‘Social Media’

Now that is a term that confuses, frightens, angers and generally irritates that hell out of too many people. (And I don’t blame you for any of those feelings.)

But let me pose a question that you should try think about in your business.

The Background

An American traveling to Toronto arrived by Canada’s Porter Airlines. This chap was seriously impressed with Porters’ service and sent out a note via Twitter how great that service was. (For full size image click here)

Social Media

But?

But here is the thing. I was not being fair when I opened this up with just the words ‘an American’.

That ‘American’ was Mr. Peter Shankman. If you don’t know of Mr. Shankman, he publishes a very popular newsletter titled Help A Reporter Out or HARO, that connects journalists with possibles sources for articles they are writing. That newsletter, (at least the last I heard) has about a hundred thousand readers. Oh and Twitter? as of this writing just over ninety-one thousand people follow Mr. Shankman there.

The SMB Takeaway

Mr. Shankman had a great experience with Porter airlines and chose to let close to 100,000 people know of it. On its own? great (and free!) word of mouth advertising.

But what if Mr. Shankman has been seriously ticked off by your business?

Would you even know if someone told one hundred thousand other people that your business or service  sucks?

Would you even have a clue that a possibly momentous event just happened?

Answer that question. And ask yourself if maybe you should be listening.

As I stated in the opening sentence, I don’t blame you for the confusion or frustration that the term ‘social media’ can give rise to. But sometimes? Ignorance is not bliss.

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Bad Web Design

August 6, 2010

A slide show from Baseline Magazine titled; 10 Habits of Bad Web Design.

I have written about some of these ghastly things, but that slide show has some some goodies nicely summed up.

The SMB Takeaway

Your Website is part of your brand – so be nice to it, and to the people visiting it

We humans are vain.

I know the term is fairly negative and synonymous with conceit, but admit it! most of us get a thrill from seeing images of ourselves or our names somewhere.

You could call it our desire for that 15 minutes of fame, perhaps it is just seeing our name in print, I don’t think it matters what we call it, the result is usually the same.

So work with it!

How you work with it may vary depending on your organization size. But that little bit of human vanity may be something that we should not ignore.

How?

For smaller businesses, take a look at this website sample. This smaller business has put photographs of customers on their website for a few years now, but now they are even adding the ability for their customers to add their own images.

If a customer puts their own photograph there – you can bet that at least family and friends are going to be referred to it! One of those family or friends just might say;  hey! I they had a great time, we should check it out….

For larger SME’s that exact idea may not work for you. But how about internal motivation? employee engagement?

You have an internal company newsletter or intranet site – how about a quick picture accompanying that successful training program completion (they do call the concept recognition after all)

The SMB Takeaway

Don’t underestimate the power of the human ego

This post is the next in my occasional series introduced in this post titled; IT In Marketing.

The short summary – this series documents a pretty typical smaller business that does not have a marketing staff, and the relatively simple changes that can be made that will improve the website part of your marketing efforts. For the last episode, click here.

Onwards

I had a great conversation with Glenn Schmelzle, unlike myself, he is a professional in marketing. Glenn blogs about marketing and technology on his Marketing Whats New blog.

First, he gave me a good lecture on some ideas that I had neglected to think about!

Now, in my own defense, Glenn did have one excellent question though that I had already though about and could answer with at least reasonable intelligence.

What am I measuring?Measuring Results

There is an old old saying; If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.

And any work on your website is no different, you need to know where you are going, and how you will measure that you are getting there.

I need to know what is being truly measured by the work I am doing. How do I know if I am actually improving anything? – because If you are measuring nothing – you never know what you have actually achieved.

In this case?

Since I was starting from zero, my measurements for this first stage of redeveloping our website were really modest.

In one of the earlier posts in this series,  I documented that we were invisible. If you used a search engine to look for products in our space, you  could not  find our website. The only way you found us was if you actually searched for some portion of our company name.

From that I could infer that this meant that people were using Google as a phone book – Google our name then click the link that leads to our contact information. Not the best for new business!

Two simple measurements

So my initial measurements?

Measurement #1 is simply that when people search via Google, Yahoo or Bing for information in the area in which we compete, that we begin to be found.

Measurement #2 When people do find us, it is not simply a one page click – Google our name – then click the contact page for the phone number. In other words I want to show that as people begin to find our website, that they are taking a few minutes to actually read up about our product, service etc.

It is still early – but both of these measurements are beginning to improve.

Photo Credit Darrren Hester via flickr

I talked with a chap that related the following story;

A B2B manufacturer wanted to provide some channel information to its independent retailers.I did not pry into the details, but I believe they wanted to introduce new products or product lines.

To do this, the vendor set up a Web Conference. Simply put, web conferencing allows you to stream audio and video meeting materials live over the Internet, these tools also allow conference listeners to type questions into the conferencing software  or provide input to the people that are hosting the conference.

All in all – web conferencing is a pretty decent way to disseminate information without incurring huge travel costs.

But can you see the problem here?

These independent retailers are this vendors customers. How do you think they felt about this web conference?

A guess?

I was told they were furious.

They were furious because that vendor did not think about them as customers. They were furious the vendor had such a poor knowledge of its own market.

The reason for their anger?

Like many smaller business, these customer retailers have varying levels of technology literacy.

And?

Some of these customers still hand wrote receipts on carbon paper forms!

Some had PC’s, but no Internet connection.

In essence this organizations customers had a well deserved feeling of being left out.

As I mentioned above – I have no issue with web conferencing, but I do have an issue with hanging a bunch of your customers out to dry because you never bothered to understand them.

How could they have done this differently?

How about before the event communications offering a recording of the event on DVD (or even VHS! since if carbon paper is still in use..)

The SMB Takeaway

Technology is a tool. Only one tool. In marketing, or service consider which tool or tools is best for your market.

That title sounds a little bit like some sort of spammy e-mail doesn’t it?

Like many things, if you are being literal? That title is completely accurate – but figuratively?

Well, let me back up.

This post is the next in my occasional series introduced in this post titled; IT In Marketing.

The short summary – this series documents a pretty typical smaller business that does not have a marketing staff, and the relatively simple changes that can be made that will improve the website part of your marketing efforts.

In one of the previous posts in this series,  I showed the steps of how I plotted a baseline, did some (free) website analytics and how I intended to tackle fixing our website content.

One key point that I previously mentioned was important to me;  I did not want some 2 plus year project trying to rewrite the whole web site.

I wanted to modify it one  page at a time. Write it, proof it, test it, then put it on the site. My goal being to refresh the content on one page per week. (the whole purpose of this series is that it is a part time thing right?)

I previously wrote that in the several months I was just monitoring traffic to the website – we got zero (none, nada, zip, zilch) visits to our site by people that found our website by the search engines – unless they were actually searching for part of our company name.

If you searched for: What is ABC Corp’s address

You found our website OK

If you searched for anything in our business space – well you didn’t find us.

Back to my weird title!

After just the second week, having only refreshed the data on only two web pages, I received three web site visitors that found us via the content we have – rather than just our company name.

I was able to tell our management team; ‘hey we got three!

When a co-worker reminded us that ‘three’ was 300% better than Zero!

You can get updates to this blog by clicking the RSS icon on the Home Page!

Words Are Not Enough

This is the next post in my intermittent series on doing more with less; having existing staff (in my case an IT Manager) help out in improving marketing, specifically starting with Web Site optimization. It also has come faster than I intended (the previous one was just last week)

First post is here .

But first, I want to tell you a story….

Our Story

A number of years ago we contracted out a web site re-design, then there were some some meetings with a marketing pro who then took our ideas and put some words on all of our newly redesigned web pages.

But I didn’t like them; they were only words.

What do I mean by only words?

Sure, we use words to explain concepts, or to describe things. But words can also be powerful containers that express more than the sum of their letters.

Chip & Dan Heath in their seminal text; Made To Stick demonstrated the concept that single words, phrases, or sentences can be triggers that expand to full volumes of concepts, emotions and understanding.

As an example, there are probably millions of books, texts, articles, images and information about a large United States based organization. I could use words to describe (which would be a  lengthy process ) this organization to you.

Or I can just say; NASA

Depending on your region or age, the simple term NASA will paint a picture of Apollo, Armstrong, Challenger, Atlantis, Voyageur and more. Entire volumes of your awareness are linked to those four simple letters (and heck it is only an acronym!)

In Your Business?

You probably have the same.

Sure, your B2B widget has some great features and specifications, but perhaps your experience has shown you that have successfully sold your Widgets to engineering teams at companies because one simple thing about it that removes a major hot button for the engineers. (ie maybe the one part can replace two)

That hot button – that is Ah-Ha! moment, those words just told your prospects; hey – these folks understand my issues!

The SMB Takeaway

Keep your fingers on the pulse of your web site content

You may outsource some of the work, but keep looking for those words or phrases that resonate, that explode into understanding.

Because those words, are more than words.

Photo Credit Feuillu via flickr