Thursday, May 20, 2010

SEO or PPC Which is Best for My Business?

Search Engine Optimization or a Pay Per Click Campaign
When speaking with business owners, concerning their website marketing budgets, sometimes the question that is asked is should they use a SEO strategy or a PPC strategy.  I personally like to diversify my marketing efforts so I use a combination of both with several other marketing strategies included.  However, lets look at some reasons why to choose one as oppose to the other, or why one would be more valuable to your business than the other.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the volume or quality of traffic to a web site or a web page (such as a blog) from search engines via "natural" or un-paid ("organic" or "algorithmic") search results as opposed to other forms of search engine marketing (SEM) which may deal with paid inclusion. The theory is that the earlier (or higher) a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine. SEO may target different kinds of search, including image search, local search, video search and industry-specific vertical search engines. This gives a web site web presence.--Wilkepedia
SEO is a long term strategy.  It is an investment into a website that, if performed properly, will pay off for years and years to come.  SEO isn't an overnight answer to low traffic concerns.  In fact, I usually inform clients that they are looking at 3 to 6 months before they notice any significant traffic increases.  SEO at first glance may seem to be an expensive marketing tactic to many small business owners, due to the many hours involved and the website re-design that usually accompanies it.  However, when compared to other traditional marketing strategies such as television and radio; SEO can be an excellent ROI given the competitive advantage that website owners receive and increased conversion rates.

Pay Per Click Campaigns (PPC)

Pay Per Click (PPC) is an Internet advertising model used on websites, in which advertisers pay their host only when their ad is clicked. With search engines, advertisers typically bid on keyword phrases relevant to their target market. Content sites commonly charge a fixed price per click rather than use a bidding system.--Wilkepedia

PPC campaigns are what you should turn to if you are looking for immediate increases in your traffic.  They are simple to run but tend to get complicated the more keywords you have and the larger the number of products you are trying to promote.  An online e-commerce site will usually hire a professional consultant to manage their PPC campaign while they concentrate on running their business.  The major work with PPC campaigns is the keyword/key phrase research and writing compelling ad copy that not only brings traffic but qualified traffic.  Remember, with a PPC campaign every time someone clicks on your banner or link, you have to pay for it.  If you get a lot of clicks but no conversions, this can become quite costly.  

In conclusion, you can see how either marketing strategy can greatly benefit a websites marketing needs.  As stated earlier, I like to use a combination of both strategies when promoting a website.  The best thing to do before deciding is sit down and create the objectives and goals that you want to accomplish then it will be much easier to decide which one will be more helpful for your business.

Love to hear your questions or comments or anything that you guys feel I left out that you would like to add.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Email Marketing Campaigns

Email Marketing Campaigns

An effective email marketing campaign can be an excellent marketing strategy.  By providing a sign up form for your website visitors, you harness information.  You are able to learn more about your customers and what they like and dis-like.  Lets face it, everyone that visits your website does not necessarily purchase your products or service at that visit.  They may return at various later times or never again.  However, if they sign up for your newsletter, then there is an opportunity to convert them to a customer at a later date.

Email marketing campaigns keep you in the minds of your customers and potential customers.  They give you the opportunity to tell them about news, new products, and just to make a connection.  Just imagine if a potential customer went to your website and there was a product they wanted to purchase but it didn't fit their budget at that time.  By keeping in touch with them through your email marketing campaign; when their budget does allow for that purchase, they have a quick link to your website and not one of your competitors.

Their are a couple of excellent services that can help you achieve great results if you decide to take on the challenge of an email marketing campaigns.

  • Constant Contact--They provide email marketing, online surveys, and event marketing.  They have become an industry buzz word, however, they can become a bit pricey.  They tend to charge for extra pictures which get annoying and every service that I mentioned above also has an individual charge.
  • Rate Point--This is the new kid on the block.  They offer the same features as constant contact, however, they don't nickel and dime you for every little feature.  When I am starting an email marketing campaign, I like to use them.  The product is great and the customer service is even better.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Consumer Behavior

Consumer Behavior
The study of when, why, how, and where people do or do not buy.  It attempts to understand the buyer decision making process, both individually and in groups. It studies characteristics of individual consumers such as demographics and behavioural variables in an attempt to understand people's wants. It also tries to assess influences on the consumer from groups such as family, friends, reference groups, and society in

Why do we study consumer behavior?
By studying the consumer, it helps organizations, businesses, and firms to improve their marketing strategies.
We can explore the psychology of how consumers think, feel, reason, and select between competing alternatives.  The influences of the consumers' environment such as family, friends, culture, and media also reveal their importance when we delve into the study of consumer behavior.  Consumer behavior gives us a chance to study how consumers shop and make their buying decisions while shopping.

By researching all of this information, we can adapt and improve our marketing campaigns and marketing strategies to more effectively reach the consumer.  Studying consumer behavior not only helps us to refine our marketing strategies, but it also makes us better consumers.  It shows us how to check for bargains and teaches us the benefits of buying in bulk as oppose to smaller, more expensive supplies.

"Consumer Behaviour - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia." Main Page - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 13 Apr. 2010.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Your Website Should be Your Hardest Working Employee

Why take the time and money to invest in the design and development of a website just to have it sit on the Internet like an old abandoned building, or even worse, stand around on a smoke break, like some questionable employees do, just collecting a pay check.  Well, take into consideration that your website is an employee that works for the company like everyone else.  If it doesn’t perform then it may be time to send it to the un-employment line, or at least give it a stern talking too.

The problem with creating a website in today’s environment, is understanding why you are creating it and what you are going to use it for.  Yes, it is no secret that if you want to do business in 2010 and beyond, you need to have a website to be taken seriously.  However, don’t just have one designed and created just because you read an article that said you should.  You need to have a complete plan on how making this investment is going to pay off for your business before you even think of having it designed.  The key is you want to design it to meet your goals not wrap your goals around its design.

Another key point to remember is that creating a website is an ongoing effort.  The worst mistake you can make is creating a website and then just leaving it on the Internet and hoping that the magic god of traffic will refer you customer after customer.  You have to be an active manager of your website or hire managers for your website, just as you do your employees.  You have to set goals and objectives for your website to meet.  Make sure your website finishes its projects on time. When making an investment you have to either constantly cultivate it yourself, or hire a professional to do it for you.  Make sure that if you invest in building an online presence, that presence isn’t  just left to run however it sees fit.  You are the boss and your website is an employee, tell that lazy bum to get to work.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Establish a Problem Then Position Yourself as the Solution

Defining a problem and having everyone or at least your target market see you as the solution is one of the ultimate goals of marketing.  When you mention marketing to most people they tend to classify marketing as sales or advertising.  Sales and advertising are a part of marketing, however, marketing is a much, much larger.

Create a product and then decide how to market and advertise that product.   Well, this is the standard approach that many companies choose when trying to bring something to market.  Unfortunately, most products brought to market during the year fail.
The failure rate for new product launch ranges from an estimated 50% and 75% (PRLEAP.COM
I hypothesize that this high failure rate can be contributed to marketing.  Marketing should be the very first step in the product development process.  Before you spend $1000s or even $1,000,000s of dollars developing a product and then advertising it and creating partnerships and distribution deals only to see it sell about 100 units; why not do some market research and determine if it is a product that is NEEDED by the consumer.  When opening up a new pizza restaurant or fast food chain, research the location and decide if that particular market can handle another restaurant such as yours.  Are there already too many of them in the area, do the demographics of the people living there actually like that type food?  These are all questions that marketing helps us to answer.

Remember:  The best marketing strategy there is, is  to establish a problem and then to position yourself to your target market as the solution to that problem.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Know Your Competition Better Than They Know Themselves

Throughout my marketing career, just as many other marketers have, I have had the responsibility of creating and implementing marketing plans.  I have found that there are many different techniques and channels for marketing different products.  Each product is like raising a child and even though every child has their own personality and special needs, for the most part every parent no matter where in the world they are or what culture they are in,take some of the same approaches.  

Well, marketing can be the same way.  Every product or service definately has their own needs and certain channels work better than others, however, they all share some of the same marketing prinicples.

Whenever I start to begin forming a marketing strategy, I like to take a look at the competition.  I want to know more about the competition than they know about themselves.  I want to know what they are doing right and what they are doing wrong.  I want to gather as much information about them as possible.  Scour the internet to find strategic information on your competitors.  I have even pulled the unbelievable from time to time and just called them up and talked to them.  If they have a brick and mortar store then gas up the car and take a trip.  Talk to their customers and get a feel for your competitors brand experience.

Remember, the more you know about your competitors, the more you are equipped with the ammunition you are going to need in order to compete with them.  If you know where their weaknesses are, then you can exploit them and improve your company's brand and increase your market share.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Marketing Strategies 5 Tips to Success

Developing a marketing strategy is like creating a map to the future success of your business. It gives you an opportunity to mark X as the destination you are trying to get to and lets you see what the playing field looks like. Without a good marketing strategy its like you are just cruising on the highway with no destination. A business needs a destination, so everyone in the company knows what to strive for.

5 Tips For Developing a Marketing Strategy

1. Define your service or product
Define what you are offering in clear precise terms. You want to answer the question, "What does your company do?"

2. Know your competition
It is a good practice to take the time to know what other companies are offering the same or similar products or services to your own. Whenever I am creating a marketing plan or strategy, I like to say, "Know your competition better than they know themselves."

3. Determine your target market.
You have to find out who needs your products or services and where they are located. How they get their information and which products would be most beneficial to them.

4. Establish a marketing budget
A marketing budget is an important part of any business. If your budget is too large then you could over spend and lose money on disastrous marketing campaigns. If your budget is too small then you may miss out on opportunities to promote your company.

5. Keep track on what you spend and the results.
Marketing is mostly a process of hypothesis and testing. Some campaigns go well and some, well we just won't even discuss them. You need to track what works and what doesn't.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Are you a Business Owner, or Self-Employed?

Just because you have a business license and you are the boss you answer to doesn't necessarily mean you own your own business. You can even have a staff of employees and still be self-employed.

What's the difference? Well, the key difference between a business and being self-employed is that a business makes you money when you aren't there, being self-employed you have to be there to make the money.

Being a Business Owner
When you are a business owner, yes you can or cannot be very involved in your company. You may show up everyday to make sure employees are working, to ensure that processes are running smoothly, and to grow your business but if you decide to take a vacation or skip a couple of days of work, guess what; the business keeps right on making money.

A business is a process that can be taught, duplicated, and sold. This is how we get franchises and licenses. You are authorizing others to learn your business process and then duplicate it to make themselves money, and you even more money.

Being Self-Employed
When you are self-employed, you may be the boss but if you are the key component to the business and it cannot operate its day to day functions without you being there, then you are still self-employed. This can be the case of a highly skilled worker that owns their own business but hires individuals around them that are simple support staff. If that individual doesn't have other individuals that are trained in the same trade and a decision making team (that has the power to execute their decisions) in place then every decision has to go through the owner and that becomes in-efficient and destroys the whole purpose of having a business.

A business is a process that can be taught, duplicated, and sold. If you have to show up everyday and complete the majority of the work, make all the decisions, and the business makes no money when you aren't there; then you are self-employed.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Your Employees Can be Your #1 Marketing Option

The best investment that any business can make is in its employees. Creating a team of top notch employees that share the company vision and want to see the company succeed will offer the greatest returns overtime than any other marketing campaign.

If you keep your employees involved in the business and excited, then they will promote the business in return. I personally believe that everyone that works for a company is a salesman. Remember, one of the first questions people ask when they meet someone is what do you do? Being that many professionals actually spend more time working than with their actual families, most people associate themselves with their job or profession.

Keeping your employees involved in the decision making process and allowing them to take ownership of their projects helps to establish trust between supervisors and workers. Employees should also be empowered to be able to solve everyday problems that pop up. Having to run every little decision through upper management can be time consuming and professionally insulting. Why hire individuals whom you don't trust their opinions or decision making?

The worst mistake that any manager or supervisor can make is micro-managing your team!!! Yes you have to monitor employees and make sure that the work is getting done and that everyone is staying on the same page, however, you shouldn't try to control every little task and every aspect of the things they do. This destroys your work forces creativity and can cause the company to miss out on may different new ideas.

To sum it all up, if employees are inspired then they will tell the world about the company they work for and push your message forward; if they are micro-managed and un-respected then the organization will suffer for it.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Promote Your Business Like a Rapper

Well, I was listening to some hip hop the other day riding in the car and getting my shine on. As I remember the featured artist was Rick Ross. No need to mention which song he was performing because the main concept was the same. No matter what song he rapped he continued to say "Rick Ross" throughout the entire song. The bass and hard hitting drum patterns may have overpowered the words in many of occasions, however, you could always make out the words clearly "Ross".

Referring to one's self repeatedly throughout a song is no new concept to rap. In fact, I think it would be hard to find one rapper that actually made it through a song without saying their own name at least 5 times. It would seem that rappers have broken the code to branding and put marketers to shame. Repetition, repetition, and more repetition!!!

On average, it takes at least 7 to 12 times for a person to hear a marketing message before they actually listen to it, effects of continued advertising bombardment from today's media driven society. This technique should be adopted by all business professionals. If you want someone to remember your business, then you have to continue to tell them about it. Entertainers have known for years that once you leave the public eye, you are forgotten about. The same is true with business, if people don't know about your products and services, then your business is forgotten about.

So if you want to be successful then promote your business like a rapper and get your shine on.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Good Enough Isn't Good Enough in Business

In today's economic crisis, businesses are working with very limited resources and personnel. Hourly Employees and Executives both are having to push themselves harder and harder to pick up the slack of trying to make a profit in an very financially unstable economy. I have even seen our CEO put down his golf clubs, roll up his sleeves and pitch in a helping hand.

Being that staffs are so stretched and pulled in different directions, we may sometimes feel that some things don't matter or that we can let some things slide. This can be the worst mistake a company can make during hard times. When business after business starts to go bankrupt, you have to stay on your A-game unless you want to be another statistic in the next Presidential Speech.

So many people are out of work that new companies, especially service companies, are springing up at an exponential rate. Keep in mind that whatever thing you are letting slide, your competitors are probably not letting slide. In fact, they are waiting for you to make a mistake so they can take advantage and gain a little more market share. A business owner must stay humble and remember that your business is built one customer at a time. When you don't have the money for a large marketing or advertising budget, you have to be creative and find other ways of advertising. I have always found that the best source of advertising tried and true time after time is "Word of Mouth".

I have never found any form of advertising to give me a greater return on investment. That is why customer service is such an important task of any business of any size. The happier your customer is about the products, the more they are going to talk about them and tell others. Wow, and this is all for free. No television adds, no radio spots, and no pay- per- click campaign to manage.

Take care of your clients, respect your employees and remember to be humble.

These are the ingredients to success in today's economy. An attitude of that presentation isn't quite done but it's good enough just won't cut it. You only get first impressions with most clients today because there are so many different vendors to choose from. If you are having a small complaint from a customer and it is pretty easily taken care of, then solve it as soon as possible before it grows into something big. If you promise your clients something and can not deliver on time or exactly what they want, be transparent with them. Keep your clients updated on what is going on. Don't forget those same Social Media channels that you are using to broadcast the features of your product, your customers are using them to broadcast things about you and it can be good or bad.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Personal Branding in Today's Economy

What is Personal Branding?

Personal branding is quite simply the future of career development. The global economy exposes us to great new products at affordable prices, but it also exposes companies and firms to great new talent. This is where personal branding comes in.

Personal branding is the process by which individuals differentiate themselves and stand out

from a crowd by identifying and articulating their unique value proposition, whether professional or personal, and then leveraging it

across platforms with a consistent message and image to

achieve a specific goal. This way, individuals enhance their recognition as experts in their field, establish reputation and credibility, advance their careers, and build self-confidence.

How do I get started with Personal Branding?

Questions to answer:

Who needs to know about you?
What need are you best positioned to fill?
What differentiates you from others in your field?

The goal of a personal branding campaign is to create a strong, consistent, and specific association between the individual and the perceived value they offer.

Establish an inventory of core competencies, expertise, demonstrated abilities, and an existing level of recognition.

Personal Branding Consists of:

· Value Proposition

· Differentiation

· Marketability