The Web For Business.com Blog

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


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'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

If you're going to write...what's it going to be about?

Mark Kawabe - Thursday, October 13, 2011

Writing - whether it's every day or once a week - is daunting for people.

"I have nothing to write about" is the common reason.

News Flash: You have more to write about than you think (Slogan shamelessly adapted from Scotiabank...)

The last time I checked, you were an expert in your field.

Your clients probably aren't experts in YOUR field, so pretty much anything you say will be new to them. I'm generalizing, but you get the point. Things that are MUNDANE to you are FRESH to them.

I remember talking with a restauranteur about developments at their business when they mentioned they opened their patio two weekends earlier. "Did you mention it on Facebook or to your customer email list" I asked. "Nope - we never thought of it" was the reply. They missed a golden opportunity to pack their patio by letting their customers know it was open. Why? Because opening the patio wasn't "special" to the restaurant staff or owner.

Take note of "special" things inside your business. Pay attention to industry news that might be relevant to your audience. Make it a habit to write about these things. Once you're used to the habit, you'll find it becomes easier. Probably inside one month.

If you're looking for something that sets you apart from your competition, it'll be the fact that you write and share knowledge all the time. You'll be creating value, building relationships and enhancing trust instead of just spewing advertising.

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.

Changing Routines

Mark Kawabe - Wednesday, October 20, 2010

On Sunday night we had a happy, apparently healthy cat. On Monday morning, I had to euthanize him. Over the past couple of days, it's been very apparent to my wife and kids how big a role Tiger played in our lives because as we've gone through our daily routines, we notice how much he's missing.

Routines are how humans "get through" the day. We have a routine for getting ready for work or school. Work has its own routine. We tend to do the same thing or same variations of things, day in and day out. It's comfortable to have a routine and we get stressed when they get messed up.

Sometimes changes to routines are forced on us, but I think it's valuable to examine our routines and ask why we do things the way we do them. Perhaps there are easier or more effective ways to do things. Maybe there are things we SHOULD be doing that aren't yet part of our routines.

In my opinion, most entrepreneurs don't have a routine for their marketing themselves online. I've set up blogs and websites aplenty for clients only to watch those tools gather dust. I've consulted businesses large and small on better ways to do things only to hear later they've decided to stick with what they know. There are countless ways we could make our businesses and lives better. The only thing holding us back is our lack of desire to change our routines because self-directed change takes work.

Notice I didn't say inability. If you are forced to change, you will. Craig Bowman at Road to Recovery Nutrition , Sandra Alvarez of Alvarez Fitness and Andi Miller of Embrace Fitness tell me they see this behaviour all the time. People go through a health crisis and decide they need to change their routines. They'll start eating vegetables for the first time in their lives or embark on a fitness program because the alternatives are worse. They change their routines for the betterment of their lives.

I suggest that in our businesses we have an obligation to ourselves and our clients to examine ways we can do things better. Developing and sticking to an internet marketing plan is a challenge, but if you can make it part of your routine you'll be improving the online health of your business

Waiting until change is forced upon us is how most of us operate. Those who proactively change and continually work on finding the best way to do things are more likely to be successful in their endeavours and masters of their worlds.

Thank you, Tiger for your inspiration for this article. RIP little buddy.

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.

Your Enemy is You

Mark Kawabe - Thursday, September 02, 2010

This is related to my earlier blog post about how search engines don't owe you anything.

A client and I were discussing a local company that has managed to crowd out the first page of Google results for a variety of keywords and phrases. My client asked what could be done to compete with this company in Google. Two ideas came out of that question.

One: The "Problem" Might Not Be a Problem

When I did some checking into the popularity of the keyword phrases in question, it turns out there were very few searches registered in Google. In other words, the competition was dominant for phrases that few people used in their searches. Fighting to get a top ranking for an infrequently-used keyword phrase is probably not worth my client's effort.

Two: Doing Nothing Is Not an Option

I strongly encouraged my client to do something with his website. Small businesses don't have a ton of time to keep sites updated. Those who do can gain an advantage over time in two ways. First, the search engines will have more content to crawl so their sites will be more likely to show up for a variety of searches. Second, the HUMANS who come to their websites will be more likely to do business with them if the company has a helpful website - which requires content. Doing a little bit of SOMETHING consistently is better than consistently doing nothing.

Our worst enemies are ourselves. Doing the right things for ourselves takes effort. Just ask anyone who's tried to start and stick with a diet or exercise program. You can make a big difference with small efforts over time. Starting today, what will you do to make a difference in your business?