Website Buying Guide

Website and Marketing Buying Guide

A Complete and Comprehensive Guide to Buying Technology

This guide is was written for the business owner who is faced with the task of having to purchase technology. There are several pieces of technology that can be used to market your business, understanding that not all technology is the same is part of the key to your purchase.

Some of the key points in the book will help you understand that not all technology is the same. If you are looking for Google to see your business, it will help you understand what types of sites may never be noticed by Google.

The goal of this guide is to provide you with key information. It is my hope this empowers your marketing decisions.

There is a ton of information in this guide, so it is definitely something you want to read with a fresh brain. Take it in doses if that makes it simpler. Happy reading.

To download the guide, click on the image to the right. Adobe Reader is required. You can download the reader here.

Are Your Marketing Strategies Using Abundant and Conscious Energy?

Marketing with Consciousness

Consciousness is a very common term today expressing a centeredness about being.  So often we are humans doing instead of humans being.

One great way to accentuate your consciousness is to bring the practice into everyday activities.  The intention and objective is to make being present (i.e. conscious –intentionally being) part of the daily routine.

Work life does take up a good deal of our time.  Remembering to bring consciousness into the workplace can bring massive shifts for the energy of our planet.  Does your business reflect the inner images of abundance, and centeredness?

 

Marketing with Lack Based Mindset

Studying Caroline Myss Archetypes, she indicated that marketers are of the “Spell Caster” archetype.  I found that to be very interesting as the “tactics” often taught in the online marketing world could be compared to casting spells or smoke and mirrors.  I know for me, I really don’t want to be casting anyone under a spell.  One of my most important business objectives is to offer authentic services that leave people more enriched from the experience.

Often times I see conscious based businesses sending out mixed energy messages through their marketing messages.  If it your marketing is being outsourced, it very well may likely be following the standard norm, using lack based, fear based methods to market to your audience.  It creates an energy conflict and is adding to fear and lack based energy.

 

Abundance Centered Marketing

Part of the process we use in our blueprinting strategy sessions is we help business owners identify their marketing voice based on a number of categories including a list of archetypes.  This helps a business develop marketing messages that matches their essence, the who, what and why of their business.  The process of identifying your archetype helps you get a very clear visual image of the “who” and “what” of your business.

Marketing today can be very confusing and overwhelming, but it starts with energy.  Using conscious energy to intend and set your goals and then using conscious marketing messages to attract your next clients are just some of the ingredients to building your EPIC –Energy Process Inspiring Creation!

I recommend using abundance based messages and invitations and consciously avoiding the lack and fear based strategies. Is your marketing message empowering others around you or is it adding to messages of fear and lack? If you would like to find out if your marketing strategy uses conscious practices, contact us for a marketing consciousness review.

Is Fragmented Marketing Stunting Your Business Growth?

Running Cheetah

 

As a technology marketing consultant, I observe the marketing practices of many businesses. Fragmented marketing efforts are common, and ultimately affect the overall marketing results. I think one of the reason I see much of the fragmentation is because of fear.

People who own businesses manage so many things that keeping up with technology is like trying to outrun a cheetah. There are so many so called experts in the marketing arena today, that a business owner’s most daunting task is “who the heck do we listen to?” Simple, ask the marketer how they are measuring their results.

I manage marketing accounts –and our first focus is not always social. Marketing is not a “one size shoe fits all” and yet that is exactly what I see 98% of businesses do. Having a strategy first sets the target and then provides a roadmap to marketing success. It’s all about your business. It’s not about the technology. So many business owners sacrifice their identity to jump on the next technology shiny object bandwagon. After awhile, many businesses abandon their efforts and sometimes sacrifice growth in the reflection of confusion.

Marketing Technology Confusion

The multitude of technology confuses and overwhelms people in their marketing efforts. Technology becomes the focus of priority, instead of their business or their next client. There are so many marketing technologies, but they are not all the same.

Using the technology as stand-alone objects has extremely little value. Additionally, not optimizing these technologies for maximum results means a significant amount of business that is left on the table.

The saying I don’t know what I don’t know until I didn’t know it really can be demonstrated with these marketing practices—businesses do not have any idea how much business they are leaving behind.

Strategy and measurement are some of the keys to successfully marketing your business. It is absolutely imperative to know emphatically if what you are doing and is working to achieve your objective (the intended goal behind the activity).

Data always tells us a story. I advise you to follow the data. Buyer beware! I constantly see marketing tactics (which the word in and of itself is not friendly) like the one below sold to unsuspecting business owners. A client of mine received this email:

Buying fans and follows

The reality is having 1000s of likes and follows is not highly likely to increase your bottom line.

While it is important to be properly presented and actively posting and engaging on social sites, it is important to know that social media marketing is much like offline networking.

It’s a way to get your name out there and be part of the online community, but it is not a strategy that is used to grow your business quickly. It is a strategy to build brand and make relationships. The numbers always tell the story, we always look at numbers. Below is an excerpt from a report we utilize to provide us with a data snapshot of online marketing efforts of a business.

Social Marketing is about engagement.

The key here is that social media is only one piece of a balanced marketing strategy.

Best practice social marketing focuses on engagement -not likes and follows.

Shout marketing is not engaging. Providing quality content and interacting with your audience will yield the best return on your social marketing investment.

Moving away from shout based marketing or unintentional marketing starts with understanding and identifying your marketing intentions. Blind promises with no proof in numbers or what “numbers” will do for your business is like putting a blindfold on, taking out your wallet and guessing how much you might spend for one new client.

Marketing starts with conversation.

You are the professional in your business -we are the professionals in marketing.<
Strategize your social marketing?
Let’s have a conversation. After all, marketing is really just about conversation.

Understanding Best Practices Marketing Strategies

There is no shortage of marketing advice today it abounds everywhere. I can easily say marketing advice is treated more like an opinion than a fact. The truth of the matter is marketing is all about strategy. I always ask people, would you take financial advice from just anyone? Why then would you take your marketing advice from anyone? A best practice marketing strategy would be to identify key people whom you will take your marketing advice from and follow them closely. That is exactly what I do, because not everyone gives good advice.

So what is “best practice”? Its a simple concept, but that I can compare to a “black box”. Best practice is like standards, but I hesitate to use that word because best practices are not as documented or regulated as standards. Best practices are more tried and true processes that yield best results. Best practices in marketing ensures that you get the best return on your marketing investment. When technology is implemented without best practices, click through opportunities are lost. No click through means no sale.

When it comes to business marketing strategies, small businesses have become so truly confused in their marketing efforts. Most businesses are spending time running after the shiny technology objects, or learning that one last piece of technology that has promised to bring them the goose that lays the golden eggs. Technology keeps changing, so in effect, the process is never finished.

Let’s look at this concept by looking at Google, because a majority of the sales process on the web starts with search. Our research and insights indicate that most people still go to the search bar first to find (research) information on a product or service. This is the research phase. When a buyer then is ready to “buy” they might cross over to the social sites to see what others might be saying about the product or service.

The key take away is if you don’t come up on page one in the search results, you will never be one of the candidates under consideration. Here is the Ah-ha moment… Utilizing “best practices” through out your technology will help edge your information closer to the top of the first page of search engines. The key is knowing how to implement the necessary best practices to increase your odds at showing up on page 1 of search.

The golden marketing message within the best practices concept: “You can purchase all the shiny objects, and set up all the free tools. If they are not optimized with best practices, you are most likely spinning your wheels and are not going to see much of a return on your investment –whether that be time, money or other resources.”

So before you run after another marketing adventure, or learning the latest buzz in technology, step back and think about how are best practices going to be utilized in this process and will they together provide you the expected results. Remember, always marketing intentionally!

Determining a Marketing Budget

Investing in your business is no small matter. Choosing your marketing investments are some of the keys to real marketing success. It is very understandable why business owners are very confused about marketing and which investments they should risk to make. There are so many platforms, venues and experts telling you do this… no now do this, but wait don’t forget about this — mass confusion! So how do you identify what marketing investments you should make and how much you should spend?

The first place to start is to consider your objectives. What is the goal of the marketing effort? Marketing Intentionally is based first and foremost on “intention”, i.e. what is your intended goal? It’s important to identify in detail what that goal (intention) looks like. So if you are looking to attract new customers, how many customers are you intending to attract? What products or services are you looking to offer? Make it real, make it count. So, if you have a product or service that costs $250, and you are looking to increase your monthly net income, you need to know the real numbers to make real measurements on effectiveness. The more detailed you can be on this step, the more information it will provide in the track and measure step of your marketing. Remember, if you can’t track and measure then it may not be a “best practice marketing” method.

The next step, once you have clearly identified the goal of the marketing effort, is to determine which marketing venues you can use that are efficient and most likely to produce the intended results. So for example, if you decide to use Facebook marketing as a venue, you can set up a specific campaign, direct it to market to a particular target audience, and you can set a very specific budget which you can monitor. This type of advertising is sold as pay per click (PPC) or pay per impression (PPI). The great thing is you can track and measure the effectiveness of these ads. You cannot do that with print ads (so easily). The question remains “How do you set that budget?”

The easiest way for me to explain setting up a marketing budget is to provide a simple example. If your intention is to acquire 5 new customers @ $250 each, the result of the first time purchase has the potential to reach is $1250. Some might say use the 80/20 rule (i.e. 1250/20 = $250). However, my next question is what is the “annual value” of the average customer? In general, knowing the annual value of your customer is at the heart of your marketing budget. It generally will cost more money to attract a new client than it will to retain, re-sell, up-sell and cross sell an existing customer. The key is to make a relationship with your customers.

Marketing is a very intentional process. You are marketing for some result, know what that looks like in real time. Understand the annual value of your customer. Its an average dollar amount that a customer is most likely to spend in one year for your goods and services. I have colleagues that actually do this formula for lifetime value. I think this is harder for most business owners to calculate. That is why I use annual value, as things change (i.e. services, products, competition, etc.). Going back to our example, while it may appear that investing $50 in marketing to attract a client who will make an initial purchase of $250, if the annual value of that customer is $2000, then the marketing budget changes dramatically. The golden nugget is realizing that having a real system in place to build those on-going relationships will provide ability to create more sales. Relationship marketing is also at the heart of your marketing budget. Stop fractionalized marketing and always remember, market intentionally!

Blessings to your growth

Can Google See Your Website?

Can Google See Your Website?

 

Website Develpment

A second thing Google will use when looking at your site is keywords. There is so much “buzz” about keyword optimization, using your keywords. I’ve actually done marketing audits for companies, where they were spending a considerable amount of money on pay per click ads, yet Google did not see them for their basic keywords. Most businesses today realize the importance of having a website. One of the first things a start-up business will do is not only go out and purchase business cards, but they will also purchase a website domain and make an effort to get some sort of website up where they can send their customers.

When I consult with businesses about their marketing efforts, one of the first places I generally start at in our strategy sessions is to identify their marketing objectives. Most businesses fall victim to what I call the SOS (shiny object syndrome) and they essentially fail to plan an effective marketing strategy. Your website is at the heart of your
objective.

Most business owners would be surprised to learn that Google doesn’t see their website. Yes, Google may not have even “indexed” your website. So what does that mean to you? It is easy for people to find your website, and hence, information about your business if they know your name or your business name. But what if they do not know your business name or you? What if they are searching for a product or service? That is one test to see how Google sees your business.

When planning your website, the first important step is to have a marketing strategy. If you already have a website, you might want to have a marketing diagnostic done to identify the effectiveness of your current website. Information is always empowering. The next step is to appropriately identify your keywords. Keywords are not just the benefits of what you are selling. There is a process to use when you are selecting keywords for your marketing effort. Become knowledgeable on best practices for selecting your keywords.

Finally, the platform in which you choose to develop your website is also extremely important. Google does not pay much attention to “cookie cutter” sites. So many “tools” exist to create your own website – offering templates and ready made content. Sorry folks, those types of tools are show and tell – and not show and sell. Most likely the only people making money on those sites are the people selling them.

We recommend WordPress as a solid solution of following best practices for installation and maintenance. WordPress is a content management system, where content can be added to by most business owners with ease. Make sure you select a well experienced WordPress developer – and confirm that they will use a manual installation process of WordPress. Bottom line is I caution you on shopping by price of service. Shop experience, knowledge and quality.

The website should be built based on your goals and objectives. A website that is designed to be informational and used to attract and grow an audience is very different than if the goal of the site is simply to be a sales funnel. Build the site according the the strategies you have defined for your business.

The last piece I would like to leave you with is always put yourself in the position of a prospect. What would you do if you were shopping for your services? Start with your process and think like your prospect. You will definitely make different marketing decisions – helping you to identify how to market intentionally.

Blessings to Your Success!

What’s all the Buzz About Google+ Hangouts?

What’s all the Buzz About Google+ Hangouts?

 

Business and Social Media Image

If you have been online in the last few days, you undoubtedly have heard the latest buzz on Google+ and Google hangouts. Why is Google+ important to your business? Is Google+ yet another social media site that you need to setup and maintain? Isn’t Google+ just for geeks?

Let’s talk about what Google is and what it is not first. Google is still the most powerful search engine today. Many of your potential clients will still go to the Google Search Engine to find products and services. Google has several what we call “tools” available for business owners to help their businesses be found in the search results. These tools include Google+ Local (Local Search), Google+, YouTube, to name just a few. Google+ is one of the many tools available to the business owner. Yes, it is interactive and creates networking that provides engagement. One of Google’s main objective is the user’s experience. Part of the reason for building the Google+ community is that it feeds into other Google tools and provides value to the community.

Reputation is actually the first and most important thing a business should be concerned with over engagement. Google purchased Zagat, a company specializing in reviews, and the Zagat rating system replaced the 5 stars that were previously used. See the full article Google just got ZAGAT Rated! Google wanting to make the reviews a bit more “real” and valuable is combining the different pieces you would get from an online community and an online review system. So for example, those who perform a review and have a Google+ profile will show up in the review stream. It makes the review process a bit more authentic.

Forrester research is quoted as reporting “70% of people searching online for a business or service will trust the online reviews”. People reading those reviews generally look for a minimum of 10 reviews before they feel they can trust a business. Even the simple “+1” feature is another way someone can quickly give a fast opinion on something they have encountered online. These statistics and tools have really change the online marketing game.

So what about Google Hangouts. The hangout is an incredible tool both for business and personal use. The hangout is a free tool that enables people to virtually meet with up to 10 people on video and voice chat. It brings everyone into one virtual room. You can opt to make the room public or private. So if your business has the need for long distance collaboration, it is an excellent tool. On the personal side, you can meet with family and loved ones who are not geographically in your backyard. There are several apps you can add to a Google+ hangout, which just add to the versatility of the hangout.

Google Hangouts can be recorded when they are selected as “On Air” hangouts. As mentioned before, another tool Google owns is YouTube. So when you record your hangout, it immediately goes to your YouTube channel. Experienced marketers realize the value of such functionality. You can download the video, edit it, and re-purpose the content in several different mediums.

I’ve been coaching a few clients who are teachers/coaches on how they can utilize the rich features of Google Hangouts. When on-air hangouts are be made “public” people can watch the hangout live while it is on air. There are several more tricks to a Google hangout that can help expand your audience, these are just some of the features. Google Hangouts are an excellent, low cost way for you to feature your business to your customers, record a video and build “know, like, trust” even from a distance

Is Google+ a social network? Google+ is just one of the tools in the Google toolbox. We have been consulting our clients for the past year+ on the necessity to have a presence on the Google+ channel. Some additional features of Google+ include a personal profile and a business page profile. Google+ features Community Pages, that act like groups with a bit different functionality then other social platforms. While it is directly compared to other social platforms because of it’s look and feel, people often mistaken the fact that Google+ is just another social site. The truth is Google+ is just one of a group Google tools.

Since Google still is the number one search engine, our best practice is to recommend that companies have a presence on Google+. It is a bit confusing since there is also Google+ Local Pages, which play a huge part in local search. If you are a local business, you most definitely want to be concerned with having your Google+ Local page optimized and set up with best practices. Google is the big player so play by Google’s rules. This is not news for us nor our clients. They’ve known for a long while just how important Google tools are to their business.

This brings me back to the same message I intend to deliver. Do I think every business belongs on every social site? Most likely not, but it does and will always come back to strategy questions. What is your objective? Having a carefully planned marketing road map designed around your business and then going to implement the “vehicles” of the road map is best practice marketing. Strategies help businesses market with intention. When you market with intention you can target, track and measure. When you can target, track and measure, you can identify your marketing successes.

Blessings To your marketing successes!

Is Social Media the End All and Be All to Market Your Business?

Business and Social Media

I probably might be one of the very few marketers out there that has the opinion that social media is NOT the end all or be all to market your business. The truth is social media, while it is extremely important, it is first and foremost a tool to support your overall marketing efforts. Marketing starts with strategy. Having a Facebook page, a LinkedIn account, a Twitter account, an Instagram account, a Pinterest account…. this is not a marketing strategy. These are tools that perform functions of the marketing strategy

One of the most costly mistakes businesses make today is they unknowingly run after several “shiny objects” that are being sold by marketers. Oh and I can promise you that there are handy dandy new tools that you can purchase every day! My inbox is flooded with those offers. The problem with purchasing these shiny objects is multifaceted. First the lack of consistency in the sense that marketing efforts are dispersed, not connected, not planned. I call this fragmented marketing syndrome. There are so many promises made today about what social will and won’t do for your business, knowing who is your trusted adviser is a wise first step a business can take when it comes to any marketing advice.

We look at social media as a vehicle to deliver company messaging as well as, create relationships and monitor reputation. Reputation can only be managed by way of listening to social media sites, but your reputation should be marketed and not just managed. What we teach our clients is strategy first. Know the exact objective of your marketing intention. What do you want to achieve by the intention? Unless you have clearly defined your target, you cannot hit your mark. So planning is essential to your marketing program.

Should you be on every platform? That depends on several things including your objective. I believe there are reasons to be on several platforms depending on your overall marketing strategies and objectives. There may also be supporting reasons not to be on every platform, it really depends on many factors.

So what do business owners like yourself do today to market their business? Who do they listen to? There is so much advice, whose do you take. The best advice I can give (speaking of advice), is to be extremely selective of whom you take marketing advice. The social media field has been flooded with entrepreneurs. Ask questions about their technical expertise. Marketing is much about technology today and so having an in-depth understanding of how it works is very important. Find out how much “formal” training they have received in the area of optimized social marketing? I can tell you that 98% of the social sites I come across are not optimized correctly nor are they using “best practices”. Best practices ensures following recommendations from the big players like Google and others, knowing how to make your profiles SEO optimized and making sure when you get your visitors to your site, you don’t miss any click through opportunities. Many of the social profiles usually fall short of these practices.

Finally, evaluate your opinion on social media. Do you think it is for free? Do you think it has value? Does it intimidate you? Social media is free, but most companies experiencing success on these platforms are either selling something for you to buy about social, or they have paid a strategist to help them maximize their implementation. Does it have value? – the answer is emphatically YES! It is an asset like any other list you might acquire in your business, it is a “book of business”. It is part of you business when you sell. So yes, social does have value, and for more reasons that I stated. Are you intimidated? You are not alone. It is absolutely overwhelming today for most businesses to harness the power of social on their own. Super users can intimidate most business owners who just want to run their business. Today, many business owners are so frustrated with social because they do not see a return on their investment. The reason for no ROI is most likely the marketing effort was done without a strategy. A final thing to remember is that all your marketing efforts should be tracked and measured.