Posted by enetwal on Jan 5, 2009
In my last posting I discussed how the crowd at a trade show was similar to the traffic one might expect to see on the internet. While some are there with a specific intention to buy, many are there for any number of other reasons. What I may not have stressed well enough, was that as a business, you want your web page to appeal to as broad a section of that crowd as possible.
Too many web sites are either just informational or just oriented to the active buyer. We will discuss other options as we go, but first we will discuss the trade show exhibitor’s booth.
In a past career, I was VP of a small consulting firm. We did a couple trade shows for our niche and were blown away at the high cost of convention booth set ups, not to mention the price of floor space. We quickly learned that the booth setup and appearance were a big deal, and critical to being effective in the trade show arena. In our case we borrowed a set up from a firm we did business with rather than invest in our own gear, but we did learn a lot from that experience.
The booth at a trade show is similar to the first page of your web page. It is what the passerby sees first. The appearance and configuration of a trade show booth makes a difference. The passing traffic will either be attracted to, or repelled by first impressions.
For some purposes, the front of a booth may be a table that prevents people from entering the booth area. Others may have an open front to invite people in. Those doing direct sales from the booth may use the closed both format to conduct sales and provide inventory control.
In our case we wanted to entice people into our booth so we could engage them in conversation, learn about their circumstances and determine if we might be of service to them.
We had a video we had produced streaming a commentary on a monitor up front on a table to catch people’s attention.
We also had a nice brochure we passed out to anyone who would take it.
Posted by enetwal on Jan 2, 2009
2009 is here, and the reality of a bad economy sits heavily on most businesses on and off line.
For many of us, it’s time to regroup and either come up with new strategies or wither on the vine. While I am optimistic that Barack Obama will lead the nation forward in a positive direction and infuse the economy with significant stimulus, it won’t happen overnight.
As business people, we recognize that we can’t count on help from government, although we may welcome it. As small business people, we know we arn’t in line for the big bailouts the corporate giants get. Instead we need to do what we do best, be quick of foot. We need to make changes and we need to do them now.
I don’t have all the answers, heck, I don’t have half the questions, but I do have a few.
When times are good, we tend as business people to go with the flow. Now that they aren’t so good we need to look closely at things we shrugged off in the past.
This past week I did a study of all the businesses in one zip code, 55417 where I live.
Mine is a residential area with relatively few businesses, so my conclusions may not be reflective of the entire country by any means. That said, I suspect my underlying conclusions hold fairly true.
Less than half of the businesses had their own web pages. When doing a Google search many of these showed up in various directory sites, and many others were probably too small or part time to even do that. While these companies could thus be found online, they were not effectively competing for business. When times are good, maybe they could get by just being there. If they are to survive they are going to have to compete or they will loose out to those who do. For many, that means they need to take the plunge and finally put up their own web page. But lets hope they do it right.
Of those that had web pages, virtually none had effective lead capture capabilities. Maybe that’s why so many others don’t have web sites. They have learned that having a web site doesn’t really do that much. That’s because of those I looked at, almost none of the web sites were anything more than a billboard on a dusty dead end road on the internet. Some were very attractive, but few were business getters.
The purpose of a web site is to get new customers.
Most web sites are brochures. In my zip code I even found one web site development company who advertised their service as creating web brochures. This is not what you want to do if you are in business. You want your web site to be a prospect gathering machine, not a brochure.
I could probably increase the businesses for those with web sites annual sales by 10-30% in less than a month or so, just by setting up a lead capture system coupled with an effective follow up system.
For those without web sites, I’m inclined at the moment to refer them to http://www.davidgoesonline.com There at least they would get a top ranking web site and a video to capture their viewers attention. A hard to beat offer at less than $800.
But the real way to improve ones business isn’t just by capturing new customers, as important as that is. It’s by getting more business from your existing customers. And that is where I intend to focus my offline business consulting.
And that’s one of the key topics I intend to focus this blog on this year.
Posted by enetwal on Dec 27, 2008
Normally, the phrase is alpha and omega, but as we approach the end of a year, I prefer to reflect on the end and then the beginning.
This has been a momentous year, for the nation, world and for me. For me it has been a transitional year, from one where my focus was on my collectibles business, and the journey I have taken to migrate out of into a new internet venture.
The beginning of the year was taken up with the Marty Estate, by far the nicest accumulation of philatelic material I have had the privilege of handling in my almost 30 years as a part to full time dealer. Toward mid year, I focused on the home staging industry. I designed and conducted a significant survey of home staging professionals from around the US and Canada.
It was, if I may say so myself, a well done survey that focused on the individual needs of home stagers as small business people. I created a significant report that clearly set out the circumstances and obstacles faced by home stagers. My hope was that I would be able to follow up and create some products to assist them as a group. I did conduct one teleseminar on the need for opt in forms on their web pages, which was well received by the handful of people who caught it. I was less successful in selling my report on the survey results.
During the year, I discovered Bob the Teacher. I took about a half dozen of his online courses, and credit him with my breaking through on many of the critical skills essential to internet marketing. The break through course for me was his teleseminar course, but not so much for the teleseminar part, but rather a piece of it that gave me a glimpse of how to use my Cpanel. I eventually took his Cpanel course which did a lot to demystify much of the barriers that had gotten in my way previously.
By accident, I chanced into a relationship with Doug Champigny which has turned into a godsend. Doug is leading a group of marketers who are helping each other out, for free. Now we do promote Doug’s products as well as those of others in the group, which is certainly not a difficult thing to do, as they are generally low price and high quality.
As the year progressed, I have learned more about blogging, article writing, traffic exchanges, and more importantly realized that my home stagers were not alone in their individual plight. I shared it, and so to do thousands of other small business people.
We may as very small business owners know one or two things quite well, and many others pretty well, but for the most part we all have arenas where we don’t know diddly squat. What’s often a problem is that that’s where we either spend too much time, or not enough time.
If we spend too much time trying to figure things out ourselves, we are taking time away from what we are good at. If we spend too little time, it’s because we have decided to live without. Neither is optimum.
For my home stagers, it was clear that for many of them, the area they left out was marketing. Almost none of them had any form of lead capture. I suspect this is true of many people in other businesses as well. This fact was so obvious to me, I focused my first teleseminar on it. And so it seems, this earlier work I did with home stagers will become my focus for the future.
The vast majority of offline businesses do their web pages wrong. They have web pages created by their children or even by first rate web designers, but as good as many are creatively, they fall flat on a critical understanding of what the potential value of a web page is for a business.
And that is my plan for the coming year. I have decided to all but abandon my philatelic pursuits. Instead I will focus on assisting small businesses move from their static web sites into a more aggressive format that will reduce their existing advertising costs while building their customer base.
This blog, MicroBusinessSpecialist will become my flag ship for the coming adventure. I know I can help hundreds of businesses do better. I can do it cost effectively for them, and yet make a good fee for myself. This is my Alpha for the coming year.
I will succeed, because I have to. But additionally, I have a solid set of knowledge I can offer that will make a difference for my prospective customers. I learned a long time ago, that you make money by helping other people make money. I guess I was too into my hobby to not recognize that I wasn’t actually doing that there.
My plan is to focus on offline businesses, in my own area, although much of what I have to say and do can be done for businesses wherever they are located. So I will maintain an active web presence.
And while I will focus on this key function of helping businesses develop more aggressive web sites, I will continue to develop my own skills as an information marketer. Through this process, I will learn to keep up to date on new techniques. Afterall, the “how to make money on the internet” arena is probably the second most competitive arena on the internet after porn. This is where the cutting edge tools are most aggressively taught and experimented. By building my skills here, I will be all the better equiped to assist those for whom learning internet “how to” is boring, or confounding.
This is my Omega and Alpha. A transitional year is ended. A building year is ahead. If I can be of any assistance to you. Let me know. It’s going to be a blockbuster of a year.
Posted by enetwal on Nov 8, 2008
A few weeks ago I was sitting in my basement office when a not very pleasant odor caught my nose. It didn’t take long to realize that my sewer was backing up. Tree roots had penetrated my sewer line and clogged it. I needed to call a sewer service company. So I went to Google and typed in “Sewer” and “Minneapolis”. In less than a second, Google found 755,000 web pages which included 9 companies on the first page. Within a few minutes I picked one, called him, and Ron the Sewer Rat fixed the problem within 4 hours. I was elated, and Ron won a new customer for as long as I live in this house. While I looked at several of the companies listed on the first page, I quickly settled on Ron and never bothered to look beyond the first page of Google results.
Today, people use the internet to find local businesses. It’s quicker and easier than fumbling with a big fat phone book. Unlike the phone book they don’t have to guess which category a business is listed under. They don’t have to search alphabetically for your listing passing by all your competitors. Nor do they need to weed through companies on the other side of the metro area. All they need to do is put their town name and the type of business they are looking for and up pops relevant listings.
For small businesses this means several things. Even if you are in a traditional non internet business, you need to advertise online. Second, you need to be listed in every city or suburb in your market area, and third you need to be listed on the first page of the Google results, and finally, your web page needs to convert viewers to customers.
If this applies to your situation, I recommend you check out http://www.DavidGoesOnline.Com They are all but guaranteeing their customers that they can get them a top listing for their city of choice and even have a great special in which they will create a 30 second video that will knock the socks off your competitors.
Best part is that it is very reasonably priced.