the internet ideas blog

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Hi! I'm Chris! I program the websites...

Hi, it's Chris. I hardly ever post, but I've made a New Years resolution to more actively engage myself with our blog. I can't even pretend to know what I'm going to write about over the course of the next year, but I can promise it won't always be work related. If I'm going to write blog posts they're going to have to be about things I want to talk about, and while I love web development, enjoy working with Teajai, and the clients who employ us... I don't want to spend my time talking about it too.

So anyways.. I guess an introductory post is in order!

My name is Chris Keefer. I guess here's where I try to sum myself up in a brief synopsis. So let's see here...

I'm a programmer. In the context of the web that means I'm the one who creates and implements the solutions to your internet problems. Shopping carts, content management systems, user login systems. I build those. Favorite Language: PHP

I secretly want to be a chef. Only problem is I can't cook. I've been working on it, very recently really the time and spending some focus points on really applying myself in the kitchen... Favorite Food: Chicken Fried Steak (with pan gravy of course...) 

The hobby that really soaks up the majority of my time, when weather permits, is automotive mechanics. I work on friend's cars. My car. Friend's friend's cars.. It's just something I love to do when I have the time (and money!). I've had a run of bad luck with my most recently car, so I'm really considering dropping it for a new project. We'll see how it pans out. Just waiting for warmer months so I can get back out there and start tinkering. Favorite Car: Datsun 510

I'm a dog person. I don't hate cats or anything, in fact Teajai's cat Prince may be my favorite animal of all time. But if I ever have a furry friend of my own, it'll be a dog. Favorite Breed: Australian Cattle Dog

Lightning round: I'm right-handed. My two best friend's names are Angel and Jesus (LOL!). I'm sort of a movie snob. I wish I was more artistic. I used to play video games competitively, attending tournaments across the country. I've never been able to successfully use chop-sticks. My favorite color is Orange. I chew on ice & straws... always.. I've never left the country. I have friends I keep in regular contact with living in over 20 states (and Canada land!). I never met a pizza I didn't like. I hate getting haircuts (I always look dumb!). I love the smell of race fuel (but don't sniff it.. that'd be bad). I once BOARDED a plane going to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina... My destination was Jacksonville, Florida... I like pineapple on my pizza.. and I ask Santa for a giant tortoise every year so I can put aviator goggles on him.. Santa never delivers.

I hope this was enlightening.... Probably not.. But at least we know each other a little better.. Or.. you know me better..

Whatever. I'll find a real topic of discussion for my next post.. I promise.

I hope everyone's Christmas/Kwanza/Hanukkah or otherwise awesome December-based holiday is going/went/will go great. It's a cool time of year, but I know a lot of people get wrapped up in the hustle & bustle of it all. So don't forget to spend some time reflecting on what's truly important in life.

As always, if there's ever anything we can do.. I know TJ and I are happy to oblige.. Merry Christmas to everyone. I hope you and yours are safe, happy & healthy, and if I don't talk to you before, enjoy your new years. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

As hated as a visit to the dentist . . .

Blogging doesn't have to be like pulling teeth!
Some people think of blogging the same way they think of going to the dentist - not pleasant and to be avoided at all costs.  But this year I've had more clients start blogging (and I'm ghostwriting more blogs) this year than any year in the past. Why? Because more people are seeing the benefits of blogging like how blogs get the attention of search engines because of the fresh content and the way a blog gives you a platform to showcase expertise.

If you are still struggling with blogging here's a few things I've learned that will keep things on track.

  1. Give yourself a blogging due date and stick to it.  Like an appointment on the calendar make sure you have your "homework" done by that day each week.  When I've set a due dates for the client's I'm coaching we get it done 9 times out of 10.
  2. Keep a notepad handy so when something you read or talk about sparks an idea for a blog post you can jot it down and come back to it later.  If you're really hurting for ideas try using the Content Idea Generator.
  3. Watch your blog traffic - really! Because when you see how many people read a particular blog post it encourages you to write again!
  4. Get a blogging buddy - that's right a buddy who will keep you on track, proof read, give you a second opinion and maybe even brainstorm ideas with you.
Remember - a blog post is first person, can include your thoughts and opinions and should always quote the source or link back to the source when you're referencing the writings of others. 

Blogging shouldn't be a painful exercise, it can be a fun, easy way to showcase your company. If you haven't started - today looks like a good day to do so right? How about now?

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Get Lost!

Yesterday I had to make a call to a government agency about a strange letter I received.  The phone system was HELL.  First select English, then listen to 6 options (didn't hear one that really applied so had to listen twice) take a guess at a selection that *might* be correct, listen to 4 more options - none of these seemed correct.  Tried selectin 0 which in most cases will get an operator, no such luck.  Made a random guess - it ended up telling me about a new policy and wished me a good day (in other words said good-bye and hung up).

Round 2: Select English, listen to 6 options - try a different choice. Listen to 5 more options - choose something that is irrelevant but sounds like it has an outside chance of reaching a person...

Have you been there, done that?  Layers and layers of choices and yet they don't get what you wanted. Layers. They are everywhere!

Unfortunately many websites are the same way - nothing but layers.  Why would you put a potential customer (yes even non-profit and government agencies have "customers" they serve) through the hell of trying to sort through all those layers! Worse yet, about half of these websites don't even use breadcrumbs to help you know where you in the website.

Here's one example - to get to the explanation of changes based on the new Obamacare you'll go through at least 5 screens of  "it's coming" content.  That's the number of clicks before it starts to give you the info from the link on the front page. Then they want 8 more minutes of your time.

Government and insurance websites are among the worse offenders although you can also find this problem in shopping websites, large corporations and more.

The point is - people just want to go to the website, get the info (or order the product) and get out. They don't want to get lost and will often leave before finding what they came for when they are lost.

The use of personas and "people like me" identifiers are key to a good user experience.  By giving "quick links" and "short cuts" to the information people are most likely to want you'll be doing us all a favor.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Control freak

The internet is full of control issues and people who have control issues. Google wants to "put you in control" by controlling what you see (they say the algorithms benefit you but really?). Social media
websites are just as bad - think of the big change Facebook made awhile back when they started telling you what your "top stories" were.  And then there is the whole privacy thing: what you think is private really isn't.

Then there are all the websites that compete for the same impressions (eyeballs) and dollars you're trying to capture. There are all the new technology gadgets that seem to dictate how your information will be displayed on mobile devices for example.

In all  my years of working on the internet, one thing remains constant, people want to have control of what happens once their website is launched: top rankings in search, exposure through links, social media traffic etc. And the irony is, those are all things that cannot be controlled.  Oh you can try to influence them, but you can't control them.  The only thing you can control is the website itself.

If Bing, Google & Yahoo didn't exist, if there were no social media channels - would your website give visitors the informational value and the ease of use to cultivate sales? What is there on your website that makes it worth visiting... more than once?

Websites that do well in search, for the most part, have quality content that's worth reading and re-reading as people research choices.  Websites that go viral have web content that is worth sharing Website that convert visitors to customers are all easy to use, give a direct path to the conversions.

Funny thing - the website is often neglected when it comes to cultivating and nurturing a professional looking, clean functioning, quality content driven website.  A quick search in the deep results pages  and you'll see dozens of websites languishing with little attention from their owners.  Like plants, a little attention goes a long way.

So if you want to "control" over the top ranking, viral social sharing, and getting more leads or sales you have to work on the one thing you can control: the website itself.  Keep the content current, include new information that will help people choose your company. Treat your website like the most important component of any internet marketing campaign - because it is!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Fed Up with "Content Marketing"

Is content marketing really new?

Everyday there are at least a handful of articles talking about how you have to be involved with content marketing. And everyday I look at those headlines and think, why do people think this is news? Seriously, if you've been involved in internet marketing at all in the last decade you would know that this is nothing new at all. In fact, if you are an internet marketing professional, you should have been practicing "content marketing" all along. It's the backbone to all other online marketing efforts.  Whatever you are trying to accomplish online it should begin with the content.

Example: You want to set up a lead generation campaign.  You need to have something that people want in an easy to access format that will be worth a prospect giving you an email address.  What do you do? You develop content in the form of a white paper.

Example: You want to send out a newsletter that includes the blurb of an expert article on your website. That expert article is content you've got to develop to give value to the newsletter.

Example: You're running a social media campaign that needs to bring traffic to the website.  You can't just keep sending the same old content over the social channels so you develop new content on the website to give a new life to the website and an new reason for return visits.

These examples don't even touch the content you've probably developed over the years to address key questions about your products / services - you know those articles about how to choose, how to use, what to choose, and etc.

Developing unique, quality content isn't a new marketing scheme.  You should have been developing content all along to help promote the website through all of the many online marketing channels. Good content isn't a strategy itself, it's the backbone to every online marketing strategy.

So the next time you see a groundbreaking article about content marketing you can skip the hype and use the time to learn about the last Panda update.

Questions? Comments? I invite your feedback :)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Stand Upon the Desktop

Do you remember the movie "Dead Poet's Society?" There was a scene where the lead character played by Robin Williams told the students to take turns standing upon the desk and viewing the classroom from that angle. When was the last time you "stood upon the desk" to see things from another point of view?

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting with the owner of a company that has been in business since the 1970's and has even produced a few pieces for Air Force One.  One thing about being in business that long is that you stick with what you know and what has worked in the past.  But when the times change, you have to adapt. This business owner's industry has been going through tough times in recent years (who's industry hasn't?) and he was looking for some insights to what can be done with the website to help business.

The company traditionally sells to manufacturers which packages their products within a larger framework to sell to end users. But since the consumer is the one who ultimately buys the fully manufactured item they, the end users,  have the ability to influence what is included within the manufacturing process.  By taking a look from the top of the desk a slight shift in the view can make a big difference.

The new strategy: share photos of the high end company products in the fully manufactured end product as they appear in magazines, news, media etc. in social media (Facebook, LinkedIn).  The images will then create a desire for options the end user may not know about. By letting the end user see the options in the finished product they will then  request the customization from the manufacturer directly.  Instead of the business pushing the manufacturers to use their products, the end-user will create a "pull" for the products.

Sometimes all it takes is a slight shift in perception to change the way promote your products and services.  With today's ever changing technology that shift can include a multi-focus approach to marketing which has traditionally been restricted to a single channel.  Social media is one way to change the approach because people who own and operate businesses of all sizes are on the front line of seeing what consumers are requesting.

Need someone to give you a different perspective? Contact me!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Does SEO = SCAM?

Interesting discussion this morning in the Manta Community that got me to thinking (and responding).  Apparently there is a section of the population that thinks search engine optimization (SEO) is a scam.  Is it? Well I guess it depends on who's doing it and what the expectations are.  I mean yes, there are people who say they optimize for search engines and they really don't have a clue but there are just as many who do a very nice job of search optimization.

Then you have to consider that the expectations of the website owner may be far beyond what they should be as far as search engine optimization.  They want to be number one for a search term or rank on the first page for just about every term they can think of. These aren't totally realistic.

Consider the purpose of search engines - first and foremost it's to serve the people who are using them to find something.  They aren't there for the sake of business competition, but they serve that goal to - in fact that's why search engines got into the business of selling ads, and it's nice bonus that the ads cover the expenses of running the search engine.

The web is in constant evolution.  Today search engines are not the end all / be all of marketing online, they are just part of an overall big picture.  So it's unrealistic to put "all the eggs" in one basket.  That's like having one big customer with nothing else to sustain you if the one customer goes out of business. You'll be left with nothing.

So in response to the comments I wrote this article based on my own experience, research over time and another article I read recently:   The Way Search Engine Optimization Should Work

While I don't think this will put an end to the debate over whether or not SEO is dead, or social replaces search or all SEO is a scam it may just give a new way to look at the overall process and get the ideas going on how you can use search engines to your advantage.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Will, Won't & Can't

I've been doing this web thing for nearly 14 years and there is one thing that I've found true.  There are 3 types of websites: Those that will, those that won't and those that can't.

Those that will:
These websites are well thought out, well put together and have clear path and direction to the goals. These are the websites that perform well in search but more importantly are gaining in sales revenue either through quality lead generation or direct sales.  Here are is an example:

This site will because it's got several ways for people to find products - images & product list. It is quick to get from the home page to check out and it doesn't overwhelm visitors with a lot of information on the front page that isn't necessary to get people to what they want - products.

Those that won't:
Websites that won't are those that have the ability to convert but in their current state they are not working. It doesn't mean they can't be improved, they just won't be producing sales currently.  Websites that are heavy with flash, completely ignoring the growing mobile web market are perfect examples.  Another example is this one that I was asked to evaluate this morning:

Set aside the fact that the owners of this site managed to take a very exciting sport and make it blah, but the design doesn't do anything to make me want to purchase tickets from them. No trust, unprofessional, etc. But some changes and this website could do a much better job of converting.

Those that can't:
Maybe it's better said as "never will." There are many websites that are put out by multi-level marketing companies, affiliate generated websites or franchisors who won't let their franchisees make improvements.  If you've got a website that was provide for you by a parent company that was designed to promote the parent company (not you as a rep of that company) then let me just state it plainly - it won't happen. Those companies (top level affiliates, marketers etc) have no interest in your online success other than you giving them money monthly.  They aren't providing you with the opportunity to optimize for conversions, search friendliness or anything else.  And I'm sure, if you're in this boat, you've already figured that out.

Okay so this post ends on a sour note, maybe it should have been written upside down.  That being said I hope that you, dear reader, will get some gems you can use.  If you have questions please post them below or email me personally - I'm happy to help!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Take advantage of the traffic you have . . .

The following question was posted on Manta community (you can find me there answering questions if you're too shy to ask them here) and I thought it might be helpful to post the answer here as well:

How can I get more people to notice my website?

I've put samples of my products on websites like slideshare and docstoc to try to bring traffic to my website, but it's not working.

This is the website as it appears currently:

My background is in Human Factors psychology so I look at things from the stand point of how people would interact with your website - taking advantage of the traffic you do have will be more cost effective and help with search rankings. I also used to have a child care about 25 years ago so I am familiar with NAEYC and your subject matter. Taking things from a "so what?" point of view here are my recommendations.

  • The layout is a bit confusing, it's hard to tell where you want me, as a novice visitor to your website, to look. We've all been trained to read left to right, top to bottom and we look at websites in a type of "F" pattern. If you reorganize to fit this pattern and eliminate the confusion you'll get a better flow through.
  • The call to action conversion (free give away) is lost in the mix. It needs to be more clear what I am getting and why it's important.
  • Curriculum is an important part of quality child care but what sets your company apart from others? You need a unique value proposition and clear benefits. Changing the focus from the company to the visitor will have a positive impact on your bottom line.
  • Why is your contact information hidden below the fold? Make it super easy for people to contact you by putting your phone number in the 'golden triangle.

These are just a few of my immediate thoughts.

I've taken the liberty of "reworking" your front page - feel free to use the changes to your advantage if you feel they are appropriate.

Remember, it's easier to double your conversions than to double your web traffic. Hope this helps!

Thursday, September 06, 2012

My pet peeve . . .

Ever since I got into designing websites (1996) I have had this pet peeve.  And I keep thinking that as time progresses people would realize how easy it is to fix and how odd it looks when it's not fixed. Are you wondering what it is? Promise not to laugh and think I'm too picky?

Here's one screen shot - see if you can guess:

Don't know yet? Try looking at this one:

Still don't know? Both websites are ALIGNED TO THE LEFT! This is a default in web design and I get that but when you have a site that is smaller than the existing average screen size (1280 px wide) it leaves a whole heap of white space on the right. And the thing that really bothers me about it - It's so very easy to fix!!

I simply don't understand why a web designer would want to leave a site aligned to the left when you can center it and have a much more professional (IMHO) look. 

That's it, my pet peeve.  And if your website is suffering in this way please call me, I'll be happy to fix it.  Better yet, how about ditching the circa 1999 design altogether and let's start fresh with a new, more professional looking website that better fits today's screen resolutions. Thank you!

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

What if Google, Bing didn't exist?

Have you ever stopped to think what would happen if Google or Bing didn't exist? How would you go about getting traffic to your website? How would you promote your products and services?

This question was included in a recent article in Website Magazine by Peter Prespitino, he made an interesting point and it really shows how the internet has evolved from one of "build it and they will come" to "show them the way" to "OMG how do I get people to buy from me!!!"

If there were no Google or Bing here's what I would be advising my clients to do:
  • Get email addresses from all your current customers and market to them monthly. Pareto's principle is still valid and I see it each time I send out an email.  If you aren't using email to market to your customers it's not too late to start.
  • Give people a reason to visit your website beyond just your sales hype.  If you haven't started adding informational or educational content to your website - do it! Do it today! Set up a schedule to add more information to your website on a regular basis.  Be the reporter in reverse and tell people how, what, why, where and who (that would be you!).  When you have something good on your website your website becomes a resource and reference to others.
  • Social media. It doesn't matter if you don't like it, don't understand it, don't care at all - nothing matters except that you have to do it. Eat the frog, take the plunge. And if any of those statements apply to you find and hire someone who "gets it." Because without search engines the only way to reach out is through social media.  So get good at it or find someone who already is.
  • Did I mention email? Yeah well here it is again - take that great content you've been creating and use it to market to prospects who've contacted you within the last 18 months.  Get their email addresses from your sales people, from your front line, from your email inbox and start using them! Email at least once every month.
  • Instead of optimizing for search engines and their unknown, ever changing, standards, optimize for conversions and focus on getting more of your current visitors to engage with your website. When you can get more customers with your current traffic it costs less!
Why is this important - because search engine optimization as we know it is fading. There are so many websites on the internet competing for the same words that it's virtually impossible to get the top ranking for anything that will matter to you in the long run. And anyone who tells you different should be highly suspect.  I'm not saying you should give up all optimization efforts but I am saying not to put all your eggs in that one basket. It's simply not smart.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Top of Mind Awareness

Did you know that simply walking through a doorway can make you forget what you were doing? It's true! A study conducted by Gabriel Radvansky and Notre Dame found that if you walk through a doorway you'll forget the mission you were on.  Which explains all those times you've walked from one room to another and thought "What did I come in here for?"  Doorways act as an event eraser.  Strange but true.

Our brain has the ability to do wonderful things, especially when it comes to memory.  We get to recall our most pleasant events years later when triggered by a sound, fragrance or sight.  We can force ourselves to remember the multiplication tables for quick reference when we need them. And we can remember that really cool company that we saw last week advertising those widgets that we knew we would need at some time but . . . can we really?

The "old school" advertising rule was that people could remember 7 things plus or minus 2 items.  That's where we come up with the "navigation should have 10 links or less" and "7 is a lucky number."  But it turns out that's not really true either.

Try this experiment - name 7 brands in 5 seconds.  No cheating!  How far did you get? If you are like most of us you maybe could come up with 4 then started to struggle.

Obviously if you want to make sure someone remembers your company name, you'll need to do a good job of making sure you get it out there repeatedly because people go through doorways all the time!  Seriously though, it's getting to be more of a challenge daily to get people to remember to call you instead of your competitor or the first sign they see on the highway.

How do you do it? Repetition for starters.  When they see your brand in social media, in an email, on a search engine result page and on a website the sheer repetition starts to set in.  The bad thing is, when you stop the repetition the brand falls off the top of their mind and is replaced with some other brand.

If you want them to remember something on your website - make it really stand out! No kidding! Turns out all the bold, italics, Times New Roman in the world doesn't replace the eye appeal to the memory like a graphic artists worst nightmare of a font catastrophe! (From a study by Princeton and Indiana University)

Oh, and about that doorway - I don't know this for a fact but I bet when you move from one page to the next on a website a similar effect happens which is why you need the contact information on every page (what was I looking for again?).

So now that you know a bit more - will you remember it? If you use your hands while talking about this concept you will - guaranteed! But that's a whole 'nuther blog post.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Turn a Facebook Friend into a Facebook Page Fan

This post was suggested by one of our readers - you can suggest too by using the box in the lower right of this page!

If you're like most business owners on Facebook you've got "friends" who are actually customers or clients of your business.  That's fine, it's great to know that they think enough of you to want to be your friend. But if they are just a friend, they miss out on all the great business related items on your actual business page like: news, promotions, staff highlights, fun photos and more.  So if you're like me, you need to convert those friends into fans.

Here are a few things to try:

  • First, use the conventional method of inviting your friends to "like" your business fan page.  Here's how that's done:   
  • First, go to your business page on Facebook. From that page you'll see the admin panel which is divided into sections.  The lower right section has some of your friends listed and the words "invite friends."  To make it easy on yourself click "see all" to the far right.  This will bring up a box of all your friends. 
  • Check to make sure that "Search All Friends" is selected from the drop down menu on the top left in the box. This will show you all your friends on Facebook.  The friends that are already fans or have already been invited are grayed out leaving the friends you have yet to invite in full color. 
  • Check mark the box next to each friend and when you are finished selecting, click the "submit" button on the bottom right of the box.  This will automatically invite your friends to become fans.
Now, let's say you've tried that and got a few new friends but not everyone.  Okay the next step would be to  put an announcement on your Facebook wall (timeline) and let them know you've got a cool new page and you need their help to get more fans.  Link directly to your business page in the post.  That should bring in a few more friends.

When you see your customer "friends" online, send them a message using the Facebook chat and ask them directly to like the business page.  Be sure to have the link ready to send them in the post to make it super easy.

Okay you've tried those options and you've still got a lot of friends who are customers and you need them to become fans.  Now is when you have to get really creative. And I would say at this point bribery is not out of the question.  How about a discount for a limited time only to those who are fans of the business page?

How about posting a question on your business page and giving something away to a few of the correct or best answers? Once you post on your business page you can personally "like" it and "share" it with your own friends and timeline which will elicit interaction.

Hancock fabrics (one of my favorites) has a great thing going where they are asking fans to post photos every Monday and awarding gift cards to their favorites. Funky Threads has been successful simply sharing their creations on both the business page and her personal Facebook page. Use your imagination and if you find something that works well please share it here!

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Caring Ties

This morning I received an email from Peter who owns the company behind a new mobile app called "Caring Ties."  He asked me to take a look at his website and give him a call.  I thought it might be interesting to write about the suggestions I gave him to increase the number of conversions, or in this case downloads.

To start, I read the website over and I can honestly say I like the product.  As families become more involved with the care of aging loved ones and even with youngsters it's hard to keep track of all the important information like medications, medical needs, vaccinations and the like. Communication can be missed or misconstrued.  The Caring Ties app is great for keeping everyone in the family on the same page.

Now, on to the website:

The first thing that strikes me is the almost universal sign for remembering with the string around the finger.  The design is clean, makes great use of white space and the image is striking.  The thing that isn't apparent is why I need this app, what problem does it solve.  It's a simple question of motivation - why should I look any further at this website? Doesn't Facebook, email, cell phones and the like tie families together?

The second panel of the rotating banner doesn't really give any further reason to get the app.  Just more features.  

My advice: 
  • Focus on the problem and how the app solves the problem.
  • Use real people, faces, families to convey the problem and the secure feeling the solution can provide.
  • Forget about features, tell me the benefits.  Why is it important to have the reminders? 
  • Use the blog and testimonials to give real life examples of how this app will help.
In addition, the text on the website is very sparse and doesn't really have any words people would use to look for anything similar.  I suggested that while rewriting the text to focus on the problem, solution and benefits the natural language will be better for people searching for tools to help them in caring for family members.

I am anxious to see the changes in place and find out how well the changes work towards increasing the app downloads.  It's a great concept!

Monday, August 06, 2012

What should I write about today?

If you're a blogger or if you've been told that you need to be blogging for your company you have probably encountered the question of what to write about.  So this is a blog for people who should be blogging or anyone who needs to develop content for websites, social media and etc.

First - don't think so hard! It's not about coming up with some mind blowing idea.  Most of the time when you write about the first thing that comes to mind you'll do fine.   Unfortunately, the thought of "what to write about" often causes immediate writer's block.  I know, it happens here all the time.

When you need to come up with items for social media think small, quick, easy to grasp:

  • Quote of the day
  • Unique "national day of" (find them on the Hallmark website)
  • Tips on using (or related to) your product / service
  • Link to specific pages of your website
  • Links to articles related to what you offer
  • Links to your other social media outreach sites: Facebook, Google+, Pinterest etc.
  • What's new in the company: products, services, people, projects etc.

Now that won't help you when it comes to writing longer posts so I came across a cool little tool to help you get "unstuck."  It's clever really.  Go to this website and download the Google spreadsheet.  Be sure you log into your own Google account and "save a copy." Now in the top left cell type in whatever subject you want to explore and the spreadsheet does the rest.  You'll get immediate links to all sorts of articles, information related to the topic which can help you get a start on your next blog post.  Still need help? Contact us!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Adapt or a spoiler alert will be issued . . .

In light of the recent gaff by NBC in trying to hype up the Olympics in a time when technology has the score before prime time it has become screamingly apparent that it's time to adapt.  In case you don't know what I'm writing about, let's just say the twitterverse already knows who won the gold medal in whatever event is airing tonight - hours before NBC puts it on TV.  But that's just one example of a practice that's behind the times.

People are more "with it" than ever before and our ability to adapt is challenged every day.  It used to be that email was the best way to share photos with relatives, now it's Facebook.  A few years ago you could find just about anything out about a company on a search engine alone, now you read the reviews on Yelp or ask a twitter friend for a reference.  Traffic was measured by footsteps into a place of business, now it's measured by check-ins on Foursquare.

And all this seems to be happening at a lightening pace.  Each new day here brings another new, cool technology that we want to try.

But some companies are lagging behind, failing to see the need to "catch up."   Last year Netflix nearly lost it all by trying to put together a pricing model that didn't make sense to anyone all in a quest to make their services more accessible.  While at the same time, cable television companies keep raising rates while they lose subscribers to more affordable, easily accessible services.

I remember when we went to all email invoices.  A full year later I still had customers asking me to "mail" them a "print copy." *huh?*

When I first started in this business it was about getting a website, then it became about finding your website, now it's about getting more people to do business with you via your website (which, by the way, I think should have been the goal all along).

Today, more than ever, you have to be able to adapt.  Whether you change the way you do business to suit today's customers, change the way your company uses technology, or just change your own way of thinking about things.  How will you be adapting?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday Inspiration

So I'm sitting here on a Sunday morning doing what I always do, play catch up.  This is the day of the week that I look back on what I didn't get accomplished and try to get it done.  Content for clients, wait for design inspiration and have a few minutes to focus uninterrupted on client strategies.

While catching up on some of the blogs out there I found some interesting inspiration that reminded me that some of the greatest successes came out of some of the most dire economic times.
"In 1876 the US was in the middle of a six-year recession. It was in this year that Thomas Edison established General Electric, now the third largest company in the world. A garage in Palo Alto at the end of the Great Depression was the launching pad for Hewlett-Packard. Harvard University dropout, Bill Gates, founded Microsoft in the recession of 1975. Existing companies have also been able to set the stage for great success in the midst of economic turmoil. For example, Burger King launched its now famous Whopper during a recession in 1957." (Whitestone Partners Inc blog)
Really cool to think that we are living in great times.  Yes, I mean now.  With all the cool technological advantages that have changed the way we communicate, keep in touch, and do business I know the next great thing is happening right now.  It's happening in the world today.  I think about how far the world has come and it's exciting, I'm excited.  I hope you're excited too!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Don't BCC Me!

Several times a week I receive email that has been sent to a rather large group of parents ... all of us are copied in the "bcc" field of the email.  BCC stands for "Blind Carbon Copy" - a throw back to when we actually used carbon paper to copy all correspondence (yes, I'm actually old enough to remember that!).

The idea behind using the BCC field is that no one else can "see" who is on the list.  Well that's not really true.  In fact, with very little effort, I can see every name and email address that is receiving the same email.  In gmail (which I love) all I have to do is ask it to show me the original of the email and I get the full list.  In Outlook, it's as easy as "view source."  I mean really, it's extremely easy to find out if and who has been "secretly" tagged to receive the email.

Some people may say that it's no big deal but I personally consider it an invasion of privacy.  Here's why:
Just like I can see those addresses, so can everyone else.  The intentions of the other recipients may not be as respectful as mine.  For example, on a similar list with parents of the gym where my daughter cheered I suddenly began receiving solicitation emails from the woman who sold jewelry through catalogs and home shows.  There was no "unsubscribe" option but a check of the source (as above) and I found she had BCC'd every single parent on my daughter's team along with the rest of the gym.  Why did she think it was okay to suddenly start sending me email to buy jewelry, I had never requested this information from her.  Now my email address was spread to even more people I didn't know.  I also got insurance solicitations in the same manner.

To me, when you give someone an email address it's like giving them your private cell phone number, you only give it out when it's okay for someone to call you.  If a telemarketer got a hold of your cell number and shared it you would be pretty upset.

The best thing to do is use a broadcast email service! Everyone's email is private and the message still goes out. As a bonus, you can see who received, opened and clicked in the email so you'll know that your large group is on board.

Monday, July 09, 2012

To Avoid Dan's Rambling, Scroll To The End

This isn't me but he reflects what I've been feeling this morning!

Dan's Monday Blog Disclaimer: This is a blog and not a professionally written article, just my ramblings, so remember that when you're scratching your head thinking “What the heck is Dan talking about?”. I'm trying to explain the way websites should be written and pages ordered and linked together.

The internet brings most visitors to your site via 2 methods, search results and direct links (typing in your web address).

We all know how to “google” something we are searching for information on, this is called a search. Search results are a list of links to pages on many different websites all put in order by what best fits what you typed in the box, but where how does the search engine find all these and know which are most relevant? I couldn't begin to tell you how they determine what's most relevant (I know some of it but it doesn't really make sense), but I can tell you how they find the pages! Search engines have “spiders” (don't reach for the Raid, these are good spiders) that “crawl” all the pages of your website and read it, that's right, they read the actual words, so using pictures with words really hurt your website from coming up in search results. After they have crawled your site, which takes place anywhere from once a month to every 4 to 6 months (depending on how often you make changes), the pages and text are indexed, resulting in all the websites in the world being read and indexed. When you type in “Dan Hansen, Wichita”, the search engine looks for these 3 words occurring on the same page and puts a higher rank when they are used together. The search engines of the 21st century also take into account things like where you are and give you results accordingly (you wouldn't want to see results for Miami if you are in Seattle searching for “hot tubs”. Back to where I was going, the search results link to a specific page on your website, so the results most likely aren't linking to your “home page” but to other pages that contain the actual information, thus bypassing your home page. This is the major reason that you should optimize all of the pages of your website and make sure that if someone “lands” on a page that isn't the home page, that they still know where they are (your company), what they can do (contact you, order an item, or request information) and direct visitors to other relevant pages on your website.

Now for the 2nd method, direct links (don't worry this part is shorter). When you direct people to your website, either through putting your web address on your business card and brochures or by those expensive TV ads you run with your web address at the bottom, you are sending them to a particular page, usually your home page (I'm not going to get into landing pages). So, let's say you have 10 products for doing 20 different things and you have a page on your website for all 10 items and all 20 applications. When people land on your home page and they know you make products that seal plastic bags, they are probably going to be looking for links that say “plastic bag sealing” if you have that link then awesome, they will click on that and read about bag sealing, but here's where some people make mistakes, from this page you should have a link to the 2 pages of machines that you have that seal bags. Some sites just have a page links to what their products do and a page that list all of the product, so you have to guess at which machines do what applications, because they know that search engines are bringing traffic to the pages but don't take into account the connections to other parts of the website.

In a nutshell I'm emphasizing the need to optimize all pages of your website as well as have a logical flow and connection of the pages within the site.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Google Plus Local

Google Plus may not have many (in comparison to Facebook) users, but it's importance to business is increasing with the migration of Google Places in to the ever expanding G+ world. This move is driving more traffic to the ghost town of a social media site and creating a need for your business to join up with G+ as the new Google+ Local pages will be indexed by Google search.

As of today, if your business already has a G+ page it will remain separate from the G+ Local page for a little while, as word on the street is that Google is going to match up and merge the 2 in the near future. Until then, you might want to go update your new Google+ Local Page with your website and verify you are the owner and the location is correct so that the match up works for you.

Here's a link to setting up your Google Plus Local Page:

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Are You a Social Media Goofus, or Gallant?

privacygoofus_finalThis is posted with permission from the original blogger, Mary Canaday from Comprendia ~ thanks Mary!

If you grew up in the US, you likely remember two characters from Highlights magazine (often found in doctor office waiting rooms) who helped us learn manners. The cartoons would describe a situation and how the fictitious boy Goofus and Gallant would respond. We’d learn to follow Gallant’s example and not Goofus’.

Being involved in social media, and moderating a few LinkedIn groups, I’ve seen several of each (but I won’t be a Goofus and call out the missteps). As we discussed at the SDBN Social Media for Scientists event, it’s all about ‘paying it forward,’ and while this may seem counterintuitive, you’ll see after looking through the examples below, that you gain much more in the end by viewing it this way. Let’s see how Goofus and Gallant react to the world of Social Media….(can you almost smell the doctor’s office waiting room?)

Goofus and Gallant Take on Social Media

On Twitter, Goofus posts only items that will benefit him, and does not engage with others.On Twitter, Gallant posts useful resources, answers others’ questions, and has frequent conversations with others, often learning in the process.
On LinkedIn, Goofus posts frequent, self-serving items to large groups, and becomes irritated when told there are rules for posting.On LinkedIn, Gallant realizes that the groups are meant to serve a purpose, so he restricts the number of posts, and ensures that the content is appropriate for the group and not always self-serving.
On LinkedIn, Goofus sends connection invitations to many people he doesn’t know, with no explanation for why they should connect.On LinkedIn, Gallant realizes that people who don’t know him might not want to connect, so he only invites people he knows or writes a polite note to people he doesn’t know, explaining why he’s asking.
Goofus talks about politics and controversial subjects, even on his business accounts.Gallant realizes that he may offend others with different views and expresses political views only amongst his friends.
On Twitter, Goofus decides to send everyone that follows him an automatic message promoting himself.On Twitter, Gallant knows that people who have just followed likely want some sort of personal interaction with him, or nothing at all, so he sends a personal message when it seems appropriate.
Goofus expects that social media should be immediately useful, and feverishly tries to get as many connections and followers as possible, often just broadcasting that people should connect or follow him ‘just because.’Gallant realizes that building a quality network using social media takes time, and knows that providing value and forming relationships is the way to ultimately benefit the most from the experience.
Goofus gets an idea for a blog post from a colleague, but doesn’t give the person credit in the post.Gallant realizes that social media is all about community, and that giving credit to others is not only the right thing to do, but results in a richer community for all of us, as it allows his blog readers to make connections with other bloggers.
Goofus sees news, a job listing, or a link that others may find useful, but neglects to pass on the information.Gallant is always thinking of others when he has a new opportunity or makes a connection, and finds that others return the favor.
At a corporate level, there have been companies who have been a ‘Goofus’ and paid for it, one caveat to launching a major social media campaign without understanding the genre. On a personal or company-wide level, your reputation in social media is very important (on Twitter we call it ‘Tweet Cred’). When done properly, your Social Media ‘capital’ can surely be used to promote yourself or your company, but you should never view it exclusively for that purpose. When starting out, be careful, and if you have any doubts, ask someone more experienced than you how your actions may be perceived. 
Interestingly, the folks from Highlights For Children magazine saw one of my tweets about Goofus and Gallant and sent me the images for this post–special thanks to them. Talk about serendipity!

Google Plus Local? What's the point?

Well, Google has done it again, rolled out a major change without notice and very little info regarding the change. This morning they migrated all 80,000,000 Google Places listing into Google Plus creating a "Local" section to the barely breathing social media site.

I'm assuming this move is one they believe will revive G+ from almost certain cyber-death after it's months of hype but little actually activity on the site. My biggest question today is will current Google Plus business pages be automatically merged with their corresponding "Local" page or will it have to be done manually and if so how?

I think one of the downfalls to Google Plus and other changes Google has made recently (new dashboard here on Blogger and personalized searches) is that there is really no instruction to how to use them or why the change will really make things better. They like to pretend like they give us that information, usually in a video blog that is just a vague commercial for the change and has little to do with the actual changes.

I'm sure the Google big boys are watching the Facebook stock decline and thinking this is where G+ will make it's great emergence, but I'm doubting that they will ever really get that foothold no matter how much of their kingdom they integrate into Google Plus.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Google Plus Turned Upside Down

Google Plus Turned Upside Down

Well I started today at work by actually getting on Google Plus and doing some posts for clients. I did one post on a page then switched back to my own profile with no problem, but then I went to another page and the whole layout changed! I did a couple more posts then noticed that there was a new side bar alongside the new, narrower news feed (or what ever Google calls it...I use Facebook terms), that had suggested people and pages to follow as well as trending topics. Unaware of any upcoming changes to Google Plus, I went over to my Twitter, where most of my SEO and Social Media news comes from and I didn't see anything about G+ changes. At that point I just assumed 2 things: A: no one knew of the changes or B: no one really cared about Google Plus (I think it was mostly A and a little B).

I happened to be right in the middle of the change...the change that was announced by Google at 8:16 this morning (not sure what time zone that was). I was ahead of social media experts that usually break news days, weeks and sometimes months before things happen on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest!

In addition to the changes over at G+ I noticed a small change in my gmail, most probably won't notice it but I did. There was also a layout change here in the back end of Blogger, which at the moment is voluntarily, but was actually made known before the change date.

Back to Google Plus, because it's going to be the hot topic today (sorry Instagram). When I started writing this blog, I went over to my profile and now I have a Facebook like cover photo on my profile (just what I need something else to find content for). All in all the changes on G+ seem to be for the better, even my mom after freaking out when I mentioned the changes said "this is called an improvement...I like improvements".

What are the changes, you ask? Well the first and most noticeable to me is the new navigation on the left side with text below the formerly ambiguous icons. There are also the new cover photos, contacts on the right and others that you can see for yourself and are explained in this post by Google: Toward a simpler, more beautiful Google.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Website tonight won't get you found tomorrow . . .

There are a lot of companies out there that offer their "quick" website programs.  Companies that don't have anything to do with providing web services are even getting in the mix like Vista Print and Intuit.  Then there are the large web companies like GoDaddy.

The problem is, these free and almost free services don't really get the job done when it comes to marketing your business online. I get quite a few phone calls and inquiries from people who want to market their business online but have started with one of these quick website companies.  

These website providers lead well meaning business owners to believe that their offer will get them online attention. The problem is, as enticing as the offer may sound, the elements that are necessary to be found, engage visitors and get customers are still missing.  

Worse yet, they promote features like "search engine submissions" or "search engine optimization." Sounds great on the wrapper but what you really need to know is that you don't have to actually submit your sites to search engines because they are now so advanced they are crawling the web constantly picking up new information.  And as far as optimization . . . well I have yet to see one of the quick and easy website providers actually provide staff, reports or anything resembling actual optimization efforts, not to mention the now crucial social media integration.

So just a word to the wise.  If you've put up a "quickie" website  don't expect results to follow.  The return on your investment is proportional to what you put into the project.  When you're ready to get serious with your online marketing campaign, ask a professional to help -you'll be happy you did!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Like, Follow, Plus, Share – Phase 3

You better sit down for this one, there's a lot to go over with this phase.

When I started the Like, Follow, Share campaign there were just main 2 players in the social media game, Facebook and Twitter. This has changed with the roll-out of Google Plus and Pinterest, but in this phase I'm going to talk about Google Plus (g+ from now on).

You may have seen the commercial on TV for g+ or if you use gmail or other Google services you've seen the “+yourname” in the top left of the page. To the average Joe on the internet, g+ may look like a clone of Facebook, but secretly it's more than that! With 90 million users, g+ is the 3rd largest social media site after Facebook and Twitter.

You might see g+ as just another thing that uses up your valuable time, but with it's integration with Google search, g+ is becoming very important for businesses. Google has developed codes that are added to your current website that tells Google that your site belongs to you on g+ and recently I've found out that Google indexes these linked sites more often.

I'm not going to promote g+ as a replacement to Facebook or Twitter, but I believe that having a g+ profile and page for your business is essential for helping your site show up more in Google search results. You aren't going to need to spend much time on g+ posting to achieve this, merely creating a page and making sure you include as much information about your business as possible, some pictures and a link to your website, is usually enough to get you started. After you create your page there is a code that g+ provides for you to add into your website and then you're all set!

Another aspect of the Google & g+ integration is the 1+ button. You may have seen this on site and wondered what that mysterious 1+ is. The 1+ is Google's equivalent to the Facebook Share or Like button, it shares with your g+ circles that you like this page. Unlike the Facebook button, the 1+ is also used by Google for ranking sites in search results, giving more weight to sites with more 1+'s.

I know Google Plus may sound more technical because of the code, but that's a 1 time thing and it's well worth it to help you show up more in search results. This blog post might be long, but there's actually more to the g+ and Google connection that I will save for a blog in the next couple weeks.

As always, if you have questions about Google Plus, feel free to contact me and I'll help you understand it.

Friday, March 02, 2012

The End of the "home page"!

Recently I worked on optimizing a clients website, which went pretty smoothly after 1 small change on every page. That change was simply removing "home page" from the title of every page and replacing it with a title that actually went along with what was on the page, including keywords.

The page title should be, well, the page title and seems self explanatory, but many sites that are done by a novice (I hate categorizing people like that) don't have page titles at all.

You might now be asking "Dan, what's a page title?". The page title is what you see in the tab at the top of your browser as well as in search results and if you bookmark pages. The page title is very important, not only for optimization but when people look through search results (which you won't be very high in if you use "home page") they read the page titles and if the title just says "General Industries" they aren't going to know if General Industries has what they are looking for.

In addition to the page title, using META descriptions is important, not really for SEO right now but it sometimes accompanies the page title in search results, giving searchers more information about your page.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Don't sell to me!

Today I met with a prospective client and she told me that another company tried to give her a sales pitch. She said she didn't want to be sold to.
I agreed immediately, who really wants to be sold to? No one that I know yet there are certain industries in particular that are all about the selling, car dealers for example. Then there are also certain sales people who only push for the sale, they don't really get to know what the customer wants or needs. And I'm sure you've all come across websites that just give you the grand sales pitch without any real, objective information.

My perspective is this: I'll give you any information you want to know. There are no secrets about what we do here, you could do it yourself if you wanted. So if I tell you what I know and give you advice to help you get the most from your website then, if nothing else, you'll be able to make a good decision about who to hire -- even if it isn't my company.

People like to buy from people they like. What better way to create the feeling of approval than to give people a little help.

When you are putting together the content on your website, don't think in terms of the "sell." Instead, think in terms of "what would I tell my friend if they were considering this purchase." Because you would surely give your friend all the facts, everything you knew and recommendations about different brands. Think in terms of what the competition doesn't want their customers to know. Is it really a deep secret that you can get a hot tub for less if you get it direct from the wholesale club? No! What the customer buys is not a hot tub but your delivery and set up, your commitment to being there if any trouble arises, your friendship on a professional level.

Want to sell more on your website? Just remember to be up front, honest and give people all the information they need to make the best decision. They will thank you in the end by doing business with you & your company.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Mighty QR

One of our clients, Karl Miller of Lark Label, sent an email this morning that he is now going to be printing his plant labels with QR codes included. You may have seen these little square bits of nothingness and wondered what they were. Or maybe you've used a QR code yourself to access a website, additional info or even a promotional offer.

QR stands for "quick response" indicating how the icon will take the visitor quickly to advertisement or how the QR code user will hopefully respond quickly to the offer.

The way to use the QR code is to use your smart phone with an app like "shop savvy" (which is what I have on my Android) or "bar code" for iPhone. There are many free readers available - just shop your apps. Once you have the bar code reader on your phone simply open the app and point the camera of the phone at the QR code. When the phone "reads" the code it will show you a coupon, take you to a website or give additional info.

On items like botanical plant signs where the space is severely limited, the QR code gives a lot more info on the phone. Almost unlimited space to tell everything you would want to know about a special breed of pansies, for example.

Word of caution: since it does take an app & smart phone (or iPad) to read, be sure you aren't leaving out the web address where others can find more info.

If you are going to feature a QR code be sure to use it in a way that will impress the visitor. Don't just send them to them to a link. Give them the added value that is expected when using a QR code like information NOT featured on the sign, a special coupon NOT already out there. I'm sure you get the idea.

The QR code isn't restricted to just signs. They are on product labels, in magazine ads, on SWAG items and more. And yes, you can put a QR code on a website...but not sure why you would want to, it's just as easy to link and you don't want to make your web visitors get out a smart phone to read a special on the website.

Where have you seen QR codes? What clever way do you know of to use QR codes? We would love to read your ideas!

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Value of Search Ranking Reports

You don't hear much about search engine ranking reports lately. It used to be all the rage. Of course a few years ago you really didn't need much effort to get a "true" search ranking report that wasn't diluted by your IP address giving you local information first or tracking your recent browsing history to guess what you wanted to know.

Yet the search ranking report can be a valuable tool in measuring the performance of keyword terms in a website and the effectiveness of search engine optimization efforts. Having a third reporting source that can give you unbiased results is a must if you really want to know how your website fares.

To get an even better picture of how your website is ranking in the search engines, use a broad variety of terms that relate to your product or service. As an example: you may not be on the first page for "paint brushes" but you may be on top for "high quality paint brushes." The longer term may not be searched as often but when a visitor is as specific to use 4 words - they are more likely to be your customer. They know what they want and when they find the right website they are mentally closer to actually making the purchase.

When you have a comprehensive search ranking report which includes many of the top ranking words and longer phrases you'll get a better picture of what is happening and find those areas that need more attention.

Want a ranking report for your website free? Just send an email with your

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What happens when . . .

What happens when the internet goes out. No I'm not talking about some hypothetical apocalyptic premonition. No, I mean what happens when the internet goes out here, at Ideas That Work.

So first, we curse Cox for the anomaly of our internet being spotty and going out when the wind blows, a heavy truck rolls by on the next street over, a squirrel uses the wire as a skywalk . . . you get the idea. Then we check our modem and router just to make sure our anger isn't misplaced.

Luckily, this time it was at the lunch hour so I asked Chris to slam the door on the way out just in case it jiggles something back into place. No such luck.

All through lunch I struggled with the internet/ no internet problem and finally called Cox. Just as the rep was finished setting me up with an appointment, which I was sure would be another failed attempt to locate the problem, the alert went out that the area was suffering from an outage. Well good, at least it would get the immediate attention of the Cox employees.

Next, Chris, Dan and I look for work that can be performed offline - a struggle when your business is online. I had been working with a style sheet issue and told Chris I would email it to him so he could troubleshoot... it only took a second for everyone to burst out in laughter - can't email without internet!

Then Dan manages to get the internet through his phone and becomes the sole productive worker in the office. He offered to let me connect since I wireless, but I turned him down in fairness to Chris - to which Dan replied,"Make me look like the only productive person!"

In the meantime the mailman came by - mail! Wow, we can communicate without the internet! But what happens when I need my friend Hey, we found an actual print dictionary - and it lead us to an appropriate word for this situation: DisConnected - to be out of touch, not in the loop, separated, ostrasized.

About 2 hours later the issue is resolved and, as you can see from this blog post, we are back online - or not. Just as I was finishing this post... it's gone out again. Luckily, I had already saved this post to my notepad just in case.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Off to a Great Start

What a week! Hard to come back after all those short weeks and holidays but Chris, Dan and I managed to get our heads together and we're back - full steam ahead!

Here are a few of the things we'll be focusing on this year:
  • Mobile Web - does your website look smart on smart phones and other devices?
  • Google+ - looks like Google is going to use their own social channel to help in ranking websites. We'll be watching the impact of social on Google's SERP.
  • QR codes - yup, we can do that!
  • Putting more videos on our website as a resource in addition to the articles we add to each month.
And of course, all the online marketing channels: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Bing, paid advertising, and email marketing. Speaking of that - have you liked us on Facebook yet?

Watch for new client designs coming out this month and updates on results we've achieved for our existing clients.

Hope your year is off to a great start as well!

And if you're keeping track, this is day 7 of 365 days of blogging. So far I'm on track with a post to my personal blog yesterday and a post to Anesthesia Billing & ATM Sales blogs today... now if I can keep it up over the weekend...

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Here's a question . . .

Can anyone tell me why automotive websites have photos of the mechanics all over the place but no one shows a photo of the happy repair customer getting their keys back?

You might wonder where this came from but today I am working on a website for one of my original customers from back in 2004 - they are having their 2 websites redesigned and they are in the auto/truck repair business. Like many web designers, I often 'surf the net' looking for ideas and inspiration. Today I noticed how many auto websites are 1) poorly designed overall and 2) don't have any satisfied customer photos or comments.

There are several immutable truths when it comes to convincing visitors to do business with you and one of them is the trust that is instilled when you see the smiling face of the happy customer and read the comments. It's great that there are happy, smiling, clean mechanics (who never really look just that way) but what instills more confidence? The happy customer or the happy mechanic?

Of course just writing this blog raises the bar on what I will have to deliver for my clients - because at this point if I don't do better than what I've seen, I'm no better than the rest. So the gauntlet has been thrown & the challenge is on!

Would be interested to read your opinions - feel free to leave your comments :)

PS. this is day 5 of my 365 days of blogging . . . still going strong and haven't missed a day - yet!

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

My Brain is On the Market

One of the things that the guys say I do well is brainstorming with clients and prospects - listening to their goals and coming up with ways to meet those goals. I also get comments on the way I can bring the conversation out of the cyber clouds and down to earth so real people can understand.

So this year, I'm putting my brain on the market. That's right you can have brain time with me - a chance to talk to a human factors psychology professional that's been marketing businesses online since 1999.

Sounds a bit creepy but how often do people offer up their brains and all the information stored inside?

So you can get an idea of what I talk about when coming up with a marketing strategy or answering questions about getting better search engine placement or more sales from a website - I've put the first of what may be many brainstorming samples online (love the technology of YouTube).

Take a listen then give me a call! I'm easy to talk to and very enthusiastic about helping your business grow :)

And for those of you keeping track of my New Years Resolution - this is day 4 of the 365 days of blogging. I blogged yesterday on my personal blog so I haven't missed yet!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Anti-Resolution Resolved

So here it is, January 1, 2012. The day for starting new resolutions.

Funny thing about resolutions, they happen only once a year but usually people resolve to do something they can start any other time of the year, so why wait until January 1 - as if that's some magical day and all things are right in the world once more. The other thing is that if you resolve to do something and about 1/2 way through the year you aren't doing it - you'll feel bad about yourself on the next New Year for realizing you didn't do it last year. And if you didn't do what you resolved last year, then how can you be sure you'll do it this year. You see the vicious cycle this creates.

This year I decided to forget about the resolutions. I set up my "vision board" for what I would like to accomplish this year and decided what areas that present opportunities for improvement here at work. All was well, ready to start fresh on January 2. (We decided to work instead of playing hooky like the mailman)

Then something happened, I watched that movie, Julie & Julia and how she blogged everyday about the cooking she was doing. I got to thinking that if she could do it I could too - blogging I mean, not cooking from Julia Child's book. So I reversed my anti-resolution stance putting myself at risk of disappointment for 1 thing. I will blog everyday for 365 days. The great thing is I actually started yesterday on another blog I own so I'm already down to 364.

Now since I write blogs for clients I figure that as long as I write one post on any of the blogs I manage each day I'll count that. Most of the 364 posts will be here or on my other personal blog but the point is -- I'm resolving to do it.

I read where blogging is very important, I tell clients it's important yet like the cobbler's child our business and my personal blog get neglected often. If they were plants they are wilting if not dead.

Okay - who's with me? Who will accept the challenge of writing on their blog every day for the next year? I know it sounds daunting but if Julie could do it - I can too. And she was cooking a la Julia Childs along the way.

Would love to hear from you, dear readers.
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