Thursday, March 05, 2009
We all know the outcome of the presidential campaign of Barrack Obama. His campaign will be studied by a generation of marketing people. It combined both the power of an individual with strong values and focus with the power of an awesome team.
What has this got to do with building a successful business? We each have the tools at our disposal to build awesome teams just as the Obama campaign. Actually they are the same tools. Social media like Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter are all vehicles to help us reach out, to connect, to build networks that are mutually supportive. We all use email and visit websites and we may even have a site of our own. But how do we maximize our efforts? How do we harness the power of one, with the power of the team behind us.
You know the answer. You network. You find the people that you trust and you ask them questions. If I want to hire an architect, I would probably talk to my friends and associates, I would look through magazines, not for the ads but at the content. But most importantly I would search the internet. You know that people make purchasing decisions by referral. Hence the importance of social networking and social media. It is the difference between pushing your services and having people come to you asking your advice and asking for you to help them. It is the difference between a cold call and referral from a friend.
By creating a strong network you can have a salesforce of hundreds or thousands. You can build relationships with people who have the skills that compliment your own. You can build relationships with experts all over the globe. You can have the power of one and the awesome power of a team.
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Tuesday, March 03, 2009
What makes matters even harder is that the people who sell these systems are generally good people who think acting badly online is somehow well, not as bad. They do things hidden behind the computer monitor that they would never do face to face.
I keep thinking there must be a better way.
Finally I have come across a resource for people who are looking to build real internet based business. It is a site and company that helps with the technical side of building an online business. They cover everything from building the website and posting real content, to building traffic. They take the process all the way through to showing you how to make money with your new site.
This is the real deal. You can check out the video below for an introduction. I highly recommend it to blog readers and our Interior Designer and Architect associates alike. You can also click here to learn why I love SiteSell so much.
Friday, February 27, 2009
Many people follow a traditional education path, grade school, college, perhaps grad school. They most likely will go on to working for a corporation and will take some seminars or attend meeting and accumulate continuing educational credits.
Some of us, myself included, love to learn on our own. By following a more organic way by asking questions and searching and exploring answers. You know of many people who have followed a path like this. Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, both in different times were avid readers and writers. In more recent times there are people including Michael Dell of Dell Computer fame, Richard Branson, James Cameron, Even Bill Gates, although following on the surface, a traditional path in reality in his early years was following a his passions learning and exploring computer programing on his own.
That sense of curiosity can lead people to develop a more authentic, more original way of seeing and experiencing their lives.
While these times are challenging, they are rich with excitement, curiosity and questions that need to be answered. While on my own quest for answers I stumbled ( and not through the Stumble) across a site dedicated to free learning resources online: www.selfmadescholar.com. Self Made Scholar has a huge set of links to college courses offered free online and other learning resources like video classed on youtube.
Monday, February 23, 2009
With the ability to edit pictures and create graphics from scratch Xara's Extreme Pro would be a good program. When you add the ability to create simple animated GIF's and rich flash animations with ease and include page layouts, hover graphics, and web page creation tools this powerful program would be a deal at twice it's cost. The company includes comprehensive help files and easy training video content from inhouse and other users.
Here is a little video clip that outlines some of Xara's Capabilities.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
"The Difference between spending on marketing and investing is like the difference between burning wood to keep warm for the night and building a shelter to keep you warm for years. " Richard Marti Jr.
When thinking about starting a marketing campaign with an existing business, the most natural place to begin is with the existing customer base. During economic times like these there are two main reasons. The first is increasing customer loyalty and second, our current and past customers can be our best salespeople.
In a business your shelter is the relationships you have with your customers. Most successful companies know that retaining repeat customers is more cost effective than searching for and developing new relationships, networking through existing customers for referrals is a close second. This has never been more important than during these uncertain economic times. Building customer loyalty and trust is critical to survive and be in a position to grow when things turn around. The keys to retaining existing clients and networking through those to reach new ones are:
- To become Customer Centric and build deep value for the customer and to demonstrate that value through every encounter.
- To build that value we must listen intently to the customers changing needs.
- To differentiate your customers experience with you from the competition on items other than price.
It is important to know that it is just as bad to the bottom line to overshoot and spend to much, as it is to leave the customers needs unsatisfied. The goal should be to meet their expectations, retain their trust, provide what the customer perceives as good value.
Now is a good time to open the dialog with existing and past clients, to search through them for needs, to network through them for new leads. You can do this through every communication channel you have including:
- Telephone- Call your clients talk to them ask them to sign up for your newsletter.
- Email them tell then what you are doing, follow up with new products or website ask them if they have any needs and ask them to sign up for your newsletter.
- Set up a sign up form on your Website and your blog so visitors can sign up for your newsletter.
- Develop a referral program and publish it on your website and your blog.
- Set up a blog and start writing about what is new at your company, who has been hired, what is new in the industry.
What is a Blog? A blog is a special kind of website. Blogs are set up like chronological journals with three important aspects.
- They are content rich and that content is ( if your are dedicated to them ) current, natural and search-able. Search engines are becoming more and more sophisticated and they are less and less reliant the old tricks of loading up keywords.
- They allow other people to comment on what you write providing you with feedback.
- They are easy to set up and maintain. Once they are set up, you can "post" to them by logging in directly or by simply sending an email to them. ( If you have any doubt about setting one up, a local web person can do it in less that 20 minutes or so.
There are many free blogs available from:
- Google ( called Blogger at http://www.blogger.com/ )
- Microsoft "10 tips for using your blog as a marketing tool."
- Wordpress http://wordpress.org/
If you need help anytime, you can email us. We will be happy to answer any questions.
In our next article we will talk about E-mail marketing and how to set it up.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Luckily, there are experts all over the internet to help, no? Well, yes and no. I have spent the last two weeks browsing website, blogs looking through the eyes of a business person. How do you sort out who is legitimate and where to invest those tight marketing dollars? How do we get the most bang for the buck?
Yes, there are experts. I encourage those who can affort a good web designer, a good copy writer, a good seo ( Seach Engine optomization) person to do the research and hire the best they can afford. For those who prefer of need to do this themselves, we will explorer the tools and resources to reach our marketing goals. Ill be exploring these tools and resources in detail over the next few weeks.
In the meantime, there are a few things to do to start. You probably already use email for client and supplier contact. The first item on our To Do list would be to clean up your contact list and to add a question to every email you send out to your clients and suppliers, "would you like to be added to our email mailing list." In economic downtuns it is more important than ever to nurture deep relationships with each person we come in contact with. That includes clients, material suppliers, even the sales people who come cold calling on us. Every contact is an opportunity to ask questions and learn about needs and uncover opportunities. We want to not only make those exchanges profitable but to also ask permission to contact them again in the future on a regular basis to strengthen the relationship.
This will be the first building block of our email marketing. A strong, opt-in email list. We will be exploring ways of reaching out and building this list through other activities like our website, our print or electronic newsletter and our blog. A blog is a special website that is a cronological list of posts with a special feature. It allows others to comment on the content we have written there. There is a source for instant feedback and the opportunity to expand our audience and we promote the blog across search engines.
There is one more opportunity we can take advantage of if we are not already, forums. Many of us browse forums all the time looking for information without slowing down to comment on the information we read. If we take a few moments to comment on whether the information was usefull and relevant and we leave our contact information, it helps the other readers searching for information and can help drive readers back to our website or blog.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
In the electronic world today, that honey is content or information. That information is consumed in a few different ways. Through search engines, people actively seek it out and by suggestions of friends and aquaintences.
Dell has started a group on with some great ideas and instructions on how to use social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to create value for your clients and promote your business. The new marketing tools have less hard sell and ar "softer" instead of driving or pulling your products through the market, the new models revolve around individuals sharing information with their friends. When you think about it, isn't that why and how you buy products? It is a more organic and natural way to buy and sell. You can visit Dells tools for Facebook here.
An easy way to promote your business on a social networking site is by purchasing advertisement that will be delivered more like suggestions than like the hard sell ads of the past. Magpie is a service you can pay for that will lace subtle ads into tweets of members that sign up for the service. Magpie pays writers that write on topics related to what the advertiser is selling for placing those little suggestions. It can be a very cost effective way of promoting your product or service.