Articles in the ‘Marketing’ Category
I started with top 10 list of blogs but there is so much good information available on internet that I had to grow my list. Each one of these blogs offers some very unique educational content. It’s like going to MBA without having to pay for it.
Altos Ventures Blog | http://www.blog.altosventures.com/
Tim Berry |http://timberry.bplans.com/
Steve Blank | http://steveblank.com/
Brad Feld (Foundry Group) | http://www.feld.com/wp/
Seth Godin | http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/
Paul Graham | http://www.paulgraham.com/articles.html
David Hornik | http://www.ventureblog.com/
Ben Horowitz | http://bhorowitz.com/
The Huffington Post| http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/small-business-america
Guy Kawasaki | http://blog.guykawasaki.com/
Paul Kedrosky | http://www.paul.kedrosky.com/
Josh Kopelman / First Round Capital | http://redeye.firstround.com/
Dan Primack (Fortune’s “Term Sheet”)
ReadWriteStart | http://www.readwriteweb.com/start/
Dharmesh Shah | http://onstartups.com/
Fred Wilson | http://www.avc.com/
ReadWriteStart | http://www.readwriteweb.com/start/
Dharmesh Shah | http://onstartups.com/
Bob Sutton | http://bobsutton.typepad.com/
I am sure you will great value in each one of these blogs, I did. If please feel free to share a blog that you think can bring good value to entrepreneurial person. Please make sure not to share irrelevant link or blogs that have nothing to do with entrepreneurship.
Here are the seven steps of our basic small business marketing plan.
- Seeds vs Leads
- Opportunity vs Actionable Opportunity
- Trial Close vs Close
- Close vs Sale
- Sale vs Customer
- Customer vs Friend
- Friend vs New Seed
Now that you have planted plenty of seeds and have discoverd some good leads, its time to find an opportunity. You may also find it puzzling that leads and opportunity are totally different things. Leads simply means that there is possibility that prospect may have an interest in your product or service. On the other hand, opportunity is defined as qualified lead along with interest in your product or service. In other words, you can convert a lead into an opportunity when you know for sure that this client has a need for your service, want to know more about your product and has ability to pay for your product or services.
You may be start with 1000 of cold leads and may be end up with only 100 hot leads and from those 100 leads you may identify only 10 opportunities. Some times customers may directly call you to inquire about your product or services with an expressed interest to make the purchase. You can also identify these customers as an opportunity.
This is where most new sales people waste lots of time. Converting lead or call into an opportunity should only be done after careful analysis. You will have to invest heavily on opportunity and wrong opportunity can take up lots of your time and investment. So, lets try again.
- Does client have a need for your product or service ?
- Have client expressed an interest in your product or service ?
- Can the client pay for the product or service ?
Now that opportunity has knocked on your door, we can move on to next step. We will need to further qualify this opportunity to see if its worth pursuing. Basically we are trying to weigh in the cost of closing this deal vs the revenue this deal will bring in.
Look at the total revenue and total cost over the life of your sale. For example, a dentist will see the patient 4 to 6 times a year. Average patient may stay with dentist for about five years. Average revenue per visit may be about $100. Now you can do the simple math. Total revenue over the life time of patient will be about $100 x 6 x 5 = $3000.00. How much should you spend on the deal that will make you $3000 ? Well, I am sure you can answer this question.
If you still feel this opportunity is worth pursuing than you have yourself an actionable opportunity. This is where you need to compete and prove yourself. This is where you need to give your best.
What kind of things you can do with actionable opportunity ?
- Connect with the client: Don’t rely on emails. Call the client, phone call is your best friend. Don’t give too much information on the phone either. Ask for in person appointment.
- Connect with the staff: People around the decision maker should not be ignored. They can tell you what decision maker may never tell you. There might be other people who need to make the decision or there might be competition visiting twice a week.
- Use Direct Mail: Don’t send all information via email. Nice presentation, flyer, brochures mailed directly to actionable opportunity can do magic. Also, don’t send them all at once. Send one peace of the pie every week. Give more reasons to do business with you.
- Share Past Client References: Volunteer to arrange a phone call with your past client. Make a video testimonial and send it to client. Personalized note or letter can also help.
Once again, idea is to connect with the customer. Customer will buy product from you or your competition. And it is your responsibility to make sure your customer has all the reasons to do business with you. This is where your sales plan should kick in. Now is the time to dress up and impress.
Hundreds of thousand visitors search online every hour but most of them don’t end up on your website. You can get some quality visitors to your website but simply adding quality content. Offering quality content via blog, audio or video will make search engine visit your site more often and help you rank better in search results.
Search engines love content that are Search Engine Optimized (SEO). This is probably one of the best ways to boost traffic to your website and it’s very engaging of your customers. Let me explain how quality search engine optimized articles work and they can help your website.
First of all, you need to understand what is a keyword? In a very simple term, it’s a “word or series of words” you type in search engine to find website or webpage. Google or other search engines go to their data base and produce a list of search results based upon the popularity of each webpage. Search engines that the most popular webpage for the keyword searched must be most accurate response to user query. The way that Google deems a website or webpage popular is by counting the number of links that point back to this site on the internet. Not just any links – good juicy links that tell Google that this page is important. Now that you know the basics than how can you get your website on the top of the search results? The answer is through Search Engine Optimized articles.
These articles are designed for readers but also designed for search engines by incorporation multiple variations of keywords in the article. Once the articles are proof read and properly optimized, SEO articles are then submitted to blogs, directories, and personal websites in order to provide a supplement of back links. All these links point to your website that helps you gain competitive advantage in search results. We also recommend that article postings just be unique for each posting. This helps in elimination of duplicate content from the internet and search engine reward websites that follow this rule.
I would also like to post out the cost vs price aspect of SEO articles. Lower cost SEO articles are usually duplicate and can be easily found on internet with little search. Moreover they are usually not optimized for your business. Although these kinds of low cost SEO article may give temporary boost to your website rankings but they may either be blocked by search engine or heavily penalized for not following the guidelines established by the search engines.
Here is basic rule of thumb, write writing a article or two for your website and then optimize it for the search engine.. You will know exactly how much time a good written optimized article should take and what s it worth. Also, don’t forget the 2nd part of the puzzle. You also need to submit the original article to each unique article directory to get good back link.
As you can see, properly optimized quality articles can be great way to help you boost traffic to your website. Tell us how quality content has helped your website? Can you tell what keywords this blog post is optimized for?
You may notice that updating some data or images on your webpage is not immediately recognized by search engines like Google. In some case it may take weeks if not months for search engine to show the updated information in the search results.
This is due to the fact that search engines keep copies of WebPages in its massive database. When user search for a “keyword”, Google bots go searching for the WebPages in Google Data Base (not on world wide web). This makes the process of searching much faster. However the drawback of this process is that results are not up to date.
Google uses a process of “crawling” the internet to find the updated and new WebPages on daily basis. However every single page or website is not crawled every day. How many web pages and which web pages should be crawled? This question can only be answered by the search engine. Google has given some direction about its crawling process, “Our crawl process is algorithmic; computer programs determine which sites to crawl, how often, and how many pages to fetch from each site. We don’t accept payment to crawl a site more frequently.”
You can not pay search engine to crawl your site than how can you ensure search engine gets the most up to date information about your website. This is where your website design team and Search engine optimization specialist come into play. They can design your webpage based upon the recommendations of search engines like Google. This will ensure you have a fair chance of winning in the competing world of internet. Search engines have offered clear guidelines that must be followed in order for search engines to accurately index your site in their data base.
Here are some of the technical guidelines by Google:
Technical Guidelines By Google
Google Web Master Technical Guidelines
- Allow search bots to crawl your sites without session IDs or arguments that track their path through the site. These techniques are useful for tracking individual user behavior, but the access pattern of bots is entirely different. Using these techniques may result in incomplete indexing of your site, as bots may not be able to eliminate URLs that look different but actually point to the same page.
- Make sure your web server supports the If-Modified-Since HTTP header. This feature allows your web server to tell Google whether your content has changed since we last crawled your site. Supporting this feature saves you bandwidth and overhead.
- Make use of the robots.txt file on your web server. This file tells crawlers which directories can or cannot be crawled. Make sure it’s current for your site so that you don’t accidentally block the Googlebot crawler. Visit http://code.google.com/web/controlcrawlindex/docs/faq.html to learn how to instruct robots when they visit your site. You can test your robots.txt file to make sure you’re using it correctly with the robots.txt analysis tool available in Google Webmaster Tools.
These are just some of the many guideline set up Google. Following such guidelines will make sure your website stays on the good list of Goolge. Google has designed its algorithm around efficiency and accuracy. If you continue to provide updated, relevant and quality content on your site than there is a good chance that you site will be crawled as often as its updated. Google algorithm is also adaptive. If your site is being updated every day and then Google will learn that pattern and start to crawl your site on daily basis but if your site is updated every two months that Google will probably crawl your site every two months.
I am sure you must have heard of term Search Engine Optimization and how it can help your site rank better for a given keyword. In case you are still living in 20th century and are completely unaware of SEO than you can read the basics of search engine optimization here. It may sound obvious but let me say it anyway. Better ranking for keyword also means more sale. So, it make sense to invest on SEO but how much money you should spend on search engine optimization ? I hope this small blog post can help you find the answer to this question.
How to Estimate Your Return On Investment (ROI)
Before investing on your next SEO or PPC project you should predict the likelihood for return on investment. You may find it impossible to calculate an accurate ROI; but you can get a basic idea by doing some simple math.
Simple ROI Estimator for an E-commerce Site SEO project
Start by searching some good keywords for your website. You may find it very helpful to hire a professional company who can do a keyword research for your business. Professional SEO Company can also provide some good numbers that will allow you to make estimates for ROI. Try to collect the following information from the SEO Company or doing your own research.
Estimated SERP position (after SEO)
Estimated Monthly Search Result (should be fairly accurate)
Estimate Conversion Rate
Based upon these numbers, you can now calculate your monthly margin per keyword.
Monthly margin per keyword = (SERP position % x Conversion Rate % x Monthly Search Traffic) x average margin for the product.
Higher the SERP position = More clicks for your site, how much more?
SERP Position 1 = 56 %
SERP Position 2 = 13 %
SERP Position 3 = 9 %
Lets take a look at an online beauty supply store with a 2% estimated conversion. If this site can achieve 2nd position for a keyword with 100,000 monthly searches and $50 margin than this keyword will be making about $13000.
Let’s do the math :
(.02 x .13 x 100000) $50 = $13,000.00 margin per month
How much are you willing to pay for SEO if you can make additional $13,000 every month? Want to know the ROI of your SEO project ?
Search Engine Optimization or SEO can be defined as a process of improving ranking of webpage in natural organic search results. For example, if you searched for term “webdesign fixtro”, you will be presented with search results. This search result page is divided into three sections. Section 1 (on top of the page) and Section 2 (on right side of the page) are advertisements. You can place your ads in these sections but you will have to pay for each click or based upon number of impressions of your ad. However, third section of the page presents “organic search results”. No one can buy a spot in this section of the web page. Each web page is evaluated on number of criteria and winner is presented on top of the page.
Here is an example of Search Results for “webdesign fixtro”:
Organic search results are presented in the third section with green border. Companies around the world and companies around corner, both, compete to get their webpage on top of this section. Why not ? After all its free. However, ranking on top is not an easy nut to crack. Algorithms used by search engines to evaluate the web page are consistently changing. Site that is ranked # 1 on Google search results may not rank even in top 10 pages tomorrow. You can go from top of the search results to the bottom of search results with in hours. However, getting from bottom to top can take months if not years.
Process of improving rankings in search engine for webpage is know as Search Engine Optimization or SEO. Rankings can be improved using best practices recommended by search engines and bad practices recommended by flyby-night SEO or Search Engine Optimization companies. Did I confuse you ? Let me explain.
Search Engine Optimization is a process that takes time. Your website or webpage should be easy for search engine to understand, offers correct information user is looking for and must be liked by other users of similar interest. If multiple webpage are tied for first two criteria than the most popular webpage wins and presented at the top of search results. Making your site popular can be done in hard, painful and ethical way or in easy/fast way. Hard painful and ethical work produces long term results and help you rank better on search engine over time. However, quick and fast way may get you on top of the page in as little as 3 days but there are very good chance that you will be penalized by search engine or result in completely removed from the search engine results.
Most popular webpage ? Concept of popularity of webpage is all about “back links”. Meaning how many other sites on the internet are linking back to your webpage . For example, you sell shoes for men and they are on sale for $50. Customer went to your sent and shared the link on his or her facebook profile – that is a back link to your site. Or let’s say – you really liked the blog post and shared this blog on your website. That is a back to link to this webpage. In other words, search engine feels that site with original and creative content will be shared by users. And therefore this site must have a better information for the key term searched.
Can Fixtro help in making my website popular ?
I don’t think you really want us to make your site popular. What you really want is targeted visitors to your website. 1000 targeted visitors are much better than 100,000 random visitors. And therefore you need to look at complete picture of Search Engine Optimization. This includes:
- Good Layout of Site
- Good Content on site
- Search Engine Readable
- Popularity on net
How quickly can my site rank in top 10 listing of Google ?
Depends on many factors but key is what kind of competition the keyword has. For example – competition for keyword “web design” is much more than for “webdesign Fremont”. Just because of this face, it will take us longer to rank for “webdesign” than to rank for “webdesign Fremont”. Choosing the right keywords is the key. Good Search Engine Optimization company will spend a day or two to understand your customers and your products before recommending keywords. Once keywords are selected you can work on content and other search engine optimization factors.
My site do not show up in search results at all ?
There are many reasons for search engine not showing your website. You site may be blocked by search engine due to black hat search engine optimization or may be search engine can’t crawl your website or you may have duplicate content on your website. There are hundreds of factor that may contribute to this issue. But usual issue is either black hat SEO or duplicate content.
Any suggestion for new websites ?
Do something ! Most new website owners leave the site on the net hoping some how customers will get there. Often sites website owners also get scared of SEO cost. Search engine optimization is important if you are serious about your website. Contact a local SEO company that can work with in your budget and help you achieve milestones as you grow your site.
How to rank 1 on google ? – You are not the only one asking !
What is the # 1 question client ask me about online marketing?
- Can you get us on first page of Google search results?
And the answer is – Yes, we can help you get there and here is how you can you do this in 10 steps.
Let’s start with the basics:
What is the purpose of your website?
- Is it a business card?
- With simple name, address and phone number.
- Is it a brochure?
- With list of products and service along with brief description.
- Or is it an online store with products or services?
If website is any one of these than chances of you ranking # 1 on Google are really slim. In other words, your website is just like the majority of your competitor website and there is no reason why potential customer should see your website first.
So, how do you stand out from the crowd?
- This requires some brain storming. Let’s do it together.
Can you think of anything else that your website can be?
- Can it act as your company spokesperson?
- Can it act as sales person for your products/services?
- Can it answer your client quires and provide extra information?
- Can it make you look bigger than you really are?
- Can it establish you as a market leader in your area of expertise?
- Can it help you convert prospect into a customer?
In other words, can your website act as an employee of your company assisting potential customers 24 x 7. This is the key to success. You must start treating your website as your “employee” who requires training, coaching, feedback and occasional motivation.
Now that you have some food for thought, let’s take it one step further. For the time being I want you to forget that we are talking about your website. Let’s assume we are talking about your store or office.
When client comes to your office, they see a nice, clean and organize office. Within few seconds, person at the front desk greets the customer and assist them with their visit. Sales person answers client question and help them make the buying decision. Manger of the company tells the client about the recent achievements of the company and how your services has solved other client problems and together all employees help close the sale.
Well, similar team work needs to take place on your website! Your website needs to great the customer, answers the questions, and helps your customer move from prospect to customer.
So, how do you convert your website into an “employee” who works 24 x 7 for you?
I am going to show you how to do this but before I get started I want you to keep these two things in mind.
– Start with right mindset, expectations and goal: You need to start treating your website like an employee and make one year long goals with specific milestones.
– Tackle one piece of puzzle per month: As you will start brainstorming, you will start coming up with great ideas. No need to implement them all. Simply write them on the list.
Now, let’s get to the bottom of this:
Stage # 1 – Very little cost and very little effort – Must have for all websites.
Make sure your site has logo
- Have some of the most basic pages: About Us, Contact Us, Bio of principals, management and staff.
- List of products and services
Stage # 2 – Development Investment
- Nice Clean Design
- Clearly defined ‘information flow’
- Scalable Architecture
- Reliable and dependable technology.
- Secure and fast website.
Stage # 3 – Basic Content Creation Investment
- Add more detailed information about your products/services.
- Remove all duplicate content.
- Add professional graphics and some original photos.
- If possible, hire photographer to take the office and staff pictures.
- Create video testimonials
Stage # 4 – Add “Download” section – mostly marketing material to your site
- Download Logo
- Download Business card
- Download brochure
- Download case study
- Download inforgraphics
- Download Powerpoint
- Download Audio/Podcast
- Download video.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to all of them at this stage, just add few items to download section and we can add others later as your site grows. Professional created marketing material will help your considered as stable and professional.
Stage # 5 – Add ‘Social Media’
Some experts may disagree with me and say that social media should have been added in the first place. You may do so but I prefer doing social media when I have some decent amount of content on my site and I am ready to share and participate actively with my friends on facebook and twitter.
- Share content – Not Marketing Material
- Share Stories – That will help your friends!
- Share Jokes – Everything don’t have to serious business!
- Read others comments and respond.
- Actively participate by reposting and responding.
Stage # 6 – Now you are ready for some serious business aka BLOG
- Have a blog
- Write original content with relevant stories.
- Occasional marketing is ok but blog is all about helping.
- Try to stay relevant with currently industry trends – aka google trends.
- Finds what’s hot in your industry and share.
- Invite your customers and vendors for interviews.
- Build relationship with other bloggers.
- Share your blog content via social media.
- Write as “guest blogger’ for others.
- Respond to your blog comments.
- Write comments on other blogs.
Stage # 7 – Email Marketing
- Start asking for email address of your customers.
- Ask customers to subscribe your newsletter.
- Offer helpful tips in newsletter.
- Stay away from marketing in newsletter.
- Allow customers to unsubscribe.
Stage # 8 – People like to watch instead of reading aka Video Marketing
- 90% of all traffic will be video in coming year – as per Cisco.
- Post regularly updated videos on your site and other video channels on the web.
- Professional video with nice graphics, backgrounds, audio and picture quality will make you look like a start.
- Focus on quality rather than quantity.
- Include interviews, case studies, industry news in your videos.
Stage # 9 – Make it easy to share content
- Subscribing to your content should be easy.
- Via email, or RSS feed is no brainer.
- itunes and youtube are free and easy.
- Social media links should be all over the place
- And most importantly, don’t forget to thank for sharing.
Stage # 10 – Hire a SEO Firm
There are many little things an SEO company can do to help you rank much better in search engines. Things like keyword selection and post optimization are no joke. They can take significant amount of your time. Have a professional company do this for you.
Now, once you have implemented all of the above in your website. Will your website:
- Act as your company spokesperson?
- Act as sales person for your products/services?
- Answer your client quires and provide extra information?
- Make you look bigger than you really are?
- Establish you as a market leader in your area of expertise?
- Help you convert prospect into a customer?
You may be wondering – if this is the formula than why do most websites is not doing this. Well, because it easier said or taught than actually done. Following these steps takes time and investment and requires long term commitment. It’s like growing a tree; you must have patience and do the right thing even when there are no fruits. Slow and steady, you will win the race.
As you can tell by following these 10 steps – your site will be loved by potential visitors and your favorite search engine will be proud to present you as top result.
So, let me ask you this, “How do you rank # 1 on Google?”
– Yes, you are right, by doing the right thing.
Tell me your thoughts on online marketing ?
During next seven weeks, I will help you come up with a must have “Basic Marketing Plan”. This plan is for those who are struggling with their current plan or have no plan in place. Ideas are powerful, simple to implement, and result oriented.
Here is the agenda for next seven weeks covering my seven step guide.
- Seeds vs Leads
- Opportunity vs Actionable Opportunity
- Action vs Close
- Close vs Sale
- Sale vs Customer
- Customer vs Friend
- Friend vs New Seed
Seeds vs Leads – Week 1
Leads are often categorized as hot or cold. Hot leads are those where customer has an immediate need or expressed an interest in your product or service. Most advertising campaigns are primarily focused on producing leads. Leads are usually very expensive and require good amount of budget. In many cases, buying leads is simply not a solution for small business owner.
Cheaper alternative is to plant seeds. No, I don’t want you to run to Lowes or Home Depot and buy seeds. I am referring to a thought you plant in prospective buyer who may have a need for your product or service in future. Planting seed is cheaper however requires careful planning and nurturing.
Number one item on your marketing plan should be planning, planting, and nurturing seeds. Take out your calendar and scratch paper. Start with a goal on in mind. How many seeds would you like to plant per month, per week and per day? Make a list of things you are currently doing to plant a seed and how many seeds are you truly planting. What else you can do to plant more seeds? Perhaps call a special meeting to brainstorm the idea of planting seeds.
Here are few simple ideas to plant seeds today:
- Your Business Card – Write a personalize note on your card before passing it on.
- Network With People – Attend one networking event per week and get to know people.
- Message On Hold – Give message on your phone while customer is holding.
- Partnership– Partner up with other local business who have similar client base.
- Giveaways – Anything that may remind customers of you.
- Contest – Relate to something your customer may actually like participating.
- Charity – Ask your customer if you could donate to their favorite charity. Amount is irrelevant.
- Sponsor a Blog – Ask your customer what blog do they read and sponsor a post every now and then.
- Webinars – Share your wisdom online by holding live webinars. Allow people participate and ask questions.
Idea is to forget sales number and focus on number of seeds being planted each day. Next step is to design a nurturing plan for that seed. Without nurturing new seed is almost worthless. Carefully think about information you can provide that will enhance the chance of converting your seeds into leads.
For example, Law Firm specializing in Bankruptcy may send series of letters and emails to prospective future customers explaining one piece of process at a time. In this case letters are sent on weekly basis followed by phone call every 60 days. On the other hand, financial consultant may divide seeds into high, moderate or low risk categories. Letters or email should be sent based upon risk tolerance. Material in email and letters should be fresh reflecting current market condition.
Here are some Seed Nurturing Ideas:
- Write a Blog post.
- Post a video or audio.
- Share a case study/success story
- Send Informative Email and/or Letter.
- Follow with phone calls or personalized letter.
- Stay connected on facebook, twitter or Linkedin.
- Consistently follow your plan.
I am available to share my ideas personally with you. Feel free to contact me at 510-709-4030. I will be happy to meet with you In person, send you sample marketing plan or help you come up with you own customized marketing plan.
Want Some Homework?
- Pick your “Seed Planting” Goal
- Come Up 10 Ways To Plant Seeds
- Come Up with Seed Nurturing Plan
- Track Your Results
Please do share your thoughts. Share your ideas about planting new seeds and how nurture a new seed. Tell us your experience and what kind of results did you achieve.
One evening will change how you do business in future. Come and join us for business networking event in Fremont, CA on Tuesday, Oct 18th from 5 pm to 9 pm. This event is organized in round table format. You must register to reserve your seat in advance. We recommend at least 2 people attend from your company so that you can promote your services to all other participating businesses.
Bring about 400 business cards, energetic attitude and 30 second elevator pitch with you. Please do not bring anything other than your business card to distribute unless you are exhibiting at the event. Please plan on attending the whole event from 5 pm to 9pm.
Simply click on Enter Discount Code and enter the code “myguest” to get yourself a free ticket to this special event. Feel free to share the discount code with other business owners. You can also use the same code to get $50 off the exhibitor ticket.