The Web For Business.com Blog

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


No Finish Line

Mark Kawabe - Wednesday, November 09, 2016

There is no finish line in marketingMarketing is not a race. If you are in business, you should know and understand that marketing is a continuous process. If there is an end to marketing, there is also an end to revenue growth, new customer acquisition etc.

When it comes to marketing online, I've met a lot of business owners who have an online presence, but who aren't happy about it. They have "tried everything" from SEO to social media and nothing's worked, from their perspective. They're tired of the cost, and they're frustrated by the lack of results.

To be fair, that's a very reasonable outcome. If I asked you to spend $5000 and not have any measurable return on investment (ROI), you'd probably walk away. I would too.

The word "measurable" is important though, because you CAN measure many, many things when people are interacting with your online presence. On your website, you can use your analytics to see what people are clicking on and how they're coming to your site. You can use heat mapping to see where people are focusing their attention. Any reputable email marketing software will tell you your open rates and track what people click on in your messages. Social media tools give you metrics showing you what posts got the most attention.

Then the hard work begins. Analyze. Investigate. Uncover reasons. Ask questions. Tweak your site, your content, your next post, and then do it all over again. If you want better marketing, you need to have a better system.

Nobody can say for certain that creating and implementing a robust inbound marketing plan is going to be a goldmine of lead generation. However, it is true that not doing anything will very likely be worse for your business' lead acquisition. Even if you put together a plan and start implementing slowly, you'll be better positioned a few years from now.

3 Marketing Words to Remember

Mark Kawabe - Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Online marketing is not a Sisphyean taskFeeling overwhelmed?

When I talk to people about their online marketing, I hear this all the time.

"I don't know where to start."

"Which is the best platform?"

"I don't have time to create content."

I get it. It's not easy. The idea that the internet levels the playing field between big and small companies is a myth because big companies have more resources than small ones. Marketing takes time, and that's often in short supply for entrepreneurs and small businesses.

My advice: stop worrying about doing things perfectly. Lists of "best practices" are interesting but they may not be best practices for you. One of my favourite marketing mantras is "Ready. Fire. Aim." This is how marketing works in my opinion. You ready your content or campaign, release it, then measure how successful it was and adjust accordingly.

READY

Getting ready means knowing who your audience is and preparing appropriate content for them. Content doesn't need to be writing. It can be pictures or videos, quizzes and contests. It doesn't need to be a major effort. Be creative! Content ideas are all around you, every moment of the day.

FIRE

Stop obsessing about your choice of platform to distribute to. Pick a popular platform and run with it to the best of your ability. Do you like Facebook? Fine. Use Facebook - as effectively as you can. Think Twitter's the thing? Great. Use Twitter - as effectively as you can at this particular moment.

Do you use software that can blast your update to twenty-five of the top social media platforms plus add it to your blog? Superb! Just get on with it already.

AIM

Save some time to see how your content fared online. What were the results? Did you get any likes or shares? Retweets or views? If you did, that's great. Figure out why and do it again. Were your results below your hopes? Figure out why and DON'T do it again.

People who are good at marketing didn't get that way overnight. Improvement only comes with effort. Just getting started is an effort, but once you're going, you have momentum. Keep on moving, keep on learning, keep on improving.

I wish you the best. Please share your stories of success!

Posting is Like Flossing

Mark Kawabe - Thursday, September 04, 2014

Floss - I mean post - for the long-term health of your businessThe quest to create new and unique content is a challenge for most people who have a website. We're all knowledgeable people, but sometimes knowing what to write about is confusing. My suggestion: read the news.

Every day, there is likely something in the news that you can share your perspective on. Why you agree or disagree. Share your knowledge and expertise. Let people know where you stand.

People do business with people who they trust. That trust is developed online one post at a time. Those pieces of information tell the story about who you are and what you stand for.

Working in the marketing field, there are always plenty of things to comment on. Sometimes I come across items through the mainstream media that are worth discussing. Other times an interesting article will be making the rounds on social media. If I'm really strapped, I look at what other marketers are talking about and share my own perspective on the topic.

I think of posting as something akin to flossing. It's beneficial to do, but because the benefits come over the long-term, most people don't do it. Regularly posting meaningful, self-generated content is a good practice. It shows people who you are, demonstrates your expertise and builds credibility. It can also benefit your search engine positioning, especially in long-tail search terms.

As with flossing, the payoff for posting is likely in the future. It's the kind of thing you would benefit from starting now if you want to realize the benefits down the road. An added bonus: if you post AND floss, you'll have a great smile to show your new clients.

The $10,000 Light Switch

Mark Kawabe - Friday, January 24, 2014

I had a chat with an electrician friend of mine who was guiding an apprentice through the process of figuring out how much it would cost to change a light switch. It was interesting, because in my opinion, it was no ordinary light switch they were dealing with. More on that later.

Light SwitchThe electrician and his apprentice talked about how to estimate the cost by understanding the extent of the job. This light switch was in an ensuite bathroom and controlled three fixtures: vanity light, shower light and bathroom fan. The customer wanted to replace the single switch with a three-switch box so each of the individual fixtures could be turned on and off independently. The job required rewiring two of the three fixtures which meant crawling into the attic and doing the work from above. In addition, the box that held the switch was too small to accommodate the additional wiring required, so a deeper box needed to be installed.

The job was going to take 3 hours for the two of them, so in total, 6 man-hours. Labour plus materials was calculated to cost $310 plus taxes, for a total of around $350. The two of them agreed that while that is what the job would cost, it would be difficult for the homeowner to accept that replacing a light switch would cost that much.

After that discussion, I chimed in with my perspective. I asked the apprentice and the electrician if they knew WHY the customer wanted the light switch changed. Neither of them knew why. If they had known, they could have charged much more - and it still would have been worth it! Here's the story:

The customer who called was a fellow who had tried to unsuccessfully replace the light switch himself. His wife had disliked the switch for over a decade as when her husband got up in the night to use the bathroom, the noise from the fan would wake her up. This would happen several times a week. It was a constant source of irritation as her sleep would be disrupted and she would be annoyed at her husband for waking her up, and for not solving the problem.

There's a saying that "Love is Grand, but Divorce is 100 Grand". This fellow's wife had put up with poor sleep and been irritated with her husband for over a decade from this one problem. There were other issues that were causing problems in their relationship and this constant source of annoyance and resentment could have been the issue that helped her make up her mind to get a divorce.

I once heard that the McKinsey consulting company set their rate by determining what the cost of a problem was for a company and then charging 10% of that cost to provide a solution. If the cost of a divorce is $100,000 for a divorce and that fixing the light switch could be the thing that makes the difference, that light switch could be worth $10,000. When viewed from that perspective, $350 to replace the light switch and thereby remove a significant source of irritation to his wife was a bargain!

You don't really know the value of solving a customer's problem until you've taken the time to fully understand why they've called you. When you know the reasons your customer wants a problem solved, you can better appreciate the value of the project to them. Put the problem in its full context and you'll have a much better perspective on how you can help.

Use Email to BOOST Your Networking Results

Mark Kawabe - Thursday, November 21, 2013

Business cards from a networking function on deskI attended a networking event last evening. Because I'm an online kind of guy, I sent out a personalized follow-up email today. While it's too early to know how things turned out from last night and from my email, there are a few things I think are pertinent to mention.

  1. If you are going to send a follow-up email after an event, it should be sent the next business day.

  2. You can make your life easier by planning ahead and composing your email in advance. That way all you have to is create a list of recipients to be ready to send it out.

  3. It doesn't take much to make your email look special. Why? Because it will likely be the only one people receive following up on the event.

Marketing is not difficult. Being mindful of the things that are most beneficial is the challenge. I can honestly say I did not put much effort into sending out my follow-up email. I typed around 25 people's names and email addresses into my email marketing software, sent a test to make sure things looked good and then hit send. It probably took around 30 minutes all-told.

I'm certainly not complaining that I haven't received a follow-up email or phone call from anyone I met at the meeting last night. It reduces the clutter for my message to get through more easily. That being said, I think a follow-up email is a beneficial thing to send out to the people you've met. It gives you a reason to connect again and is another step taken in relationship-building.

Relationships don't get built on their own. It takes work. An email is just one step on the journey toward creating a relationship with a potential client, a source of referrals, or even a friend. It can make your networking more productive. 'nuff said :)

P.S. We're still running our contest until the end of November, so like, share or comment on our blog to enter our draw for a free breakfast or lunch with me!

Use it or lose it - and more

Mark Kawabe - Tuesday, October 29, 2013

"Use it or lose it" is one of those time-worn phrases that has many meanings.

From my perspective, I think there is more to it.

This phrase often gets used in a physical fitness sense. If you don't exercise regularly, you will lose the gains you've made. I think it goes a step beyond this.

If you don't exercise, you will always have a level of base fitness. Most people seem to live at this level. If that level had a label, it would read "bare minimum".

Consider this in a business context. If you are not working out, not using your talents and the tools available to communicate those talents to the market, you are putting in the "bare minimum" amount of effort to stay in business. I don't think any of us intentionally do this, but it's what will inevitably happen when you fail to apply focus to your activities.

It is in your best interest to always be working out in your business. That means putting in more than the bare minimum amount of effort in all areas of your business. Whether it's marketing or bookkeeping or keeping up with technical developments, nobody can afford to rest on their past accomplishments or existing knowledge. This is not an era that rewards inaction.

You can choose to start working out today. In the same way that you would work out physically, work up to a higher level of activity you can handle. Once you're comfortable there, keep working and improving. Soon your business will be more fit and you'll be sleeping better at night. Enjoy the day!

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

Tea Time and Common Knowledge

Mark Kawabe - Monday, May 23, 2011

If there's one thing I enjoy, it's finding out that "common knowledge" is often wrong.

I made green tea for some dinner guests the other day. I'm 3rd generation Japanese Canadian. One of my guests is 1st generation. Her observations on the deficiencies in my tea making skills were eye-opening.

The next part of the evening the consisted of re-making the tea using her method. The result? Better tasting tea. No bitterness. I learned something about my tea cups, my tea pot and even my pouring method. In short, I am now a better green tea maker.

Of course, the "common knowledge" about how to make green tea in Canada rates about a 0 out of 10 compared to the average Japanese person's knowledge. I suppose this makes sense, but it certainly boggles the mind that despite this knowledge deficiency, green tea is very popular in Canada.

A parallel in my work life is the application of social media for the average business owner. There is a significant deficiency of knowledge about social media marketing. Despite this, it's been widely adopted under the pretense that the "common knowledge" says you absolutely HAVE TO have a social media presence.

So, millions of business owners and entrepreneurs post and tweet and blog while drinking their sub-par green tea. Fascinating stuff, this common knowledge. I'll be introducing a new seminar to help raise people's social media marketing skill levels.

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 It's True for Graphic Design, It's True for Online Marketing Too!

Mark Kawabe - Thursday, March 03, 2011

In her article "6 Questions to Ask Before You Spend a Dime on Graphic Design", author Pamela Wilson highlights the main questions one should ask a graphic designer before starting a campaign.

She could have just as easily substituted "Building a Website" for "Graphic Design". The questions are the same.

Here are the questions:

  1. Do you know who you're trying to reach?
  2. Do you know where to find your market?
  3. Do you have a decent tagline?
  4. Do you have a compelling offer?
  5. Have you positioned the offer in terms of benefits along with features?
  6. Do you have a system in place that will lead toward sales?

Here's the link to the original article.

I consider this a must-read for anyone doing business online.

Happy Thursday!