-If you build it they will come- rarely applies to small business websites. That’s why we talked to Roger Mendoza, an Intuit web advisor, on strategies for getting found on Google and other search engines. Read on for Mendoza’s expert tips.
smart small business
“Old is the new green,” at least when it comes to downtown revitalization efforts in the United States, says the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The private nonprofit organization believes that saving buildings is the best way to create economically viable and sustainable city centers. The group advocates for the restoration and reuse of existing urban structures — versus demolishing them and erecting new ones — and it supports local entrepreneurs and communities in doing so.
Facebook games, quizzes and other apps can be good marketing tools. But if you are thinking of creating one for your business, keep in mind the growing chorus of concerns that they can violate users’ privacy.
Gone are the days when the podcast community was marginalized as a digital repository of programming for people without adequate talent to break into mainstream radio or television broadcasting. Today, in fact, there are countless established media personalities abandoning traditional media platforms for the rich, emerging opportunities in online digital entertainment, particularly those that relate to podcasting.
I-ve spent the last week and a half on the road in three different cities, and if one thing has been made clear, it-s that connectivity is more important for me now than it ever has been. I-m thinking a few upgrades are in order, because my current situation is just killing me… slowly.
This Austin pedicab takes credit cards with GoPayment. He is part of a fleet of MetroCycle Pedicabs we-re sponsoring to give you a chance to see GoPayment in action - for free. Whether you-re an Austinite or just visiting Austin to attend the SWSWi conference from March 11-15, you can enjoy a free ride on GoPayment.
We’ve helped hundreds of thousands of small businesses get online through Intuit Website Services. In doing so, we often hear from small-business owners that they could use some help understanding how to approach online marketing. Getting a website is step one. Then what? How do you best use the web to attract customers? What’s worth spending time and money on, and what’s not?
The South By Southwest (SXSW) festivals bring in thousands of tourists to Austin, Texas, and the local businesses can-t complain. For newcomers to SXSW and Austin, deciding where to go for the most interesting shopping and eating experiences may be somewhat difficult, as each small business in Austin has its own unique story to tell.
By Paul Borgese
Wednesday, May 25, 2005; 11:00am EST
Sales effectiveness research has shown that complete novices in sales who are taught to use effective systems from the beginning of their careers often outperform veteran salespeople with years of experience.
We attribute this to the fact that such novices are 'clean slates,' unburdened by the baggage of years of bad sales habits. In our FEAR SellingTM Sales Training Bootcamps, we often find that individuals who have been selling for years must be deprogrammed from their bad habits and then reprogrammed correctly.
The first objective of effective sales training, therefore, is to break down your bad sales habits and build your skills back up again using habits that lead to success, which are built on a firm foundational understanding of human motivation.
The following are excerpts of the most common fatal flaws in selling excerpted from our free Executive Report, The 7 Deadly Sins of Selling, (available at http://www.7SellingSins. com) in which we explore the negative thinking-patterns and behaviors that cause us to fail as salespeople. We draw heavily upon concepts in the study of human behavior, which find their origin in ancient philosophy and modern psychology and then were rigorously field-tested in order to make you aware of the Deadly Sins that doom many salespeople.
PRIDE: Assuming Your Way Out of the Sale
There is an old saying that goes: if we have two ears and one mouth, why is it that we typically talk more than we listen. It is pride ' our egos ' our need to prove to our prospects that we are smart and worthy of their respect ' that often leads us to losing the sale.
We talk too much and listen too little. We blurt out features and benefits without first finding out if that information is relevant to our prospects. Or even worse, we neglect to find out if revealing such information will actually lessen our chances of winning the sale. The rule of thumb here is: Never talk your way out of a sale.
The key is to assume less, pitch less, and ask more questions. In FEAR Selling, we reveal the 18 most powerful questions to ask that will help you guide your prospect to close themselves and buy now.
SLOTH: Stumbling Due to Systemless Selling
Setting up a system helps salespeople fight against laziness ' also known as the Deadly Sin of Sloth - and keeps us from drifting into bad habits that will inhibit our sales performance.
You should be looking to automate your sales process as much as possible so that you can save yourself time, money and effort. And we don't just mean automate with computers or other technologies. We mean that you must work on developing systems ' habits, scripts, typical questions ' that have proven to be effective in any given situation.
The FEAR Selling System is your shortcut to such systems. It will help you find what works best for you. But really, it doesn't matter what system you use, just make sure you are using one and monitoring the success it brings you. Your main goal as a salesperson is to find what works as fast as possible and then keep repeating it time after time to reach extraordinary sales goals.
GLUTTONY: Gorging Your Way To A Loss of Credibility
Building trust and lowering your prospect's resistance to change are the biggest challenges you will face early on in the sales process. For any number of reasons which we explore throughout FEAR Selling, your prospects fear doing business with you ' or any other salesperson.
Therefore, what you need to do is slowly build trust and rapport with your prospects. By building trust slowly, you are avoiding the Deadly Sin of Gluttony. Don't go in trying to win the big deal without first building credibility.
There is an old saying that in order to eat an elephant you must do it small bit by small bit. The same applies in sales.
Our research over a six-year period shows that those salespeople who try to win small pieces of business and then build incrementally end up with a much greater portion of their customers' share of wallet.
Even more striking is that those that use this strategy manage to break into many more accounts than those who simply try to go out and bite off more than their prospects will allow them to chew.
LUST: Sexy But Substanceless Marketing
One top salesperson we work with explained it this way: 'Advertising agencies and marketing departments are usually made up of highly creative people. They want to out-do their last campaign with something flashier. They want sexy rather than solid. Sexy wins advertising industry awards. But for us salespeople, we'd rather have solid creative sales strategies that work.'
So while many marketing and advertising executives are seeking the instant gratification of highly creative, flashy campaigns, salespeople are looking for substantive strategies that sell.
There is an old saying that goes: sell the sizzle, not the steak. Based on our research regarding what makes people buy, we must disagree with this saying ' or at least clarify the definitions of 'sizzle' and 'steak.'
For our purposes here, think of the 'sizzle' as the sexy features of your product/service and the 'steak' as the solid benefits. If you are selling features, you are probably going to end up dead in the water. What you must do is sell benefits that are relevant to the prospect sitting across the table from you. You can find out what benefits are relevant by eliciting their fears and hopes through the FEAR Selling Values Elicitation Process.
ANGER: Losing Sales Because of the Blame Game
Anger often rears its ugly head when reality does not meet one's expectations.
Many salespeople, especially early in their careers, are discouraged by:
' the amount of work it takes to succeed in sales;
' the amount of rejection that one must endure; and
' the many factors that are outside of one's control as a salesperson.
Although there are many factors that a salesperson cannot control, one very powerful factor that they have total control over is their attitude. Combat the damaging effects of the Deadly Sin of Anger by keeping a realistic yet positive attitude.
GREED: Putting Your Own Needs Before Those of Your Prospect
Greed drives salespeople to:
' rush the prospect to buy instead of taking the time to build rapport and create trust first;
' sell products/services that do not solve their prospects' and customers' problems; and,
' at best, make one sale but lose potential future sales by ruining their reputation with the customer.
To avoid Greed, you must not only become a true trusted advisor to your clients but also ' and perhaps more importantly ' understand how to create the perception that you are their trusted advisor.
ENVY: Blindly Following the Masses Instead of Leading Through Customer-Centric Differentiation
The reason why most sales training programs fail is that they are focused on tactical tools rather than strategic frameworks. Tactics are essential; however, typically, where most sales courses, books and tapes fall short is in tying their tactics together into an overall flexible strategy.
With FEAR Selling, we focus on providing you with a map of the territory, an understanding of the basics of human motivation, and the tools for you to adapt your understanding of motivation to any given situation.
We cannot tell you exactly what notes to play, but we can give you the sheet music that you can interpret and play based on what sounds right for you given your own unique style and what sounds right for your buyer, given any situation that confronts you. Differentiate yourself by focusing on the specific needs of your customers.
For more free information on the 7 Deadly Sins of Selling, check out http://www.7SellingSins. com or http://www. FEARSelling. com.
About the Author
Paul Borgese, President, The FEAR Marketing Group, http://www. FEARSelling. com, paul@FEARMarketing. com, phone number 201.533.9282.
As the South by Southwest Festival (SXSW) gets larger every year, it-s easy for a small business attendee to get lost in the crowd and feel overwhelmed. But with a little work, it-s possible to meet the right people, make the right connections, and enter into profitable partnerships.
Forget the film premieres and live concerts. Startups and entrepreneurs have taken center stage at the South by Southwest (SXSW) extravaganza in Austin, which runs March 11-20. Twitter got its buzz going here in 2007, Foursquare did the same in 2009. What will be voted the next hot startup this year?
If you’re thinking of buying a house, the real estate market for buyers has never been better. But if you-re a small business owner and need a mortgage, you could be shut out: Since the subprime crisis in 2008, lenders have gotten tough about making home loans to applicants without employer W-2 forms. If you’re self-employed or own your own company, you could find it next to impossible to get a loan approved. Here are six ways to increase your chances and beat the odds.
Since the economy dipped into recession, talk of -tightening the belt- has swept America. We evaluated aggregate data from small businesses using QuickBooks Online via Intuit Trends to get a snapshot of how small businesses have been spending since the recession hit, and it should come as no surprise that small businesses across the board have cut back expenses since the nation hit hard times. Here-s a look at the details. Click the infographic for an enlarged view.
Did you know that some 93 percent of U. S. consumers turn to the Internet to find local businesses? I know I-m definitely one of them. So what does that mean for you as a small business owner? For one thing, it means that you better make sure that you not only have a website, but that customers can easily find you online.
Pets are family to lots of Americans, so it-s no surprise that U. S. households spend $41 billion annually on their pets. Small businesses constitute a significant share of the pet industry with almost one-third of pet stores being sole proprietorships. In this infographic, we break down the business of all things animal, looking at how it-s changed in recent years, which segments are the real moneymakers, and more. Click the infographic for an enlarged view.
Not all business plans are created equal. In fact, many are just plain boring. That-s why Jennifer Lee, a successful entrepreneur and right-brain thinker decided to explore the idea of creating a visual business plan for herself. With scissors and glue stick in hand and a static Word document that she had created but hadn-t looked at in more than 18 months, she got busy cutting and pasting ideas about her business into a blank journal.
Do you start every day at your cafe by blasting your favorite Beatles tunes? Does your bowling alley host a weekly karaoke night? Do you play your favorite jazz albums over the phone when you put your customers on hold?
Many small companies want to reward their loyal employees by giving them a generous piece of the corporate pie: Ownership in the business.
Small business growth may have been nothing to write home about for the month of February, but at least the numbers are in positive territory. That-s according to the Intuit Small Business Employment Index, which places last month-s small business growth at.3% with roughly 50,000 new jobs created nationwide. But the Index also notes that while employment and hours climbed for the month, wages remained unchanged.
So many variables play into determining where to set up shop for a small business, and how favorable local government is to business surely warrants consideration.
Maddie Bradshaw came up with the idea for Snap Caps and M3 Girl Designs when she was 10 years old. Now 15, Maddie teamed up with her mom and 11-year-old sister Margot to turn her idea for cute, colorful bottle cap necklaces into a growing business that sells 50,000 units a month. She also wrote and illustrated a how-to book for young entrepreneurs called You Can Start a Business, Too!
The mobile food trailer, food truck, and food cart are the new wave of Austin eateries, and they-re taking off like gangbusters, accounting for many of the official startups in the Texas capital. According to Tony Yamanaka, who writes the Food Trailers Austin blog, the small town of Austin had a whopping 1,300 mobile food vendors as of September 2010, and it-s projected to have 2,000 by the end of this year.
Never mind if they can sing: Is there an Employee Idol in your midst? How well do you know your employees – perhaps you have a master chef, a hidden Picasso, or the next Ansel Adams? Or maybe you have the musical talent to put together your own office band?!
Employers in California are facing a significant adjustment to how and when they report their payroll taxes. The state recently announced that businesses must file returns quarterly instead of annually, as was the case through 2010. They-ll do so beginning with the April deadline using two new forms. We spoke with Lorraine Bodden, a state and local tax expert who is director of employment tax at McGladrey, to get a better sense of the change-s impact on California small businesses.
As the small businesses and residents of Austin, Texas gear up for the crowds brought in by the upcoming South By Southwest (SXSW) festival, the chance to make overnight accommodations has already rolled on down the highway like a tumbleweed in the breeze.
You’re ready to scale your company, but don’t want to assume the risk of a bank loan, or you know you won-t be able to get the credit you need that way. Could venture capital be the way to go?
Solar energy is great. Sunlight is free, plentiful and clean. The problem is the cost of solar panels. It costs between $25,000 and $35,000 to install a solar photovoltaic system on the average house. This upfront cost is simply too high for most homeowners.
The U. S. Small Business Administration has called out more than a dozen cities nationwide for launching initiatives that encourage sustainable business practices by providing resources, opportunities, and financial incentives. Last week’s post looked at some of the programs available in Denver and green cities east of the Rockies. This week, let’s take a look at what their West Coast counterparts have to offer.
Last year, the NFL was responsible for generating a staggering $9 billion in revenue - a stellar fiscal performance for a league that capped its memorable season with Super Bowl XLV becoming the most-watched television event in human history. The NFL-s unprecedented success, naturally, also delivered a potent boon to American small businesses capable of piggybacking on the league-s surging popularity.
Have you ever watched Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous and wondered what you could do differently to make your place stand out? Are you sick of seeing goldfish in a bowl on your kitchen sink and want to upgrade? Now is your chance with Jellyfish Art.
By Jon Wuebben, Professional Website Copywriter
Wednesday, May 25, 2005; 11:00am EST
Let's face it ' a lot of web pages and web sites out there could use a little improvement in the copywriting department!
From boring prose to bad sentence structure, from poor logic to inadequate copy optimization, I've seen it all. And this is what your customers are reading as they jump on to your site! If they have to sludge through bad writing, they will get a negative feeling about your product or service. Is this the impression that you want them to have? Definitely not.
The bottom line is that bad copy means fewer sales. That's how important it is. Don't discount it. And one other point - an impressive site design can never rescue poor copy.
So what's the process that a copywriter goes through when they are re-writing a site? Good question. There are lots of different methods and approaches, but here's what I look at when I first set my eyes on those broken letters and words:
1. The Copy Itself - What's written?
2. The Copy and how it relates to the design - How does it look on the page?
3. Search Engine Friendly ' Is the copy optimized?
The Copy Itself ' What's Written?
The first thing that I look at when I'm analyzing a page of copy is the copy itself. In this day and age, there really are two fundamental things that most people do when they are reading copy on a web site: First, they 'scan' read ' they don't read every word. And second, it's better comprehended when the copy is written the way people speak. Here are the other things to look for when you're analyzing the copy:
* Are bullets and lists utilized? The copy can't be in standard block paragraphs like you see in books and magazines. Remember, you're competing for their time. If they don't get the info they need fast, they'll jump to the next web site.
* Is there too much copy on the page? If you have more than 450 words per page, you have too much. How many times have you seen the never-ending Home Page as you scroll forever to find where it ends? This technique only works for those cheesy direct sales letters you see on certain sites. And they only work sometimes.
* Does the copy grab you? Is it interesting and informative? Does it address your needs? And does the copy have a rhythm to it? It should.
* Is there variety in the writing? Are all the sentences long with multiple adjectives and adverbs? The goal is to combine short sentences with a few long ones. The trick is to make the copy flow. Using fragments is not a bad thing. Quite the contrary actually. The occasional fragment or sentence that starts with 'But' or 'And' can re-capture reader interest and keep it lively. Try it out. You'll like it. And your customers will too! (See how effective it is?)
* Are Headings and Sub headings utilized? If not, get them in there fast. You gotta have them there to break up the page into digestible parts. It also helps the eye focus. There are a ton of sites out there that have absolutely NO headings or sub headings. That's a bad thing.
* Are you using AIDA? Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. I'm sure you've heard it before: Grab the reader's attention, build interest, and create a desire so they will take action. Are you closing the deal with your customer? This is the ultimate goal of any copy. Make the reader do something. Fill out a survey, submit a request, sign up for a service, or buy the product. Whatever it is, you must have a call to action in the copy.
The Copy and How it Relates to the Design - How Does it look on the page?
What good would the copy be if it was placed on the page in long lines and block paragraphs?
Not too good.
Recently, I was working on a Home Page re-write for a financial services company who was having a conversion problem. They had no issue getting people to the site. They just couldn't make them buy once they got there.
After taking a look at their site, I was struck with one startling reaction ' the copy was placed on the page like it was a college essay with no variation or eye catching design elements integrated. Clearly, it was a web site template and no customization was used at all.
Their competitors Home Pages were very different. They all employed easy to read charts, testimonials, and other design elements. And my client had none of these. Obviously, something had to change, or his conversion rate would continue to suffer. Here are some of the things you want to look for when you consider the copy and how it relates to the design:
* Is there contrast in the type of fonts, the size of fonts, and the colors that are used? Some of the most eye-catching web sites use lots of contrasting fonts, with various sizes, and complimentary colors. This can only help the copy, as it wraps it up in a great looking package and truly brings it to life. Here are three examples of great copy wrapped up in brilliant design:
http://www. omniture. com/s2/index. html
http://www. zephoria. com/
* Is the copy broken up into readable/scanable sections? 'or is it simply placed on the page haphazardly without regard for the needs of your customer? Like my example above, you need to ensure the web page can be scanned in 30 seconds or less. Remember, we're dealing with short attention spans.
* Are the areas that you want your customer's attention drawn to clearly visible? If you're using a 'Learn More', 'Buy Now' or other clickable button, is it obvious? Make sure it stands out on the page and can't be mistaken for something else.
* Is the design simple and easy to navigate or is it cluttered? Some of the very best web sites are really very simple in appearance, even if they do have lots of content. Don't 'drown' your copy in a complex design structure or have a million different web pages on your menu. White space is important. Let the copy breathe!
Search Engine Friendly ' Is the Copy Optimized?
Of course, the grand puba of them all ' Is the copy optimized? Not the site itself (Although that is critically important), but the copy. And is it optimized the right way? We've all seen those web sites that use a keyword phrase 59 times on one page. Who exactly do they think is going to read that garbage? Exactly. No one.
And Search Engine Optimization is always a moving target. It's a complex process that must be constantly fine tuned and tweaked to keep up with the Search Engine's changes and your competitor's moves. Because you can bet that you have a few who are jockeying for that first page placement for the perfect keyword phrase. When it comes to optimizing your web site copy, here is what you need to look for:
* Above all else, keep this in mind: Copywriting for the web is a balancing act. You want to ensure you have used your keyword phrases enough times without compromising the readability of the page. If you're looking for a quick rule regarding keyword density, think 5%. More often than not, staying close to this number will get you where you need to be.
* Do your Keyword Research! Whether you use Overture (now Yahoo) or Word Tracker, be sure you take a look at the keywords people are using or the keywords you think they should be using to find you. Then jump over to the competitors web sites and view their 'Source Code'. (Go to their home page, right click, and select View Source) When you do this, you'll see their Meta Tags with the keywords they are using. These may or may not be the right ones to use. But, you should definitely take a look to see what they are using. The next step is to see where they are ranking for those keywords. Try to find them on Google or Yahoo. That will give you a good benchmark.
* Focus your Keyword Phrases. Don't use more than three keyword phrases per page. Actually, it would be better if you used one or two. And don't include every keyword phrase on every page. Break it up, and use your Services page to get specific.
* Do your Linking Research! The next step is to compare your links with what your competitors have. Here's a site to bookmark immediately: http://www. linkpopularity. com. Along with Word Tracker or Overture, it will become your new best friend. Remember, that inbound links are a very important component of the overall SEO effort. With Google, it's extremely important. One thing to know is that optimizing the copy alone won't get you the rankings you want. You have to approach the SEO copy effort holistically. And if a copywriter says they can get you higher rankings by just working on the copy alone, you may want to take your business elsewhere. It's rarely that easy. With linkpopularity. com, you simply type in your url into the link analyzer, and take a look at the results. Then do it for your competitors. Presto! You have just unlocked a great resource.
* Use Keyword Phrases in Links, Headings, and Sub headings. These are all places that you must use keyword phrases in to get higher rankings. What's that you say? No Headings and Subheadings on your web page? That's a good place to start if you're doing a copy re-write (or even starting from scratch) Also, be sure you definitely link your pages together with text links. This helps the search engines know your pages are related.
* Use Go Rank's Keyword Density Analyzer. Jump on to http://www. gorank. com/ as soon as you get the chance. They have a number of different SEO tools you can utilize for your SEO copy project. Along with Overture and Link Popularity, I use it on every client I work with. The best tool is the Keyword Density Analyzer. Use it and be amazed at what it tells you.
So there you have it! Your Website Copy makeover lesson is concluded. Hopefully, there were a few tricks or tips that you may not have known about. You'll find that if you follow the advice in this article, you will have a better looking, and an easier read site. And eventually, you'll get higher rankings for your selected keyword phrases.
About the Author
Jon Wuebben is a professional Website Copywriter, SEO Copywriter and Advertising Copywriter with 10 years experience in B2B & B2C copywriting and marketing. He can be reached at (909) 437-7015, or online at http://www. CustomCopywriting. com for any copywriting project you may have or if you would like more articles or a complimentary Website Copy analysis.
Need a custom newsletter or e-zine article written? Call Jon Today at (909) 437-7015 or email jon@customcopywriting. com for a professional Website Copywriter, SEO Copywriter, or Advertising Copywriter.
The number one reason people pick one product over another — or even pick up a product in the first place — is due to recommendations from people they know. In other words, through word of mouth.
When Scott Cook co-founded Intuit in 1983, it took a team of people, from software engineers to design the products and distribution specialists to place the software in retail stores.
On February 28, Intuit will hold an Intuit Twitter Town Hall to provide a sneak peek at the February Intuit Small Business Employment Index, in advance of the announcement on March 1. The live Town Hall discussion on Twitter brings together two key sources that will provide insight into the health of our overall economy through the Index’s small business employment data: Renowned economist Susan Woodward and Vice President of Intuit Employee Management Solutions Cameron Schmidt will provide expert analysis on the latest small business employment trends and their impact on small businesses. The Twitter Town Hall will then open the discussion up for a question and answer session with media (you can think of it as a mini press conference that takes place on Twitter).
Many small businesses are beginning to notice the marketing power of search engine optimization (SEO). At the same time, however, there are certain SEO practices that can damage a business that relies on or is attempting to establish a credible online presence.
Scott Cook, the founder of Intuit, started the Follow Me Home practice early in the company-s history. Basically, he would hang out at the local Staples store, wait for someone to buy Quicken, and then ask to follow the customer home to watch them install and use the product. This was one of the keys to Cook-s success as a budding entrepreneur, because it allowed him to build a product that truly made a difference in people-s financial lives.
Investors typically use a fairly uncomplicated criterion to evaluate their chosen investments. If, for example, an investment increases in value over time, it was sound. If, on the other hand, its value falls, the investment in question may have been ill-advised and is now worth purging.
In anticipation of South by Southwest, we caught up with Megan Summerville of Austin’s Sew Sister Lingerie. Summerville received a $30,000 “Love a Local Business” grant from Intuit last summer, enabling her to team up with several local designers and open Austin’s first fashion co-op. -Designer vignettes- are displayed in each room of the nearly 2,000-square foot Victorian building.
The city of Cleveland last fall enacted a ground-breaking “buy local and sustainable law” that gives sustainable small businesses an advantage when bidding on city contracts. The legislation, part of a larger effort to lead the emerging green economy, grants certified companies the same benefits as minority - and women-owned enterprises (which receive extra credit for becoming sustainable). The U. S. Small Business Administration touts that more than a dozen other cities nationwide have launched initiatives to encourage green business practices by providing resources, opportunities, and incentive programs. This week, we’ll take a look at green cities in which it pays to be a sustainable small business east of the Rockies; next week, we’ll check out their West Coast counterparts.
If I seem a little frazzled as I write this, it-s because it-s been a busy couple weeks. My number two guy has decided to leave, and that-s left me scrambling to fill the void.
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