Archives for March 2009

Blog Challenge: 31 Days To A Better Blog by Darren Rowse

I LOVE challenges, and if I don’t participate, I still love to see the results that people get from what they’ve accomplished.

But I have to say, this is one challenge that I will not miss! If you’re looking to improve your blog then this is the challenge for you.

From: Darren Rowse
Date: April 1st, 2009
Location: Sign Up Here (Already over 5600 people have joined to build a better blog)

Thanks Darren, I’m looking forward to it! 🙂

31 Days to a Better Blog

Your Brand Needs An Enema!

When your business is in the doldrums and you’re listless, chances are something is up. If you look at your competition and you see yourself – not good my friend. If you’re catching yourself looking to the economy as a convenient scapegoat for your business blues, it is a sign that you’re losing confidence in yourself.

If all these “if’s” sound like your day, then your brand is constipated.
There is only one solution, and it’s going to be a little uncomfortable.

Simply put, “Your brand needs an enema.”

Grab the apparatus, this is a brand enema with a 3-step formula:

ONE: Do a survey of your stakeholders (customers, employees and shareholders)
TWO: List and analyze your competition to gage their actions from a brand perspective
THREE: Ask yourself if you’re prepared to act on your conclusions?

After you’ve completed the enema, all the toxins should be clear generally and you’re ready for a fresh start.

If you’ve done your surveys correctly, you should be able to see many short comings of your brand. Your stakeholder’s impression of your business will jump off the pages. In these survey results, are key opportunities that will help to reinvigorate your brand. Chances are that the toxins corrupting your brand were simply your inability to differentiate your business in their minds. You blended in.

Step Two, will demonstrate where you blend in and give you keys to correcting this issue. Using differentiation as a strategy, use what you know about your competition to battle more effectively against them.

And lastly, if you’ve been honest with yourself – you have to lead! Be a powerful inspiration to your stakeholders. If you are low, they will reflect that in their attitude also. They look to you for direction. Without your guidance, a brand enema is a complete waste of time. You might as well just get used to the feeling that the world controls you.
Branding

Your Place Or Mine?

What do you think is the brand of the community that you live in? From what you know, does it have difficulty attracting investment? Do your city officials keep changing slogans in a desperate attempt to see what will stick, thinking fancy advertising is the ticket to prosperity? Because of poor brands many communities are suffering. Place branding could help them update their strong points to attract investment and talent. Like corporate branding, place branding draws out a positioning strategy that differentiates. Recently, I was interviewed by Ed Burghard from the Burghard Group. They just recently re-branded the State of Ohio, and launched their Brand America initiative.

The goal of any place branding effort is to attract investment to a community on a global scale. The competitive environment is enormous and efforts to attract and win site selection opportunities makes place branding a critical strategy. Place branding also carries with it great responsibilities because the brand has to walk the walk. It’s not enough to profess greatness; you must BE great. Place brands like their corporate and personal cousins have to mirror their reputations. Businesses looking to relocate are seeking genuine experiences. They crave creative environments that allow them to prosper, and place branding when handled properly puts infrastructure in alignment with communication to deliver the goods.

The smart money is on place branding when it comes to answering the question, “Your place, or Mine?” The winner will always be the most compelling brand which is one that allows investment to flourish in a community rich in positive experiences.

Easy Ways To Incorporate Digital Marketing

Marketing is used as a way to make our advertising more effective. If you have the right audience identified, you can find ways to reach them. One such way that is growing by leaps and bounds is digital marketing.

What is digital marketing? It is basically marketing tools that encompass everything but traditional methods. It doesn’t include print or magazine media. Some people think of banner ads and email, but the scope is so much larger than that.

Digital media does include the two above-mentioned techniques, but also others you might not have thought to include:

* Podcasts
* RSS feeds
* SMS
* Instant messaging
* Text messaging
* Video streaming
* Social bookmarking
* Blogging

All of these avenues are used to market products and services to the global community. With traditional forms of marketing, you get feedback from your customers and others who just wanted a look-see, but it takes time. Compiling responses is labor-intensive.

Here’s an example. You send a bill to a customer. On the back it states that they can make a comment or write change of address information if needed. Let’s say that the customer mails their bill back to you. It may take three to four days to receive and then another day or two to credit the account and log any responses. Before that customer hears back from you if they have a complaint, it could be a week or more.

That’s how things were done in the past – exclusively. Changes in the technological landscape of our world have made waiting a thing of the past for most services. With instant messaging, we can carry on a conversation with a client in real time. The same goes for webcasting. Podcasting is like having your own little radio station on your website. Even with email and social networking sites you can chat as if you were in the same room.

It really is a convenient way to reach the people who would most benefit from your products and services. And, what if you want to keep up with someone’s blog postings? Subscribe to their RSS feed. When updates are made you are notified. Checking on news or an eBay auction? You can do it from your cellular phone with SMS messages.

There are two types of digital media: push and pull. Pull is when a user finds you on the Internet using digital media. They have your website address and they link to you and your media – streaming video, podcasts, and the like. They establish a link with you.

Push is when you contact the user and entice them to use your services or products. This is the logic behind the SMS messages you receive on your cellular phone. Emails from companies can be sent directly to the customer asking them to come and see what you offer.

Digital marketing is moving business ahead in a big way. We used to be limited to print and then our computer searches, but now, the target market is accessible through many media outlets.

photo by Dave89

Can You Transfer An Expired Domain?

While on Twitter lately, I spotted a fabulous question.

“Is it possible to transfer a domain that expired only a few days ago without renewing it first then initiating transfer which meant paying for the domain twice.”

Most people’s first re-action would be, “No, I don’t think you can. Sorry dude, but you’re stuck with paying twice” but that’s not true. There are circumstances when a domain registrar can reject your transfer. Two of those are

  • When your domain has been registered less than 60 days or
  • Your last transfer was less than 60 days ago

That’s probably what led to the mis-interpretation that you can’t transfer an expired domain. As long as the domain is still within the 30 or 45 days (depending on your registrar) redemption grace period and the registrar hasn’t begun to delete it, you can initiate a transfer from the new registrar. This can be confirmed on ICANN’s web site.

20 Outsourceable Tasks for Small Business Owners

There are tons of things you can outsource in your business and every business is unique. Here’s a starter list of 20 common tasks outsourced by small business owners, just like you.

1. Article Writing
2. Blog Post Writing
3. Article Submission
4. PLR Rewriting
5. Newsletter Creation
6. Affiliate Management
7. Website Creation & Maintenance
8. Blog Installation & Customization
9. Customer Service
10. Video Creation
11. Adding Content to Your Website
12. Project Management
13. Accounting/Bookkeeping
14. Graphic Design
15. Search Engine Optimization
16. Tax Preparation & Filing
17. Press Release Writing & Submission
18. Advertising
19. Cleaning (Office or Home)
20. Training of Employees/Assistants

While the majority of my list works for online businesses, there are several that will work for those who run a brick and mortar business as well (because you do have a website, don’t you?!).

Take the time to make your own list starting with all the tasks you do in a given day, week or month. Make a check by those items that you hate doing, could be better done by someone else or you can get done cost-effectively by someone else. Then start handing those tasks to someone else.

Time Sensitive: Google Online Marketing Challenge

Google Online Marketing Challenge

I wanted to pop in and let you know about an awesome (time-sensitive) opportunity to get some free advertising and great consulting if you’re in a service based business.

I’ve been approached by one of the marketing students (Rob) from Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Brisbane, Australia. His class is participating in the 2009 Google Online Marketing Challenge.

What is the Google Online Marketing Challenge?

Google teams up with university professors from all over the world to help their students gain real life, online marketing experience. Unlike in the past when business students were somewhat limited to their local areas if they wanted to gain “hands on business marketing training” today is a whole new ball game. Now, thanks to the Internet, Google and their professors, these students have the ability to put their marketing lessons to work on a world-wide level.

The students are given free AdWords money for online advertising. Each team gets to choose a business they want to work with. Once they’ve chosen their business, they get to put those advertising dollars to use. They’ll help the lucky business owner create and run an effective AdWords campaign from start to finish.

You can read more about the challenge by clicking here. Check out the number of little red bubbles on that map on the page. Those bubbles show how many teams/colleges are participating in this year’s challenge. Amazing!

Rob’s team, along with 24 other teams at his university, are looking for businesses to work with. Each team will help one service based business owner with their advertising efforts by supplying each winner with:

* Free AdWords Credit of $200 USD
* Free Account Setup, Optimization and Research by a group of master students
* Innovative Consulting by a Team of Post Graduate Business students
* The Ability to Test How Effective AdWords is for Building Leads to Their Business.

Sounds good to me! I think it’s great how universities are realizing the potential of the Internet and online marketing. It amazes me to think that when I first started out as a business owner nothing like this existed. I just love watching the growth of online marketing and seeing how far it really can reach.

In order to enter the contest you’ll need to click the link below and fill out this questionnaire. This will keep you from having to divulge all your business info in the comments section. But hurry they are picking their team tonight! :0)

Go Here now to ENTER the Challenge: AdWords Advertising Content

Good Luck!

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