Category Archives: Uncategorized

When the Mind is Willing But the Flesh is Weak.

Posted By On Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

This article raises an interesting question no matter what you do for a living. It brings up the difference between motivation and follow through.

You know you have to do a blog post, update your Linkedin profile or develop your company social media program. You need a better web site, capabilities brochure, sales development program and you’re really, really psyched! In other words, you’re motivated.

But now it’s six months down the road and all of the things you were motivated to do in September are still at the starting gate. So the problem isn’t motivation, it’s follow through- there’s always so much to do and no time to do it that we get overwhelmed and wind up looking at our computer screens like deer looking at headlights.

The “White Socks” Solution


The article uses a workout metaphor, but it can really work for just about any follow through problems you have. The most important thing for me is to create an environment. Start small- my workout environment creation is very basic: if I put a pair of white socks in the morning I’ll go to the gym, if I don’t I won’t. It’s really simple but it also really works.

The article goes into more tricks like this, but the solutions are are very straightforward and easy to implement.

Conquer Email Overload – Some Quick and Simple Solutions

Posted By On Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

email overload1Email is essential to our work, but it can easily become too much of a good thing. Each new message requires attention, and an overstuffed inbox makes it more likely that an important message may get lost in the mix. To conquer email overload, try these simple techniques.

  1.  First, reduce your incoming email. Unsubscribe yourself from mailing lists and promotional emails, or forward your emails to Unsubscribe.com and have it taken care of automatically.
  2. Some non-essential emails are actually useful. Aggregating and unsubscribing can help you stay on top of them. Receive a daily summary of different coupon offerings from Groupon and the like by using Dealery. Setting up Google Alerts or signing up for The Daily Beast can streamline your updates on news topics of interest; just be sure to unsubscribe to other individual news alerts.
  3. Any type of email you get with some regularity should have a filter assigned to it. Accounts can be set up to forward emails with certain keywords to an assistant, or provide a specific automated response. Find out what filtering services your email system offers and make the most of them.
  4.  Next comes organization. Take your messages out of your inbox and sort them into folders tailored to your own needs and interests. If you need help, try OtherInbox, which integrates with Gmail, Yahoo, AOL and others.  It automatically organizes your messages into folders like “Shopping” and “Business,” and OtherInbox will learn from you; therefore, getting better over time. It also has its own unsubscribe service.
  5. Take away the need for people to email you in the first place by answering questions ahead of time. Try including an FAQ section on your website, or putting relevant information in your signature.
  6. You might also use your email signature to state that you only check your email once a day. Leave instructions for how to reach you if the matter is urgent. AwayFind, for example, creates an emergency contact page that routes messages to you by voice or text.
  7. Finally, don’t put off taking action on your emails. The old advice of “handle it once” for printed mail and memos can be applied to digital correspondence. The more quickly you can respond to what’s truly important, the less of an email overload you will have to contend with later.

Key takeway: Take action on one of these each week to manage your email inbox.

Steve Jobs Recognized the Business Value of Creative Design

Posted By On Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Good article about how Jobs applied design values to business- quick takeaway:

“More than any other executive, Jobs proved that design is among the key strategic differentiators in a global economy that’s increasingly becoming commoditized. His life was so full, and his ingenuity so great, that Jobs will leave many legacies. But certainly high on that list will be the impact of great design on the bottom line.

Jobs taught corporate America, and really the business world writ large, that design could create value, if done right. But that last clause is really the key because most companies, while they want to create beautifully designed and easy-to-use products, don’t really understand how to do it. It’s hard.”

Read more here

Marketers Struggle to Harness Social Media Marketing Campaign Data

Posted By On Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

One social marketer I heard speak described the whole social media scene as the “wild west”.

Consumer companies such as Coca-Cola, Nike and Starbucks use social media to successfully build brand awareness and track what their customers want, only 26 percent of CMOs track blogs and 40 percent track any online communications. 82 percent still rely on traditional market research.

Here’s an article about a survey IBM did that has this information and a whole lot more.

I have to admit, as a creative, I’ve always looked at marketing data, focus groups, etc. with a bit of suspicion. Data, facts and figures can point in a direction, but it seems to me that inspiration and creativity is what makes or breaks a great marketing effort.

Steve Jobs passing has brought all sorts of quotes to mind, but I especially like this one as reported by the New York Times: Jobs said “his own study and intuition, not focus groups, were his guide. When a reporter asked what market research went into the iPad, Mr. Jobs replied: ‘None. It’s not the consumers’ job to know what they want.'”

I don’t think he meant this in an arrogant way- although it comes off like that- I think he was encouraging people to rely and trust the creative side more and use the data as a map, not a goal.

 

A Better Website in 5 Steps: Step 5 – Design

Posted By On Thursday, September 29th, 2011

In this post, we’ll be discussing some simple methods for creating a better website using best practices for design, which plays a rather significant role in the process of upgrading your site.

  •  Use the right colors – Most of us have this one figured out, but the first element of design to check is the color scheme you’ve chosen for your site. When you visit your home page, can you read the text? If you are using an image background or placing light colored text on a light background color, it’s time to make some changes. Keep it simple and readable.
  • Limit use of graphics – While appropriately placing images on your website can be an effective design element, it’s generally best to include only a few on each page. Avoid using images or graphics as navigational elements, since text links are more usable and conducive to a better website design.
  • Test for browser compatibility – This one is a bit trickier, but it’s very important. While the majority of internet users continue to use Internet Explorer, other web browsers have gained in popularity in the last few years. You should open your site in all major browsers to see how it appears in each one. Are there any major differences? Does it display incorrectly in any? If so, changes must be made to your CSS in order to achieve a better website.
  • Design links differently – Be sure that your design makes text links appear different from the plain text around them. If you have a paragraph of black text, any links within it should be a different color and they should be underlined. This makes it easy to spot them.
  •  Feature important content “above the fold” – If you have a call to action and want visitors to click a button, don’t put it at the bottom of the page. Be sure that they don’t have to scroll at all in order to see or click your most important messages.

These are all ideas you can try today, so experiment and track your results.

A Better Website in 5 Steps: Step 3 – Offers

Posted By On Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

act-nowBuild a better website by creating offers for your visitors.  It’s an opportunity to give them something of value and share your expertise.

Start by thinking about what your target market needs and wants from you.

Offers can range from a free white paper to a product sample.  It all depends on your business.  If you primarily sell services, offer a free hour of consulting or a needs assessment. Another good option is free content – white papers, case studies, Top Ten lists, etc. Make sure it’s practical. If you sell products, offer a sample. If your budget permits, you can give away promotional items with your company’s name and URL.

To maximize the benefit of these offers, require that visitors fill out a form in order to receive them. That will enable you to capture and track information on who is interested and in what. Then you can adjust your offers to what receives the best response.

To build a better website, listen you your visitors, learn what they need, and find ways to help them. Think about what you can offer your visitors that will make them remember who you are, what you do, and how you can help them.  Remember to follow up when they show interest!

A Better Website in 5 Steps: Step 2 – Message

Posted By On Monday, September 19th, 2011

megaphone_man_smOne of the simplest, and often most overlooked, aspects to having a better website is to send a clear, consistent message. Making sure that people know the purpose of your website is absolutely key, and it is important to also make sure that it is easy enough to navigate.

 

Show Visitors Who You Are

It seems like common sense, right? Most of us think that the purpose and message of our website is clear. But you can easily get off track if you are not diligent about what visitors see as soon as they land on your website.

Let’s say you write a blog about gardening. People look for gardening blogs, and they wind up on yours. The first post that they see, however, is a funny picture of an animal with a caption. The space is yours, and it may seem natural to share the picture with your readers, especially if you thought it was especially funny. If you have a core group of readers who understand that you do provide great gardening tips and pictures of your vegetables, that’s great.

But if you are questioning why you are not attracting new readers, or you are attracting readers who are not interested in gardening at all, something as simple as that initial message could be to blame.

Don’t panic, though! It’s possible to create a better website for gardeners and still share some personality. Simply split the posts into categories and show only the ones related to your topic on the front page.

This example applies in principle to most websites. If you are having trouble attracting or retaining visitors, the easiest thing you can do to generate better website traffic is to step back and take a look at the message you are sending.

View it as if you are the average person who clicked their way to your site and doesn’t know anything about you or your company. Or ask an objective friend or colleague what they feel is the stand-out message.

Do you see a clear, concise, easy to use website that shows what you are all about? If not, it may be time work on creating a better website; a website that shows what you are trying to convey. List three points you want visitors to take away from a quick visit to your site, and be sure those points are front and center.

A Better Website in 5 Steps: Step 1 – Keywords

Posted By On Thursday, September 15th, 2011

Assess Current Keywords; Yours and Your Competition’skeyword-research_3x3

The first step in building a better website is to select the right keywords that not only resonate with your audience but are also what your prospects search for when they’re looking for your product or service.  To select keywords, start with your current website analytics package and find out what keywords are already being used to find your site.

Next, take a look at your competition’s website.  Which keywords do they use to attract traffic?  Make note of those keywords, because if your competition is getting more traffic than you are, you’ll need to figure out how to use them on your own site.

 

Make Use of Available Tools

When you’re selecting keywords, also use a tool like Google Keyword Tool 
that will suggest the most-searched keywords in your space, as well as what the competition is for each keyword.  You’ll want to know how likely it is that common keywords will drive traffic, as well as knowing how many other sites are using that same keyword, so you can get an idea of what the keyword density should be.

 

Don’t Forget Long-Tail Keywords

As part of your strategy for a better website, also look closely at long-tail keywords.  Long-tail keywords often indicate that the prospect is more serious about buying.  For example, someone casually browsing for tools might input “drill” into a search box.  However, someone very interested in buying a particular tool may input “Ryobi 18V ONE+ hammer drill.”

Once you research your keywords and decide on the density, you’ve taken the first step to building a better website that will increase traffic, find qualified leads, and increase sales.

A Better Website in 5 Steps: Step 4 – Optimize

Posted By On Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

magnifying_glass copy1By this point, you are well on your way to a better website! The key now is making sure that people can find it.

 

Help Search Engines Find you

The first place that most people go when they are looking for something is to an online search engine. While they get thousands of results, most people just look at the first few results. So, how do you optimize your website so that you are among those first results? Often the best way to get there is to use keywords.

Let’s say you sell hot air balloon baskets. You want to make sure that it is not only in the title of your website, but that you frequently mention hot air balloon baskets in your content; that is what the search engine will “see” and count as it scans the web. People who search for “hot air balloon baskets” will be shown images of the baskets, information about how they are made, where they are made, how they work, as well as where to buy them. To compete with that avalanche of information, the baskets need to be mentioned on your site frequently; the more often a keyword is used, the higher the ranking it will receive for that search. Do your best to avoid using the word it so much that it seems unnatural, though.

One key to a better website is slipping in the keywords organically, much like you might say a friend’s name in a conversation with him or her.  It would be odd if you said your friend’s name after every sentence, but a few times throughout a conversation is very natural.

Tag Unreadable Items
Search engines can’t see images, so you’ll want to tag them (alt tags) to add to your overall use of the keywords.

Link Related Websites
Another thing that will up your ranks in the search engines are links to other sites with similar information. You could link to one of the sites showing how the hot air balloon baskets are made.

Check out Google’s Webmaster Guidelines here for more details and ideas about how to optimize your website.

April Fools- an Honest History- Honest!

Posted By On Wednesday, April 1st, 0201

Reading-jester-q75-760x753What’s it about April first, to be frank
That means that we have to beware of a prank
Was that day picked long ago, willy nilly
To give ourselves plenty of time to be silly?

Where did it come from and how long ago?
The Internet says that we don’t really know.

The Gregorians did some thing really quite strange
They decided to make a big calendar change
And as it turned out, when they were done
New Year’s Day was no longer upon April one
The folks who believed New Year’s Day was the same
Were called April fools, which is not a nice name

Some say it’s connected with spring as a season
And so we are wondering “If that’s the reason
Does April Fools day come around 6 months later
If you happen to live underneath the equator?”

A professor at one of our prestigious schools
Explained it’s related to jesters as fools
When reporters reported this in all the papers
It turned out to be the prof’s April Fools caper

In France there is something called poisson d’avril
Here’s what they do, and they think it’s a thrill
You sneak up on someone and then you attack
By sticking a picture of fish on their back
This happens in Italy and in Belgium too
But there you just put the fish in someone’s shoe.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you really knew
If what you are reading now is actually true?

You’ll probably wonder, and wonder you might
Is anything that we’ve said here really right?
Are these explanations, although they’re real cool
Simply designed, like the day, just to fool?

If somebody fools you, just swallow your pride
Today is the day to take it in stride.