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Friday, January 29, 2016

The Changing Face of Marketing

Friday, January 29, 2016

With people, some things never change. The same can be said about marketing.

Such as the fundamentals, according to Michael Fleischner, author of the new, 5th edition of SEO Made Simple - having the right message, testing your offers, getting the timing right and understanding your audience’s needs.

From the early editions of the book until now, not much has changed about Michael - except maybe everything.

More than a decade ago, he couldn't have articulated the concept of SEO without his first self-built website failing to rank. Then, to create his book’s 1st edition, not only did he have to teach himself how to write a book - he also had to learn how to design it, edit it and get it published.

No one would publish it. So, he taught himself how to self-publish a print version - with a full-time job and two little kids at home. Then, he taught himself how to publish an e-book version.

Fast forward years later to today, and for the latest 5th edition, Michael has created an audiobook version. How? Sure enough, by teaching himself how to do it.

When it comes to entrepreneurs, they grow and evolve, but do they ever really change? 

Actually, yes!

One sentence changed Michael’s life, and made him question everything, including his vision of himself. Famed marketer Greg Cesar told him over the phone one night that “the only reason you haven’t made more money online is because you don’t think you can."

A few short months later, Michael made $24,000 online in a single night, a defining moment that encouraged him to do more - ironically, in the end, by doing less. 

Feeling that he had “arrived,” he quit his day job and started his own successful marketing consulting business not long after the Greg Cesar story, only to willingly shut it all down and go back to corporate life.

There is Michael the corporate marketing executive, Michael the author, and Michael the entrepreneur. Each persona is open to persuasion. Do you have the right content?

Today, success to Michael means a sense of completion and purpose, gravitating toward meaningful things that have a defined beginning, middle and end. There’s a time for open ends, and a time for closed loops. Is your marketing one or the other?

So, not only is SEO not dead, according to Michael, it’s here to stay - because as long as people are using search engines to find what they need, you can’t ignore SEO. Whether it’s a meme or scholarly article, what makes content high-quality is subjective, which is why Michael wants us to better understand our audiences - like he has come to better understand himself.

Written by Ben Doda

Ben is a Senior Account Executive at Resound Marketing, a contributor to New Jersey Tech Weekly, and a TEDxCarnegieLake organizer.  

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Competing with giant online companies is difficult, but proper web design for small business will convince your share of visitors to become customers. Here are some ideas on how to get more sales.

 Make it simple. The more involved purchasing is, the less likely it happens. Complex or multiple forms may be asking too much. So are needless steps. Making it easy for visitors to convert to customers is the best way of upping conversion rates. It might be worth paying a web design company for an eye-catching and streamlined process.

Let images sell, as images inspire deeper emotional reaction than paragraphs of text. If visitors want to learn more, provide links or menus that allow them to do so. But try to limit explanatory text to thirty words or so, and choose images that show off your product and its benefits. The right photos get an instant positive response. If you need to do explaining, use a series of images and meaningful captions, not a stream of text. It's frustrating to scroll through long paragraphs on a small screen, these are reasons why design website that suitable for mobile devices. If you don't know how to embed YouTube videos, find out.

 It's boring in everyday communication, but mental conditioning comes from repetition. Not that you want to brow-beat or brain-wash your visitors. Repeating a few key selling points can help drive the point home. Regarding repetition, frequently review your own site to identify room for improvement. Your selling strategy should always evolve with your market. Always make the time to see what your top competition does, and make note of any web design tips and tricks that could improve your own customer conversion.

This might seem contrary to the whole idea of making a profit, but you want visitors to be pleased with your website, even if they aren't ready to purchase. You don't have to give away merchandise. Offer a free service, or buy or create informative eBooks as free downloads; just make sure it’s relevant to your site, that it's fairly unique and quality information, and includes a link back to your site.

You might also consider giving away freeware. If you're prepared to spend, you might hire someone to produce brand-able software with your own logo and links. A Google search can surprise you with what you can get for nothing. Add more, and let subscribers know; this way, you've got a network of happy people, for little or no cost.

Search for free tools, such as search engine submission, SEO analysis, or keyword research. There are free sources for art, eBook compilers, and logo and banner makers. Used correctly, these things bring more professional results.

 Believe it or not, your word is still worth something. If you provide guarantees, discounts, or next-day shipping, make sure visitors know it. Willingness to go the extra mile might be what seals the deal. Once you make a promise, though, go out of your way to make it happen. Site admins know better than anyone how tough it can be to get noticed and get paid. Adopt and track successful website design tips and tricks for yourself. Knowing what works with your visitors will mean steady increases in sales.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Your initial reaction to outsourcing may be to say no. After all, if something needs to be done, then it needs to be done correctly, right? Despite this mentality, outsourcing is necessary for success; there aren't enough hours in the day to do everything yourself, and one of the easiest tasks to outsource is online marketing

There are a host of benefits of outsourcing, but there are downsides as well. Let's focus on the benefits first. 

Outsourcing can be a hearty boon to most businesses, especially startups. If you lack the skillset to get a necessary task done, then outsourcing it to an offshore worker can be a great way to focus on your strengths while still accomplishing everything you need to do for your business. You could outsource SEO work to a third-party firm and rely on them to revamp your website to generate the most organic traffic possible. You could outsource your marketing emails in order to find web design clients

If you need a logo designed but have only rudimentary Photoshop skills, then outsourcing is a better use of your time. While you may be able to design a passable logo by investing 10 or more hours into it, is it worth it? By spending a small amount of money and outsourcing the task to someone else, you can have your logo done and still accomplish a host of other tasks. Whether this is worthwhile to you or not depends on how much you value your time; what is an hour worth? 

That said, despite all the benefits, there are a few glaring disadvantages to outsourcing. Perhaps the first and most commonly felt issue is that of communication. Outsourcing means you must develop clear and cohesive communication skills with your offshore staff; failing to do so can result in mistakes or dissatisfaction with the delivered product. While many people can explain what they want easily enough in person, the same cannot be said for email. Take the time to read over any briefs you send and ensure they contain the necessary information. 

Another downside is that you will have to train your offshore staff. While they may ultimately save you time in the long run, there is an initial investment of time necessary to ensure they know how to perform the tasks you need them to perform. This applies to more general staff; as a rule, those hired to perform specific jobs will already know what they're doing. 

 Finally, your work will be outsourced to people who are not as passionate about the job as you are. While your startup may be your pride and joy, to your staff it is nothing more than a paycheck. This doesn't mean they won't deliver the right quality, but it does mean they're not as likely to respond to you at 3AM when you're pulling your third all-nighter in a row in search of clients. 

Whether or not to outsource is your decision. Take the time to evaluate the possible benefits and disadvantages and decided whether it is right for you.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

SEO Made Simple 2016

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Many people are wondering if SEO, search engine optimization, still matters.  As someone who's been focused on SEO for a long time, I can definitely say it's essential for success. However, the process of optimizing your website and the process for doing so has radically changed.

Back in the day you could trick search engines into believing that your website had more authority than your competitors. Authority is essentially Google's way of assessing a point value to indicate site popularity. Google has become much more sophisticated and trying to put one over on them is a waste of time.

One of the most fundamental changes in search engine optimization is local optimization. Thanks to the proliferation of mobile devices, most searches using search engines have some type of local intent. This type of search query has changed the Google algorithm and ranking factors. Even if you are a national business, you must think locally and optimize for local search.

The second area that have evolved over the last few years is content.  As I talk about in SEO Made Simple (audio version), content is the driving force behind site authority and valuation.  The more engaging content you produce, the more users will stay on your site, interact with, and share your web pages. This had a dramatic and lasting impact on search engine results.

When people ask me for my optimization advice, I always point to the two items above, local optimization and content creation. When these two factors are at the heart of your optimization strategy, you can influence search engine rankings.

What about those old SEO tactics?

If you're still getting emails from India promotion number one Google rankings, there's probably a bunch of outdated tactics behind it. The best case scenario is that you don't get penalized when these companies start posting links to your website all across the internet. The worst case scenario is that Google catches on (and they will), banning your site.

I've found that websites who have received a Google penalty rarely, if ever, fully recover.  Is it worth the risk?  No, definitely not.  My recommendation is always to learn SEO best practices and either implement them on your own or simply hire a reputable firm to implement specific tactics like blogging, digital assets, etc. under your supervision.

To be successful with search engine optimization, you need to take a fresh approach. Focus on how to build quality information online that others want to interact with. When you do, you'll naturally attract links to your website or blog and improved organic rankings will follow.

Monday, December 07, 2015

No matter the market, developing a pricing strategy is essential for ensuring something sells. However, the price can't be determined based solely on what the seller hopes to get for it; there are a variety of factors that come into play, including demand and the current market atmosphere. There are a number of psychological tricks that come into play, as well.

Pricing Based on Market

In some situations, you can price a product as high as you want -- and no one will buy it unless they are stupid. For example, a real estate agent would advise homeowners against pricing a home $200,000 over the market price. If the homes on a street are identical, but one is priced much higher, it may attract more initial interest; after all, buyers are curious. However, once they realize it has no advantage over any of the competitors, they will certainly settle on the lower priced options.

Pricing Based on Competition

Another strategy for pricing something to sell is based on the price the competition sells for. This is a common retail strategy; store A will offer a product for one price, while store B offers it for several dollars less. In most cases, store B will have the market for that product because of the pricing difference. The only time customers would choose to buy at Store A would be due to convenience. Of course, there are downsides to this: the profit margins usually end up being very narrow. The 'race to the bottom' tactics only benefit consumers, not businesses.

Pricing Based on Loyalty

This is often called a penetration strategy. A company will sell a very high-quality product at a price much lower than the competition would. This is most often used for smaller companies trying to break into an industry dominated by giants; it allows them to get a wedge of the market share without offering any initial innovation, but through building customer loyalty, they're able to build slowly until they can compete with the bigger players.

Loss Leaders

This price strategy definition is sometimes called promotional pricing. Because the business doesn't make any profit off the initial sale, it's called a 'loss leader' -- it brings customers in to purchase other products that will turn a profit. The initial purchase is just to capture their interest. As a result, the original product is usually priced much lower than the market is asking.

Using an 'Almost' Price

This tactic is exceedingly common. Companies will price a product at $4.99 instead of $5, but because it isn't quite $5, customers don't see it as so great an expense. It's a simple way to trick the brain into believing a product actually costs significantly less than it does, even if the actual price difference is only one cent off.

These four pricing strategies in marketing examples should help you better understand how to implement them into your own business. By using smart pricing strategies and psychologies, you can begin to generate sales even if there are far stronger competitors against you.

This post comes from Sarah, an inspirational writer who is taking QLD real estate course online at NREL Australia to grow her marketing career. She is part of crews at a specialized training center for the real estate industry, working with entrepreneurs and small business owner to upskills and achieve results that raise the standards of professionalism and respect in the Real Estate industry.

Copyright 2015. The Marketing Blog.