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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Unprecedented: Third-Party Social Networks Take Lead in Consumer Advertising

Did you ever think the day would come that major consumer companies would promote a third party website in advertising over their own proprietary website? Well that time has come in a big way.

Macy's recent one day sale tv ad ended with the logo in the center and the logos for Facebook and Twitter underneath for two second before they transitioned to just the Macys website. There are several other consumer commercials that have opted to exclude the URL for their proprietary website in order to display their co-branded Facebook URL such as

This is remarkable. The top social networking sites are so wildly popular that they have become MORE important than company specific websites. Companies have learned that they must be where the crowds are or else. There has never been a time in the history of consumer advertising in which a company would direct its customers to another company. The closest example in history would be ads that list stores in which the advertised product could be purchased.

The way in which businesses go to market has completely changed. What are you doing to assimilate?

Learn More:
The State and Future of Twitter 2010 - (FREE REPORT) Twitter has flourished into a living and breathing organism whose characteristics are dictated and personified through their Tweets and the Tweets of those they follow.
The (VERY) Unofficial Guide To Facebook Privacy -(FREE EBOOK) To fully understand the privacy of Facebook and how it's likely to evolve, you need to understand one thing...Facebook executives want everyone to be public.

Social Networking Spaces: From Facebook to Twitter and Everything In Between (Beginning)
Get Connected: The Social Networking Toolkit for Business
Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Top Way to Increase Customer Loyalty in a Down Economy

In hard times, people doing more for each other is human nature. We all know people who have been unemployed for a year more in our personal lives, but what about your customers? Has a customer been unable to pay your fee in recent months? If so, did you consider giving your service or product for free?

There is no marketing strategy that exists today that will give you the same customer loyalty as a simple act of kindness. Give a customer a freebie here or there and you have a loyal customer.

I recently learned that a good friend of mine who has been unemployed for 1.5 years and is very sick with no health insurance. He did not want to visit a doctor in fear of racking up yet another stack of bills he can't pay. He called his long time doctor and who asked him  to come in for an office visit and that she was not worried about insurance but rather my friend's health.

My friend was examined by his doctor and was found to need a number of medications. The doctor gave him enough free samples for the prescribed dose and advised him to get the cheapest probiotic at the pharmacy. As the doctor was leaving the examination room, my friend asked how much the bill would be for the visit. Cringing for price, the doctor simply responded,"There is no charge for today. Feel better."

Doctor's can charge between $75 -$250 a visit. The word of mouth that will follow this doctor's act of kindness cannot be accurately quantified, but I believe it is worth years more of paid visits from my friend and anyone else he knows. He told me about his experience and many others. If the doctor excuses the office visit fee for 10 people per month .. it would cost $2500 based on the highest estimated office visit fee. That is not a lot of money to invest in your business without actually writing a check to someone else for your advertising. If you can simply giveaway your time or existing product to a needy patient, why not?

Excusing a small service fee or giving away product that can help your existing customers continue to do business with you will go further than any advertisement you can write a check for.

Figure out how many freebies you can offer to struggling customers and let acts of kindness create a trail of loyalty and referrals that with give you a return on your investments way beyond the economic downturn.

Emails for Small Business with Constant Contact

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Small Businesses: How to Make the Right Signage Choices

Custom Signs, Real Estate, Magnetic, Yard Signs

You may call your business "Joe Miller and Associates", but is that the right information for your building signage?
The answer is no.

If the name of your business doesn't say anything about what your business is, then chances are the average Joe (no pun intended) will have no idea if your business is a law firm, insurance company or travel agency. If you do not run a franchise with a recognizable name, consider ordering signage that is generic.

Three years ago, I would have said that branding is everything, but in a down economy your name is not much worth to you if no one is patronizing your business if they don't know what it is.

This advice is for business located in a strip mall, on busy highway or in professional building with other businesses. If you have a stand alone operation (you are the occupant of your office or store location) branding should be the highlight of your signage. But if you are running a restaurant in a strip mall with three or more stores your signage should be the type of food you serve.

Example:  Mary Ann's Bistro is a nice name - but if someone driving by on a busy highway saw it they wouldn't  know what type of food the restaurant served.  But if the sign said "Mary Ann's Italian Bistro" or simply "Italian Restaurant" in bold letters people will know what they can get from the place immediately.

There is a really great camera store that I drive by every day on a very busy highway called "Right Photo."  When I needed to buy my Canon PowerShot SX20IS , which is an awesome camera by the way with HD video with zoom function, I bought it from there. I noticed recently they placed a large free standing sign on the lawn out front that now just simply says "Camera Store".  The previous branded signage was on the top of the three story building that was hard to see driving directly in front of the store. This was very smart because the company name is not widely known but the simple lawn signage is eye level to most drivers.

Remember it doesn't matter what your name is if you are not putting $$$ into making your branding known.  Focus on getting customers in who have a need. I needed a camera - I could have bought it online but I wanted to go to a place with sales clerks with knowledge of the cameras.

If you own a non-franchise business signs like "PIZZA", "ITALIAN RESTAURANT", "TRAVEL AGENCY", "LOCKSMITH" can go a long way to drive new customers who don't care about your business name but only need the service you provide.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Small Business Owners: Don't Get Hosed By a Photographer

If you need to hire a professional photographer for an event, portraits or commerical photography you need to be clear about what you want back from the photographer.

A client hired a photographer to take photos of her work. She pays the guy his day rate (full or half) to take photos. That fee structure is typical.  The guy delivers all the photos website quality 72 dpi on a disk. I let the client know that she would need high resolution images if she wanted to do any printed material. She was unaware that her photos could only be used on a screen.

She put me on the phone today with the photographer and when I asked if he would deliver a disk with all the high resolution photos he explained that he provides a disk with all low resolution images for you to look at or use (again can only use the images for screen). He added that if my client would like high resolutions images she would select those photos and he will charge AN ADDITIONAL FEE.

OK she pays him his full rate - no matter what but his rate only includes low resolution images?  Keep in mind at the time she engaged him several months ago - she had no website and had no plans for one.  This is what I call getting seriously hosed because of misinformation.

The small business owner client didn't understand what she was getting until I told her. I also let her know that  Ihave hired many photographers and they have delivered dvds with all high resolution photos upon my request.

I understand that photographers have to get paid, but there is no way that it should be EXTRA to get a high resolution photo - #1 the photographer SHOOTS high resolution- PERIOD.  You can not shoot low resolution and make it high resolution. The pixels are not there to work with - it cannot be done. He is not doing anything to the image to make it high resolution. He may adjust color etc - but he is not making magic. Retouching is almost always extra, but sometimes unnecessary.

I advised my client to kick the photographer to the curb - PRONTO.

Before you hire a photographer:
  • Find out what you are paying for
  • Clarify you want high resolution images (you can always make them low resolution for the web)
  • Tell the photographer you would like a disk with all the high resolution images - no extra fee
  • If you don't need retouching and are happy the photos as is ...don't pay for retouching. Minor color balance and contrast adjustments should not/not be extra - PERIOD
If the photographer says that you have to pay for this and that ...move on. Find a photographer that is willing to work with you and not rake you over the coals in order to deliver the service you desire.

Check this Out:
The Art of Engagement: Bridging the Gap Between People and Possibilities - Free Book Summary

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Google Ups Search Ante with Instant

I have two words to describe Google Instant.

Holy Sh$T!

I started a search while signed into Google tonight and before I could type the THIRD LETTER in the search box results started showing below.

WHOA.... Then I saw a friendly note telling me not to be alarmed introducing Google Instant. As described by the geniuses themselves, Instant..." is a new search enhancement that shows results as you type. We are pushing the limits of our technology and infrastructure to help you get better search results, faster. Our key technical insight was that people type slowly, but read quickly, typically taking 300 milliseconds between keystrokes, but only 30 milliseconds (a tenth of the time!) to glance at another part of the page. This means that you can scan a results page while you type."

If you haven't paid attention to where your website appears in google search results - get off your duff now and figure it out. (Have you heard about the search engine ranking loophole?)

Instant will be a hit for fast search results. My prediction? Sponsored links may suffer - Instant says search results save 2-5 seconds - I believe this will work against sponsored links. I think peeps will spend less time on the search page because results will appear faster. There are MILLIONS of other websites that Google ads appear so they won't be heading to the poor house any time soon. But I do believe there will be less clicks on sponsored ad ON Google search pages.

Care about your search engine optimization today or die tomorrow - PERIOD.

Check this out for starters:
Website Traffic is the single commodity that no one seems to have enough of, yet also one of the most written about ebooks on the planet.

Here's the bottom line...
If you want whatever the latest greatest ebook is about getting traffic, just let me know and I can go find it for you and you can waste your money on it.... BUT...

If you want to skip all of the crap and simply go directly to the source and flood your site with as much traffic as you can stand, then simply read this click here.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Website Advertising: Monetizing Your Website for Serious Returns

If you have a website or blog you should figure out a way to monetize it. I don't mean that you should start offering a product to sell  but rather take advantage of really easy ways to do it.
Google adwords,Yahoo Search Marketing  is a good place to start.  Easy setup and its free to join. But if you want to go one step further with your advertising and actually provide relevant free content offers for white papers and ebooks I recommend signing up for RevResponse.

The beauty of RevResponse is that they pay you for giving away free content to your site audience. Howevrer, your audience has to qualify in order to receive the offers. This is why it’s important that you know your audience and promote magazines and downloads that are relevant to them. Run ads for compelling FREE business content to your audience. The RevResponse  is very easy to use. You have access to an Ad Wizard tht allows you to create contextual, banner, and flash widget offers ready to cut and paste in to your websites.

The best part about RevResponse is that you can promote your own co-branded RevResponse FREE Business Content Resource Center. No other ad network allows you to make money from a complete inventory of advertiser's content.  Take a look at this live example:

I  also recommend the following products about making money online:

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Event Planners: Use a business directory to increase your business

If you own a business, you have to market it online to make sure that you reach out to existing as well as prospective customers to ensure access to information about your  services. As a business owner in you can always use a business directory service to advertise your services

A professional business directory service can help to increase your visibility, without making you put in much effort on your part. The bestr business directory services will divert a lot of traffic to your website. It aims at making a lot of people visit your company's website, on a regular basis. They also offer content such as videos and articles which attract both prospective as well as regular consumers to your website, seeking your services.

In today's world, the internet has emerged as an important part of everybody's life, it is necessary for you as a business owner to have as much online presence as possible. Having a website, placing your banner ads and writing keyword articles alone can not do anything, unless you list your business with a quality business directory service.

If you want to maximize your chances to increase your business further, it is best for you to take advantage of every open marketing avenue. So, when you come across a good business directory for your industry, it is really important that you make the most of this opportunity.

A local event planner business directory service will ask you for your company's name and address along with a permanent telephone number. It will also offer you an option to list an 800 number; however it helps to have a permanent telephone number listed in a business directory. You will also be asked to provide a brief description about your services, which you offer along with your web address. Have a link to yoru website on a relevant directory for your industry could help your sarch engine listings. 

In short, listing your business in a good local event planner business directory will definitely increase your business.

Recommended Reading:
How To Drive Traffic To Your Website With Facebook - Growing Your Online Business With Facebook, and Much More - The Facebook Experts Handbook

How to Increase Return Traffic to Your Website
Web Traffic Magnet: 55 Free Things You Can Do To Drive Traffic To Your Website (Volume 1)

Friday, August 20, 2010

You Must Instill Confidence and Trust in Online Customers

SUCCESS WITH ONLINE RETAILING: FOR SMALL BUSINESSESIf you have a website for your small business it serves as your 24/7 ambassador for your business. Just like you need to have a nice, respectable office or storefront for bricks and mortar businesses, the same thing applies for your online presence.

Website security and customer trust/satisfaction should be your number one priority for any online retailing business. An informative white paper titled, "Creating Consumer Confidence: The Secret Ingredient of Internet Success" shares 10 techniques to establish trust and credibility on your web site. Online retailers must make consumers feel more comfortable on their web sites, instilling confidence in order to support sharing personal and financial information and ultimately completing purchases.
I also recommend the complimentary ebook title, "Seven Reasons Customers Do Business, Online and Offline." Read this ebook on your Kindle or iPad from Verisign, a trusted provider of internet
retailing sercurity and identiy authentification technology.  Learn how you can create a trustworthy website for your customers. This Essential Series eBook examines:
  1. Seven reasons customers do business online and offline
  2. How to use that customer's decision-making to build a trustworthy website
  3. How to make a good web site great by adding professionalism and reputation-enhancing visual cues.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Your Website Might Be Down

Small businesses using Yola and a domain with a separate registrar (like Godaddy) must change A Records  ASAP.

Yola suffered a DOS attack on Tuesday 8/17/20 in the evening. All Yola sites now have a different IP address.

If you do not make this change manual A Record change in via registrar account your website will be down, Read this message posted on the Yola forum:

Because of the Denial of Service attack we have experienced it was necessary to block our old IP address completely and migrate to a new one. This means that you will need to go into your account settings with your registrar and remove the old ip address of and re-point the A Records to

For detailed instructions for a few specific domain registrars please click on this link: Domain Configuration with GoDaddy, & other domain registrars:

Good luck!

I just fixed my A Records for these Yola hosted sites:  (using premium template in Silver Package)  (free template)  (free template)  (free template)

You're Missing New Business Leads Right Now

Many small businesses are trying to figure out how to make more money in a down economy. Marketing and PR is an option but there needs to be a greater mix. Sure you need a website to promote your business but are you getting any leads from it?

Internet marketing is very popular. There are probably more websites with advertising on them then not. This means you can spread your message across many websites by advertising using an ad network such as Yahoo Search Marketing. Online marketing is here to stay and if you are not promoting your own business online you are missing a major opportunity.

Websites dominate all media in the 21st century as the most effective way to reach new leads and attract new customers and sales. Coordinating multiple facets of online advertising to maximize Return on Advertising (ROA) is called Multilateral Online Marketing (MOM), a new industry term coined by Fathom SEO that more accurately expresses what it takes to succeed online – coordinating multiple programs that can efficiently reach the right target audience when diverse disciplines work well together. Fathom SEO has published a free guide that explains 3 core steps to a successful online marketing initiative:
  • Get traffic
  • Convert visitors
  • Measure revenue drivers
Check out and register for a FREE guide and maximize your company's Return on Advertising Online!
Recommending Reading:
Download Free White Paper - Creating Consumer Confidence: The Secret Ingredient of Internet Success
Learn 10 techniques to establish trust and credibility on your web site.

The Playbook for Small Businesses

How to Say It: Marketing with New Media: A Guide to Promoting Your Small Business Using Websites, E-zines, Blogs, and Podcasts (How to Say It...)

Yahoo! Answers Traffic Guide - Learn How To Instantly Use The Popularity Of The Yahoo! Answers Community To Immediately Flood Your Website With As Much Traffic!

Traffic For Newbies - Start to Get Hoards and Hoards of Highly Targeted Traffic Flowing Into Your Website with This Simple Guide to Traffic from the Ground Up!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Dried Up Referrals Turn Websites into Brass Ring

Small business owners who never needed to advertise got hit with a brick wall of no referrals when the downturn kicked in. Now those who shunned the web, because they didn't need it, are hoping it churns out an influx of business.

Word Press and Yola make it incredibly fast and easy to have a web presence. Individuals can buy a domain name from  and be up and running and few days.

Ten years ago you hired someone to do your website for you and walked away from it. Today, business owners want a way to update the website themselves so they can add sales, specials and social media bells and whistle.  The internet was built on template websites, then there was a period you had to have a  custom site.  Guess what - templates are new again.

I am hearing from many small business owners who never once advertised and was proud to run their business on recommendations and they now tell me that their business is dying. With many of the website builders that out there, I am findt that some small business owner still can't be bothered with their own . It's there loss.

Wordpress which was born as blog application has taking the website building mecca by storm. No matter for what purpose, WordPress has proven to be one of the most efficient, most diverse, and most accessible platforms. Creating your own website, even using WordPress, is not something that should be taken too lightly. You can learn more by  reading the "Build Your Own WordPress Site Guide." Inside the guide you'll find everything you need to know to get your first, second, or tenth website successfully off the ground, ranging from finding a suitable web host and setting up your blog or website, to using an offline blogging client and even designing a simple website banner! Want to learn from the pros, and make your mark on the internet? Then you're in the right place! It doesn't matter if you're an internet newbie or a nerd on steroids, this guide will get you to where you need to go.

Download the Build Your Own WordPress Site Guide now, and read it on your computer today! With this free guide you will also receive daily updates on new cool websites and programs in your email for free courtesy of MakeUseOf.

I am personally head over heels for Yola. Although Yola is free for up to 5 websites with free hosting and limited file storage you are much better off buying the Silver Package if you plan to launch more than 5 websites. With the silver package you can build 25 websites, plus receive a free custom domain, one free premium template (which are usually way more customizable headers and site backgrounds) and $50 in advertising credits for Yahoo Sponsored Search and Google Adwords. Basically, you get your first year free because of the ad credits! 
Get FREE advertising credits worth $50 with every Yola Silver purchase. Limited offer, sign up now!

I have a couple of websites in Yola today check them out: (using premium template in Silver Package) (free template)

One more thing: There is a downside to web-based website builders with free hosting - all sites are on the same servers so you suffer the consequences when there is server outage. But if your website is not mission critical to your business, then if you lose some up time it won't make that much of a difference.  Check out the service providers to find out what type of security is used on the servers.
Recommended Do-It-Yourself Website Reading:

Build Your Own Web Site The Right Way Using HTML & CSS, 2nd Edition

Creating a Web Site: The Missing Manual

Monday, August 16, 2010

What does that mean? Origins of common terms

The origins of some figures of speech are obvious—putting the cart before the horse, for instance. Others are a little more obscure. From Jeff Rovin’s book The Unbelievable Truth! (Signet) here’s a look at the explanations behind three common expressions:
• Pulling the wool over their eyes. In the 17th and 18th centuries, thieves and robbers would yank their victims’ wool wigs down over their eyes so they couldn’t see who was attacking them.

• Blackmail. In 16th-century England, mail meant “rent” or “tribute.” Debts that had to be paid in silver were called “whitemail.” A debt that could be paid in any other way—from livestock to property—was called “blackmail.” Because blackmail did not have a set value, the person collecting the debt could extort any amount or anything they wished from the debtor.

• Red tape. For centuries, it was British custom to seal important documents with red wax and red tape. Cutting through it was the only way to get at the documents and read them.
Get more information like this:
The Word Origin 2011 Day-to-Day Calendar
Question of Origins
Webster's New Explorer Dictionary of Word Origins
The Origins of English Words: A Discursive Dictionary of Indo-European Roots
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Weird Word Origins
Who Said That First? The curious origins of common words and phrases

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

When TV News Anchors Attack!

CNBC Anchor Joe Kernen had his appendix out last week. Before its removal he went to the doctor who wanted him to have a CT Scan. So not to waste time sitting in the emergency room if it wasnt something acute the doc suggested he go to an imaging lab. It was 7:30 pm and the lab the doc suggested closed at 9PM. Kernen lived nearby so he could make it. His doc called the imaging lab to make sure the doctor on-site could read the scan immediately.

The doctor at the lab said it was too late and Kernen could not go because the doc leaving despite the 9pm closing time. Never did Kernen's doctor indicate for whom the CAT scan was needed, so they weren't playing the celebrity card.

Well today, Kernen fresh off of his surgery was back in his anchor chair and shared this ordeal to the world on CNBC Squawk Box! He didnt give any names but he did say the lab was at Summit Medical Group (a place where 4 of my own doctors work out of) and said the doctor in question shared the name with a famous cartoon ogre. Well Kernen's co-anchor blurted out "Shrek" and well that cat or ogre was out of the bag.

The power of tv and social media can ruin your business. In these days of less is more - you cant afford to get bad publicity. Had Dr. "Shrek" (haha) gone out his way the publicity for his establishment he would have been golden. Kernen may have personally thanked him on-air. But now - his name is mud... or swamp.

Recommended Reading:
  1. Publicity: 7 Steps to Publicize Just About Anything
  2. Complete Publicity Plans: How to Create Publicity That Will Spark Media Exposure and Excitement (Adams Streetwise Series)
  3. Guerrilla Publicity: Hundreds of Sure-Fire Tactics to Get Maximum Sales for Minimum Dollars?Includes Podcasts, Blogs, and Media Training for the Digital Age
  4. The Publicity Handbook, New Edition : The Inside Scoop from More than 100 Journalists and PR Pros on How to Get Great Publicity Coverage


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Small Business Clients Struggle with Web Search Terms

I have encountered many small business with one thing in common. They are insistent on how they want to be portrayed on their website. They almost never consider what a potential customer might type into a search engine to find what they are looking for.

This is the biggest mistake. It's not what you call yourself on the web, it is what someone will type to find you on the web.  I have a landscaping company client who is trying to come up with keywords and the focus on what he wants to say and not about his customers.

"I'm a do custom floral archtiecture," he said.  Hmmm me thinks very few homeowners are looking at their garden and saying "Oh wow my garden looks dreadful, I need someone to do custom floral architecture."  This is highly unlikely.

Moral of the story? Write down the top 10 terms people use to describe your business and put them on your website.