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Social Media Optimization September 3, 2008

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Back in June I posted a few tips from ABS-SEO on how to apply SEO when your site is mostly videos.  However, Search Engine Optimization has given way to Social Media Optimization (SMO).  Sites such as Technorati, Facebook, Myspace, Linked In… the list goes on and on, have affected the way everyone looks for information.  Don’t get me wrong, Google is still the king of the internet jungle, but Social Media sites may offer a way to reach a targeted audience.  So how do you make your site work with these new technologies?

seolinkbuildingtips4u came up with 5 tips that you may find handy.

  1. Increase Your Linkability
  2. Make Tagging and Bookmarking Easy
  3. Reward Inbound Links
  4. Help your Content Travel
  5. Encourage the Mashup

See the article at: 5 Rules of (SMO) Social Media Optimization « Seo Link Building Tips 4 u.

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Beating Call Reluctance August 28, 2008

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I recently ran across Portland’s Finest Advertising Blog.  Phil is a very friendly guy with lots of tidbits to share, but one in particular hit home.  As some of you may know, I have started doing a small amount of freelance marketing work on the side and I’ve found it hard to ask for business.  I’m very much a people-pleaser and I often feel like I’m imposing on someone by making my sales pitch. 

The more people you call who say no… the harder it seems to pick up that phone the next.  When you call, you may not even get through the first lines of your pitch before that dial tone is wringing in your ears. So how can you push through it?

One strategy I use it to set a particular time.  So I make a call exactly at 2:00pm.  after that call ends (unless it is hugely successful which requires additional dancing around the room time) I set a timer to make another call at 2:05pm.  In the mean time, I answer emails or file away blog articles for future writing material.  It keeps me moving foward but not bogged down with the cold calling. 

But the post over on Phil’s blog had great advice about another strategy to beat the reluctance:

See how many no’s you can get…

Maybe I’ll set up a board and add a gold star for every no I get.

Product Placement August 27, 2008

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Product placement has become a major strategy for television advertising.  The invention of Tivo’s and DVRs and other similar techonologies has placed the power into the hands of the viewer.  Don’t want to watch a commercial?  Just fast forward!  So brands have moved to putting their products in the show itself.  This is one marketing strategy that I applaud.  It makes the show more realistic if done correctly.  Notice the disclaimer.  Some shows do let it affect the quality of the show itself.  There are also a few ethical issues with product placement. The viewer may not always realise that it is a paid advertisement, especially if the show is targeted to a younger demographic. 

Haleykish over at Everybody goes to Haleywood highlighted a move by the FCC that could greatly affect product placements in the future.

Possibly coming to televisions across the nation: stronger warnings that the Cokes, Oreos and Sidekicks flaunted by actors have bought their way onto your favorite show.

That’s what the Federal Communications Commission signaled yesterday when it said it would review new rules on how television programmers let viewers know when those “props” are really paid pitches.

FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin said product placements and integration into story lines have increased as television viewers increasingly use recording devices like TiVo and DVRs to fast forward through commercials. Currently, agency’s rules require television programmers to disclose sponsors who have embedded products into shows. Those disclosures typically are done during the credits at the end of the show, which fly by viewers in small script.

“We want to make sure consumers understand and are aware that they are being advertised to,” said Martin, who first pushed to clarify disclosure rules last fall. “We ask how we should update our rules to reflect current trends in the industry.”

I will definitely be watching to see what moves the FCC makes.   

Product Placement « “Everybody goes to Haleywood”.

This article also crossposted at http://ad-mouse.blogspot.com

Book Review: Wisdom of the Flying Pig July 1, 2008

Posted by Amanda in A Better Mouse Trap, Business Tails.
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Wisdom of the Flying Pig

The Wisdom of the Flying Pig

The Wisdom of the Flying Pig was written by Jack Hayhow, a man I have had the pleasure of meeting in person, and a successful entrepreneur in his own right. 

I was probably 19 years old when I first read this book, and I enjoyed it as much then as I do now.  It is full of handpicked quotes and entertaining stories chosen to teach lessons about leadership and management.   The illustrations are wonderful and Jack has a sense of storytelling that few people can match.  It’s a great book to just read a chapter a day in.  When you reach the end of the book, simply start over! 

I’m not the only one who thinks this book is great.  Check over at Six-Figure Learnings for Dave Opton’s review of the same book.  Or just google Jack Hayhow to see many others.

 

Available at Amazon for $17.95, or as a pdf eBook at Opus for $9.95

Rating: PawprintPawprintPawprintPawprint

Book Review: The World Is Flat June 24, 2008

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The World Is Flat

The World is Flat

The World is Flat, written by Thomas L. Friedman, is one of the books on my shelf not by choice of my own.  It was assigned reading during one of my undergraduate classes at the University of Missouri – Columbia.  Although I loved the class and enjoyed debating about E-Commerce with my professor, this assigned reading was the least enjoyable part of the class (despite its best-seller status).

In this book, I feel Friedman oversimplifies the changes that have occured in the 21st Century.  By his reckoning the world has become a level playing field for commerce.  While, yes, the advancements in communication and outsourcing have blurred the lines, I would not describe commerce as completely flat.  The likes of Walmart and Amazon see to that.

Overall I found this book extremely boring and would NOT recommend it, unless you need a bit of nighttime reading that will really put you to sleep.

Available at Macmillan for 16.00.

Rating: Pawprint

What’s the Difference? Pt. 2 June 19, 2008

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BizMouse Sporting GoodsOn Monday I wrote about differentiation strategies to help your small business stand out from the crowd. 

(Read Part 1 Here

The strategies I mentioned focus on the big picture.   But what if there is more than one business in your area.  For example, two sporting goods stores that are both focused on having the best service possible.  How do you make your customer service be a homerun?  Well, you need to look at your business at every step of the customer relationship.

Peter Griffin over at Flyingsolo wrote a great article about how to break down your busines process in what he called the “Seven Step Customer Care System”. His focus is on high service businesses such as Finance and Banking, but we can break it down for our Sporting Goods store.

1. How is the service delivered?

Do your customer service representatives smile when they are talking with the customer?  Is it easy to find a customer rep?  If they have to go into the storeroom to look for a product, do they return quickly?  This is the most visible part of customer service and an absolute must if you want to compete in service.  Your customers should enjoy visiting the store. 

2. Does your service enhance the experience?

Are your employees knowledable about the products?  Can they inform the customer about the products features and usage?  Now, this won’t be needed for every baseball, but if a customer is buying an automatic baseball pitcher, they might have a few questions about it that can’t be answered by the box.  Encourage your employees to use your products at home, or even have field days where you show them how to use more complicated products.

3. How do you communicate throughout the buying process?

Even if you have great floor representatives, make sure your Point of Sale staff is up to speed as well.  They should be knowledgeable about the current promotions and able to answer any questions the customer may have (or know who to ask to quickly get the answer).  They should be able to explain to the customer how discounts are applied and what their final total will be.

4. How do you complete and mark a transaction as completed?

What types of payment does your store accept?  Is it what the customer wants to use to pay for his/her large purchase?  Are they given all warranty information and is it explained?  Does a customer rep help them load the product into their vehicle if it is large (and please, don’t make them stand there for an hour waiting for someone to come help)?

5. How do you thank the customer for their business?

Do you reward customers for shopping with your Sporting Goods store?  Coupons for steady customers?  Or maybe just a thank you  and followup letter if they have made a large purchase.

6. How do you treat the customer after their product or service is delivered?

If a customer has a problem, can they bring the product back with minimal hassle?  If they have a question, can they call and ask?  What are you doing to make sure they are happy with their purchase.

7. How do you stay in touch with the customer?

The whole point of good customer service is to keep the customer returning to shop with you.  How are you encouraging them to come back?  Do you call and follow up to see if their automatic baseball launcher is working great?  Do you ask for feedback from them on their experience?

 

 

The Next-Generation Robust Buzz Words June 18, 2008

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In the next generation of marketing you can be sure there will be plenty of robust yet flexible buzz words.  This world class vocabulary will be easy to use and scalable to every industry standard.  Guaranteed to be userfriendly and cutting edge.  They are mission critical if you wish to be well positioned for your next breakthrough.

In other words, David Merman Scott, author of The New Rules of Marketing & PR, has released his latest list of popular gobbledygook marketing phrases.  Check out the list and see how many you are guilty of!

Shame on you Mickey!If you are guilty of some of the phrases, don’t be too upset.  Even Disney is a victim of the buzzword bingo.  Just take a look at the Disney corporate overview.  Mickey should be ashamed of himself!

 

Some of you may have seen this IBM commercial on the same topic.  Enjoy!

 

Book Review: The Non-Designer’s Design Book June 17, 2008

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The Non-Designers Design BookThe Non-Designer’s Design Book

This book, by Robin Williams, is lots of fun to read and can help even the most design-challenged to take a new look at their work.  It provides the four basic principles of design and steps you through each one.  As any good design book should, it provides plenty of visual examples.  I love how it shows the before and after for each design piece.  A variety of design applications are shown, from business cards to newsletters to advertisements. 

In this book, Robin encourages people to break free of the 12pt font. “Let go of Times New Roman and Arial/Helvetica,” she also urges, “Just eliminate them from your font choices. Trust me. (Please let go of Sand as well.)”

I highly recommend this book for anyone who uses design in their job, either for the bi-monthly newsletter or national advertisements.  

Available at Barnes and Noble for $23.99. Also available as a part of a larger collection (I have not seen the entire collection, just this portion of it)

Rating: PawprintPawprintPawprintPawprintPawprint

What’s the Difference? June 16, 2008

Posted by Amanda in A Better Mouse Trap, Business Tails.
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What makes a small business grow into a big business?  Is it how much money you spend on advertising?  Or maybe it’s how hard you work at growing it…  What really makes a small business take off and become “big business” is simple.  Differentiation.  Your business has to be unique (and that means unique in a good way).  You have to be doing something that others aren’t, filling a need that others do not.

Jack Trout wrote about this recently at Forbes.com (read the article here).  He talked about why so many CMO’s “move on” after only a short period on the job.  They are not successful because they fail to focus on differentiation  The same can be applied to small business that is trying to grow.  If you do not seperate yourself in the mind of the consumer, you are disposable.

Now, how CAN you differentiate yourself?

You could be the lowest priced.  Price differentiation is a common strategy and it’s how Walmart and Amazon have grown to be so large. BUT: Can you compete with the Walmart of your industry?  Companies like Walmart use Economies of Scale to push prices low; they can get lower prices on what they buy because they are already so large.  That allows them to pass that savings on to the consumer and still make a healthy profit.  Also, it is very easy to duplicate a price differentiation strategy. 

You could have the best service.  Zappos is known for its service.  They have seperated themselves from other online shoe retailers in the mind of their consumers.  If you are unhappy with your Zappos shoes, they don’t fit, just return them!  You can call and chat with their friendly customer service representatives for an hour if you wish.  BUT: Providing great service often means hiring great people.  Maintaining a top workforce is an expensive proposition, but your customers will reward you with loyalty.  Again, this is a strategy that is reproduceable by others.

You could make a product no one else does.  I’d like to call this the ‘Next Big Thing’ strategy.  This is one of the easiest and fastest ways to stand out in the mind of the consumer, but it can also be the most difficult.  This differentiation strategy relies on your product being significantly different from anything else on the market.  Whether that means your product is more durable, easier to use, has better features or serves a need that no one else does yet.  This is a highly sucessful technique BUT: You have to come up with the idea and the customer has to believe that your product is different.

You could serve a need that no one else does.  This is known as Niche marketing, as I mentioned in my previous post about M&D Innovations.  This is also called Focus Differentiation.  It has so many names because it is such a great strategy.  BUT: You have to listen to your customers. 

What’s the best strategy for you?  Well, that depends on your business but it is normally a combination of these four strategies.

 

You Can Take this Job and… June 13, 2008

Posted by Amanda in Business Tails, Mouse Clicks.
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For the past three weeks a video has been going around of an office worker who goes bezerk with seemingly little provocation. I’m not going to comment on whether or not the video is real, because I don’t know. What I will comment on is the reactions I have seen to the video. So many people are empathizing with this cubicle worker.

Some of the comments on YouTube:
“Mankind was not ment to work in a crowded cage (todays Cubicle). I am supprised this does not happen more offten… [sic]”

“This guy obviously loved the Movie Office Space. He definitely had the —– to do what so many people would LOVE to do. ”

“Fact or fiction, with gas prices, taxes, home foreclosures, etc. this guy is justified in letting out whatever frustrations he needs to obviously release. I thought it was wonderful! ”

Here is the video, from two different angles (One is from a cell phone). Please note that the original “security camera” video does not have sound, but I have chosen the one with a music track added.

Granted, there are plenty of comments condemning this man’s actions (fake or not), but this video highlights the fact that so many people are unhappy with their jobs. We all have good and bad days, but so many people spend 40 or more hours a week doing something they do not enjoy. I truly believe that happy employees are the most productive employees. What does this say about our current work culture?