The Web For Business.com Blog

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


Internet Marketing Reality Check

Mark Kawabe - Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A general observation about business owner's feelings about websites and internet marketing.

What "everyone" wants:

  • A "great" website.
  • Lots of visitors to said website.
  • Top search engine positioning.
  • Lots of business resulting from that website.

The reality: few are willing to do the work or make the financial investment necessary to accomplish those goals.

The takeaway: if you're one of the few, you have a great opportunity.

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.

Businesses are NOT my Facebook Friends

Mark Kawabe - Monday, November 15, 2010

I received yet another request from a business on Facebook to be a friend. Here are six reasons why I don't recommend businesses use personal profiles on Facebook to market themselves.

  1. It's against the Facebook terms of service and if someone complains or Facebook decides to enforce their rules, all your work will be for naught.

  2. There is a limit to how many friends you can have (5000) for both personal profiles and groups. There is no limit to how many can "like" your business. What happens when you hit your limit? (Think WHEN, not IF.)

  3. You can't message all your friends at once. You can contact everyone who likes your page in one fell swoop. This makes communication much easier.

  4. Facebook pages for businesses can be customized through the FBML application. Profile pages and GROUP pages can't be. For a business trying to put its best face forward, this is important.

  5. Pages also give you demographic information as well as usage information. Profiles and groups don't. If you're going to put effort into your Facebook marketing, shouldn't you have some ability to measure how you're doing? If so, then a Page is definitely for you. If you're a Google Analytics user, you can add tracking code to your main marketing page. You can't track the wall of your page - only the FBML page you've created - but it's better than what Facebook provides.

Marketers know that measuring results is vital. How do you know if you're succeeding otherwise? Pages give you the ability to directly market and measure. If you have a personal profile AND a business page, you'll be able to reach people in two different ways on Facebook and it's the combination that in my opinion provides the best value for marketers.

Happy Marketing Monday!

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.

Not Your Average Dojo

Mark Kawabe - Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Because the martial arts industry is not regulated in Canada, it's "buyer beware". Come to think of it, it's much like that in the web development and internet marketing industry. So, how do you know you're at the right place?

Well, you can talk to Shihan Doug Meagher at Northwest Goju Ryu Karate in Welland. He's now got a new website where he tells people interested in karate how to choose a quality school.

Visit them online at http://www.northwestgoju.org.

The thing I like about this site is its simplicity and its use of video. Granted, Shihan Meagher's delivery could be a little smoother (and he'll be the first to agree with that), but it gets the point across.

The other thing, of course is the content on the site. Content is still king online and if you have something to say about your business or industry then your website is the first place it should go. Shihan Meagher's list is a popular one online and it generates visits.

Northwest Goju - not your average dojo - not your average instructor.

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.

What's Your Title?

Mark Kawabe - Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The title tag is one of the most important bits of information on your webpage. Chances are you've never thought about it. Here's an explanation of what it is and why it's important.

Look at the top of this page. Right up at the top of the screen - above the browser's toolbar. If you're on the main page of the blog, you'll see the title: "The Internet Marketing Passioneer's Blog". There it is. Nothing special, right?

Wrong. Search engines love titles. If you look at the code of a webpage, the title will be right near the top, between the <title> and </title> tags. Search engines use the text in the title tag to determine the subject of a webpage. It's one of the most important things you can change on your website, aside from the obvious of having quality content.

I met with a client today whose website's homepage had a title of "index". No keywords. Just "index". When you consider the homepage is the main page of the website and is usually the page you want to show up in the search engines, it's important to have keywords in the title.

Make sure your website developer puts relevant keywords in your page title. Every page of your site should have a unique title. EVERY page.

If you need any assistance with adding titles to your website, I'm happy to help. Just contact me at your earliest convenience.

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.)

Launch of Road to Recovery Natural Health

Mark Kawabe - Thursday, September 09, 2010

Today is the "official" launch of a new website for Craig Bowman. Craig's a Registered Holistic Nutritionist who is on a mission to guide people to better health through changes in diet and nutrition. He's a hall-of-fame weightlifter, husband, father and now, he's online.

Introducing: www.RoadToRecoveryNutrition.com

Ta da!!

Welcome online Craig!

Now, of course, the fun stuff begins. As I tell all my clients, getting online is the first step. Figuring out what to do online is where it gets interesting. We will be marketing Craig's guaranteed customized nutritional support programs throughout the GTA. In particular, Craig has developed a special cancer support program that has produced some spectacular results in some clients.

If you need some help getting your diet sorted out, give Craig a call.

On another note, the video on Craig's website marks the first collaboration between me and Merv Wrighton of UBU Video Productions. Merv's a long-time acquaintance and has gone into business to pursue his passion for making movies.  I'm sure you'll be seeing more of Merv's work on our websites in future.

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?