Category Archives: Internet Marketing

Business blogging: It’s a marathon, not a 100M dash

Meet Up logo

I had an opportunity Tuesday evening to meet a group of Twin Cities bloggers at a Biz Bloggers Meetup, organized by blogger Caroline Melberg.  It was chance to meet other bloggers from around the Twin Cities.  Some were newbies, some relatively new to blogging, and some very experienced.  The purpose – to share ideas and topics about blogging.  15 heads are better than one…an exchange of blogging ideas is always great.

Here are a couple of things I learned from my fellow bloggers between bites of my pizza

One discussion I had with blogger Aaron Weiche from Five Technology was about what Weiche called the “tipping point” in any blog.   This tipping point is the moment when a blog “catches hold” of Google search engines, gains a respectable amount of subscribers, and starts to get the attention of the relevent blogging community.  When this happens, your blog can become a marketing tactic in your marketing plan.

I liken blogging to a race

However, I’d call this race a marathon, and not a 100M dash.  In other words, if you’re looking for a quick fix or silver bullet to boost your website traffic, blogging isn’t the ticket. Why?  Because business blogging takes time to reach that aforementioned tipping point…including lots and lots of content focussed on your topic.  Time must be invested in your blog, if you’re going to make it a serious marketing tool for your business.  That’s just the way it is.

Relevance is one of the keys

Another thing that I learned, according to Melberg, it that your business blog must always be relevent to the audience you’re writing for.  This is important.  Keyword relevance helps a blog get that Google Juice we’re all seeking.  Blog topics must stay focussed.  Melberg should know…she consults about blogging to quite a number of clients.

I enjoyed the meeting.  If you’re in the Twin Cities area, are blogging, or even just thinking about it, join the group and see what it’s all about.  The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 28th in Plymouth.

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Chris Mitchell is the President and Founder of 25-8 Marketing, Inc, a full service advertising agency in Elk River, Minnesota. He plans and implements marketing programs for small to medium-sized businesses. Mitchell is a consultant, speaker and author and has worked with hundreds of companies. He has over 20 years of real-world advertising experience, and understands the marketing challenges of the small business owner.

Got Google Juice? The good, the bad, and the ugly factors.

google juice

Every business website needs traffic.

You need Google Juice. Why? Because Google is king, representing 70% of all traffic driven to your website.

It is theorized that there are probably more than 200 factors that account for how a website is ranked by Google. Search engine optimization experts don’t have the answer yet. However, here is a list of the good – and the bad – factors that will affect your Google Juice:

Ten Good Google Juice Factors

  • Keyword in URL (resource for key word search: Google Ad Words)
  • Keyword in domain name
  • Keyword in title tag
  • Keyword density in body text
  • Keyword in H1, H2, and H3
  • Links to internal pages
  • Internal Link validity (resource for checking this: free link checker)
  • Freshness of pages
  • Page Rank
  • Quantity and quality of Backlinks

Seven Bad Google Juice Factors

  • Server is often inaccessible
  • Text presented in graphics only form
  • Link farms
  • Keyword stuffing
  • Traffic buying
  • Link buying
  • No links to you (Here’s what I use: Backlink checker)

This is not meant to be an exhaustive list. But as a business owner you should start here if you want to get a little more Google Juice.

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Chris Mitchell is the President and Founder of 25-8 Marketing, Inc, a full service advertising agency in Elk River, Minnesota. He plans and implements marketing programs for small to medium-sized businesses. Mitchell is a consultant, speaker and author and has worked with hundreds of companies. He has over 20 years of real-world advertising experience, and understands the marketing challenges of the small business owner.

website: http://www.258marketing.com
email: chris@258marketing.com

Yellow Page Advertising: 4 Need-to-knows

 yellow page bad ad

Yellow page advertising representatives are the best trained advertising salespeople in media sales

It’s a fact.  They are good.  They are persistent.  They motivate by fear.  But think about these four things the next time your yellow pages ad is up for renewal:

Most people are right-handed. They hold the phone book in their right hand, and use their left hand thumb to flip through from back to front. So what’s so great about having the biggest ad in the front — when most people see the smaller ones in the back of the section first?

According to the Yellow Page industry, Americans look in the Yellow pages about 3.6 billion times per year. Sound like a lot? That’s only about 14 times a year a person.

Beneficial Finance always advertised, “If you’re within the sound of my voice, there’s a Beneficial office near you. Look for us in the White Pages.” Smart move — a listing in the White Pages is free — and consumers choose among competing locations instead of competing companies.

Yellow Pages advertising is sold as “bigger ads are better” or “color is better.” The best marketing strategy is for people to never have to go to the Yellow Pages.

Which book should I choose?

I get asked this all the time.  Every yellow pages representative will throw numbers and statistics at you.  As a business owner, it’s a tough decision.  My advice:  If you want to cut back on your yellow page advertising, there are two primary books you need to be in.

The most important YP to advertise in…is your primary (biggest) circulation directory for the area.  In my area (Minneapolis)…it happens to be Qwest/Dex for Minneapolis.  70% of residents use that.  Your local utility directory is the second most important.  So…put 70% of your budget in the primary, and the balance in the utility directory, and call it a day.   The rest of ’em are fighting for market share…and readers.

PS.  Make a three to five year plan to scale back on YP.  Divert YP resources (budget) to online.  It’s headed that way.

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Chris Mitchell is the President and Founder of 25-8 Marketing, Inc, a full service advertising agency in Elk River, Minnesota. He plans and implements marketing programs for small to medium-sized businesses. Mitchell is a consultant, speaker and author and has worked with hundreds of companies. He has over 20 years of real-world advertising experience, and understands the marketing challenges of the small business owner.

website: http://www.258marketing.com
email: chris@258marketing.com

No low-hanging fruit in 2008: Survival marketing tips

low hanging fruit

If you’re a business owner or salesperson, the days of easy sales are over.

From WiseGeek.com: A fruit-bearing tree often contains some branches low enough for animals and humans to reach without much effort. The fruit contained on these lower branches may be not be as ripe or attractive as the fruit on higher limbs, but it is usually more abundant and easier to harvest. From this we get the popular expression “low hanging fruit”, which generally means selecting the easiest targets with the least amount of effort.

Low-hanging fruit. Ready to buy. Easy money. Not in 2008. News media continues to pummel us with messages that we are in tough economic times. Duh! And as a business person, you sense that money is tight. Consumers and businesses are watching their budgets. What are you going to do to survive?

Three survival marketing tips to carry you forward

1) Stop dwelling in 2004. A lot has happened since then, and it’s long gone. You need to commit to a new mentality. Don’t do the same advertising and marketing you did in 2004, because everything has changed. Accept that. You’ll need to market differently in 2008.

Newspaper circulation is down. Reevaluate your print advertising. Television is fragmented. Reevaluate your broadcast advertising. Yellow pages readership is declining. Reconsider your spending here. People are spending more time in front of their computers. Reconsider your internet marketing presence. People are time-crunched. Consumers are given more choices. What was good enough marketing to get you where you are…is not good enough to carry you forward.

2) Find a specialty. In marketing, it’s called a niche. In advertising, it’s called your Unique Selling Position. It’s the thing(s) that makes you different. Why are you special? If you are a real estate agent, your niche is not first-time home buyers. Go deeper than that. Where do they live now? Where do they want to move to? Married or single? Kids? FICO score? Be specific.

If you’re a company that thinks expanding product or service lines is the easy ticket to increased sales, you need to rethink that proposition. Be better at fewer things. We are entering an era of specialization. We can thank the internet and keywords for that.

3) Increase your networking skills. Commit time in 2008 to broaden your business network. Ask business people to meet and discuss how you can help to increase each other’s business. Join a BNI chapter if you haven’t already. My membership to Star of the North BNI was responsible for over 40% of my new business development in 2007. BNI is the world’s largest referral and networking organization. Find a chapter near you.

With networking, whether it’s the local builders association, a BNI chapter, or the local chamber of commerce, you get out of your membership what you give. Don’t expect to sign up and reap rewards. It doesn’t work that way. A spot on the roster is worthless…until you get out, meet people, and exchange business.

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Chris Mitchell is the President and Founder of 25-8 Marketing, Inc, a full service advertising agency that plans and implements marketing programs for small to medium-sized businesses. He is a consultant, speaker and author and has worked with hundreds of companies. He has over 20 years of real-world advertising experience, and understands the marketing challenges of the small business owner.

website: http://www.258marketing.com
email: chris@258marketing.com

What to look for in a web development company

web development company

Seems like everybody is doing web design.

Fact: Since the mid-1990s, web development has been one of the fastest growing industries in the world. In 1995 there were fewer than 1,000 web development companies in the United States alone, but by 2005 there were over 30,000 such companies.

The web development industry is expected to grow over 20% by 2010.

So you’re a small business owner, it’s 2008, and you know you need a website. And you have lots of choices. There are four criteria to look for when you want to hire a web development company.

1. Competency. Can the web development company do what they say they can do? Can they do what you want them to do? Ask to see examples of their work. Their portfolio will speak volumes about their competency.

2. Cost. How much will this project cost? Someone new might charge $500-$800 for a basic site. But will you be happy with that? Most web development companies with experience will charge $3000-$4000 for a site. If the site is complicated…costs go up from there. The days of the $20,000 websites are pretty much gone for the small business owner. If you have someone quoting you that price, shop around.

3. Time Frame. When you do want your website finished? Small developers have limited staff, and limited time. Ask for a deadline.

4. Compatability. “I think the most important thing to look for in web development company, is compatibility. Can I work with this individual or company? The Internet is the largest media resource around and should be taken very seriously,” says Cody Anderson from Jive Media. “So making sure the business is credible and that you are compatible are the most important things to look for in a web development company.”

Make sure you discuss all these issues when evaluating a web development company, and it will leave you more confident of your hiring choice.

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Chris Mitchell is the President and Founder of 25-8 Marketing, Inc, a full service advertising agency that plans and implements marketing programs for small to medium-sized businesses. He is a consultant, speaker and author and has worked with hundreds of companies. He has over 20 years of real-world advertising experience, and understands the marketing challenges of the small business owner.

website: http://www.258marketing.com
email: chris@258marketing.com

Website BC: What to do Before Construction starts on your website – A 9-point checklist

website checklist

Use this checklist before starting your website

A lot of time and effort can be saved if you organize yourself before putting together a business website. Here’s a handy checklist of the things you need to gather before construction begins:

  1. Company logo. If you have a high resolution logo (300 dpi), that’s perfect. Most logos will be converted to gifs around 100KB or less, however, higher resolution is better to start.
  2. Pictures. Start a file on your computer with pictures you are going to use on your website. If you don’t have pictures, or are limited, there are several sites where you can buy stock photos for a few bucks each. I use most www.istockphoto.com most often for projects. Good selection for under 5-bucks per image. Another one I frequent is www.dreamstime.com and find plenty of high resolution images for under 5-bucks each.
  3. Keywords. This is important. Good web SEO is based upon keywords being used in your html, content, and alt tags. So make a list of 20 keywords that you want your potential customer to be able to search by to find you. This aids the designer, content writer in the early phases of the web project.
  4. Your goals. What is the purpose of your internet site? Write this down. Maybe it’s to secure leads. Maybe it’s to save money on printing. Maybe it’s to interact with the customer. Maybe it’s to position you as an industry expert. When you have a clear picture of what you want to accomplish, a web designer and writer can better help you with the construction of your website.
  5. Your target market. Who are your customers? Know the age, location, income, and other demographic and phsychographic characteristics of your target audience.
  6. Content. You need to have a plan for how many pages your website will be. Your front page directs viewers to inside pages. What will those inside pages contain? You don’t need to write the content yet, but it will really help to get a site map developed for your website if you know what you want the viewer to learn about your business.
  7. How often will you update the site? If you want to update the site (and I strongly recommend you do update regularly)…how will you do it? Do you want to hire someone for this, or can you do it yourself? Which areas will you update? Can you have a Latest News section, or a blog, or a newsletter? Another important reason for updates is that the Google bots look for new content. It will help your page ranking and searches to have updates.
  8. Deadline. Do you have a season or special event that you need to have this done by?
  9. Budget. I get asked this all the time. You have three options.
  • Cheap: self publish it, or use a template, or get someone “hungry” to do it for you for under $1000.
  • Average: Prepare to spend $3500-$4000 and you can get a very nice website. Good companies with good reputations are in this price range.
  • Above Average: In my opinion, anything over $5000 is considered more than the norm. I know, it’s done all the time, and website development of 10K-25K is not uncommon. With those projects, there are special features, interactivity, and other bells and whistles that are jacking up the cost. Sometimes it’s worth it…you be the judge.

Having these nine items nailed down will help your web developer, and these can all be done prior to the first meeting.

    -30-Chris Mitchell is the President and Founder of 25-8 Marketing, Inc, a full service advertising agency that plans and implements marketing programs for small to medium-sized businesses. He is a consultant, speaker and author and has worked with hundreds of companies. He has over 20 years of real-world advertising experience, and understands the marketing challenges of the small business owner.

    website: http://www.258marketing.com
    email: chris@258marketing.com

    Website BC: What to do Before Construction begins on your website

    Before website construction begins – the planning starts: Part I

    website construction internet marketing

    I spoke with two business owners this week about building new websites. Where do we start?  Both know that they need a website, and have plans to design one for 2008. I explained that there is a fair amount of pre-planning involved in website design BEFORE construction begins.

    A good pre-plan will not only speed up the website building process, but will also focus the business owner on the important elements of a business website.

    So, where do you start? I asked Cordelia Blake, owner of Cordelia Blake Web Design, for some input. “Before contacting a web designer, it is important to think about what you want your website to accomplish and what your competitors websites are like,” said Blake. “People frequently think about how many “pages” are in a site – to me that is not really relevant. You really want to think about functionality-do you want people to buy products or services from the site directly, read it to verify a company’s legitimacy or be an information resource? How does it fit in with your marketing plan and what do you want it to do for your business? These things will help you choose the right site and designer for you.”

    “Also, the more actual content for the site that you develop ahead of time will shorten the amount of time needed to get your site up and running,” Blake continued. “I’ve also put together a list of things to keep in mind to help you choose the right designer/developer for you.” This information is posted in Blake’s blog.

    If you’re still struggling about where to start, Google a couple of words in your industry, and check out their websites. Note your likes and dislikes, and write down the URLs. This will be helpful in showing your web designer your preferences.

    NEXT: What to do Before Construction begins on your website – Part II – A checklist

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    Chris Mitchell is the President and Founder of 25-8 Marketing, Inc, a full service advertising agency that plans and implements marketing programs for small to medium-sized businesses. He is a consultant, speaker and author and has worked with hundreds of companies. He has over 20 years of real-world advertising experience, and understands the marketing challenges of the small business owner.

    website: http://www.258marketing.com
    email: chris@258marketing.com