

Why would anyone want to waste marketing dollars hardly saying anything to anyone?

And the Answer Is…

It’s because the majority of us are following the wrong levels. We’ve been ‘trained’ to follow level 1 and 2 type businesses, when we (for the most part) are level 3.

There are 3 major levels of businesses serving our needs:

Level 1

…is the largest and represents the government. It is without a doubt the largest influence in our country today and is capable of changing the hearts and minds of almost all of us. You might also include religion in the mix as a level 1 influencer; however religion usually gets less involved in commercial activities.

Level 2

…businesses are the few thousand or so mega-corporations in the country. They are often large multinational chains and conglomerates and have billions to spend influencing your buying decision. These companies are the brand builders, the Titans of their own industries – some of their products are household names with decades of history and acceptance to back them up.

Finally there’s Level 3

…that’s you, me and practically every other business out there. Studies have indicated that most businesses (about 80%) are ‘small business’ – 80% of businesses operating successfully today are ‘level 3′ businesses.

Focus Is the Key

Level 3 businesses cannot rely on broad-based repetition-oriented advertising that builds brand awareness. It’s not that Level 3 businesses can’t or shouldn’t build brand awareness. And it’s not that they can’t spend a lot of money on advertising. They just can’t do it nationally on TV at $50,000 to $500,000 per 30-second spot. Level 3 businesses need to be more focused with their marketing in order to create successful action-oriented advertising.

We’ve Got it All Wrong!

You see, the problem we have is we’re exposed to level 2 advertising in our daily lives and because we see it ‘everywhere’ many people assume that’s how it’s done. Regrettably that is a dangerous assumption, and is often accompanied by a false sense of marketing know-how… “I’ve been immersed in this stuff my whole life, I must know something about it.”

Business Suicide

This line of reasoning is fine if you work for a level 2 company, but it’s business suicide if you’re a level 3 company and you copy a level 2 strategy. You simply don’t have the tenure, the history, the money, the resources and the staying power. Level 2 advertising is not about getting people to take action, it’s about the brand.

Take Action

Getting people to take action is critical for ALL level 3 businesses. It’s what keeps you operating. It’s about getting the prospect to move past that confidence gap and buy from you – to realize that your product or service is the perfect solution to their problem.

Be Direct

What all level 3 businesses must do is develop their marketing messages more directly. Target them where their prospects will see them. The messages must compel the prospect to do something – call in, visit the shop, check out the website, mail in a card, but do something. Move that prospect ever closer to saying “yes”.

Marketing Your Small Business Online: Strategy & Checklists ~ A kick-start presentation with printable checklists, course ebook & more. 

I’m a 3… are You?

Remember, level 2 is about building a feeling that is attached to a product or service, level 3 is all about action. You’re not ‘blue chip’ (yet) so don’t copy their advertising and marketing strategy – your bank account will thank you for it!

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PS. Remember, I’m in the business of helping you communicate your value in ways that make your perfect prospect notice you and then contact you. That’s good copywriting and I do that. Let’s connect!

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.