Category Archives: Internet Marketing

What Is the Difference Between a Tri-fold Brochure, Case Study and a White Paper?

Pen on NotebookI have never been a big fan of tri-fold brochures that attempt to convince me that I should buy a particular product or sign up for a certain service.   These marketing materials tend not to be persuasive enough due to the fact that information has been crammed into a limited space.  The customer benefits are not always obvious, contrary to emotional appeal – nice images, unusual fonts and unique paper may catch my attention, but not for long.

White papers appeal more to me as they provide logic through facts, statistics and quotes from end users or industry experts. They are not flashy, but usually filled with facts.  For me, they are much more informative. I consider writing a good white paper a real art form as the author has to be a good researcher, persuasive essayist and a marketer all at once.  At the same time, a good balance between the right amount of facts, images, quotes and often industry terms has to be achieved.  Case studies tend to focus on customer stories and testimonials whereas white papers add a touch of credibility through unbiased information.

High quality content is becoming increasingly important as people crave useful information and have access to growing number of information channels before making buying decisions.  All marketing materials should educate; therefore, business people, especially marketers, need to become avid readers and dedicated students to continuously improve their skills.  I am planning to master the art of writing effective white papers in 2010 to deliver quality leads for my own business and customers. I encourage you to do the same. Good content leads to good customers.

To Tweet Or Not To Tweet?

Some small businesses are hesitant to embrace social media. Blogging seems time consuming, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook scary or unknown.  At the same time, old marketing strategies don’t seem to work any more.

Business owners may not always realize that they need to re-visit their marketing plan to create and adopt a marketing system to get results.   The same principle can be applied to Social Media – do your research, learn from others  and create a well thought-out Social Media Marketing Plan to implement your Social Media Marketing System and benefit from social networking.

During last couple of months I have been helping my clients research social networking opportunities for their organizations.  They have been using Twitter and Facebook to listen and learn before they plan and create their own Social Media Marketing Systems.  This is what we’ve learned:

  1. Make Twitter a part of your marketing strategy. Create a Social Media Marketing System.  Determine whether your business could use free social networking tools such as Twitter and Facebook for market research, customer service and/or for reaching your target market.
  2. Improve your professional skills by paying attention to what your competitors, potential clients  and current customers are talking about. Then meet their needs.
  3. Learn how to educate and inform your target audience.  Share information about the articles, products and opportunities that your followers/fans may find useful.
  4. Person handling tweets/posts/fan pages for your organization should be familiar with the web and web-based tools.
  5. Make it your goal to become an “informer” who has the potential to be a “trust agent” – someone who is an expert and has an ability to influence other people.
  6. Use each Twitter wisely. Listen first, then chime in.
  7. Avoid words and phrases that may attract unwanted followers/fans.
  8. 100 loyal followers/fans/subscribers who look forward to reading your tweets/posts may be worth more than 1,000 random followers.
  9. Learn to use Twitter/Facebook/Blogs as your company’s online reputation management tool.
  10. Don’t waste your time if you don’t have a social networking strategy.

Reinvent in the Recession with Great Marketing

Presentation Zen

Do you really know who your ideal customer is?  Can you picture what he/she reads, likes, wears and how your ideal client makes purchasing decisions?  If you know your customers’ needs well, then you don’t need to follow them around, you can lead them with confidence and you can spread ideas that resonate with your audiences.  Twitter and Facebook are great for networking, but if your customer does not even know how to spell Twitter, you may need to hang out somewhere else.  You need a different marketing strategy during recession, but first you need to

KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER.

Examples of companies who know their customer:

Apple – Design matters!  People pay more for products if you give them a reason to do so.

REI – Offers quality and utility to people who value them.  Appreciates customer feedback.

Target – Makes customers feel good by letting them trade up,  differentiates its  brand from low cost retailers.

BE CREATIVE, do what your best competitors do, but do it differently, stand out. Find ways to create great customer stories and create your own story that others will tell.  Reward your best evangelists.  Write articles about your expertise or your business or have them written,  submit locally and  online.

BE INNOVATIVE, find news ways to market. Start your own inexpensive podcast if you have talent or find someone who will interview you.

Here are some useful websites for aspiring podcasters as well as listeners:

www.podomatic.com – they even give their authors 800 numbers so people can also listen to the podcast on their phones.

Free audio recording/editing software for podcasters:
www.audacity.sourceforge.net

Check out BlogTalkRadio as well.

STAY IN TOUCH with your customers and gain new clients via newsletters,  webinars or special offers.  Have free videoconferences via Skype.

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Edgy Presentations Add More Power to Your Social Media Marketing

Presentation Zen

I started looking for alternative presentation tools for one of my always traveling friends and found  Zoho Show .  It is completely free for personal use,  presenters can access their presentations from anywhere.  You can  export your slideshow to PowerPoint if needed, share your presentation online and track how many people have viewed it.

Presentation sharing site Slideshare is growing in popularity,  users can upload Word documents,  text files, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations,  PDF files as well as files created with Open Office (odt) and access them from the Slideshare site when presenting.  There is a 100 MB maximum allowed upload file size limit.

OpenOffice 3 Impress is a free software for creating effective multimedia presentations. You can use 2D and 3D clip art, special effects, animation, and high-impact drawing tools.  It is possible to save your slideshow as a PowerPoint file.

Google Presentations belong to the Google Docs and Spreadsheets family. One advantage that Google Presentations has over PowerPoint is the fact that all steps – the presentation creation, development, viewing and sharing can  take place online.

Sliderocket is another emerging web-based tool.  Users can incorporate video and publish their presentations online or embed them on their websites.  Their free plan provides 250 MB of storage.

And yes, you have to learn presentation design from Garr Reynolds

Spice up your presentations, spread your ideas!

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How Should You Improve Your Web Presence in 2009?

globe-and-laptop.jpgStatic websites are out.  Make sure your website is interactive to keep visitors coming back.  Small businesses need to improve their online marketing efforts to ensure their websites meet visitors’ needs and expectations.

Add customer reviews, feedback and testimonials. If you are selling products online, provide customers the ability to provide product ratings and reviews. It enhances the user experience and gives prospective buyers the confidence to buy as well as leads to customer loyalty. So, if a customer was happy with their purchase from your online store, make sure you add feedback to your website.

E-newsletter: An e-newsletter is a must-have tool that makes it easy and cost effective to communicate with a mass audience. First, make sure you have a content rich e-newsletter. Make sure you are promoting it. Add an e-newsletter sign-up form to your home page and give visitors proper incentive to subscribe. If you don’t have a large email list yet, no worries. Add a forwarding feature to the newsletter so your subscribers can forward your newsletter to their friends, and colleagues.

RSS feeds: Forrester Research, in its “RSS 101 for Marketers” report, said, “RSS is a powerful tool  that marketers should test and deploy to proactively maintain relationships with their customers.”

RSS is a technology that enables users to “subscribe” to content from websites without providing an email address. When the content is updated, users automatically get notified and their “RSS Reader” pulls this content directly from the source. Since the content is pulled instead of “pushed”, marketers don’t have to worry about their message being caught in spam filters.

Have a blog on your website? Integrating multiple RSS feeds into your website allows visitors to read the content that’s most important to them.

SEO is making its way into marketing plans and budgets. By focusing on SEO, businesses have the potential to increase their position in search engines, increase traffic to their websites, and as a result, drive revenue. Begin your SEO efforts by ensuring that all of your web site content is optimized with the keywords your prospective customers will use to find you. Relevant content is the key to achieving higher rankings in search engines. Don’t know which key words are right for your business or how to begin optimizing your content. Use Wordtracker.


Consistent message throughout your web content: Websites need to be updated with new content regularly to keep customers coming back. Focus on message consistency. Make the message in your email campaign cohesive with the message on your website. All forms of communication including your website, e-newsletter, collateral and advertising should consistently deliver the same message in order to maximize the potential of your marketing efforts.

Rethink Your Small Business Marketing

Email marketing – Hire an expert if you feel that you are not cut out to manage databases and lists. Find a reliable vendor to work with.  Constant Contact and Vertical Response are good.

Direct Mail – How effective is your Direct Mail marketing? Are you measuring your results? Anything printed has to be carefully thought out as you may be wasting money, time and natural resources.  Maybe you could upload most of your marketing materials to your website and switch to email marketing campaigns.

Discounts – Are you offering special extras, online only content or freebies?  Consider online coupons, try Intellogy.

Viral Marketing – Are you creating compelling content that is picked up and shared person-to-person via social networking sites?
Have you considered creating your company profile on Merchant Circle or Facebook?

What Can Small Business Owners Learn From Obama

1. Leadership skills – he put together a great team for his campaign and motivated his people all the way. 

2. Never give up, believe in yourself, even if you have no reason to do so, polls did not always predict Obama as a winner.

3. Presentation skills – Obama is one of the most eloquent and self-confident speakers I have ever seen. Practice!

4. Social media marketing – get away from ads to building online communities, just like Obama did.

5. Viral marketing – get everyone talking and singing about you. Where are you now, Obama girl?

6. If you can’t get to young consumers otherwise, send them a text message or an email- speak their “love language”.

7. Go to gym and play some ball – relieve your stress, basketball plays big part in Obama’s life.

8. Buy some nice clothes and look sharp – I loved Obama’s suit on election night!

9. Supportive spouse or partner is always a blessing – keep your spouse and partner happy.  Have you noticed the smile on Michelle Obama’s face?

10. Humble beginnings don’t always mean humble lives – with hard work, passion and dedication small business owners can beat the odds, just like Obama did.

Small Business is Always In a Marketing Wheel

loop.jpgwheel.jpgI was recently asked to explain the concept of “marketing wheel”.  I had to stop and think.  For a moment, I thought of a steering wheel that helps entrepreneurs stay on course, but then remembered that there was no need to “reinvent the wheel”, there is a term like “marketing wheel”.  I prefer to call it a “marketing loop” instead as it seems to be a never-ending process.

First, discover and get to know your ideal customer and your marketing environment.

Secondly, customize your product or service to address your ideal customer’s needs without forgetting your marketing environment. Don’t forget to observe and learn from your competition!

Then you create marketing messages that grab attention, motivate and move your ideal prospects towards making a purchase. This phase can be longer than expected and some “fish” that take your bait need to be thrown back into the water…

Close the sale, but don’t stop there.  Customer service starts at this point. If you do it right, the initial sale may lead into repeat business and referrals.

Talk to your customers to find out what they need and want. Use your findings to improve your products and services as well as marketing messages.

Then do the same thing over and over…..Welcome to the Small Business Marketing Loop!

Dont’ become a victim of Wheel of Marketing Misfortune.

Find New Marketing Ideas, Don’t Rely On Old Beliefs

If you suspect that most of the money you spend on marketing is wasted, you could be right. Check this marketing advice by marketing professor David Corkindale.

* Instead of targeting one segment of consumers or the market relevant to your business, aim at a broader spectrum of prospects who are likely to want the products/services you and your competitors offer.

* Depend less on customer loyalty. Studies show that only 10 percent of all buyers are loyal customers.

* The only way for a company to achieve lasting growth is to increase its customer base, either by reaching new customers in existing markets or entering new markets.

* Gain market share by reaching more prospective customers rather than working to get existing customers to buy more often.

* Being different from competitors is not always the best goal.

Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Corkindale notes that those who want to compete with dominant companies, like McDonalds, usually accept the fact that the leader has found a formula that works. It can be copied.

Some things to remember:

* Sales and promotions are more likely to attract those who are already your customers than bring in new business.

* Young companies need to do all they can to nurture their brand and create positive associations in the minds of prospects/customers.

* Make sure your products or services are easy to find online. The Internet is a powerful marketing tool.

* Set up a system that makes it possible to respond effectively to Internet prospects when they contact you.

Marketing expert Terri Langhans puts it another way: Think of marketing as anything that “helps or hinders” the sale or use of your product or service. This includes your location, the attitude of the person who answers the phone, your name, pricing, brochures, your personality and more.

Figure out what obstacles you can quickly fix or remove – suggests Langhans.

Obama Turned Out To Be the Best Marketer

Here’s what I wrote in my blog post ‘Who would make the best small business marketer – Clinton, McCain or Obama?‘ in May:

“Senator Obama has the biggest potential to be a web savvy small business marketer. I can see him being successful at creating and delivering marketing messages to/for professional services firms. He is a very good speaker who does not get into too much detail (tactics), but understands his audience and can win over younger decision makers.”

 As it turns out he did win over millions of young people by utilizing new technologies and creating vibrant online and offline communities.