Archives for November 2005

How Small Business Branding Works in the Real World Today

This post is by Michael Pollock, the original owner of Small Business Branding. Yaro Starak now owns and produces the latest content for this blog.

>> Return to the Small Business Branding front page <<

This is one way small business branding happens in the real world today …

Peter is a savvy web developer and designer
who spends a lot time in the online world. Much of his time is spent reading
different blogs on topics such as design and marketing. Often, when he reads
something that gets his attention or makes him think, he’ll leave a comment for
the blog’s author thanking them for their thought-provoking article. On one
occasion, he not only left a comment for the author but also the website
address for his business, The Blog Studio, a blog design and development firm.

As it turned out, Toby – the author of the
blog on which Peter left the comment – was considering a re-design of her blog,
and she took the occasion to visit Peter’s website. One thing led to another,
and Toby hired The Blog Studio to redesign her blog, The Diva Marketing Blog.
Further, Toby and Peter decided to write about the entire re-design process on
their respective blogs for the whole online world to see. And that led to even
more new business for Peter.

That’s small business branding. I know some people might call this networking, and I wouldn’t disagree with that. Networking – connecting with people – is a crucial ingredient of successful branding. Not to mention the name of Peter’s business. C’mon. How great is that?

More on How NOT to Write for the Web

This post is by Michael Pollock, the original owner of Small Business Branding. Yaro Starak now owns and produces the latest content for this blog.

>> Return to the Small Business Branding front page <<

My last post generated some fun and helpful comments:

Dave says: “Its funny how many Ad Copies I see that focus on the company, and not the prospect…”

Greg says: “How about this one: ‘Our alliance stands alone in demonstrating the extensivity of integrated partnerships with other collaboratives.’ OUCH! My brain hurts.

Pelle says: “I am a solo entrepreneur and have banned the use of ‘us’ and ‘we’ on my sites such as https://wideword.net, but it is actually a lot harder than you would think to break the cycle and write personal.”

Both Patsi and Greg suggest: “Nick Usborne has a great download on Writing for the Web over at www.excessvoice.com, that is a good primer, and a vaccination against corporate babble.” Gotta check that one out.

Thanks to everyone!

How NOT To Write for the Web

This post is by Michael Pollock, the original owner of Small Business Branding. Yaro Starak now owns and produces the latest content for this blog.

>> Return to the Small Business Branding front page <<

I’m not completely sure, but I think this company has something to do with either VoIP technology, online dating, online gaming or maybe all three. 

"Vivox delivers a managed platform that allows our customers to add context sensitive communications to their services.

"We enable our customers to weave IP communications features into their applications and services. These context specific services, like IP-powered voice for online gaming and dating, drive greater interaction among our customers’ users and increase loyalty and revenue opportunities. We offer a carrier-grade platform, deep customization tools and an unparalleled scope of services."

"Context sensitive communication???" "Carrier-grade platform, deep customization tool?" WTF? Not to mention the fact that the company’s name makes me think about erectile dysfunction, or more appropriately, the lack thereof.

Strong Brands Solve Real Problems

This post is by Michael Pollock, the original owner of Small Business Branding. Yaro Starak now owns and produces the latest content for this blog.

>> Return to the Small Business Branding front page <<

Do you ever wake up in the morning and think: "man, I really need to find a new search engine today. Google, Yahoo and the whole lot of ’em just plain suck?" No? Yea, me neither. I never think that. So, why did I receive an email from someone saying:

"We have just released our one-click Web search
software for free download at http://www.quintura.com.

"Quintura Search helps build a search query on a
visual map, making Web search easier and faster.

I actually did download Quintura (download a search engine???) and tried it out. It really looks nice, but again, it’s loaded with features I just don’t need in a search engine. If you have some free time, check it out yourself.

I’m not writing this to embarass the makers of Quintura. I really wish them well with their new product. The point is this. Does your product or service really solve a problem? Do people wake up in the morning wondering what to do about this problem? Does your product or service solve the problem at least as well as the most popular competitors out there? If the answer is no to any of those questions, then the fanciest, most well-crafted marketing and branding strategy probably won’t help you. If the answer is no to any of those questions, then the coolest web 2.0, ajax-powered, ruby-on-rails technology probably won’t help you.

The Power of a Clever Viral Marketing Tactic to Build Your Brand

This post is by Michael Pollock, the original owner of Small Business Branding. Yaro Starak now owns and produces the latest content for this blog.

>> Return to the Small Business Branding front page <<

Viral marketing has been around for a while, and with the advent of the Internet it’s become a key marketing strategy for large and small businesses alike.  Wikipedia has this to say about it:

"Viral marketing and viral advertising refer to marketing techniques that seek to exploit pre-existing social networks to produce exponential increases in brand awareness, through viral processes similar to the spread of an epidemic. It is word-of-mouth
delivered and enhanced online; it harnesses the network effect of the
Internet and can be very useful in reaching a large number of people
rapidly."

New daddy and savvy solopreneur Dane Carlson recently executed a text-book viral marketing strategy that dramatically increased the traffic and in-bound links to his Business Opportunities Weblog.

"Boy, what a difference a month, a million extra visitors and over ten thousand new links make:

"On October 10th, when I launched the How Much is Your Blog Worth service my weblog was worth* $125,327.88.  Today, it’s over $5 million!

"Not to toot my own horn, but I’d call my little viral marketing experiment a success.

"We all know that these aren’t real numbers, but they do indicate a level of popularity in the blogosphere."

I remember a few weeks back reading that Dane had rocketed to #7 on Technorati’s Top 100 Blogs list. He’s since dropped off the list, but that’s really unimportant. What’s important is the Dane Carlson brand now exists in the minds and RSS readers of many more people than it did two months ago. And that’s really all we’re wanting, right? To be known; to exist in the mind of our market; to have the opportunity to exchange value with the world in some way.

When you think about it, that’s what all strong brands do over and over again. Take Apple, for example. Every few months they launch a new product, and everyone talks about it. In some ways, that’s viral marketing. They have iTunes, and every day millions of people download music, audiobooks, podcasts and whatever else Apple has to offer. Then they tell all their friends about it. In some ways, that’s viral marketing. Heck, nowadays, the iPod itself is viral marketing.

I realize I’m stretching the definition a bit much here, and you could probably use many of the cool marketing buzzwords to refer to my examples above (e.g. word-of-mouth, purple cow). But the point is strong brands are built upon not just a few nuggets of value now and again, but many nuggets of value delivered consistently over time. It’s great that Dane got a huge boost of exposure with this clever viral marketing tactic, and you didn’t see him sit back and take a month off afterward.

Hopefully, you’ll excuse the sports analogy, but Dane’s viral was a home run. He still shows up at his keyboard each day crankin out singles and doubles to further build and strengthen his brand. And I think that’s probably what I’m taking away from his example. Focus on consistent base hits, and occasionally swing for the fences.

Thanks Dane, and congratulations; both on your success and the birth of your son, Franklin Stuart Montgomery Carlson.

The Best PDF Converter I’ve Been Able to Find

When I created my Podsnapper Beginner’s Guide to Podcasting, I looked high and low for the perfect PDF Converter. Much to my surprise, I discovered and tried a bunch of ’em; like maybe 20. Ultimately, I settled on a program called deskPDF Professional (link below).

Recommended: Viral PDF

A little background on PDF converters for the uninitiated …

PDF stands for Portable Document Format. It’s pretty much become a standard in the micro-publishing world. Most ebooks are in PDF format, as well as many other documents. The reason it’s so popular is because the only thing you need to read PDF documents is Adobe’s Acrobat Reader, and most computer systems have it pre-installed when you buy the system.

So, if you’re a solopreneur who’s publishing any kind of documents
(and I hope you are), you need to have a good PDF converter. You could
buy the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Professional 9,
but it sells for about $280.00 on amazon. You could also go with one of
the many free converters available (search Google). The problem with
every one I tried, however, is they don’t convert embedded hyperlinks.

In other words if you want to link some text, for example “this is my website,”
the free converters I tried don’t carry the link over into the PDF
documents. No big deal if you don’t have any links in your document,
but that’s rare nowadays. In my Podcasting manual, I probably have a
few dozen links, and I want my readers to be able to click on those
links.

You could also use the free open source office suite called Open Office.
This is a collection of programs almost identical to the Microsoft
Office Suite. The word processor program in Open Office has a built-in
PDF converter that does convert all hyperlinks. The drawback to this
program is it’s a huge program that eats up quite a bit of disk space
and memory. Again, no big deal if you don’t mind that, but there’s a
more efficient solution, although not free.

Also Recommended: Viral PDF

As I said above, my final choice for a PDF converter is deskPDF Professional. Here’s how it works. I create my document in Microsoft
Word and include any links I want to include. Then I select the print
command in Word. When the print screen pops up I simply choose deskPDF
as my printer (click image to right), because it’s known as a printer
driver. It doesn’t actually print the page. It simply converts it to a
PDF file while maintaining any and all embedded hyperlinks. Nice and
easy.

The only flaw I was able to find with the program is this. If you
create your original document in landscape format (11″ wide x 8.5″
tall), it doesn’t convert the links properly. It converts perfectly for
the standard portrait format (8.5″wide x 11″ tall) though. The
company’s representative, Brent Gaynor, informed me they’d correct the
landscape problem in the next release of the program. In the meantime,
it’s still the best little PDF converter I’ve been able to find, and at
$29.95, it’s a bargain compared to Adobe Acrobat.

Resource:  Make Your PDF’s go Viral: Viral PDF

Kill Bill’s Browser

This post is by Michael Pollock, the original owner of Small Business Branding. Yaro Starak now owns and produces the latest content for this blog.

>> Return to the Small Business Branding front page <<

Here’s an entertaining little viral to get people to switch from Internet Explorer to Firefox. Kill Bill’s Browse: 13 Good Reasons to Switch for Internet Explorer to Firefox. It’s a pretty entertaining read, and here are two of my faves:

1. You’ll only see porn when you want to.

Sick of seeing pornographic pop-ups all over your computer while you’re
helping your daughter with a research project? Since Firefox blocks
pop-ups, you won’t get tons of porn in your face when you’re least
expecting it. On the flip side, since Firefox stops spyware from taking
over your computer, there will be nothing to slow you down when you go
and look for porn.

2. Your kids will only see porn when they want to.

Sorry, buddy…  the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

I switched to Firefox a loooong time ago, but it was still fun to read.

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