The Web For Business.com Blog

Internet marketing observations, perspectives, tips and tricks for your education and enlightenment.


Focus on the Fundamentals

Mark Kawabe - Monday, April 13, 2015

Your stories are the foundation of your online marketing program.The more I speak to people, the more I realize that in the past decade of helping clients market themselves online, much has stayed the same. Admittedly, the tools are different. Facebook launched in February 2004. YouTube started one year after that. Can you imagine the online world without social media?

Sure you can. It was dominated by search engines, portals and directories like Google, Yahoo and MSN. Blogging was also a relatively recent phenomenon. WordPress launched in May 2003. The tools and technology has changed but the stuff that matters hasn't.

This "stuff" is what I call "fundamentals". No matter the tools or tech, these fundamentals form the basis of successful marketing online. If you have it, you're starting from the right place. If you don't, you're starting off on the wrong foot. You might make a lot of noise, but you won't realize the success you want.

What are these mystery fundamentals? They're the stories you, your employees, your suppliers and your customers tell others about your business. Some people call it your "brand". Whatever you call it, these stories are the foundation for any online marketing campaign.

When talking to business owners, I find they have plenty of stories. There is always something going on in a business and in the industry and community the business operates in. In my opinion, there's always a story, but I often find people don't feel they have anything unique to talk about. That's a shame.

From my perspective, it is the stuff that happens "day in and day out" that is the foundation of a successful online marketing campaign for any business. The minutiae of one's work is interesting to people who don't do that work. Whether you make sausage or weld wind turbine blades, what you do is interesting and there are going to be people who want to know about it.

If you want to be successful online, you need to figure out what your stories are and then share them with the people who care. Who are those people? They're the ones who visit your website, sign up to your email newsletter, check out your social media profiles, belong to your networking groups. The people who celebrate your existence by paying attention to what you have to say are the people you need to connect with. They will, in turn, reward your efforts with more attention, in the form of comments, likes, shares, links, pins, retweets and more. Additional attention can in turn be rewarded with more opportunities to tell your story to people who make inquiries about your company, products and services.

Humans have always been storytellers. Giving us new tools to tell those stories is nice, but technology alone will never be the answer to your marketing challenges. Focus on sharing the stories in your business that reveal to the world your talents and your unique approach to solving their problems.

 

What's New for YOU in 2012?

Mark Kawabe - Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Welcome to 2012. I'm glad you've made it this far. What's going to be new for you in 2012?

Here are my predictions about the changes most small business owners will make in 2012 to their online marketing efforts.

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If you don't see anything listed above, well, I hope you get my point.

It is my prediction that MOST small business owners will continue to market themselves online more or less the same as they've been doing.

I think there are many reasons for this, and they're remarkably similar to the reasons most other new years resolutions fail.

  • It's too much work.
  • I don't have time.
  • It won't make a big difference.
  • I don't know how I can do things better.
  • I don't have time to learn how to do things better.
  • I don't want to learn something new.

And so forth.

Most want results without the investment required to achieve them. That's nothing new.

What I'm hoping is new this year is for more people to choose to prove my predictions wrong.

I wish you peace, health, happiness and prosperity in 2012.

With my Best Regards,

Mark Kawabe

What's the Center of YOUR Online World?

Mark Kawabe - Thursday, December 15, 2011

I've gotten requests from people to join every conceivable social media platform. One person I know is probably involved in at least a dozen of them. When you're a person, that's fine, but if you're in business, is this the best approach?

The one thing many businesses have neglected in their rush to join social media sites is the one thing they have full control over: their own websites.

Think about this for a moment. Your business has its own brand, its own message, its own story. When you focus almost exclusively on Facebook, LinkedIn or any other platform, are you driving people back to your website?

Take the time to look at your website with fresh eyes. How many people are visiting? How many leads is it generating? How is it converting? 

Being involved in social media's a good thing, but it should be a part of your overall online strategy. Prospective clients are going to look beyond social media to learn about your business, and that means their next stop is your website.

Make sure your website's still doing its job. If your primary social media outlet shut down tomorrow, would you have created enough meaningful relationships through it that you would still be thriving? Perhaps this could be a resolution for the new year: make your website the center of your online world.

What if you had to write every day?

Mark Kawabe - Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Would you remember what I talked about yesterday?

How would you use your writing to build relationships, enhance trust or create value?

Could you do it?

Of course you could.

So, since you can, when will you start your daily writing?

Today sounds good . . .

When Do You Start Getting Elected?

Mark Kawabe - Friday, October 29, 2010

The recent municipal elections were very interesting to me as they are a pure, focused marketing effort. I am also happy to note that of the three candidates I helped with their online presences, one of them did get elected. Congratulations Catherine King!

Of course, now that people have been elected, the election itself is starting to fade from the public's mind. That's well and good, but what about the candidates in the NEXT election? When should they be starting to think about getting elected the next time around?

The answer is, of course - NOW.

In much the same way that the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, getting elected in four years means starting now. Building the relationships and network that will enable you to make a successful run at elected office takes time and is not something you do in the course of a few months.

For those of you who are in business, you are potentially getting elected tomorrow, or the next day. Your election is "new business" and every day you need to be building relationships and growing your network of influence. When the time comes for your election - which could be any day now - you'll be in a better position than your less-prepared competition.

Oh wait - there's a good chance your competition's getting prepared as well. You'd better get out there and start shaking hands and kissing babies NOW.

New Logo

Mark Kawabe - Thursday, September 30, 2010

Yep. There it is. Our new logo.

So, what does it really mean?

Since 1998 we were using the spiderweb-based logo. In 2009 we switched to a wordmark instead of a logo and now, we're back to a logo. Whether it works for you visually is up to you, so I will withhold judgement on it. Needless to say, I like it enough to move forward with it, and ultimately, that's really the point - moving forward.

I've been helping companies market online since September 8, 1997. The internet landscape has changed a lot. Instead of getting into Yahoo's directory in two days, it now costs $299 US a year and takes up to a week to get reviewed. Google didn't exist. The only companies using video online were porn sites (so I heard). Blogs, Facebook, MySpace and their ilk? Far off concepts back in 1997.

Despite all these changes, the fundamentals of marketing online have remained the same. There are more options now than there were 13 years ago, but the base requirement is still having something worth saying, saying it well and letting people who will care about what you're saying know you're saying it.

So the new logo displays the company name in a different way, but what we do remains the same: we help companies use online technologies to grow their business. One day I'll get that down to three or four words and make Dennis O'Neill a very happy man ; )

To my clients: as I enter my 14th year in business, I want you to know that I appreciate your support more than words can communicate.

To my friends: thank you for putting up with my stories of entrepreneurship.

To my business acquaintances: thank you for sharing the journey.

To all of you, thank you for being a part of my life. The present is a gift and the future is exciting. Let's see how we can grow together.

Moving forward.

Getting Engaged

Mark Kawabe - Friday, September 17, 2010

So I just added my Twitter feed to my Facebook profile and fan page and my website. Big whoopee, right? I mean, what's the point of all this "social media" crap?

That's a great question because it's not like we don't have better things to do with our time as business people. There are a couple of benefits to all this integration.

  1. You look like you know what you're doing. That is, if you keep up with it. Having a blog that's been abandoned for a year isn't helping your cause much. Same with a dormant Twitter feed. Or a Facebook fan page. Congratulations - you've hopped on the bandwagon. Now you have to feed the monster.
  2. Integration saves you time. Feeds are broadcasts of content added to services like Twitter and blogs. That broadcast can be received by other services like Facebook or websites and displayed there. So, you can update one service which will update one or two or more others. Not a bad deal.

  3. Social media can help engage and retain prospects. I'm going to pick on Facebook for a moment because it's the one social media platform most people seem to think is the latest-greatest thing for business. The same reality holds true on Facebook as it does on the rest of the internet: if people aren't interested in you, they won't pay attention to you. It doesn't matter how many times you interrupt them - they're still not interested. Unless you work on building a fan page or group around a shared interest (i.e. your industry, product or service), you're still marketing with a shotgun instead of a rifle.

    If you're choosy, your Facebook "friends" are really friends. For many though, a "friend" is just someone they are mildly acquainted with and not a true friend. I got a "friend" request from someone who had 2,199 people listed as friends on Facebook. I know full well those people aren't friends, and the reality is they're probably not very engaged with that person or his brand.

    The same is true for "fans". If you're ASKING people to be fans, then they're not really going to do you much good, or at least, they won't do you much more good than they would have done for you otherwise. If 20 friends become fans it looks like you're popular but those friends aren't going to refer you more business than they would have without Facebook. When you can attract fans through your own merits and non-solicited word-of-mouth marketing, you know you're dealing with people who really appreciate you and are more likely to become customers.

Okay - enough of the rant. IF you've done a good job of engaging people on Facebook who are truly interested in your business, then there's value in using Facebook, Twitter and other social media. Otherwise, you should face the facts that your efforts are primarily just to wave the flag and let people know you exist. Awareness is good, and over time, the awareness you generate can lead to engagement with prospects. Just remember it will take time and effort get get to that stage where you reach enough people generally to make people with a specific need take more interest in what you're offering.

The Invisible Website

Mark Kawabe - Wednesday, September 15, 2010

It is unusual to find a site that is invisible in the search engines. I mean, you have to do so little to get a website into Google, yet I found one. Actually, I didn't find it - a client presented it to me and asked what could be done. He said it couldn't be found in the search engines. I didn't believe him, but after a quick check, I found that the website wasn't even indexed in Google despite having been online for more than a year.

Let me explain for a moment why this is so jaw-dropping. Most web developers will submit the work they do to the major search engines as part of their service. They'll either do a direct submission or let the engines crawl the site through links. I link to many of my clients' websites through my portfolio page and that's one simple way to set up an inbound link to a site. So imagine how much effort was involved to have the website NOT be picked up by any of the major search engines. You couldn't even find the website under a specific search for the company's name. That's how bad it was.

Fortunately, with a few changes to the site (there weren't even titles!) and the addition of a few inbound links the site was quickly spidered. It is now found on page one in Google when you search for the company name - which is where it should be. As for other SEO, well, that's for the client to decide.

Search engines owe you nothing. You owe it to your business to ensure your site appears in the major engines. At a minimum, if someone just types in your company name they should find you on the first page of results unless you have an exceptionally common corporate name. (If that's the case, you should really think about talking to a branding expert.)

Be a Drip

Mark Kawabe - Monday, September 13, 2010

Leaky faucets are bad, right? After all, drip, drip, drip, right down the drain.

That's how most people feel about their marketing budgets. Drip, drip, drip - money right down the drain. So what do they do? They stop marketing, and that's bad.

Don't worry about making a big splash - be a drip. Every day, you should be marketing. There needs to be a constant effort - even a small one - but you need to expend some energy to market your business.

Drip, drip, drip.

Those small efforts represent a bucketload of marketing over time. Those small efforts build mindshare in your prospects and existing customers so when they're ready to buy, your name is overflowing in their mind. Yours will be the first company they call and the one they trust because of your consistent marketing messages.

Remember: thousands of drops of water over time will wear away the stone but if they arrive all at once they'll just make a splash and the stone will remain unchanged.

Copyright

Mark Kawabe - Monday, March 29, 2010

Here are a few words that ruined my day around a year ago:

" 'ABC Company' can find no reference to this image having been licensed for reproduction on your website. The usage above directly violates 'ABC Company's' and the artist's exclusive rights to reproduce, adapt, display, distribute, and/or create derivative works. Be advised that any entity that violates these exclusive rights of the copyright owner is an infringer of the copyright and is thus liable, regardless of prior knowledge of the unauthorized usage. Also note, the Copyright Act provides for individual liability for all those associated with the infringement as well as corporate liability."

There was more (courtesy of 'ABC Company's' lawyers) but on the "Claim Invoice", the amount of the claim made by 'ABC Company' on behalf of its client was $4020 + GST for unauthorized use of the image.

Let me help that sink in a bit more.

$4020 + GST for the unauthorized use of ONE image on a website.

Ouch.

In this case, the image in question was provided to me by a former client for use on their web advertising. However, after consulting with a lawyer specializing in copyright law, I learned that I was still responsible for the copyright infringement because I hadn't confirmed with my client that the image in question was free of copyright and further, not only did I not check, but I didn't have anything in writing from the client.

Fortunately for me, 'ABC Company' shifted their attention to the former client and that appears to have been the end of the story for me. I suspect hundreds if not thousands of people worldwide receive letters from 'ABC Company' and other rights management companies with claims of copyright infringement. For me, it was an important lesson to learn, so I thought I would share it with you.

Whenever you get new artwork, ensure with your graphic designer that the work is indeed free of copyright. Ask where the image came from and whether they have permission to use it. Image licences can be purchased for as low as a few dollars from many stock photography sites so there's really no reason you should ever get stung with a copyright infringement.

Just a word of warning from one who's been there. It's worth $10 or $20 now to avoid the stress that could befall you in future.