Remember back in the 80s when there was something called "Telephone Slamming"? Wikipedia describes this as "an illegal telecommunications practice of changing subscribers' telephone service without their consent. Slamming became a more visible issue after the deregulation of the telecommunications industry in the mid-1980s, especially after several brutal price wars between the major telecommunications companies."
Well, in the 2000s, something I like to call "Domain Slamming" started popping up. This was the deceptive practice of sending you a piece of postal mail or fax or email that had the appearance of being a domain renewal notice, but was in fact a solicitation to buy something from their company.
Here's the scenario: the postal mail comes in to your company’s or to your spouse who calls you and says : "We just got a bill for your domain name. Should I just pay it?" Being busy and wanting this off your plate, often the response is "Just pay it." Then a contract is sent back to the company authorizing them to charge you for their services. I've heard this story over and over again.
There are 3 kinds of Domain Slamming:
1. Changing Domain Registrar: What looks like a bill for your domain is really an order form for you to switch companies, and usually for more money!
2. Buying Domain Name with Different TLD Suffix Extension: Your domain is yourdomain.COM but you're getting an invoice for yourdomain.CC, yourdomain.US, yourdomain.BIZ or any infinite number of other Top Level Domain extensions. You probably don't want these domains, but if you did, you should buy them through your regular domain registrar company.
3. Buying Search Engine Registration or Optimization services: This invoice has your domain on it, but it is some ancillary service related to services for your website. Chances are that this company is not your best option for these services. If you like what they are offering, go online and find a reputable company offering the same thing and not a company that is trying to fool you into paying them.
Most of us now know that a domain name should only cost around $10 - like at http://www.HoopJumperDomains.com - but the fees these companies charge for their domains usually are in the $35 per year price range. This should be an immediate flashing red light. (And if you right now paying $35 per year for YOUR domain, you should really switch companies.)
Another red light is if you receive this notice by postal mail or fax. You should only be receiving this renewal notice via email and only from the company you are doing business with. KNOW WHO YOUR DOMAIN COMPANY IS AND READ THEIR EMAILS!
I get these invoices all the time and recognize them for what they are instantly. Do what I do, open them up, inspect them, have yourself a good laugh, then START SHREDDIN'!
Many of my clients are asking about which Social Media sites to use. With Social Networking being all the buzz, it is important to understand why you want to bother with Social Media. Simply, it is because people will do business with people they like. It is easy to create connections with clients, leads as well as family and friends who can “suggest” you to their extended group of friends. That is what Social Media Marketing is all about.
Not so long ago, I was scheduling in morning and lunchtime meetings at local Chambers of Commerce and BNI groups. These get-togethers are well organized and run professionally, to be sure, but the time commitments and expense can really take a toll on your productivity.
Think of making sure you have your good clothes on, leave a half hour or more before hand to drive to the restaurant where the meeting is being held, check in, find your seat, get your food, listen to the official opening remarks, wait for every person in the room to give their “elevator speech” or testimonial about another member, give my 1 minute scorcher, wrap up, network, give out business cards, and drive back to the office. Whew, I was doing that a few times a week and only meeting with people in my area.
Now with Social Networking, I’m able to connect up with lots of people nationwide easily, always put my best foot forward, and my “friends” keep me in their minds with very little effort on my part... and no rubber chicken. And I can leave the monkey suit in the closet.
Here are some basic instructions for choosing which Social Media Sites you use:
First, figure out what sites are your clients on. You can do this by looking at emails sent you by prospects, friends and clients inviting you to join a certain Social Media. If you are just getting started, I recommend starting with one or two and then adding more down the line. Look at one of these to start with: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Active Rain, or MySpace. If your niche market is on Twitter, don’t spend your time figuring out MySpace.
Decide your objective with having the site before you set up your profile. Will you use this for business, or for personal use? How often will you be updating it? What kinds of posts will you make?
Schedule time to update your Social Media 3-5 times each week. If you don’t use it, it won’t work for you. At first you may post things a few times a day, but after the novelty wears off, how are you going to make sure you keep using it. Schedule time to work on your Social Media marketing each week
Be careful your posts reflect the image you want to portray. If a friend from college insists on posting stories about your younger days that you would rather not remember, monitor that. Also be careful when allowing assistants to post things to your social networking site. You want to make sure it is in your voice.
Mix personal and professional posts. One of the main reasons Social Networking sites are as popular as they are is that people are craving connections with people. With internet putting us in front of computers more and more and away from personal contact, people are craving those personal connections with real people, so be real! Mix up personal posts about what you are doing in your personal life, with what is happening with your business. It will make you much more interesting and three-dimensional.
Be mindful of speaking about the usual taboo subjects like religion and politics. You would be surprised how many business contacts you relate to in many other ways have deeply-held, strong and differing opinions on many divisive issues. If you really want to use your Social Networking site to talk about these things, consider setting up a separate account and steer your personal and professional contacts to the right place.
Just do it! I think we all realize that this Social Media “thing” is out there to stay and needs to be part of our complete marketing campaign. A little bit at a time will go a long way.
Many of my clients are asking about how to import their blogs into their Facebook page. With Social Media being all the buzz, it is important to understand how to easily add news and content. What better way than to post content from your blog?! Now this should not be the ONLY content on your Facebook account. Remember to use it to create connections with clients, leads as well as family and friends. People will do business with people they like. That is what Social Media Marketing is all about.
Here are some basic instructions for importing your blog on to Facebook:
First, locate the Feedburner feed link for your blog.
Open your Facebook, then click on the "Application" button on the bottom left of the page.
Click on "Notes" (you may need to scroll to see it.)
When the Notes page comes up, click the "Import a blog »" link in the "Notes Settings" area.
You know that you should be helping with your own SEO by promoting your website and providing opportunities for back links, but HOW? Here are a few ideas I shared with one of my Real Estate clients:
CRAIGSLIST and OTHER FREE CLASSIFIEDS
Craigslist is an amazing place to post advertisements for your services with a link pointing to your website. You should try it! Also, writing little articles in your Blog about what you do not only will be good for Search Engines, but they can be used on Craigslist, Backpage, and on Article Submission sites.
DON'T FORGET TO PUT LINKS TO YOUR WEBSITE!
Never waste a Blog Posting by not having links pointed back to your website. Without links you shouldn’t be wasting your time! Think of every link you place online as a vote for yourself. If your search term is “Colorado Springs Real Estate” and you have that term set up as a link pointed to your site, as top agent Brandon Smith does at ColoradoSpringsHomeSite.com, the more links like this that appear on the web, the higher your Google ranking will be. One by one, post by post, week in and week out, think about how you can insert the keywords and keyphrases you want people to find you when searching in Google and other Search Engines.
VIDEO IS REALLY REALLY EFFECTIVE!
Think about the Video idea as well. Create your own little commercial. Using a Webcam or a little Flip Videocam is so easy now.
The best part is that it doesn’t need to be long. In fact it’s better if it isn’t. When I scan through videos and audio podcasts, I’m looking for bite-size nuggets that won’t take too much of a bite out of my day, because I just don’t have that much spare time. Think 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Talk directly into the camera about what you do for a minute. You can do that. Keep doing takes until you have “the one.”
YOUTUBE IS FREE AND GOOGLE LOVES IT (THEY OWN IT)!
Once your completed video is on your computer and you’ve done any editing you wish to do, upload it to YouTube for Free. If you don’t have a YouTube account, set one up now. It will take just a few minutes. Once you have uploaded successfully to your YouTube account, I will point you the way of putting it on your website.
Just think how amazing it would be if you would record 30 second spots for each page on your website. Google likes to feature YouTube videos on Page 1 of their search results. If you took just a minute to add the main search words that you would want people to find your video with in YouTube, you may be rewarded for your efforts with Page 1 placement. (It happens all the time!)
FOCUS ON YOUR LOCAL MICRO AREA INSTEAD OF THE BIG METROPOLIS
Perhaps trying to throw a whole swath over a big marketing area (let’s say “Dallas”) are not going to be as effective as focusing like a laser on the actual smaller community that they really want to market to, like “Plano, TX.” There are thousands of people all trying to get that big market key search term placement on Google. To get that will certainly cost you a lot in paid premium search engine placement. By focusing smaller, your competition for that high Google placement is reduced significantly.
If you have been blogging, Congratulations! DON'T STOP! It's not a "get rich quick" type of operation. Think of it as a mountain building exercise and each post is a shovel of dirt. One by one you will create your mountain until it towers above all others in your field who are not putting in the time, or who only put money into the Pay-Per-Click programs.
This again is an example of the Assets vs. Liabilities theory talked about by Robert Kiyosaki in Rich Dad Poor Dad. Premium Pay-Per-Click campaigns are Liabilities; once they’ve been clicked on, they’re gone! Building your own empire online of Blog Postings containing links pointing to your website can stay up forever, and their exponential nature can build and build and bring you the benefits for years to come!
You have a website. It has beautiful graphics and you have taken care to make sure that the keywords are what you think people to search for you with. Now what? You are excited for the day when you will show up on Google searches and business will be rolling in.
You know that you can pay to get Goggle placement, but if you are like most small businesses right now, there isn’t a lot of budget for that. So, you decided to work on your website by making the content fresh, relevant and plentiful.
One of the best ways to do this is to use OTHER PEOPLE’S CONTENT. Now I don’t mean that you plagiarize someone else’s site or materials. No, not at all. Did you know that there are other people out there that have wonderful content that WANT you to use it? Let me give you some examples.
We all know about blogs, web logs, people create on any and every subject imaginable. People put up all kinds of fresh content around a topic. What you need to do is to search for blogs that are about one of your key words. Say for example, you sell real estate in Boston. If you Goggle “Boston Blog” you will find thousands of blogs on everything from entertainment in Boston, to weather in Boston, to sports in Boston. You can also find similar blogs on real estate news. If you add these blogs as external blogs, you are able to get new content around your keywords and your site will constantly be changing with updated relative content.
All blogs have something called an RSS feed. This is a feed that you are able to then stream into your website. These blogs don’t have to have prominent placement, but the fresh content will keep the search engines happy.
You can also find RSS feeds for other things such as eBay items for sale or just other information that people have links in and want you to put on your site.
Some of the Search Engines, like Yahoo, have made it really easy to create an RSS feed out of search results.
If there is one thing that Google loves, it is video. Youtube.com has videos on any and every topic imaginable. You Tube has made it very easy to take videos from others and place them on your site by using the embed code that is located to the right of every video. All you need to do is copy that and paste it on a blog on your site.
It doesn’t matter if you are an attorney or a real estate agent. One of the best ways to get your website higher in the search engine rankings is by using OPT – other peoples content. A little work when you first set them up and then checking to make sure feeds don’t go down will go a long, long way.
Brett Miller is the founder of HoopJumper Websystems. Find out more about his Webepreneur® Websystems that have built in easy to use internal and external blogs at www.webeprenuer.com
One of the most asked questions by my clients goers like this...
"My website went live last week and I'm still not on Page 1 of Google? What gives?"
The first thing I try to let them know is
A) Google is a business, not a democracy, and
B) Google shakes up their own apple cart constantly, so what may work great one week or one year may be ineffective now.
Some things to keep in mind about Google... they take their users seriously. It's their goal to give their "clients" the best sites that fit the search terms entered. Google loves websites that are information rich and which are updated on a regular basis and not stale with the same information year-in and year-out. They also seem to like sites that deliver new media content like audio and video.
A recent article from Broker Agent Social that I've some clients sending me called "Page Ranking is Dead" states that Google, as it did over 300 times last year, is planning to unveil an updated algorithm, and that this one is going to change things dramatically. As the article states about Google's new Universal Search feature:
"This will be the most significant factor of 2009. Google looks at soundtracks and convert them to text. They can jump into the middle of videos, scan sites to determine if you have video/images or not. There are a lot of variables in universal search, and some of these variables tell how engaging your site is. What will be scary to those casual users, is if you don¹t have video and your competition does, you¹re going to see a big shift in rankings. If the top ten sites don¹t have video, they may lose their ranking over night. There is no question about it. Getting placed at the top of the search engines will change from what we have known in the past. The real question is: what are you doing to stay ahead of the competition?"
Dang! I just saw a DVD called "Eagle Eye" where a computer is able to translate a voice's sound waves reflected off of someone's coffee into text. (For us older folk, we remember the HAL9000 reading an astronauts lips.)
A great value for creating easy videos for the web is a company called Real Estate Shows at http://www.realestateshows.com . For $125 per year, you can unlimited videos created from your own digital photos. It's a very fancy video slideshow which pans the pictures in a "Ken Burns" type way which is very nice. You can easily add a soundtrack, captions, and... voila! Internet movie ready to use. RealEstateShows.com even connects directly to your Realtor.com
So we can begin to pick apart and find out what Google has done, it is much harder to figure out what they will DO. The best thing you can do is create a quality website, with excellent content that people find, go to and return to often. Trying to beat the system is tough to do and stay ahead of, especially with where Google is concerned.
Brett Miller is founder of HoopJumper® Websystems and helps his clients create quality websites that visitors come to and return to. To find out more about his products and services, visit www.HoopJumper.com
So you want to sell other people's stuff on eBay through your website and make a commission for doing nothing, eh?
OK, you won't exactly be doing "nothing." You will need to sign up for the program and post some links on your website, but once that's done, you just let the system do its thing --- which is generating you a passive income string!
Though the "eBay Affiliates" program, you can earn between 50% and 75% of eBay's revenue on all winning Bids that start from a link on your website. And if a new user registers and bids on eBay from your site, you will earn $25.00 - $35.00 per Active Registration. A registration is active when the user places a bid on eBay within 30 days of their initial registration.
Plus, the fact that you will have products automatically updating on your site will help your search engine ranking since keywords from each item will add to your total keyword density. And the search engines LOVE when your site generates new content on a regular basis.
The first thing you need to do is sign up at Commission Junction and get a PID number. Your PID is your website identification number. Let's get started!
HOW TO SIGN UP AT COMMISSION JUNCTION:
1. Go to the eBay Affiliate Commission Junction sign up page.
2. Follow all the steps. Read everything carefully and confirm your acceptance.
3. When you are finished and have received your login information for Commission Junction, login to your Members Area.
HOW TO GET A COMMISSION JUNCTION PID NUMBER:
1. Click on the Account tab (next to "Home")
2. Click on the "Web Site Settings" sub-tab.
3. Click on "Add a New Web Site" button.
4. Fill out the easy form and submit.
5. On your "Account - Web Site Settings" page, you should now see your website listed there with your Name, your new PID number and your URL. Write down this PID number and write it down somewhere you can reference easily.
HOW TO ADD EBAY TO YOUR COMMISSION JUNCTION ACCOUNT:
1. Click on the "Get Links" tab.
2. Under the words "Get Links - Advertiser List" is a Search box with "Advertisers" selected. Type "eBay" next to it and click the "Find" button.
3. You can select any of the offered eBay programs. The one I use is the "eBay Buy. Sell. Trade." (The 6th option when this was written.) To select this one, click on its logo.
4. Read through the information and if it looks good to you, click the "Apply to Program" button at the bottom.
5. Complete the easy application process.
Congratulations! You are now an official eBay Affiliate and can now earn 50% or more of eBay's commission from any eBay item sold via a link on your website. You can also earn $25 to $35 per new eBay member signed up from visitors to your website! (Source: http://affiliates.ebay.com/)
Now, you will generate an RSS or XML Feed that your Webepreneur® account can use to create a special page for you.
HOW TO CREATE AN EBAY RSS FEED:
You can display up to 200 eBay listings that are dynamically updated in real time on your website by following these instructions:
1. First, sign in to your eBay account. (Yes, you must be an eBay member already. If you are not, sign up for eBay here)
3. From this "Advanced Search" page, enter the search criteria for your RSS feed.
4. At the bottom of the page, look for where it says "Affiliate Tracking Information" and click the "Show" link.
5. Select "Commission Junction" as your "Provider."
6. Enter your "Commission Junction PID" that we had you write down earlier.
7. Click the "Search" button.
8. A page of "Results" will appear. Scroll to the bottom of the search results page displayed and click on the orange "RSS" logo.
9. This should open a new window showing the RSS Feed. Copy the page URL at the top into a text document for safe keeping.
Congratulations! You've just created a custom eBay RSS Feed for your website!
HOW TO ADD AN EBAY PRODUCTS PAGE TO YOUR WEBEPRENEUR® SITE IN LESS THAN A MINUTE:
1. Have the RSS feed URL ready that you just saved from your eBay Advanced Search.
2. Login to your Webepreneur® Dashboard.
3. Click on the orange "Web Pages" tab at the top.
4. On the Page List page, click on the green "Add XML Feed Page" link at the top.
5. Enter the "NavLink Button Name" you wish to call this page.
6. Write a Headline for this page. (It can be the same as your "NavLink Button Name.")
7. Paste or type in the RSS Feed URL into the "XML Feed URL" area.
8. Scroll to the bottom and click SAVE.
9. Change the Display Order of your new page.
10. View your new page.
Congratulations! You have just added an XML Feed Page to your Webepreneur® website!
You may add as many XML Feed pages as you like to your Webepreneur® website. If you want to, you can narrow down your searches to specific options or colors to focus on smaller niches. The sky's the limit!
As of today, there are 89,700,000 search results for ”What is a Blog?” and 45,100,000 for “Why should I Blog?” If there are really this many people talking about it, why aren’t people more doing it?
As a Professional Webmaster, I am constantly urging my clients to Blog. Why do I do this? The answer is simple, because this is the single most effective ways you can increase the number of people finding your site, trusting you as an expert in your field and buying products and services from you. Wow! You may think these are bold claims, but let me explain why I feel this way.
What is a Blog? You may have heard people call them Web Logs. What they mean is that a Blog is a way of keeping a Log on the Web. It is a way to continually add information on to a site that often builds off previous information you have already posted.
A blog is a weblog, which is essentially an online journal or newsletter that is frequently updated for general public readership.
Blogging allows you to self-publish yourself online, allowing you to be perceived as an expert in your field.
Furthermore, if you write your Blog postings correctly, they will be rich with keywords and consequently direct search engines toward your website daily. Webepreneur gives you the freedom to add as many internal blogs as you want to your website.
If you are going to use just a Blog, www.Blogger.com is a great place to start. It is free and easy to use. If you would rather have a Blog be a part of your site but not the entirety of it you may want to check out the easy to use Internal Blog functions in http://www.webepreneur.com/pages/blogging.htm
Why do I need Blogs?
When web surfers are searching for products or services, they will enter keywords that describe their search on search engines such as Yahoo.com or Google.com. One way the search engines determine if your site is what someone is looking for is by looking for the keyword they used in their search used multiple times on your site. Search Engines search words, not pictures, flash animation and graphics. Now, there is definitely more to Search Engine Optimization than just keywords such as frequency in updating, back links, Title Tags, and many other things we will be getting into more of that in the weeks to come, but one thing is for sure, content is king, and Blogs are the best way to add new fresh content to your site constantly.
Brett Miller, the founder of HoopJumper WebSystems, is the creator of Webepreneur, an easy-to-use search engine optimized WebSystem designed specifically for Small Business Owners who want to be able to update their own website and Blog themselves with ease. Check out the Webepreneur WebSystem at www.Webepreneur.com or www.HoopJumper.com to see the other services offered.
"I knew I needed to get a website, but the whole idea was so complex and daunting to me," Megan said."I decided to use HoopJumper® because I felt I could trust Brett from the start. I knew that he had my best interest in mind and wanted to help me. I also really liked the fact that I would have access to make changes myself and the whole process was user friendly. That meant that I could update my website whenever I wanted."
Megan's website at www.HealthyFiguresInc.com was created using the Webepreneur® System (www.Webepreneur.com). Webepreneur® offers an easy-to-use webpage-building program for small business owners who want to save money and time by building and editing their own websites.
"I am blown away. I feel as if I am becoming a web master of my own website. I have never been more proud of myself and felt more confident in my ability to use technology. No longer do websites have to be another language."
"As far as how easy the system is, on a scale of 1 to 10 the Webepreneur® System would get a 9 on ease of us from me," Megan states."It is pretty straightforward.All it takes is doing it to understand it. I am no computer genius, so if I can use Webepreneur®, then anyone can."
HoopJumper® is announcing an even easier Dashboard (website control panel) for Webepreneur® that is being released in February 2008.Webepreneur® clients can sign up for a free Webinar that is being held on February 5 at 9:30 am Pacific / 12:30 PM Eastern.Class size is limited so sign up early.Individuals who may not currently have a Webepreneur® website, but may be interested, are welcome to sign up for a private tour of the system as well.Please sign up for either program at http://www.webepreneur.com/pages/contact-us.htm
"HoopJumper® has taught me how to make money from my website with increasing sales, effectively using newsletters, and by enlisting affiliates.I think having a website gives you credibility as well as gives you a place that you can tell people who you are and what you have to offer. I get random people contacting me all the time that I wouldn't have had if I didn't have a website."
Megan says, "I am very happy with my HoopJumper® Website.HoopJumper® was fantastic to work with from day one.Brett and the entire staff have gone above and beyond any expectations I would have had with any internet marketing company.The HoopJumper team was very professional and patient with me, and are a BLAST to work with!"
With the release of Webepreneur® 2.5 in February, HoopJumper® will be holding more teleclasses and sending out information to the Webepreneur® network on how to best use your site to get and maintain search engine ranking, how to make money with your site using affiliate plans and with increased sales, how to effectively use the built in blogging features of your Webepreneur® site and so much more.
"I use to see having a website as a technical hurdle I could not overcome.Now, it's fun to have a website. It's like your little story about your business. It has taken my business to the next level."
Megan has taken control over her internet marketing and it has paid off.Isn't it time you, too, took control over your website.Contact HoopJumper® for more information on Webepreneur® 2.5.
--- Brett Miller, the founder of HoopJumper WebSystems, is the creator of Webepreneur, an easy-to-use search engine optimized WebSystem designed specifically for Small Business Owners who want to be able to update their own swebsite themselves. Check out the Webeprenuer WebSystem at www.Webepreneur.com or www.HoopJumper.com to see the other services offered.
Now is the time to take your lead generation into consideration, and decide what methods give you the highest returns. Direct mailings can be very expensive, and they can make great demands on your time. But once your small business blog is up and running, it goes on farming for you 24/7, 365 days a year. The only maintenance a blog requires is the time it takes to post comments and read responses from readers. Your small business blog never stops farming for you. It's the "gift that keeps on giving."
Certainly there's a place for direct mail farming in every small business owner's marketing strategy-not all potential clients search for services on the Internet. Small business blogs haven't made letters, fliers, and postcards obsolete. Indeed, there is something special about receiving hard copy in the mail. For the minority of clients and potential clients who don't start their searches on the Internet, direct mail farming still needs to be done.
Nonetheless, the biggest payback from blog farming comes when small business blogs generate feedback from clients. Everyone in small business should actively seek feedback from clients and potential clients, but most entrepreneurs fail to do this consistently. Direct mail is not a medium that makes it easy for people to respond. However, small business blogs are a perfect platform for getting instant feedback.
Most people don't want to go the extra mile. That's why excellence and greatness are so rare-most people don't want to work that hard. Research shows that talent is irrelevant to great success. What's the secret? Hard work and dedication. Your key skill as a small business owner is your dedication to your clients-your ability to win their trust and help them achieve their goals. A small business blog lets you serve your whole community of clients simultaneously, and it's designed to produce continual feedback.
What do you need to take your business to the next level? What do you need to be great? You need a business system that provides timely feedback-a system that lets you know what customers want before they know what they want. Direct mail farming is too slow to do that; blogging was made to do it. There's still a place for direct mail farming in your marketing strategy, but blog farming is the way to build greatness into your small business without spending all of your savings.
Want more information on how to generate leads without spending a lot of money? Check out Coach Cheri's Business Planning Guide for Business Owners. This is a 14 part eCourse developed by Business Success Coach Cheri Alguire that will walk you through all of the steps to make next year a fruitful and smart year for your business. I recommend that you take a look at this winning system to get a jump start to a successful new year! --- Brett Miller, the founder of HoopJumper WebSystems, is the creator of Webepreneur, an easy-to-use search engine optimized WebSystem designed specifically for Small Business Owners who want to market themselves effectively and intelligently. If you're a Small Business Owner and you want make your marketing dollars well-spent, go to www.Webepreneur.com or www.HoopJumper.com to see the other services offered.
Imagine if you could track each and every response that you receive from every ad that you placed, and that too, with pinpoint accuracy! You would know exactly which publication, ad, headline and offer, right down to the minutest of all details and even what made your client pick up the phone and contact you.
This would provide you with the ability to bring down your costs. Now, the best way to cut down on marketing costs is to stop spending on ads that don't really produce much and concentrate only on those ads that always bring the desired results. If you cut out each and every ad source that is not performing well, then you can actually boost your presence in all those publications and sources that generate more response.
This is called 'Massive Upside Leverage'. It basically means taking all the money that you are already spending and using it to produce a much greater response. The power and production potential of such a move is absolutely staggering. But everything depends on your ability to track a response and then to improve your strategy. If you are like most other brokers, then you may have already tried this technique. But, tracking can be very difficult.
For instance, you could be dealing with unrecorded calls or someone who takes the call but does not ask the caller what caused him to respond. No matter how hard you try to prevent this from happening, it happens over and over again. This situation can be quite frustrating. Being a Small Business Owner, your marketing dollars are precious. All you want to know is where and how your advertising money is best invested, but usually all you get in return is a vague hunch about what is working for you. It seems as though if you keep spending money, you know the phone will ring.
Print ad and direct mail campaigns are almost impossible to track, so why do you keep doing it? Most likely, it's because you've been doing it for years and it seems like it works. You can see your name in the paper or in the mail, and you think that it's a good way to brand yourself. No matter how much you're branding yourself, you’re probably not be bringing in the amount of leads and clients that you could with cheaper, smarter investments in marketing.
The Best way to Slash your Marketing Costs
If you knew exactly how many phone calls were generated from each ad, then you could probably trim the low-performing or marginal ad sources out of your advertising budget and concentrate more on factors of greater importance. There is no reason why you should toss your money into bottomless marketing strategies. Web analysis and web-presence is an easy and effortless way to make sure that your marketing money is well-spent. The costs of web-vertising and optimizing your website to make sure that leads will find you on-line are remarkably lower and much easier to track than print ads or direct mail will ever be.
Smart business planning is the first step to smart marketing strategies. Once you can see where all of your money is being spent, then you can see how much you can save with smarter moves, not more expensive ones.
A great tool for planning your next year is Coach Cheri's Business Planning Guide for Business Owners. This is a 14 part eCourse developed by Business Success Coach Cheri Alguire that will walk you through all of the steps to make next year a fruitful and smart year for your business. I recommend that you take a look at this winning system to get a jump start to a successful new year! For more information, go here --- Brett Miller, the founder of HoopJumper WebSystems, is the creator of Webepreneur, an easy-to-use search engine optimized WebSystem designed specifically for Small Business Owners who want to market themselves effectively and intelligently. If you're a Small Business Owner and you want make your marketing dollars well-spent, go to www.Webepreneur.com or www.HoopJumper.com to see the other services offered.
Your small business website is the first contact Internet searchers have with your business. Your home page starts to build a relationship with prospects even before you know they exist. When prospects find that you offer valuable information to help them achieve their goals, they are more willing to trust you as an online expert.
It all starts with your domain strategy. Domain strategy is just as important as deciding your company's name, and for many, their company name is their domain name.
Here are some things to keep in mind when you register your domain name:
• Brand You: Your domain, or Internet URL, is your brand on the Worldwide Web. This is your Dot.Com—your Internet business name. It's not chiseled in stone—you can start over again and rename your small business website, but that can cause all sorts of headaches. Make the right choice now and save yourself a load of trouble down the road.
• What's in a name? More than meets the eye. When you choose a domain name for your small business website, make sure it's one that reaches out to customers and makes them feel at home. . Jonathan Wilberforce Edmonds IV is a wonderful and noble name, but the very sight of jonathanwilberforceedmondsiv.com is enough to scare prospects away from your website. On the other hand, JonEdmonds.com opens the door for prospects as they come in. Remember: Your Internet domain starts building a relationship with prospects even before you do.
• Keywords are Key: By researching the best keywords for a prospective client, you can make your domain search engine optimized. For instance, if you sell inspirational books, you might find that keywords like inspirational books, self-help books, personal growth books are all terms that prospective clients will use when searching for products you carry. It wouldn't hurt to make your domain something like PersonalGrowthandInspirationalBooks.com. It's as if you're loading your site with keywords from the start and people will begin finding you the moment that you purchase your domain.
• Easy To Say, Easy to Remember: I always say that you should picture yourself speaking to a client in their car on their cell phone. They are not going to be able to write down a long domain name with a bunch of dashes, numbers or abbreviations. For instance “CallCathy4RE.com” becomes “call cathy with a ‘c’ - the number four, the letters R – E which stands for real estate - .com. “ This is a disaster for remembering. Try to use easy to spell words and nothing hard to remember.
Domain strategy is fun, and it can be exciting to search for all sorts of domain names. When it comes to your Small Business, be smart about your domains. Use good research tactics and put as much effort and time into finding a good domain for your company as you did when you created your company's business plan. ___________________________ Brett Miller, the founder of HoopJumper WebSystems, is the creator of Webepreneur, an easy-to-use website building program for small business owners and individual service professionals that makes it easy to get your website visible and popular engine-wide. If you're a Small Business Owner and you want help with domain strategy, go to www.Webepreneur.com or www.HoopJumper.com to find out how we can customize your domains to bring business to you!
I asked a professional in the field of Small Business Podcasting, Dan Dashnaw, what he considered the top ten reasons that all Small Business Owners should be Podcasting regularly. His answers are consistent with what I’ve been reading in different trade journals and Small Business publications for awhile now. In a competitive environment where you’re dealing with tech-savvy Generation X and Y clients on a daily basis, having the kind of Technological edge that Podcasting can give you may be the “X-Factor” you need!
10 Reasons Why Every Small Business Owner Needs to Podcast
1. The power of rich media. Your business is a dynamic medium, which implies a need for the capacity to deliver compelling marketing materials in order to effectively showcase your business and services. Podcasts (either audio or video) allow for a level of interaction and user experience that fulfills this need directly, giving prospective clients a rich medium to advertise their interests across the internet very effectively.
2. Economic Relevance. Today’s consumers are more liable to be broadband internet users then the general populace. Podcasts leverage broadband connections in order to make rich media content available to stream and deliver online, making them highly reachable and an attractive feature for your small business.
3. RSS Subscription Technology. Podcasts serve as an easily distributable form of content that can be updated immediately and instantly consumed. If a small business owner wants to advertise a new product or service, a podcast could be produced and published the same day, making the content to all of the subscribers, listing sites, and aggregators immediately. The dynamic nature of the Small Business 'information exchange' is a perfect fit for the quickly adaptable medium of podcasts and RSS.
4. Technological Relevance. Entrepreneurs have always been on the 'cutting edge' of technology. With availability as a mantra as well as a competitive imperative, you probably had cell phones before the masses of teenagers in the mall. Podcasts are most certainly 'the hot new technology' right now for many reasons in terms of internet communications, and as such they can be an effective competitive weapon for small business owners.
5. The numbers. Over 80 percent of consumers looking for products and services begin their search on the internet. Since the web is now transitioning to podcasts and video as the content formats of choice, what better place is there to focus your marketing initiatives?
6. Time-shifting. Podcasts are marketing tools that potentially never stops working. They can email them, download them, and users can subscribe to them via RSS feed technology for free. You can literally be advertising your company 24 hours a day anywhere in the world.
7. Distribution of content. Podcast technology combines the benefits of enhanced business information with tremendously wide syndication and distribution to the target markets as well as to the leading search engines like Google, AOL, Yahoo, MSN, iTunes TM and all of the web's podcast directories. By aggressively embracing the latest advanced technology tools like podcasts, it allows you to increase your marketing and sales success.
8. The online experience. Today's consumers want an experience, and they want it online. With podcasting, you are able to deliver marketing content and property listings to these consumers directly. This gives the potential customer a better view of your business, market, and even their specific needs - making you and your company much more marketable online.
9. An increased pace. Today's market is characterized by increasingly tech-savvy consumers looking for detailed, on-demand information, so putting podcasts to work can be the difference needed to get your company advertised quicker and more effectively.
10. The buzz. Experts predict that the number of online will multiply dramatically over the next couple of years due to several factors, including competition for business and increasingly affordable and easy-to-use technology.
Brett Miller, the founder of HoopJumper WebSystems, is the creator of Webepreneur, an easy-to-use website building program for small business owners and individual service professionals who want to save money and time by building and editing their own search engine optimized Web 2.0 websites. If you're a Small Business Owner and you want your websites to work for you, go to www.Webepreneur.com
Someone is looking for you, but the problem is they don’t know you yet!
Your future business is going to be split into 2 groups: people who know you and people who don’t know you. Those who know you can find you easily and even the least optimized website can be found by someone typing in your buisiness name or domain name directly into their browser.
For those who don’t know you, the best way to bring prospects to your Small Business is through the internet, and the best way to get them via the internet is by using the right keywords. Knowing the right keywords to use in your Small Business website and blog is crucial to obtaining a high search engine ranking. If your website doesn’t have those key words or search terms in the title or the text on your website, you will not be found… period. What are keywords? Keywords are the words that best describe your business, services offered, and/or products offered. These are the words that people search for when they need what you have. For instance, if someone is looking for a plumber in Laguna Beach, California, they will search for “Plumber Laguna Beach CA,” or something like that. “Plumber Laguna Beach CA” are keywords. How do you know which keywords to use? Put yourself into the mind of the person sitting at their computer looking for what you offer. Chances are, those who don’t know you but need what you offer will be going online and typing into their favorite search engine a few key words and perhaps a city name to locate you. What are those terms?
Another strategy is to follow the lead of other successful websites by doing a Google search in your own category and see who is at the top. Go to their homepage, right-click anywhere on the home page. Then scroll down and click on View Source. A window will open on your screen. A few lines from the top, you’ll see a line that starts with the title “meta” or “meta name.” Now look for “keywords.” You’ll see the keywords used on the page. This is an easy and completely legitimate way to know what keywords are being used by high-traffic sites.
Using the same keywords as the top-ranked sites doesn’t guarantee a high ranking for your Small Business blog, of course, but it’s a good way to start educating yourself. Although these are good ways of learning how other businesses are directing traffic to their websites, the best way to find the right keywords is to choose an Internet Marketing expert to host your website and blog. A web system that offers Search Engine Optimization and keyword selection targeted to the specific prospects in your market will achieve a high ranking for your site without the expense of pay-per-click advertising that you see on the top or side of search engine results that say, “Sponsored.”
When you find a company that promises to Search Engine Optimize your website, make sure you know what you’re getting before you sign up for a hosting plan. Most hosts will submit your keywords to search engines, but not all will help optimize your site for keywords. Are you tracking the key words people are already finding you with? If not, you should sign up for a free account with either StatCounter or Google Analytics and place their few lines of supplied code on every page of your website. Then go in regularly to see how people are finding you now, if at all. If you’re several pages back from the first page, you may want to consider how to optimize your site more effectively for these desired key words No one knows your business better than you do. Keyword selection is part Internet science, but it’s also a product of experience and intuition. What word or phrase would you type into a search engine if you were looking for the type of service you provide? Brainstorm. Ask your friends. Experiment. The answers can help your Small Business blog and website to the top of the search results. --- Brett Miller, the founder of HoopJumper WebSystems, is the creator of Webepreneur, an easy-to-use website building program for small business owners and individual service professionals who want to save money and time by building and editing their own search engine optimized Web 2.0 websites. If you’re a Small Business Owner and you want your websites to work for you, go to www.Webepreneur.com
If your website isn’t generating you leads, you need to ask yourself what’s wrong. If you’re using a templated site, that may be the cause of the problem. Search the Internet yourself to find out which small businesses like your own are ranked at the top in different cities. How many of them are using a templated site? My guess is not many.
Internet buyers and smart consumers have become a tech-savvy group. They’ve seen every type of small business website imaginable. When they hit a site that’s obviously built on a template, they know it right away. Internet searchers have seen enough templated websites to know that such sites don’t offer the personal attention they’re looking for in your field.
Your templated sight isn’t generating leads because it doesn’t add anything of value to customers’ lives. Having pretty pictures on your site isn’t going to drive you more business. How will your business fulfill all of your prospective clients’ needs? What will you do that none of your competitors can or will do? It is necessary to answer all of these questions in your website and make them ask for more.
In a search engine world dominated by Google, one principal has become clear: Content Is King. The search engines regularly crawl through every website to see if there have been any changes since the last time they visited. If your site has added content since the last visit, you will be noticed as someone who has not let your site go dormant and seem abandoned. If your site is templated with templated copy that is exactly the same as a lot of other sites with only the contact information being different, you will all be given lesser value for being duplicates.
This principal of search engines ignoring duplicated websites is especially true for affiliate websites where you are given a specific ID number to track your traffic, but with everything else exactly the same, no one ever has a chance of being found by potential clients that you have not personally directed to your site.
Regularly updated content that is rich with keywords relevant to what your site is about is important for showing the search engines that you are an important source of timely information which they rate as very important. When your website is constantly updated, prospective clients know that it’s not just a templated site. They will see that you are putting an effort into putting your best web-face forward, which is the key to marketing and sales strategies today.
The majority of today’s consumers begin their searches on the Internet. If a website is difficult to navigate, or if visitors don’t find their answers within the first few seconds of hitting a site, they’ll leave as fast as they came. It must be click-click-click easy because you only have a few seconds to make a good first impression.
Your small business website has to be a place that visitors want to come back to. A place where they know they can find information to help them achieve their goals. A place where you can build strong relationships with prospects and clients. The best way to create such a place is with a personalized website that puts a human face on your business.
-- Brett Miller, the founder of HoopJumper WebSystems, is the creator of Webepreneur, an easy-to-use website building program for small business owners and individual service professionals who want to save money and time by building and editing their own search engine optimized Web 2.0 websites. If you’re a Small Business Owner and you want your websites to work for you, go to www.Webepreneur.com
Using your website to its maximum potential is essential today. There is no reason to have a pretty website and pay for it to be hosted monthly if you’re just using it as a business card. Your website can pull leads to your business if you use it the right way. By having blogs and xml feeds from other blogs on your website, people will find your website and your company online. Furthermore, these are prospective customers who are already interested in your line of business because they searched for it in the first place.
Your blog can be the first point of contact with a potential customer—your blog starts building a relationship even before you know the prospect is there. And when your blog gives visitors information that adds value to their lives, they’ll want to come back.
First impressions are crucial in the process of turning leads into clients; an online visitor’s first impression is determined in large part by the quality and content of your blog. Use blogs on your website the right way, and you will have a rainmaking website.
Be a Keyword King. Using the right keywords in your blog postings will direct people searching for experts or products in your area of business to your website. Also, adding an external blog that is rich with your business’ keywords to your website through an rss feed will make it easier for your website to get more traffic which means more prospects.
Post, Post, Post. Post to your blog at least once a week. That is the only way to guarantee that your website and blog will hit higher on search engines. Post as if you’re watering a plant, if you don’t do it consistently, it will die. That’s how search engines see your site, if you don’t refresh it with new content, they will see it as dead. You don’t even have to post blogs that you write, you can post other peoples’ blogs through rss feeds, or copy and paste from news articles as long as you give proper credit to avoid copywright infringement.
Use your feedback. By taking the comments that people give you on the articles you add to your blog, you can make your blog and business more effective in sales and customer service. See them as constructive, even if they are critical. Your readers and customers will take note of the fact that you value their input and respect you and refer you to other people.
RSS Feeds are necessary... and cool! Adding rss and xml feeds of other blogs and news websites will keep your website alive and direct many people to your website. You must choose the right feeds that are in your industry, and that are specific as well. You will be very surprised at the amount of people that are directed to your website because of one or two words that they search for. By adding other feeds, you don’t have to do as much work as you do with your own, internal blog. Other people write the articles for you and as long as you feed their blog, they will always have proper credit.
Recommend Books. If you’ve recently read a book that you would recommend to others, think about posting a good keyword-rich review on your Blog. You’d be amazed at how many people are searching for information about that book or its author and how having those keywords in your blog can have prospective clients finding your site. If they already like that author and their work, they will relate to you for liking it as well. This works equally well for any type of media from DVDs to a TV show you saw recently.
Relationships aren’t just person to person any more, the Internet has created a new medium for relationships. Use this community to create your own network of readers and prospective clients around your website and business.
Brett Miller, the founder of HoopJumper WebSystems, is the creator of Webepreneur, an easy-to-use website building program for small business owners and individual service professionals who want to save money and time by building and editing their own search engine optimized Web 2.0 websites. If you’re a Small Business Owner and you want your websites to work for you, go to www.Webepreneur.com
If there’s one thing that I continue to repeat to my clients over and over and over, it is that blogging is one of the most effective ways to attract prospects to your Internet site, and you need to be doing it at least weekly.
Here are five reasons why all Small Business Owners must blog:
Search engine optimization: Blogging helps your Internet site achieve a higher ranking on search engines. The key to search engine ranking is information-rich content. Blogging is the ideal format for publishing information on the Internet, and it’s really easy to update a blog. It’s just like writing an email only it’s to the whole world. Every Blog you post becomes its own web page adding yet another page of content on the web. The more content you have on your Internet site, the more you look like an information-rich website to the search engines.
Credibility: A blog helps to brand you as an expert in your industry. Blogs are the perfect place to talk about what you know and cost you practically nothing to post them. When you share your knowledge in a blog, you build the kind of trust that turns leads into clients for life. After awhile, you will build up a huge inventory of postings which will be impressive, especially to the Generation X and Y consumers.
Relationship Building: Blogs put a personal face on your business. The personal nature of blogs makes them a powerful tool for building relationships with your clients and potential clients. There’s a lot of competition online; a blog is one of the best ways to separate your business from the competition. Staying in front of these potential future clients is critical in staying in their hearts and minds when they are needing the products or services you offer.
Feedback: Your blog makes instant feedback possible. A blog is an ideal format for getting feedback from clients. Visitors can respond to your comments and link to your blog posts from their own websites and blogs. Hot topics can create a thread that engages dozens—or hundreds—of readers to post their replies. The replies will tell you a lot about what your customers want.
Up to date information: Blogs put information that is new and that helps you in a couple ways. First, it will give your clients and potential clients reason to come back to your site again and again. Also, the “spiders” that Google uses to crawl your site will reward you for the fresh and frequently updated content by giving you higher Search Engine rankings. Every time Google comes back to see “how you’re doing” and discovers that you and your site aren’t going to roll over and play dead after putting up your initial 8 page website, they will take note and give you an advantage over the other complacent website owners. Google is drawn to new content as a cat is drawn to catnip. Give Google all the catnip you can and reap the benefits!
Blogging helps you build the quality of relationships that can turn leads into clients for life. If you don’t have a blog, make launching your own blog one of your top priorities. Brett Miller, the founder of HoopJumper Websystems, is the creator of Webepreneur, an easy-to-use web-building program for small business owners who want to save money and time by building and editing their own search engine optimized websites. If you’re a small business owner and you want your websites to work for you, go to www.Webepreneur.com
A Division of HoopJumper WebSystems 25422 Trabuco Rd., Suite 105-B3, Lake Forest, CA 92630 949-309-2403