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    Jul 2008

    Designing websites or powerpoint presentations?

    Posted by / in Tips and Tricks / Link

    Countries fall into three broad categories bas...Image via Wikipedia

    Great slide show on the psychological basis for user interface (UI) design rules! It is always important to be customer-oriented…your message not only gets out there, but it gets received in the right manner.  Following UI guidelines helps ensure you take into consideration how people perceive, think, learn and act. Note that this is not a recipe, just a list of common ingredients that work well together. You will still need to be a marketing chef to make it palatable and ideally delectable.

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    Jun 2008

    Use Google Alerts to keep tabs on your brand, your competitors and Pamela Anderson.

    Posted by / in Tips and Tricks / Link

    Anderson aboard USS Ronald Reagan, (2004)

    Image via Wikipedia

    Tommy Lee gets it once a day.

    He has his on/off lover and former wife Pamela Anderson on Google Alerts, so he can ask her about stories that break online, even before she’s aware of it!

    Google Alerts are “emails automatically sent to you when there are new Google results for your search terms.” Alerts can be sent once a day, as-it-happens or once a week.  You can get alerts on topics, names or search terms that show up in the news, on blogs, on websites, in videos, or in Google discussion Groups.  If you chose the Comprehensive option, it will consolidate the results found in the news, blogs and websites. You can get it as an HTML email or text email and can create up to 1000 alerts. BTW, this is delivered to your in-basket for FREE!

    With all the emails and other information coming at you via SMS, IM, Twitters, Facebook updates, Plurks, and RSS feeds, I’m sure you’re wondering why someone would knowingly add yet another information source. There are many reasons to set up an alert but below are the three main ones:

    1. Catholic Guilt

    You Google yourself but are too embarrassed to admit it. I don’t think the Vatican knows what Googling means but trust me, you won’t go blind doing it…unless you try to do it in the dark.  Seriously, many individuals and businesses need to monitor what is said about them for a variety of reasons: personal and corporate brand management, compliance, consumer feedback and chatter, identify theft, or market research for example. Financial advisers for example should be reporting every instance of their name appearing online…whether they were the providers of the content or not. Better safe than penalized!

    2. Competitive Intelligence

    You can track trends, competitors and industries. Let’s say you’re a fence manufacturer. A Google Alert on eco-friendly fencing would have told you that TimberWolf now has complete fence kits available at certain Lowe’s stores. An alert on Trex (a competitor) would have shown that some people feel that Trex is less suitable for vertical applications like rails and fences. An alert on Fence, Deck & Rail products (FDR) would have told you the minute a study on this industry was released. You would know that the market for FDR is “likely to continue to correct downward into 2008, but should begin to pick back up thereafter.”

    This is good information that can be used as part of your marketing, sales and web strategy.Would you rather let Google do the searching for you 24/7 or do it yourself? What if…gasp…your buyer actually told you about some competitive activity that affected the buyer and your company? This is one tool that can help you with that.

    3. Research

    You can watch for new videos on a particular topic of interest, like

    Make Google Alerts your virtual research assistant.

    If you are working with a client you can use alerts to research their customers, their competitors and their competitor’s customers. If you’re a celebrity stalker, you can get the news as you make it happen!

    Need to keep up with those old-school suspender wearing, cigar-chomping, name-dropping big boys in the ivory towers that say things like “Hey did you catch the game yesterday? Boy was <insert name of sports celebrity that you could care less about here> sure <insert appropriate expletive(s) here> on the <insert appropriate playing surface here> eh?“Get a leg up on the old fart by using technology!

    Now that you know what Google Alerts is and three main reasons to use it (four if you consider tracking info on Pamela Anderson), can you think of a particular use for Google Alerts in your personal or corporate life?  Have you had much success with it in the past? How would it fit into your own marketing, sales and web strategy?

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    May 2008

    Web strategy

    Posted by / in Marketing / Link

    Despite Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve saying that output was unlikely to “grow much, if at all, over the first half of 2008 and could even contract slightly”, Register.com found that there was confidence amongst the 800 small businesses that they recently polled. 70% of the respondents did not expect a decline in revenue over the next year. In fact, about 35% expected more revenue! Keep reading to see how they expect to get that added revenue.

    Given the looming recession (ok the not so looming recession), the US government is investing $117 billion through tax rebates at a time when one would normally hunker down and save. Can small businesses learn from the US government? Absolutely!

    For well-positioned companies, an economic recession should not prompt marketing cutbacks, but rather an aggressive increase in marketing spending to achieve superior business performance according to research authored by Gary Lilien and Arvind Rangaswamy of Penn State’s Smeal College of Business.

    You have to get your name out there and do it more often. Brand awareness is key, more so during a slowdown. A good web strategy at this point would be to leverage technology to help you accomplish more with less. This is what the small businesses are planning to do. Topping the list of technologies that the small businesses said they will most likely invest in next year are website design (53%), SEO (43%), and email marketing (41%).

    Website design is like remodeling your store. Aside from a fresh coat of paint, you want an uncluttered look to make people comfortable while they shop. They should know who you are and what you offer. Things should be easy to find, in logical places and customers should not have to go through hoops to make a purchase.

    SEO is taking that remodeled store and locating it on a busy intersection, just off a highway and high up on a hill so that people can see it from miles away. The signage conveys the name of the store and what they sell. Having a good sign that communicates what the store offers attracts the right clientele.

    Email marketing is like having special days where you invite a particular segment of the population to your store. Tuesdays may be Seniors Day where things are 15% off. Thursday may be Kids Days with small prizes and goodies for the young ones who bring parents in tow. The message is different to these two segments, as are the sales expectations and product mix.

    I believe this is how the small businesses expect to grow sales. Do you have a web strategy? Is it contingent on your view of where the economy is heading?


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