Archive for 'Local'

Inaugural Zing Presentation Review

Today, Ken, Watson, and I (Roger) headed to Wilson Muir Bank in St. Matthews bright and early to give our first official Zing Presentation to a small group of business owners from around Louisville. We discussed the impact personalized marketing has on increasing revenue; sales and marketing alignment; standing out amongst the massive amounts of marketing clutter; “The Hourglass Precept” and how that came about along with automated marketing campaigns. A tad bit of time was dedicated to our partnership with Infusion and how various automated marketing campaigns can provide a consistent experience for the customer and eliminate unnecessary phone calls a sales rep has to make to warm up leads.

In attendance were:

It dawned on me during the presentation how our organization has really evolved over the last year or so when we began flirting with the idea of partnering on something together. It made me very proud to have gone through the experience with Ken and Watson even though there have been some bumps in the road, but what worthwhile venture doesn’t experience that?

When we began, we thought we were going to be more of a lead and awareness generation type of outfit, then we came to realize that we were getting deeper into the sales funnel which ultimately led us to focusing on helping clients increase revenue by capitalizing on the entire sales “hourglass” instead of just the top part of it (the traditional sales funnel). The bottom half of the hourglass focuses on repeat purchases, building customer loyalty and creating ambassadors for your brand. Worthwhile stuff indeed.

Some of the things to come out of the dialogue amongst the group was that the focus on the bottom half of the hourglass is a good place to focus to help our clients increase sales. That seemed to be a consensus although each attendee had different perspectives on what they heard.

Todd Smith of Formwood, who happens to be the king of great metaphors, stated that the key for him when considering any initiative is “return on time” or ROT for short. We’re planning to use that term more in the future as it really captures the essence of automated marketing. One of the initial metaphors Todd shared with us the first time we all met was that he was trying to keep his organization from “swinging at pitches in the dirt.” That’s well stated, and it summarizes what a lot of organizations go through as they grow. Too many wasted swings at bad pitches that can’t be hit with a boat oar. Anyway, Todd is always great to talk to because there will usually be a nifty takeaway that is applicable across a wide array of situations.

Overall, I thought this was a very good introduction of Zing to the local business public and something we can definitely build upon. As of this post, we’re tentatively planning to have our next presentation on April 15, but that may be delayed one week due to vacation plans and event coordination considerations. Check the blog for more details as one of us will post something when there are more details ironed out. I hope you can join us for one of our next outings.

UK Fans: Which one is it?

I’m jumping out of the business and marketing bag for just a moment to talk about sports and something that has been frosting my ass for awhile. Since I live in Kentucky, I hear this garbage all the time about Tubby Smith and wanted to share some facts to question both sides of UK fans’ arguments about their former coach. Here’s an e-mail I sent to one of the local radio sports talk show hosts (Lachlan McLean) in hopes that he shares this on the air.
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First off, let me state for the record that I’m a HUGE Louisville fan and loathe the Cayuts. With that said, I’m worn out by the UK contingent whining about Tubby Smith not being able to recruit and/or coach. Which one is it? Far be it from me to defend a former UK guy, but here are a couple of arguments to consider.

If somebody says he can’t recruit, how did he produce 9 NBA players in 10 years? We’re talking NBA—not NBDL, overseas, or any minor league pro basketball. In six plus years of Rick being here at UofL, we have ONE player in the NBA (Francisco Garcia). Here’s Tubby’s list of NBA players for good measure so no one can question the number:

  1. Tayshawn Prince
  2. Keith Bogans
  3. Gerald Fitch
  4. Erik Daniels
  5. Chuck Hayes
  6. Kelenna Azubuike
  7. Rajon Rondo
  8. Randolph Morris
  9. Jamaal Magloire

Of that bunch, the most heralded players were Rondo and Morris—the rest were not super sought after. So that begs the question—is it recruiting or coaching? One could easily argue, with 9 NBA players in 10 years, it was not recruiting.

If it’s coaching, how did Tubby guide them to 1 NCAA title, 3 Elite 8 and 2 Sweet 16 appearances? He never lost a first round game at UK. In the span Tubby was coach at UK, he won 76.0% of his games. The all-time percentage for UK Basketball is (drum-roll please) . . . 76.3%! Compare his winning percentage at UK to that of (mouse face) Mike Kryzewski’s at Duke (77.8%), and he’s not that far off (1.8%). If Kryzewski is considered one of the best college coaches, where does that leave Tubby? What that means, with all things being equal, Kryzewski would win a whopping one extra game in every 55 played based on those numbers. You don’t have to be a genius to realize that’s not very significant.

Let’s compare Tubby’s winning percentage to other coaches in UK’s history:

  • Rupp won 82.2% of his games at UK (which equates to winning 1 more game in every 16 than Tubby)
  • Joe B Hall–74.8%
  • Eddie Sutton—69.2%
  • Rick Pitino—81.9% (which equates to winning 1 more game in every 17)

So looking objectively at UK basketball historically illustrates the point that Tubby’s performance was very much in line with the tradition at UK. This notion that Tubby “underperformed” emphasizes how unrealistic UK fans truly are. When placing these facts into their proper context (remember: it’s a UofL fan analyzing them objectively), it makes you wonder what is in UK fans’ cool-aid to make them believe they deserve so much more. Look at the numbers before making the argument that Tubby can’t recruit or coach, and it’s pretty clear neither of those are valid points.

The reason for sending this e-mail and asking these questions is I am sick and tired of hearing UK fans whine, belly-ache, and complain about how terrible things were under Tubby. Ok, the style wasn’t the most enjoyable, but who cares? You won games at an extremely similar clip to what you have all-time so quit whining already!

It’s not my nature to contribute to anything UK related, but the facts tell a far different story than UK fans would like everyone to believe, and it’s time for them to own up to those facts.

In Search of the "Easy Button"

The group I have been partnering with has been working with a local (Louisville, KY) franchisor to help with their marketing efforts. We’ve met with the franchisor four or five times, and we seem to struggle with getting our arms around everything his franchise needs from a marketing aspect. They need a lot at this stage, but our approach has been to offer certain things while pointing him in the right direction on others. (Most franchisors have similar needs so this project isn’t vastly different from the ones we may face with others as we move forward.)

It dawned on me during a bike ride last week that our approach is flawed–he doesn’t want us to point him in the right direction for this or that; he wants us to take over solving marketing problems for him. He wants the “easy button” where he can push it and we make his life easier. Isn’t that what we all want when we seek out a solution to a problem? Don’t we want someone to magically fix it? I believe we’re going to be much better off if we take the “easy button” approach with him and his franchisees than we will by offering some of the services and providing guidance on the rest. What do you think?

Business Dilemma: Can You Help Me?

First off, I would like to apologize for not posting much of late. I’ve got a LOT of coals in the fire at the moment, but that’s no excuse not to share something worthwhile every now and again.

Here’s the thing: as many of you know, I’ve been teaching SEO classes here in Louisville while trying to attract some students in other locales, and the feedback has been great thus far. I am in the process of taking the book I wrote for the classes and turning it into an e-book to possibly sell online. I’m at a little crossroads as to how to best go about that in order to:

1) Gain the most exposure for the consulting firm
2) Educate people to the point they could do their own SEO campaign if they so desired or help them realize that SEO is not a one time event or an easy process (it’s very time consuming!)
3) Encourage people to spread the word about the book and the firm while also not shorting the consulting firm’s long term viability (i.e. don’t give away the milk in order to sell the cow)

In order to achieve those objectives, I’ve been wrestling with the following scenarios:
A) Give the book away and encourage people to pass it around because that would generate the most buzz and increase awareness of the firm rather quickly

B) Develop and/or obtain videos, podcasts, and other material to include with the book to sell online at various price points (each package would be a little different). Currently, I’m thinking price points of:

  • $67 for just the book and one or two other related e-books
  • $97 for the book and several other related e-books
  • $197 for the book, videos, podcasts, and other related e-books

There might be a ten day introductory period at launch for each package where each is $20 off to gain some momentum, but then everything would settle into the price points outlined. If the response is great enough, those price points may increase, too.

It’s tough for me NOT to charge something due to the fact that I’m giving away “trade secrets” so to speak. Yes, there are a lot of SEO books sprinkled throughout the market, and some of them are free (even some good ones), but I believe this is a little different from the other stuff out there (it’s very hands on and specific about what to do to be successful).

One theory suggests that if you give something of great value away, you get it back two fold. Another theory suggests that it is unlikely the people who would be buying one of the e-book packages would subscribe to one of the SEO subscription packages offered by my firm as they are more interested in doing everything themselves. I see both sides of the coin, and the business side of me says “you HAVE to sell the thing for money somehow,” while there is another part of me that says “you’ll make more in the long run if you give it away, and the firm will be recognized as a viable resource for many years to come.”

My question to you is: what would you do and why?

Please let me know by commenting below or e-mailing info@smbconsultinginc.com, and no reply is a bad reply–I’ll share some of the best responses in a week or so and again as the time gets closer to sell or give the book away. I’m going to stew on this for the next month or so. I appreciate your input in advance.

Quick Hit SEO to Do List

Many potential Search Engine Optimization (SEO) clients come to me stating they don’t have the financial resources to contract my firm for services yet they’d like to get started with the promotion of their site within the search engine sphere. Below I’ve attempted to outline the first steps I might take if I had a new website to promote from the ground up.

Submit Your Site to Directories

Directory submissions are an integral part of basic SEO, and directory listings help to form a foundation of links pointing to your site that generally won’t go anywhere unless the directory disappears or is shutdown for some reason. Many directories such as DMOZ or the Yahoo Directory feed search engine results and carry a lot of “weight” with major search engines such as Google, MSN/Live, and Yahoo!

There are hundreds of free directories out there, and my recommendation is to subcontract this service out to an inexpensive submission service (do a search for “directory submission service”). For as little as $30, you can have your website submitted to hundreds of directories in little time. Manually doing this could take countless hours, and it’s very tedious work. One note of caution: directories don’t get indexed overnight. It will take some time for your site to get “credit” for being listed in a lot of the online directories.

Write and Submit Articles about Your Business or Industry

Promoting your business via articles about your industry or the business itself are a great way to build awareness without being over the top or in someone’s face. The more articles you write and submit to online e-zines or article directories, the more your name circulates. Think about it, when you read an informative article that helps you solve a problem, perform a task better, or recaps an event, your guard isn’t as high as it is when you come across an all out advertisement is it?

Be sure to include a byline at the end containing a link to your site along with brief information about you and your company. This will not only generate awareness, it will also help your search engine optimization campaign by building “natural” links back to your website as the article circulates the online community.

Engage in a Free PR Campaign

While print media isn’t as popular as it once was, people still read newspapers, trade journals, and magazines. Local newspapers are always looking for interesting stories on local people to write about in order to increase their readership. Magazines are a bit different in that your story needs to be very compelling and unique in some fashion, but your website and business can get a big jolt if you can land a story in a print publication of some sort. One word of caution: don’t go shooting for the New York Times or Inc. Magazine right out of the chute unless you’re truly prepared to handle a huge influx of site visits, e-mails, phone calls, and unrelated requests about your business.

Involve Yourself in the Blogosphere

Blogs are a great way to show a more human side to a company, and their popularity continues to increase. My advice is to start a blog about your company, industry, or niche that is a sub-domain off of your main website. A sub-domain may look like this: subdomain.domain.com to where your blog may utilize a scheme similar to blog.yourdomain.com. This is a great way to build unique content for your domain while also helping your customers or clients get to know the human side of your business. There are several free blog generators out there that will even host your blog for free, and two of the more popular ones can be found at blogger.com or wordpress.com.

If starting your own blog is too tall a task, visit others’ blogs related to your industry and join in the conversation by posting comments and interacting with the blog owner. Many blog comments are indexed by the name you enter in the name field of the comment form so you can build links to your site this way. One note of caution: there is a lot of debate whether no-follow links such as the ones on most blogs provide any search optimization value, and I have found that they do provided the blog itself ranks well and has a large following.

Promote Your Site Everywhere

Offline optimization is just as important as it is online as you’re simply trying to generate interest in your business or website, right? Consider promoting your website offline just as you would your business. Nobody will know about your site unless you tell them, but you don’t want to be a hound about it either so be subtle. The traffic you generate may result in a huge sale that puts your business on the map.

Basic SEO isn’t that difficult if you think about it in a common sense manner. Promoting your site online is very similar to how you’d promote your business offline—it’s all about positive exposure. Being heavily involved online as well as off is a solid strategy to building awareness for your business and its website.

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