My Glasses, I’m Helpless Without My Glasses

Change is Good.Any self respecting child of the 60′s will remember Fearless Fly, the ordinary house fly that puts on his glasses and becomes a superhero. And in his mousy, non-superhero voice would say, “My glasses, my glasses, I’m helpss without my glasses.” I felt like Fearless Fly today.

I got new glasses today with progressive lenses for the first time. It’s been a challenge trying to get used to the change. My monitors have to be adjusted, finding the right tilt of the head to see just about anything. Heck, I even thought I had gotten taller when awkwardly trying to step up on a curb. Change sucks!

Does anybody like change? If you don’t know that answer, pay attention the next time Facebook changes something. You will think the world is coming to an end with all the moaning and complaining. People don’t like change.

The same people that were lamenting for the old Facebook when Timeline appeared were the ones shouting from their soap box in rebellion when that version changed. You can’t please some people. But change is often a good thing.

Ever heard the definition of Insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. The world of marketing is a perfect example. How is your yellow page and newspaper advertising working for you today? How about the MySpace page? Change is inevitable. Change is necessary if you want to move forward.

Review your marketing plans. Has your target audience changed? Does your existing marketing message speak to your customers/clients today? If not, it’s time for a change. Today, online marketing is like television today, there are dozens of channels to tune in to. Which one is right for you? You wouldn’t advertise perfume on a Nascar race. Nor would you advertise auto parts on the food channel. The same is true for online channels. If you are a mortgage lender that specializes in reverse mortgages (for ages 65+), Twitter’s probably not a smart choice.

So repeat after me – “Change is Good. Change is our Friend.” Just remember, if it wasn’t for change, we would still be talking on the phone with a cord attached, while crowded on the couch with the whole family watching network TV and having to consult the World Book encyclopedia or the library when you need to do research. Thank goodness for change.

Gary Wagnon is the chief Ninja Marketing Officer for 800biz Ninja Marketing Solutions and the creator of the Ninja Marketing Dojo.  The Dojo teaches business owners and marketers online strategies that increase traffic to their site, improve search engine rankings and converts browsers into buyers.

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The Marketing Magic Bullet

“Anthony Sullivan here with the Marketing Magic Bullet. This amazing product is guaranteed to make you number one on Google and Bing, get you 5000 Facebook likes, 10,000 Twitter followers, make your YouTube videos go viral and literally blow up your blog with traffic, all for the amazing low price just $19.95+ shipping and handling.”

Okay, so maybe this sounds a little far-fetched, but I would be willing to bet if you saw this ad on late-night TV you would be digging for your credit card in a heartbeat. As business owners we are desperately searching for a one-stop solution to our online marketing dilemma. We long for those days when we turned our advertising over to a yellow page, tv, radio or newspaper rep and forgot about it.

Today’s marketing landscape is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing in the fact that the cost can be very minimal or even free. The curse is the time and effort that it requires. Business owners are now required to learn a new set of skills.  Skills like marketing, copyrighting, videography and public relations, to name just a few.

During a recent workshop I was conducting, many of the questions the participants asked revolved around how to quickly reach a large number of people. It’s a common theme, whether it’s a workshop on e-mail marketing, social media or blogging. Participants come with the hope that they will learn some secret formula that will let them e-mail 5000 new potential customers or build a huge Facebook or Twitter following that will instantly buy their stuff. Instant gratification, instant payoff.

If you want the magic bullet, the secret formula to online marketing success, here are some suggestions.

  1. Trade your salesman’s hat for a teacher’s – Become an educator.  Teach your customers about your product or service, what makes you different and how your product/service can solve their problem.
  2. Be a giver rather than a taker – Provide your existing and prospective customers with valuable information they will thank you for.
  3. Share the wealth – If you would like to double your followers, give your existing contacts an incentive and a reason to share your information. Let’s face it, the average consumer isn’t thinking about you. While they could easily share your content, it never crosses their mind. Why don’t you ask them to? Why not give them a good reason to share?

So at least for now, until I can strike a deal with a good pitch man, the Magic Marketing Bullet isn’t on the market. You’re going to have to put in the effort yourself to create good content and build solid relationships and engagements if you want a successful online marketing presence.

Does anyone have Anthony Sullivan’s phone number?

Gary Wagnon is the owner of 800biz Ninja Marketing Strategies and the Ninja Marketing Dojo, a program designed to help businesses master all aspects of online marketing.  The goal of the Ninja Marketing Dojo is to improve search engine rankings, increase web site traffic and convert more browsers into buyers.

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Ninja Marketing in 2012 – 5 Trends To Watch

2011 is all but a memory. Over the past 12 months we have seen changes to Facebook (of course you can say that about any 12 month period), major changes to Google’s search algorithm (again no big surprise), the growth of mobile computing and Google making a big splash in social media. For online marketing, the inevitable change is both frustrating and exciting. What will 2012 hold in store?

1.  Social search will increase as social media site become even more interactive - Social search is one of the pieces of the online holy Grail, the billions of dollars up for grabs. Google already controls the search portion of the equation while Facebook dominates the social side.  Google + hopes to make a dent in that domination.

2.  Google + will play a larger part in search rankings -  The abuse of external linking has long been a concern of Google. Starting with Google’s Panda update, paid link exchanges and low content quality sites began to feel the sting. But with the launch of Google plus and the +1 button, Google now has a viable link popularity component for their algorithm. Look for active Google + sites to rank well in 2012.

3.  The effect of video on search engine results will continue to grow - YouTube continues to be the second largest search engine on the web. Improved technologies allow the content of YouTube videos to be indexed by Google, making them fertile ground for keywords and search engine optimization.

4.  Expanded customer interaction on Facebook - As more and more time is spent on Facebook, the growth of customer interaction will continue to climb. Look for e-commerce to become more prominent as companies search for alternative ways to connect with their customers.

5.  Activity versus engagement - Through the majority of 2011, activity was the norm in social media.  Posting to a business page with regularity constituted activity for most businesses. But with the October Facebook change, posting frequently is not enough to land on the news feed of fans. Today it requires engagement – posting content that fans will like, comment on or share. It requires much more thought to generate content that fans can easily interact with.

One prediction that’s an absolute certainty to come true, 2012 will see even more changes to the social media and online marketing landscape that we saw in 2011.

Gary Wagnon is the owner of 800biz Ninja Marketing Strategies and the Ninja Marketing Dojo, a program designed to help businesses master all aspects of online marketing. The goal of the Ninja Marketing Dojo is to improve search engine rankings, increase web site traffic and convert more browsers into buyers.

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Don’t Go Changing To Try And Please Me – 5 Changes To Business As Usual

We have a love-hate relationship with change. We want the latest technology, like cell phones or IPads.  But we complain vehemently when Facebook changes their layout or anything on their page. We look forward to the new TV season but we continue to do business as usual.

We are creatures of habit, not wanting to stray far from our comfort zone.  Or as Captain Barbosa would say “Yer off the edge of the map, matie.  Here, there be monsters.”  Okay, so maybe we’re not afraid of monsters, and it’s not really the great unknown that we hate about change.  So why do we resist change when it comes to marketing our  business?

Unlike any other time in recent history, marketing and advertising are undergoing radical changes. Even back when television advertising rose to prominence, it was still an interruption marketing model – we interrupt this program for a word from our sponsors. But first the internet and now social media have changed that drastically.

Marketing today is all about relationships. We’ve heard the marketing gurus preach “know, like and trust” as it relates to building rapport for years.  Loosely translated, that meant salesperson must find a way to communicate with the customer. However today, the trust factor is often built long before a salesperson gets involved.

Long before a prospect walks through the door or picks up the phone, they’re doing their homework, their due diligence. It starts at the website then moved to social media sites. If they find a self-centered, “me first” message or a good old-fashioned sales pitch, they hit the back button and check out the next business. But if they find a customer focused, value message, they are moved much further down the decision making path.

Here are 5 changes to a business as usual approach for your online marketing presence.

  1. You vs. We – Review the home page of your website and count the number of times it says “we.”  The more “we’s” there are the faster visitors will leave the site.  Remember, they don’t care about you – only what you can do for them.
  2. Call To Action — Does your website tell the visitor what action they should take? While you may think it’s obvious the visitor will call you upon seeing your awesome site, they may be looking for the e-mail button. A simple “Call Now” followed by the phone number increases the chances they will contact you.
  3. No High Pressure Sales — A common mistake of social media newbies is thinking “I now have 200 friends I can sell to.” Every other post on Facebook is about their current special or their incredible product or service. And they wonder why social media doesn’t work.
  4. Boring Content — Tweeting or Facebooking the pictures of your lunch every day is not likely have friends or followers waiting expectantly for the next installment (unless you’re a food reviewer.) Share something that makes people think or that will elicit a response.
  5. Interaction Is King — Having an audience is one thing but having an audience that is engaged is golden. An engaged audience will not only remember your content but eagerly anticipate your content.

What are you doing to move from business as usual to become a master of online marketing?

Gary Wagnon is the owner of 800biz Ninja Marketing Strategies and the Ninja Marketing Dojo, a program designed to help businesses master all aspects of online marketing. The goal of the Ninja Marketing Dojo is to improve search engine rankings, increase web site traffic and convert more browsers into buyers.

 

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Facebook Announces New Privacy Settings

Whether a reaction to Google + or a planned system improvement, Facebook has added a new local of privacy that is rolling out starting today.  Many of the changes revolve around the way content is shared.

Profile Controls

First change is you greater control to the visibility of your profile.  With each section of your profile such as music, movies, religious preferences or political views, you’re able to choose who can see each of those areas.  The changes are made directly on the profile editing page where previously the changes were made in the account settings.

An in-line cue or icon will provide a visual indication of who can see each element.  Choices are to make the content public, only seen by friends, are customized for a friend list.  A “view profile as” feature has been added so you can see how your profile will look in different situations.

Tagging

Tagging individuals in photos, status updates or location tags is a popular practice.  Currently, individual control is either limited or unavailable.  With the new settings you can approve or reject any tag before they appear in your profile.  This includes photos and status updates.  This can be turned on or off the pending on user preference.

Given the new tagging controls, Facebook now allows the user to tag anyone in a photo regardless of whether they are a friend or not.  Of course the tag will have to be approved unless you set your privacy controls to always allow tags.  The dilemma with always allowing tags means you do not have control over your image.  As a business professional, protecting the image we portray should be vitally important.

Some of the other features you will see are changes to Facebook places and a “Nearby” icon in mobile apps for tagging locations.

The privacy and safety groups are hailing the changes is positive actions.  For business owners it will require some adjustment to the way they interact with other people.  But with everything Facebook, standby.  About time you master this something else will change.

Gary Wagnon is the CMN (Chief Marketing Ninja) at 800biz Online Marketing Solutions.  Using an integrated approach to online marketing (combining web site design, search engine optimization, social media and action driven content), 800biz specializes in helping businesses stand out above the competition and drive more traffic to their door.

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10 Surefire Tips to Make Your Competition Smile

How would you like to be on your competitor’s Christmas card list? Well if you do these really well you might even get a gift basket from them.

So here is a list of 10 things that will make your competition not only smile but be genuinely happy you’re out there.

1. Not having a web site – Let’s face it, if you don’t have a website, no one’s going to find you, so you’re not much threat to the competition. Since 75% of all purchase decisions start online, your competitor will love you for not being there.

2. Not claiming your Google places page – An unclaimed Google places page or maps page is like having a Yellow Pages with no phone number or address. But the big difference is, you’re leaving the details open for anyone else to edit. And with the new Google layout showing the listings on the map so prominently, your competition will probably be sending you birthday cards and thank you notes for all the customers you’re missing.

3. Having a “Me To” website – You have a website like everyone else with a couple pages that give a basic outline of what you do. After all, everyone knows what your business does, right? But you competitor’s site explains in great detail what they do. A prospect visits your site and doesn’t see what they’re looking for, but they find it on your competitors site, you make your competition happy once more.

4. It’s all about me – Your website extols the virtues of how great your business is. Your fantastic customer service, your low prices, your quality product, blah, blah, blah. Your competitor, on the other hand, has figured out it’s not about them; it’s about the prospect. The prospect does not care how wonderful your service is, how great your product is or anything else about you. They only care about whether you can either fix their problem or remedy their pain. Whoever does this best, wins.

5. Web site has no call to action – You go to all the effort to drive traffic to your website only to educate your prospect, then watch them go to your competitor and purchase. Businesses get so concerned about not being pushy that they don’t even create any call the action on their website. Your competitor’s site not only educates the prospect, but makes it easy for them to act, whether via online order or phone call.

6. I don’t do social media – Of the 251 million people in the US on the Internet, 203 million of them are on Facebook. What are the chances some of them are your prospects? Your competitor, on the other hand, is out there building relationships with not only your prospects, but probably even your customers.

7. I have a high school/college kid doing my social media – While it’s true that teenagers are all over Facebook, and can post photos, tag people, like, share, and do all the other things that you don’t understand, social media for business it is COMPLETELY different. You wouldn’t even consider hiring an advertising or marketing person based on the fact that they sold their Xbox on Craig’s list so they could buy the new PS3? Your competitor hired a professional to create a social media plan that they religiously follow.

8. Having an incomplete social media profile – Have you ever noticed at a seminar or tradeshow they give you nametags? Is that just because they had money left over in the budget? No. It’s so you can network and build relationships with the people that are there. So having an incomplete profile on social media sites is like not only having no name tag but wearing a paper bag over your head. There’s not going to be a lot of interaction and you’re certainly not going to build any relationships.

9. Social media is a great selling opportunity – After all, you have a captive audience of Likers/Followers/Connections, why not fire away with your sales message? You’re probably one of those that go to a family reunion, pass out business cards and make your sales pitch to everyone there. Your competitor is giving valuable information, tips and helpful hints to her Likers/Followers/Connections. Her connections are growing and you wonder why yours are.

10. Social media takes too much time besides I don’t care who had Cheerios for breakfast. – Who has time to wade through the dribble on Facebook or Twitter? You have a business to run, marketing to do, and customers to keep happy. Meanwhile, your competitor has discovered a set of tools that let him/her not only schedule and manage their social media, but also monitor what’s being said about them online. They are developing relationships and handling customer service issues in real time before they become a problem.

Do a couple of these things and you stay on your competitors Christmas card list. Do several of them and there’s a chance you will get invited to the Christmas party…as an employee.

Gary Wagnon is the master Ninja traffic generator for 800biz Online Marketing Solutions. Using a combination of action-centered web site design and the latest search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, combined with efficient and effective use of social media, 800biz creates an online presence that helps it’s clients stand out above the competitors and drive more traffic through the door.

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You Don’t Need A Website … UNLESS

You Don't Need A Website UNLESS...

You Don't Need A Website UNLESS...

Wait, did I just read that right, you’re asking?  A website designer saying you don’t need a website – something must be wrong.

Well, there are cases where a website is a waste of money.  First of all, if the goal of having a website is just to check off the appropriate box on your business plan, you don’t need one.

You don’t need a website just because your brother in law, the unemployed college drop out says so.

You don’t need a website if you think a website is the new yellow pages and everybody looks there.

The bottom line is, you don’t need a website if you not committed to making it the important marketing vehicle it should be.  So where do you start?

During the last 10 years, I have seen the evolution of websites, from simple 3 page sites with a waving cactus graphic, to multi-media sites with intricate flash graphics, to the mobile web we see on our phones.  Search engine optimization has been the buzz word for the last several years.  And it remains a critical element of your website.

But in today’s internet landscape, SEO is only a piece of the puzzle.  Does your website content call browsers to take action?  How are you building your brand?  Are you the expert in your industry?

In the coming blog posts, I will discuss online marketing and how to create a comprehensive program to get maximum exposure.

Gary Wagnon and 800biz.com specialize in website design, hosting, search engine optimization and social media marketing for small and medium businesses.

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When You Want An “F” In Writing

fOur goal in school was to avoid getting an F, right?  We failed when we got an F.  But when creating the content for your website, you want to make an F.  Not because you want to fail, but because you want your site to succeed.

When creating your content, it’s important to know how people view your page.  Do you know anyone that leisurely reads a web page?  With the shear volume of competition on the web, browsers will scan a page to see if that site has what they are looking for.   If you want your site to be in the running for their consideration, you need to make sure they see the major points of your site.

Here’s where the “F” comes in.  Researcher and writer Jakob Nielsen, Ph.D. conducted a study of how people read on the web.  In his groundbreaking eyetracking study, he found that the reading behavior was pretty consistent.  The dominant reading pattern looks like a large letter “F”.

  • Users first read horizontally across the top of the page, which forms the top bar of the F.
  • Next users move down the page a bit and read across a shorter area, making the lower bar of the F.
  • Finally readers scan the content’s left side in a vertical movement, completing the F.

Move outside of your website owner’s chair and look at your site with an objective eye.   What jumps out on your page?  Is your content capturing your browsers attention or are they hopping off your site to your competitor?

Gary Wagnon and 800biz has been providing website design, search engine optimization and social media marketing for small to medium sized businesses since 1999.

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