Do you need SEO (Do It Yourself or Otherwise)?

Great post over at Search This on the myths surrounding Do It Yourself Search Engine Optimization.

In the post, the author points out how paying professionals to practice their craft is often the smartest investment of time and energy.  For example, I am certainly capable of cooking supper, but often I’ll pick up the phone and pay someone else to dirty THEIR kitchen to prepare food for me.  I save time not only in preparation but also in kitchen clean up, time I can spend in either leisure or working.

Yes, you probably COULD do your own Search Engine Optimization.  I have no doubt that you could purchase books, take e-courses and learn how to create a search engine friendly site, just as I could spend hours watching Food Network, take courses, buy cook books and learn how to cook.  

The question remains, "Should you invest your time and energy in that pursuit?"

Because, honestly…. if you really CARED about Search Engine Optimization…. you probably wouldn’t be reading this post.  (Just as, if I CARED about my lack of domestic abilities, I’d be at the Food Network site right now.)

It’s my guess that the only reason you CARE about SEO is that you’re under the impression that it may be the magic tool to increase your web site’s profitability.  That may or may not be true.

So while the post at Search This explores whether you possess the time/talent/inclination to pursue Do It Yourself Seach Engine Optimization, I’d like to challenge you to step back and ask yourself, "Is investing in Search Engine Optimization an efficient use of my marketing dollars?"

First, ask yourself if your customers are searching for answers to their problems on the internet. 

Begin by researching your keyword phrases. Research your absolute best, most descriptive keyword phrases…. and what do you see?  Do you see that less than 1000 people are searching for that phrase each and every month?  If so, you’ve GOT to ask yourself whether investing in SEO, either the Do It Yourself variety or the hire an expert kind, are a worthwhile investment.

I have a LOT of clients who are consulting professionals.  They have each possess a specialized skill set and are a valuable asset to their client.  However, their clients did NOT go searching for the answers to their problems via the internet.  Many of those clients are utilizing their blog as a way to SHOWCASE their skills and talents.  Don’t get me wrong, a web site that can be found by potential clients searching for your solution is ESSENTIAL to the success of your business.  However, creating a web site and engaging in Search Engine Optimization around a series of keywords that does not cause clients/customers to pick up the phone is fool hardy.

Next, ask yourself what kind of sales are you trying to make.  According to Neil Rackham…. there are two types of sales.  There are Minor Sales and there are Major Sales.  In the vast majority of cases, it’s the Minor Sale web site owner who needs to make an investment in SEO.  The Major Sale web site owner needs to focus his/her time and energies on building trust as part of laying the ground work for the sale. 

For more on this subject… pick up my book Beyond the Niche. In it, I help you see the differences between marketing and advertising the Minor Sale and the Major Sale.

 

 

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! 

 

 

Fast Track to Blog/Newsletter Launch

A blog + a newsletter are foundation building blocks for ANY BUSINESS that wants to use the internet to marketing or promote their business.

I’ve already written a "primer" on newsletter basics.

Once you have your blog launched with a sign up for your newsletter, it’s time to get to work getting people to sign up for your newsletter.

The second toughest trick is to get people to sign up for the list.  (The toughest one is to create a newsletter that readers will actually READ!) 

The obvious first place to "fish" for subscribers is your own email contacts list. 

WARNING: I do NOT advise that you send out a mass email using Outlook or some other email client to 50, 100 or more people on the cc or even the BCC.

I do advise that you can send out INDIVIDUAL emails to the people (both in your email contact list AND those whose business cards you have collected)  to TELL them about your new blog and newsletter. To make CERTAIN it doesn’t get reported as spam, you need to send a each an personal email.

Here’s a sample email:

"Judy,

We met at [insert name of event] and you gave me your business card and told me to stay in touch.  If you’ll remember, we talked about [insert what you discussed at event].

I just wanted to let you know that I’m launching a newsletter to keep people just like you informed of what’s going on in the [insert activity/group/business type] community.  If you’d like to subscribe, just visit my blog [insert blog url] and you’ll see the newsletter sign up box in the right hand column.

It was great meeting you at [insert name of event].

Kathy

Another great tool is to include your blog url in your signature file so every email you send is a promotion for your web site/blog/newsletter.

With this said, I STRONGLY suggest that before you issue these individual party invitations until you’ve got a LOT of choices on your "blog buffet".   Don’t send out this invitation while your blog has fewer than 10 posts. 

I often use the word picture to encourage clients to view their blog as a party at a public park.   You pick a pavillion, decorate it with balloons and streamers… and set out an impressive spread of food to delight your guests.

As guests are enjoying the food and company, you’ve provided a discreet way for them to be notified of FUTURE parties you’re having.  You provide a sign up for where people will sign up to RECEIVE the newsletter, which will act as their invitation to future events. 

The problem is, if guests arrive before the food is set out, they’re not likely to sign up to be reminded to return.  In other words, if visitors don’t see anything of interest on the blog, then they probably won’t sign up for the newsletter.  That is UNLESS you provide a legal bribe or a gift for signing up for your newsletter.  Offering a free resource of value as a legal bribe does increase your sign up rate signficantly and will help you grow your newsletter even more quickly.

Remember, visitors who subscribe to your newsletter want to know more about your products and services.  These are HOT prospects.  The more information you provide on your blog, the more subscribers you’ll find you get.  (Seems counter intuitive, but it’s true.)

A Primer on Email Newsletters

This past week I’ve responded to a very similar question from FOUR different clients.  When I get asked ANY question more than once in a 7 day period, well it’s a sign that it’s an issue I need to address on my blog.  Here we go.

The issue of newsletter mailing lists is a popular one.  An email newsletter is a powerful tool you can use to stay in touch with clients/customers and potential clients/customers.  I highly recommend that clients develop helpful and informative newsletters to stay in touch with both potential clients and current clients.

However, the sending of unsolicited email is a HUGE issue these days.  When you mass email a message to people who haven’t give you PERMISSION to email them, it’s called SPAM!  Amazingly, many nice, respectable business people want to do just that.  They want to take a stack of business cards that they’ve collected over the years and input the information into a database and begin emailing those people without first obtaining their prior consent.  Again, it’s called SPAM or UCE (Unsolicited Commercial Email) 

Sending SPAM is a HUGE no-no in the world of the internet.  It hurts your credibility with your unsuspecting "victims" and, if they’re wise in the ways of the internet, they can get your IP blacklisted.  If your domain name is registered with Godaddy and they complain to them, you’ll find yourself with a nice hefty fine levied by them as well.

So your job is to make sure your messages do NOT get reported as SPAM and the way to do that is through a double opt in list.

A double opt in is where a subscriber signs up for your newsletter via a form on your web site or blog.  Once the subscription request is made, the system automatically sends a second message to confirm that the email address owner WANTS to be added to the list.  To confirm this, the email address owner clicks on a special link which CONFIRMS that yes, he/she/it does want their email address added to this list.  The email address owner is giving the list owner PERMISSION to send email to them.

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Focusing on the RIGHT things….

I once read an interview with the mulit-talented entertainer Will Smith where he was asked  if he were surprised by his success.  His response went along the lines of , "I just put my head down and start running.  On occassion, I look up and am AMAZED at where I am, but I then put my head back down and get back to running as hard as I can."

Will Smith doesn’t spend a lot of time "measuring" his success.  He’s not obsessed with the markers to measure his progress.  Instead, he says he tries to define the actions that create success and then he gets down to business PERFORMING those actions. 

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