Video Testimonials go Mainstream

For about 6 months now, I’ve been encouraging my clients to include video testimonials on their blogs/web sites, not only because it’s a powerful marketing tool, but also because of the "wow" factor.  After all, while streaming video is nothing new, the You Tube revolution has made adding video to any blog or web site as easy as adding a link!

Now, marketing genius Ken McCarty is advising his readers to look into Video Testimonials:

About 80% of consumers put more faith in advertisers who present customer reviews than those that don’t.  Over thee out of four customers say it is extremely or very important to read customer reviews before making a purchase.

And not just any old reviews. They want customer reviews and prefer them 6 to 1 over "expert" reviews. 44% of online shoppers say that consumer ratings and reviews are the most useful e-commerce  feature.  No other eCommerce shopping feature came even close.

I’ve talked often with my clients about the power of testimonials.  I’ve even included a lot of testimonial gathering tactics in my book Beyond the Niche.  However, when it comes to a selling tool that carries the POWER of a testimonial, well… it shouldn’t surprise ANYONE that some people will actually create FRAUDULENT testimonials and place them on a web site. As a matter of fact, testimonials are so powerful, (and their power is definitely "decreased" by fraudulen tuse) that  there’s even a company that offers the service of AUTHENTICATING your written testimonials on your web site.

Which is why I encourage MY clients to feature VIDEO testimonials on their blog/web site.  Video testimonials are much tougher to "fake" than written testimonials.  Simeon Pollock’s Wholistic Blog features a collection of video testimonials.  Take a look at them and ask yourself, isn’t this more powerful than words appearing on a page?

A tale of three blogs…

Over at Blog Grrll, she tells an amusing tale of three little blogs

Based on the tale of the three little pigs, the author has done a GREAT job of applying the moral of the original story to her new, modern "piglets". 

Basically, the moral to her cautionary tale is the same as the moral to the tale of the original three little pigs: "Hard work pays off later…. laziness pays off immediately!"

When I tell my clients that my blogs don’t reach "critical" mass until 100 posts…. it frightens many of them.  Remember, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. 

The real key to creating marketing magic….

As a "legal bribe" I’ve created an ebook that takes you step by step through the process of creating marketing magic.  It’s a great resource (so I’ve been told) and one that has travelled far and wide.  I’ve recently learned that it’s being offered as a free resource on other sites promoting marketing "magic". 

In the ebook, I outline 10 steps to follow.  I also offer one on one consulting with business owners who need help with the process… and what I’ve discovered is there is a much needed disclaimer for the ebook…. it only works if you follow the steps.

Ron Popeil hawks his Showtime Rotisserie by telling viewers that they can cook great meals without the work.  All they have to do is "Set it and forget it!"

I’m here to tell you right here, right now….There isn’t any such thing as set it and forget it marketing. 

I know that small business owners have a LOT on their plate.  As a small business owner, you get to be CEO, CFO, CMO, and a whole host of other alphabet soup titles.  The hats you wear are the ones people who are employed in mega-corporations spend 10 hours a day doing…. yet as a small business owner, you’re lucky if you get to spend a full hour a day on any one of these roles.

If you’re going to create marketing magic, you’re going to HAVE to find a way to "connect" with your potential customers.  You’ve GOT to find a way to garner their ear (or their eye). 

Writing is an excellent way to connect.  Speaking is another.  Blogs are absolutely GREAT communication tools because no matter WHAT your preferred method of communication, your blog can be the way you deliver your message.

If you’re not comfortable writing, then pick up a web cam and start recording.  Upload your video and feature it in your blog.  Not ready for video?  Then record your voice and speak your message.  Hate how you sound on tape?  Then set your fingers to your keyboard and start writing.

If NONE of these works for you, then hire a ghost writer.  Advertising 2.0 is all about TWO WAY communication with your customers/clients.  If you’re not a great communicator… that’s ok.  But if you’re not, recognize it and then get someone on staff who IS a great communicator and put them in charge of …. communications! 

 

 

Is your free blog worth what you paid for it?

I’m a HUGE fan of blogs, especially as powerful marketing tools for bootstrapping entreprenurial types.  The easy to use blog interface removes many of the barriers to web site success.  Business owners can update content easily, add reciprocal links, and even interact with potential clients/customers via the comment feature of blogs.  Blogs, in general, are merely Content Management Systems that even the most un-technically savvy business owner can use to harness the power of the internet for any business.

In response, I’ve created a site where all I do is sell self hosted blogs….and inevitably, I am asked WHY would someone PAY for a blog when they can register at wordpress.com or blogger.com and get their very own blog for free.

For the record, I USED to recommend free blogging accounts to my clients.  I had one client who signed up for a free blog, made a few posts and then got distracted and didn’t post to her free blog account for a few months.  While doing a random check of her essential keywords, my client saw her free blogsite posts topping the list.  She was thrilled and shared her experience with me. 

As a result, I opened my own free blogging account and encouraged other clients to do the same.  After all, it made sense.  A free blog account wouldn’t suffer the "google sandbox" sentence imposed upon new sites and if a client did "fall down" in their blogging efforts, then their content could still "rise to the top" of long tail keyword searches.  With minimal cost, it seemed that free blogging accounts really were a good investment of time and effort for my clients.  They could use these free blog sites to drive traffic to their web sites.

One client to whom I made this recommendation discovered she had a real talent for blogging and REALLY went to town on her free wordpress.com blog.  She would blog 3-4 times a week, keeping her potential clients updated on the latest in her industry.  We included links from her web site (which was enjoying exponential traffic growth) on her site and she made frequent mention of the blog and the address in her ever expanding newsletter.

As luck would have it, this is a client for whom I perform monthly traffic analysis and after about 8 months, I began to notice that her free blog wasn’t delivering ANY traffic to the site.  (Remember, we’re talking 8 MONTHS of blogging efforts!!!)  Since the free blog account doesn’t offer the ability to track traffic, I only had one side of the story…. but the lack of incoming traffic from a blog with THAT many posts put me on alert.

So, we began an "experiment" (which is really the BASIS of good "marketing.")  We set up a self hosted Word Press Blog and my client began her regular posts on her self hosted blog rather than on the free blog. 

The very next month after launching the self hosted blog, my client’s web site was already seeing a trickle of traffic coming from the self hosted blog.  The self hosted blog wasn’t the top referrer… but it made the top 10.

There’s a great post over at Return Customer which advocates using domain based email addresses for your business instead of the FREE variety.  There’s a more indepth post at the Aweber blog communications blog.  

I’m a bootstrapper at heart and as much as I’d like to report that your time is well spent blogging on a free web site, I’m afraid the same principles which apply to free email accounts, apply to your free blog as well. 

Unlike the free email address issue addressed in the above posts, your blog posts to your free blogging account are consuming a non-renewable resource: YOUR TIME! 

See, your money…. that’s a resource which you can renew. Once you’ve spent or invested what’s in your account, you can earn, beg, borrow or steal more money.  On the other hand, your TIME can’t be replaced or renewed so easily.  You can’t earn more time on the planet.  You can’t beg and get more than 24 hours in your day. 

In my client’s case, I recommended that she invest her valuable time posting content to her OWN web site rather than posting it for WordPress.com’s benefit.  As a prolific blogger, it won’t be long until her blog becomes a force in her niche market.  In the mean time, she’s building content for HER site instead of building content for the free blogging site. 

After just a few weeks, her brand new self hosted blog is already doing it’s job of driving customers to her web site where they can purchase her products and services.  Since 100% of 0 is still zero, I can’t say that her self hosted blog is performing a level of X% improvement.  We went from zero to something by launching the self hosted blog. 

I’ve been searching my log files for referrals from my blogger account.  There are none, just as in the case of my client above. 

I’m open to success stories from free blog hosting accounts.  Any out there?

Does your Word Press Latest Activity Box tell the whole story?

Most of my clients are boot strapping solo entrepreneurs who want their web site to act as a high voltage marketing tool and while their goal may be to change the world one small act at a time, they don’t see that they have the TIME to blog AND run a business.

I recently ran the visitor statistics for one such client. This client was at a function, handing out her business cards, which included her web site url. We had recently migrated her web site to the blog format so she could make frequent additions to her content. She had dutifully done so, though she wasn’t convinced of the value… until I looked at her log files.

The day of the function, her web site had a LOT of activity. This isn’t unusual, but the number of page views per visitor was. Each visitor was literally CONSUMING the information on her web site… excuse me, her BLOG. It came out to each visitor was reading, on average, 10 posts. (Note: Not ONE of these readers left a single comment on the blog!)

Shortly after the event, she began regular contact with someone she met at the event, probably one of those heavy blog content consumers. I probably don’t have to tell you that her enthusiasm for blogging skyrocketed after that conversation. Just like the person who has been faithfully exercising for weeks or months who pulls on a pair of pants that were previously too small to find they now fit… my client’s enthusiasm for blogging skyrocketed.

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