Category Archives: Tips and Tricks

Forget Web 2.0, Let’s Talk About Integrated Marketing

By | Business Intelligence, Definitions, Strategic Planning, Tips and Tricks | One Comment

I hate the term “Web 2.0” or “Web two dot ooh” as I recently heard someone say. It was born from marketers needing a way to classify those sites that didn’t fit anywhere else or that used certain technologies that were not prevalent at that time. Now that term is the bane of my existence. I am so repulsed by that term because it has instilled in every business owner and marketing manager a need to be “Web 2.0” or they will somehow wither up and die. These are the folks if you ask them what they want they will tell you they want a blog because everyone else has one.

I will agree there are some amazing technologies and options out there for those companies that are truly ready to step up and take advantage of them. However, most small business owners need to forget Web 2.0, Ajax, Blog, Social Network and all the other jargon flying around industry periodicals. Most business owners and marketing managers need to focus on integrated marketing.

From Wikipedia

A management concept that is designed to make all aspects of marketing communication such as advertising, sales promotion, public relations, and direct marketing work together as a unified force, rather than permitting each to work in isolation. In practice, the goal of IMC is to create and sustain a single look or message in all elements of a marketing campaign.

One of the largest marketing problems I see a lot of small businesses have is learning how to leverage all of the available channels and delivering a solid, cohesive message along all of those channels. The main reason for this is budget restraints. Small businesses do not have the budget available to hire a large advertising agency to develop their identity, print collateral, TV spots, radio spots and website all at one time. They often have to piecemeal their entire existence together by hiring company X for the print collateral, company Y for the television spots, and maybe if they are lucky they can hire company Z to build them a website.

The Rise of Frankenstien’s Monster

Just like the monster that eventually destroys its master, this form of stitched together marketing can destroy the small business. Each channel tries to act independently. One agency believes everything should be done one way, the other believes it should be a different way and most of the time the business owner or contact person is so close to the action they don’t see the wild differences in messaging, creative design and brand identity.

Pretty soon the TV spots look nothing like the direct mail pieces and the website still has a 2002 copyright, talks about an award the company won in 2003 and looks like nothing else. The company’s brand identity becomes a fractured semblance of itself. All the touch points with its customers serve to confuse because there is not a cohesive brand and consistent marketing.

Hire an Ambassador

My suggestion is to hire or become your own brand ambassador. Depending on the size of your organization and how many marketing touch points need analysis this could be a full time position or you could hire a consultant for a limited lifespan. The point here is to have one person who can determine if a particular marketing initiative is on or off base with your brand identity.
Ask yourself –

  • Does the graphic design resemble everything we have produced?
  • Is the messaging the same as other initiatives? Do we use the same key phrases to talk about our business?
  • Is the imagery similar across media?
  • Does everyone in the organization talk about the company in the same terms?

Pretty simple, right? No one said it had to be hard! When you do find differences talk to your vendor(s) about them. If need be, put one vendor in touch with another. We’re not opposed to discussing the situation with other vendors!

The bottom line is, until you can deliver a brand identity utilizing all or most communication touch points with your clients you don’t need a blog, a wiki, or a social network. Focus on your business and your identity and when you have those things solid then branch out and talk “web two dot ooh” with an internet marketing firm.

We Have PageRank and We Don’t Care!

By | Business Intelligence, Definitions, Natural Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Marketing, Tips and Tricks | 2 Comments

I find it slightly amusing and a little interesting that in the midst of this Google PageRank debacle we received out first boost in PageRank. We’re now a PR3!

The best part is, we don’t care!

I’ve been telling clients for years that PageRank doesn’t matter. Let me repeat that, PageRank does not matter. Got it? PageRank is one of those irrelevant metrics that gets thrown in the bucket with Hits and Alexa rankings.

Once more, PageRank does not matter. The only metrics that matter are conversions, traffic, natural search position. In that order. Period.

The Web is No Longer About Presence, It’s About Identity

By | Business Intelligence, Definitions, Strategic Planning, Tips and Tricks, Web Design, Westward Strategy | 3 Comments

We spend a lot of time online, after all it is our job. We’ve seen hundreds if not thousands of business web sites ranging from the mom and pop sandwich shop down the street to established medium sized businesses.

It always amazes us the number of companies that simply have a web presence, a mentality prevalent 5 to 6 years ago, when a company could get away with letting the owner’s son build the website in his or her high school computer class. The graphics are often hokey at best, the message is not longer a fit with the company, and any posted prices are grossly out-of-date.

The game has changed, even though most companies have not seen the shift. The web has gone from an auxiliary marketing medium to a prime time player, and in our eyes the ultimate marketing canvas. Businesses need to get their act together and integrate all of their marketing efforts. A presence is no longer adequate, an identity is required. Is a spinning envelope icon really the message you want to send to potential clients or customers? Shouldn’t you be communicating the hometown atmosphere of your sandwich shop or the fresh sliced meat in your sandwiches?

Whatever ideas or concepts drive you to keep your business going should also drive your primary marketing strategies and your website.

What is your message or how are you different from your competitors? As soon as you can answer this question, seek assistance in building or refining your brand identity and communicate this identity in all of your marketing efforts.

The Web is No Longer About Presence, It’s About Identity

By | Business Intelligence, Definitions, Strategic Planning, Tips and Tricks, Web Design, Westward Strategy | 3 Comments

We spend a lot of time online, after all it is our job. We’ve seen hundreds if not thousands of business web sites ranging from the mom and pop sandwich shop down the street to established medium sized businesses.

It always amazes us the number of companies that simply have a web presence, a mentality prevalent 5 to 6 years ago, when a company could get away with letting the owner’s son build the website in his or her high school computer class. The graphics are often hokey at best, the message is not longer a fit with the company, and any posted prices are grossly out-of-date.

The game has changed, even though most companies have not seen the shift. The web has gone from an auxiliary marketing medium to a prime time player, and in our eyes the ultimate marketing canvas. Businesses need to get their act together and integrate all of their marketing efforts. A presence is no longer adequate, an identity is required. Is a spinning envelope icon really the message you want to send to potential clients or customers? Shouldn’t you be communicating the hometown atmosphere of your sandwich shop or the fresh sliced meat in your sandwiches?

Whatever ideas or concepts drive you to keep your business going should also drive your primary marketing strategies and your website.

What is your message or how are you different from your competitors? As soon as you can answer this question, seek assistance in building or refining your brand identity and communicate this identity in all of your marketing efforts.

Stumbled…Big Time!

By | Search Engine Marketing, Strategic Planning, Tips and Tricks, Westward Strategy | No Comments

I’ve read a lot of information on the benefits and the traffic one can receive from StumbleUpon. We’ve even spent a lot of time working our clients’ sites into mix to see if they get any benefits from it. None of them have… until now. We’ve been stumbled and you can see what it did to our traffic. I’m now a true believer in the power of StumbleUpon!

See what happens when you get stumbled!

Exercise does a < body > Good!

By | Business Intelligence, Natural Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Marketing, Tips and Tricks | No Comments

It’s hard to believe, but the holidays are already peering at us from around the corner. If you’re like me, you are looking forward to the cornucopia of food that will be paraded about in the next few months. This year I’m trying to be proactive and actually get in shape a little bit before I pig out and then feel like crap. The same concept goes for your website. A little pre-holiday planning and maintenance can get your website fit and trim!

1. Don’t Overstuff
Avoid those urges to overstuff your site with keywords. Overstuffing typically settles in your meta tags, image alt attributes, and content.

2. Use Your Headings
Use your heading tags appropriately with very targeted keywords and phrases sprinkled throughout. Think about which keywords are the most important for that page and put them in your primary heading, secondary phrases should be put in subheadings.

3. Pick Good ALTernatives
Do you really need that 4th piece of grandma’s pumpkin pie? Probably not, have a carrot instead. Does your alt attribute really need 47 keywords in it? Probably not. Be selective and write your alt text for humans first and then fit in keywords where appropriate. You could also use this space for misspellings, just be careful about it. You can make it extra scrumptious by also using a title attribute. It’s like Cool Whip on your pie.

4. Be Friendly
Everyone has that one family member that just plain annoys everyone else. Be a better person this year and be extra friendly to them. Write friendly URLs and you’ll get noticed by the search engines in a good way. Keep it short and sincere (in both instances).

5. Stretch and Touch Your Toes
If you can’t see your toes, you might want to hit a treadmill once in a while. If you can’t see your sitemap, get to work making it visible from every page. Drop the pounds from your sitemap by cleaning out the old unused pages. Stretch out and touch more pages on your site by cross-linking to them in the body content of other pages.

I hope these tips help get you, and your website, through the holiday season without wreaking havoc on your body!

Exercise does aGood!

By | Business Intelligence, Natural Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Marketing, Tips and Tricks | No Comments

It’s hard to believe, but the holidays are already peering at us from around the corner. If you’re like me, you are looking forward to the cornucopia of food that will be paraded about in the next few months. This year I’m trying to be proactive and actually get in shape a little bit before I pig out and then feel like crap. The same concept goes for your website. A little pre-holiday planning and maintenance can get your website fit and trim!1. Don’t OverstuffAvoid those urges to overstuff your site with keywords. Overstuffing typically settles in your meta tags, image alt attributes, and content.2. Use Your HeadingsUse your heading tags appropriately with very targeted keywords and phrases sprinkled throughout. Think about which keywords are the most important for that page and put them in your primary heading, secondary phrases should be put in subheadings.3. Pick Good ALTernativesDo you really need that 4th piece of grandma’s pumpkin pie? Probably not, have a carrot instead. Does your alt attribute really need 47 keywords in it? Probably not. Be selective and write your alt text for humans first and then fit in keywords where appropriate. You could also use this space for misspellings, just be careful about it. You can make it extra scrumptious by also using a title attribute. It’s like Cool Whip on your pie.4. Be FriendlyEveryone has that one family member that just plain annoys everyone else. Be a better person this year and be extra friendly to them. Write friendly URLs and you’ll get noticed by the search engines in a good way. Keep it short and sincere (in both instances).5. Stretch and Touch Your ToesIf you can’t see your toes, you might want to hit a treadmill once in a while. If you can’t see your sitemap, get to work making it visible from every page. Drop the pounds from your sitemap by cleaning out the old unused pages. Stretch out and touch more pages on your site by cross-linking to them in the body content of other pages.I hope these tips help get you, and your website, through the holiday season without wreaking havoc on your body!

Remove the Negative Words in Your Advertising and Marketing

By | Business Intelligence, Definitions, Strategic Planning, Tips and Tricks | 3 Comments

We often don’t realize it, but negative words have a strong impact on the way we process communications and store information. Some of this information may be elementary, but it is so often overlooked in marketing I feel I have to write on it.

The most abused negative word in marketing and advertising is “Don’t”. I’m sure you’ve seen it so much you hardly realize it is there any more, but think about how many campaigns you have seen with “Don’t Wait!”, “Don’t Forget!” or “Don’t Delay!” plugged into them somewhere. By using those negative word forms you are inviting people to do exactly what you “don’t” want them to!

If your spouse says to you, “Don’t forget the milk”, guess what you will do? If a golfer thinks, “Don’t hit it in the water”, guess where they’ll end up.

Instead marketers should be focusing on positive phrases to encourage conversion, click-through, or whatever call-to-action is the focus of your campaign. Instead of “Don’t Forget!”, try “Remember”. Instead of “Don’t Delay!”, try “Act Now!”

It’s a small change that can have a dynamic impact on conversion rates. Try it!

The Power Behind Word of Mouth Marketing

By | Search Engine Marketing, Strategic Planning, Tips and Tricks, Uncategorized, Web Design | No Comments

Word of Mouth Works Worldwide
eMarketer
OCTOBER 9, 2007

The unbiased opinion is trusted around the globe.

There are more marketing channels aimed at consumers than ever. Yet more than three-quarters of consumers surveyed worldwide find that consumer opinions are the most effective form of advertising, according to a Nielsen study.

Nielsen surveyed Internet users in 47 markets in Europe, Asia Pacific, the Americas and the Middle East on their attitudes toward many types of ads, including television, branded Web sites and consumer-generated content.

“The fact that consumers think opinions posted online are as trustworthy as brand Web sites speaks to the power of online reviews and recommendations,” said Debra Aho Williamson, senior analyst at eMarketer.

“It also means that marketers need to focus as much attention on what consumers say about their brands online as they do on creating the brand Web sites themselves,” Ms. Williamson said. “The easiest thing to do is to make consumer feedback an essential part of every brand Web site.”

Types of Advertising Trusted by Internet Users

Continue Word of Mouth Works Worldwide Article

In-house or Outsourcing?

By | Business Intelligence, Strategic Planning, Tips and Tricks, Web Design, Westward Strategy | No Comments

Does a website created by in house IT or “graphics” people save money or cost money? Using your in-house people to create your corporate website could save a couple thousand dollars. It can also cost you tens of thousands of dollars in lost sales.

Many CEOs think that the worst thing about having their website created in-house is its appearance. Most likely, a poor appearance is the least of your worries. Chances are your in-house people don’t know how to address your target audiences, incorporate your marketing strategies, emphasize your areas of specialization or worst of all, fail to recognize your unique selling proposition or competitive advantages.

Even if your in-house people consider all these points, do they know how to optimize the site so it can be found in a search engine? Do they know the latest techniques to make your site search engine friendly and optimized? Do they know how to properly market your website on the internet?

Will they employ the latest web standards when they build your site? Do they know web industry best practices to developing a site? Do they know the best information architecture for a website?

You should ask yourself, “Is this beyond the scope of their job requirements”? It is understandable to have employees wear many hats, especially in a small business, but having someone design or build your website in-house when this is not their primary function not only harms the final project outcome, but also devalues your employee.

Having experience in web design or search engine marketing is not the same as being a web designer or internet marketer.

Another aspect to consider is time. You’re asking an employee to split their time between their regular job duties and this new project, which can greatly hinder their ability to launch the site in a reasonable time frame. How many potential clients or sales can you afford to turn away while your website sits incomplete or displaying an “Under Construction” message?

A website that has an unprofessional appearance and doesn’t deliver your marketing message to your target audience can lead your prospective customers to think that your company is unprofessional and unable to deliver quality, cost, delivery and technology solutions. A company with a well-designed website that has relevant and well written content seems like a much better choice.