Archive for June, 2011

28
Jun

Who do you think you are?

   Posted by: Gary Wagnon    in Marketing, Social Media Marketing

Who do you think you are? Or better still who do your clients, customers or prospects think you are? In our interconnected world your reputation, your profile and what your customers are saying are only a few clicks away. So are you moderating what people are saying about you?

When would you call to set up an appointment with someone you just met, what do you think their first order of business is going to be? They’re going Google you, Facebook you, look you up a Linkedin, look for you on YouTube. Maybe they search Yelp, Manta, Merchant Circle or any of a dozen other local business review sites. Do you know what they’ll find? If not you should.

To be safe, be proactive. It starts with completing your profile online. A Google profile, a Linkedin profile, even a Facebook account. Next, as business people, we need to guard our profiles with extreme caution. What happens on the web stays on the web, FOREVER.

With all the tools that are available online today, there is no reason for you not to know what others are saying. We all know that if we do something right or special for a customer they will tell a few people. But if we make a mistake or do something they don’t think was fair, they will tell every one they see. And post it on Facebook, Twitter, local community sites and maybe even make a YouTube video. If that’s the only review out there, how does that make you look? To safeguard against that, cultivate your own reviews. Ask your customers and clients to write a review on your Google places page, on your Yelp page, or on Facebook. Carry a video camera and ask your good customers record their testimonials. Now one bad review among the dozens of glowing reviews has little damaging effect.

Set up Google alerts on your name or your companies name to know when someone’s talking about you and what they say. Set up TweetDeck or SocialMention to find out who’s mentioning you on Twitter and the other social media. If you see a problem, address it immediately. Don’t wait.

Guard your online persona with the same vigilance you would your home, your business and your family.

Gary Wagnon is the master Ninja traffic generator for 800biz Online Marketing Solutions. Using a combination of action-centered web site design and the latest search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, combined with efficient and effective use of social media, 800biz creates an online presence that helps it’s clients stand out above the competitors and drive more traffic through the door.

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23
Jun

My Company Won’t Let Me Use Social Media

   Posted by: Gary Wagnon    in Social Media Marketing

I hear all the time “my company won’t allow me to use social media.”  It is typically the financial industry – financial advisors, insurance agents and such.  And I can understand.  Each of those industries is highly regulated and the least misstatement by a representative can mean a lawsuit for the company.  It’s not the representative that’s on the hook, although the repercussions would ultimately fall back to them.

But with social media being such an important element in marketing today, how can one afford to ignore it?  The answer lies in personal branding.  With personal branding you build the image around you, not your company.  If you’re an employee, do you really want to promote your company, and in essence, the other salespeople competing for the same prospects as you are?  Of course not.  You can’t speak for the ethics, the work integrity, and the dedication of anyone else but you.

Prospective customers and clients choose a financial professional because of the person, not the company.  You might have the greatest product on the planet; it’s head and shoulders above the nearest competitor.  But if you don’t connect with me, if I don’t trust you, don’t have any rapport with you, I’m not buying from you.  We do business with people not companies.

And for that reason, the logical marketing strategy is to brand you.  Prove to me your expertise.  Show me what you can do for me as an advisor.  Build that connection and there’s a good chance we’ll do business together.

So how do you do that if your company won’t allow you to use social media or other forms of online marketing?  You do that by providing information, tips, breaking news, and the latest trends in your industry without mentioning your company or any of your company products by name.  Like most professionals, you have a continual stream of information flowing through your inbox everyday.  When you see something that I might be interested in, share it.  When you hear a question for the third time from a prospective client, share that.  There is a good chance others are thinking the same question.

One more reason why personal branding is essential.  You might be totally satisfied with your present company, but what happens if new management comes in that you don’t see eye to eye with and you decide to part company?  If you have actively built your brand, you can make a change and not skip a beat.  But if you’ve been branding the company, all your efforts will have been wasted and you will have to start from scratch.

After all, your personal brand is all you have.  Start building and cultivating it today and you will reap the benefits tomorrow.

Gary Wagnon is the 10th Degree Traffic Generator for 800biz Online Marketing Solutions.  Using a combination of action centered web site design and the latest search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, combines with efficient and effective use of social media, 800biz creates an online presence that helps it’s clients stand out above the competitors and drive more traffic through the door.

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22
Jun

Network Like A Stealth Bomber

   Posted by: Gary Wagnon    in Marketing

Networkers is not about collecting business cards - It's about building relationshipsIf you’ve ever been to a networking event, like a Chamber of Commerce mixer, you’ve probably experienced the network grabber or card collector.  That’s the person that takes a bundle of business cards and sends you a follow-up e-mail with their sales pitch or at best an invite to me for coffee.  I’ve even had people I met at a networking event pull out their calendar and ask to set up a sales appointment.

Now I know that every one of us at the networking event is there to generate prospects that we can ultimately sell.  But the savvy networker understands that a networking event is a place to develop relationships.  It’s a long-term process not an immediate gain.  So here’s an idea to help cultivate that relationship while establishing your expertise in your industry.

As you are meeting and exchanging cards, the first step is to question and listen.  You’re listening for problems, challenges, or situations that your product or service can solve.  Ask the prospect “What the biggest challenge you have with your ____ ” (enter your area there).  But here’s the hard part.  Resist the temptation to roar in like an F-16 with guns blazing, extolling the virtues of your product or service.  Instead use the stealth approach.

Use a stealth approach to marketing. The stealth networking approach allows you to zero in on your prospect with laser guided precision.  Here’s how.  When you get back to the office, as your reviewing your notes from the event, look for a solution that your company offers that solves the newly met prospects needs.  Send them a link to your blog article that relates to the issue they were discussing with a note that says “you mentioned this was a concern so I wanted to forward you an article I wrote in my blog that addresses a similar situation.”  If you don’t have an article that covers their challenge, either find one from a trade journal you can send, or better still, write one.  You might want to even include a suggestion that they subscribe to your blog because you are continually providing valuable information they may find useful in the future.

This achieves two things.  It helps to establish you as the expert and your prospect has given permission to continue providing them valuable information and gain their trust.  As you continue to provide valuable content, you continue to build up social capital that they will ultimately cash in the form of business with you.  And not only that, they will share that information that you’re providing them with others, increasing your reach.

Remember the stealth bomber doesn’t show up on the radar, there’s no time to put up the defenses.  Try the stealth approach the next time you are out networking. Before your prospects has time to raise their “sales alert” shield, you’re already inside.

Gary Wagnon is the master Ninja traffic generator  for 800biz Online Marketing Solutions.  Using a combination of action-centered web site design and the latest search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, combined with efficient and effective use of social media, 800biz creates an online presence that helps it’s clients stand out above the competitors and drive more traffic through the door.

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8
Jun

Google Plus 1

   Posted by: Gary Wagnon    in search engine optimization, Social Media Marketing, web design

Goliath has started its latest foray into the social media arena.  Google this week announced the launching of its +1 feature, its answer to the Facebook Like and LinkedIin Share buttons.  While previous attempts in social media (like Google Wave and even Google Buzz) have not had the level of success they expected, +1 could well be the social media success Google has  been searching for.

What is Google +1? +1 allows Web surfers, while logged in to their Google account, to share sites they like or recommend within the Google search.  The plus one button can be added to any webpage or blog with a few simple steps (which we will describe below.)

Google +1 on Website

When do you see the Google +1? To begin, you must have a Google profile or a Google account such as Gmail.   To find your Google profile, go to http://profiles.Google.com/yourname.  If nothing comes up for you,  then you may not have created a profile or you could have it private, in which case you may need to create a public profile (do a Google search for details how to do that.)

Once you’ve logged in to your profile and do any search, you will see, at the end of the top line of the search results, the greyed out +1 button.  Simply click the +1 button and it turns to full-color, leaving a trail for your Google contacts to see.  When one of your Google contacts does a similar search, they will see your +1 link recommendation.  There is also talk that in the near future the link will be visible to your Twitter and Flickr contacts as well.

Google +1 Search Results

Google publicly says that +1 activity will be used to show more relevant ads on non-Google base sites, however, you do have the ability to disable that feature within the +1 settings in your Google account.

But what’s the real value of the Google +1? From the initial announcement of +1, speculation has centered around the effect it will have on search results and search engine ranking.  Google has long had, as part of their algorithm, the relevancy and popularity of a website.  By adding +1 to a website, the webmaster/owner may potentially have a positive impact on their search engine rankings.  How big an effect is yet to be seen but with more and more emphasis being placed on social media and the social aspects of the web, logic says this can have a significant impact.

How you add the Google +1 button? The process is a very simple one.  You will need FTP access to your website to complete the process or you will need to have your webmaster complete the process.  Below are the four steps:

  1. Go to Google +1 page
  2. Choose your button size and language.  The advanced options allow you to include the +1’d count and include the target URL you want attached to the +1
  3. Copy the first section of the code and paste it just above the closing body tag of the page
  4. Copy the second section of the code and paste it where you want the button to appear

Creating a Google +1 Button

That’s all it takes.  I hope you found this blog useful.  If so, +1 me.

Gary Wagnon and 800biz.com Online Marketing Solutions specializes in helping small to medium size businesses to drive traffic to their door through web site design, search engine optimization, text message marketing and social media marketing and coaching.  Gary is also the co-founder of SocialMediaLab, an online education and training program to help business owners master social media.

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1
Jun

QR Codes are Cool But…

   Posted by: Gary Wagnon    in Marketing, Social Media Marketing

QR Code - 800biz.comQR codes, those squiggly bar codes, are beginning to appear in print articles, on business cards, in newspapers and even online. But what are they and how do they work?

QR stands for Quick Response. They are 2 dimensional matrix barcodes whose popularity is on the rise with the growth of smartphones. Most phones can download an app like Scanlife that is used to read these barcodes and take the action embedded in the code. The code can direct the user to a web site, video, text message, email link, phone number, social media site, YouTube video, Google map or even a PayPal Buy Now link.

So how do you create this magical code? It’s so easy a caveman can do it (sorry Geico). Google QR Code generator and you will find several. (I’ve used www.qrstuff.com).  You select the type of link you want to create, enter the URL, email or phone number you want to connect to and watch the code created on the spot.  Right click the code and save  to your computer (or click the download link to do the same.)  That’s it.  You’re ready to go.

But before you jump in and create your code, let’s think the process through.  A friend of mine recently showed me his new business card with his QR code on the back, so I pulled out my Droid, opened Scanlife and scanned the back of his card.  It popped up a window with his email and phone number.  Very nice BUT…that’s the same information as  on the front of the card.  So I pulled out my card, scanned my QR code and up popped a mobile landing page with links to my web site, an email capture form attached to an auto-responder and my YouTube video introduction.

Comparing my card to his, my business card has now become a multimedia, lead generation tool.  But again, before you jump in and create a YouTube video and attach that to your QR code, hold on.  Once you create your QR code, it can’t be changed.  You’re either stuck with it or you have to create a new one.  But how long is it going to take you to use 1000 business cards?  And how long to you think your cards will be held on to by your clients and prospects?  What happens when you message becomes outdated?  Or you shoot a killer video that will convert prospects to clients by the dozens?   Oh well, too bad.

My solution (believe me I learned the hard way too) was to create a landing page that my QR code points to.  Now I can change the content of my landing page as often as I want.  Shoot a new video, no problem.  Have a special that I want to showcase, piece of cake.  The QR code link stays the same, but the content changes at will.

Take advantage of the technology, take advantage of growing number of smart phone and put your print media to work for you.

Gary Wagnon and 800biz.com Online Marketing Solutions specializes in helping small to medium size businesses to drive traffic to their door through web site design, search engine optimization, text message marketing and social media marketing and coaching.  Gary is also the co-founder of SocialMediaLab, an online education and training program to help business owners master social media.

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