The Web For Business.com Blog

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


Sir Richard Branson's Advice is Sound - So Why are You Still Struggling?

Mark Kawabe - Friday, August 08, 2014

Richard Branson's advice on how to market your business cheaply is currently making the rounds on social media. It's great advice. My distillation:

1) Know your core values - the reason why you do what you do -  and communicate them.

2) As an entrepreneur or business owner, you should be the one driving - and be the face of - your company's marketing.

3) Use social media to engage with your customers in an authentic and fun way and listen to feedback to understand how you can do things better.

4) Enjoy what you do and share that enthusiasm.

Wonderful advice. Very inspirational. I am momentarily uplifted.

Reality Check

I would add some items to Sir Richard's list. My suggestions are:

  1. Improve your communication skills. All of them. Practice speaking in groups. Enhance your writing ability. Focus on listening and understanding. Richard Branson would not have been effective if he were not a good communicator. He was a poor student academically and has dyslexia but has a great ability to connect with people. The ability to connect with others in a variety of contexts is a must for entrepreneurs.

  2. Be creative. We are all born creative beings. Our innate creativity often becomes suppressed by our parents, peers, educational system and sadly, by our own selves. Embrace creativity and open your mind to new perspectives. When you limit your thinking, you limit your growth.

  3. Persist. We may not have the resources or the natural talent or the charisma of Sir Richard, but we can choose to persist. If you truly believe that what you're doing is reflective of your core values and you want to make your own personal dream come true, then persist.

  4. Accept that you can't (or shouldn't) do everything. Branson didn't build his business empire on his own. He has had help all along the way. His mother re-mortgaged the family home to pay for unpaid taxes and fines that Sir Richard's record company racked up in 1971. Even though Branson is a visionary, there are many other people who have contributed to his current success.

    Building a team of people you can rely on for your business is crucial to your success. Chances are you can't do everything well. Focus on what you're good at and let your team help you with the rest.

Everyone knows the path of entrepreneurship is not easy. It's a special person who chooses this path. It's great to be uplifted by the many great thinkers of our time, but when reality strikes, it's you who is going to have to put in the countless hours of work to make your dream come true.

Turning the Online Monster into your Servant

Mark Kawabe - Thursday, July 25, 2013

Websites. 1000 social media websites. Blogs. YouTube. SEO. There are thousands of ways to market online. What's a business to do? Here are some tips on how to turn the online monster you've created (or are thinking of creating) into your servant.

Plan

When managing your online presence seems overwhelming, it's probably because you didn't plan. If you don't know where you're going, you'll have no idea if you're getting there or not. Fortunately, you can change this whenever you want.

Implement

This is where many people start - they start doing before planning. If this sounds like you, take a deep breath, back away from your monitor and take some time to plan your activities. Make a schedule. Define your goals. Then work on making them happen.

Social media sites make it easy to implement. Slap up a post or a picture or comment and voila! You're done! But how do you know it's what's most beneficial?

Websites or other corporate social media tools that are not current demonstrate a failure to implement. Most businesses can improve in this area. My business included.

Measure

Do you know how many people read your last Facebook post? Did anyone like them? Do you know who they were? How did that Facebook post compare to the previous one - and the one before it?

How about your site traffic? Is it up or down from last month? How about your search engine rankings?

Not measuring the results of online activities means you're shooting at targets without knowing you've hit them. This is why many business owners say marketing online doesn't work for them. They or their staff don't measure the results they get.

Analyze, Study & Plan Again

So you've planned, implemented and measured. Can things be improved? Of course they can. Take what you've done and build on it to make it better.

If you don't know HOW to make it better, you're in luck. There are at least a few million pages of online advice (including this one) on how to improve every aspect of your online presence.

If you've read my earlier blog posts, you'll know this stuff isn't rocket science. It's "common sense" - but we all know how prevalent that is these days. I came across a website just before writing this post that proudly exclaimed their latest news on the homepage - except it was from 2011. When the primary purpose of a website is to create confidence about doing business with you, how does something like that benefit your business?

Most "problems" with websites and online marketing are solved by following the steps above. If you don't have time or patience to follow the prescription, then feel free to call "Dr. Mark" at 905-227-6667. I'd be happy to help you manage your online marketing needs so you don't have to.

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 . . .

How Wrong Can You AFFORD to Be?

Mark Kawabe - Thursday, May 19, 2011

As usual, another inspiration based on Seth Godin.

Seth talks about "the privilege of being wrong". Most of us can be wrong. We're not in life and death struggles that are going to kill us TODAY.


In business, you're in a life and death struggle that will kill you EVENTUALLY if you don't "do the right things".


Of course, whatever you're doing today is "the right thing", isn't it? What makes it right? Is it because it's comfortable? Free / inexpensive? Easy?


This probably isn't a revelation to anyone, but if it's easy, free or comfortable, then it's probably not the "right thing" to be doing, unless you have the systems in place in your business so that things that USED TO  be uncomfortable, expensive or difficult are now the opposite.


Take writing. It's hard work - initially. Over time, you will improve. Sure, there will be peaks and valleys, but over time your writing ability will increase and it will become easier.


The "common knowledge" is that content is king online (another post on that later...) so "the right thing" to be doing is to create content - and that usually means writing. MOST people have a hard time with this, so MOST people don't do it - because their business won't fail TODAY if they put off writing until tomorrow.


My point (and Seth's) is that you have the luxury of failing. One day though, if your business is close to going down the tubes, it will be too late or inappropriate to experiment with your online marketing. You might as well start now, while you have the luxury of getting it wrong. Experiment. Get it right - and you'll never have to worry about your business failing in the first place.

If You Can't Market Yourself, Who Will Market You?

Mark Kawabe - Friday, December 17, 2010

I suppose the answer depends on you.

Being online means you have access to all sorts of technology to better represent yourself. The internet allows you to "level the playing field", doesn't it? Well, sort of.

All the technology in the world won't make up for your lack of ability to communicate to the world your uniqueness.

Don't think you're a good writer? That eliminates a lot of opportunities for you. Content is still king online.

Afraid to be in front of a camera? I guess video's out for you as well.

Hate your voice? Podcasting's gone too.

So what's left?

Facebook and other social media tools require you to communicate in writing, video or pictures your special-ness. If you can't do it, I guess you're stuck.

Hmm.

Oh wait - there's another option.

Hopefully, there's at least one person who can market you, and do it in a credible way.

Who's this person?

The customer you have delighted with your incredible product, service or kindness.

Perhaps there's more than one of them. The best thing about them is they can make up for any deficiencies you may have in your ability to communicate - as long as you can communicate your need to them. They can help you get your message out powerfully, credibly, personally and honestly. Why? Because you've helped them and you've done it wonderfully.

Got one of those people in your corner? I sure hope so, because they're your best salesperson.

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.

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.

New Online Video Production Services from The Web For Business.com

Mark Kawabe - Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Since our first foray into online video things haven't really changed all that much. I mean, YouTube is still a great way to market - it's just gotten bigger. Image quality has been improved, but that was to be expected.

One thing that hasn't changed much is the cost of getting a video produced. I personally think videos offer great value on websites, but the cost of development can be a barrier. On a client's behalf, I did some calling around to several video production companies. The cost to produce a 20 second spot to use online (with some green screen background manipulation) was anywhere between $500 to $1100 - and one company wanted more details before providing an estimate which to me suggests they would have been on the high side of the range.

What does this mean for our customs? It means we've gone out and come up with a lower-cost option for you to peruse. These days even cell phones have HD capability, so you know the cost of equipment has come down. The cost of software for video editing has come down as well. We've made an investment in both equipment and software and can now produce short slideshow-type videos starting at $150.

A long-time acquaintance recently opened his own business doing video shooting, editing and production. For companies that are looking for videos with higher production values than I can offer I highly recommend him. His name is Merv Wrighton and his company name is UBU Video Productions. UBU is pronounced "You Be You". You can reach him at 905-651-2728 or at [email protected] His website will be online soon so you can view his portfolio. He has produced videos for two of my clients and both are quite happy with his work, as am I.

Now Available - Wordpress Blogs

Mark Kawabe - Tuesday, September 07, 2010

We are now offering Wordpress blogs as part of our standard hosting package. In other words, they're available at no extra charge - unless you want some customization of them in which case the usual hourly rate applies.

Of course, just because we offer a blog doesn't mean you NEED to start blogging - but in case you wanted to - and have a business case for doing so, we can now make this happen within your website.

Blogging can benefit your site in several ways.

  • A Better Experience for Visitors - they're visiting because they're interested in the services your company provides. The more you can tell them about yourself, the better.
  • More Content For Search Engines - search engines need content to determine how to index your site. Blogging about a variety of topics increases the chances your site will be found. It's just one more strategy to employ. Remember - nothing on its own is the key to better placement.
  • You Look Better - having a blog that's moderately up to date is a comfort to visitors. If your last blog post is May 2009, well, visitors will think you haven't been up to much since then. Are you really still in business? Posting regularly (once a week or once a month is fine - just be regular) will showcase your knowledge, personality and expertise.

Just a few thoughts for you to ponder.

Have a great day!

New Business, No Website. Really?

Mark Kawabe - Wednesday, May 19, 2010
I went to a restaurant that had been open for three months for the first time today. The food was good, the place was clean and the owners were very nice people. The restaurant had a nice logo and it looked to me that their chairs were custom-made to incorporate the logo and the initials of the restaurant in the design. All in all, they had put in a lot of effort to make the place nice.

However, the one thing they didn't have was a website. I asked why and they said it was because they're still working on finalizing their menu. They also didn't have flyers with a take-out menu as that's still in flux.

I can understand not wanting to print 5000 flyers with a menu that is likely to change, but not having a website to help market the business didn't make sense to me.

At the very least a single webpage with their own domain would have given people their address and phone number and possibly directions (with a Google map) of where to find them. Cost: under $200 / year.

Phone directories are the new doorstops to many and the younger generation searches for everything online. Not being online when the costs are so low is inexcusable.

Please pass this message along to any business owner you know who doesn't have a website. I'd love to know what's keeping them offline.