Friday, March 26, 2010

6 Online Marketing Tips to More Biz By V. Summers

Read and learn. I preach these tips (and should follow them myself...) to all of my clients and it is excellent advice. But don't take my word for it.... Sharon

Ask savvy business owners today what they are doing to take their business to its next level in this current economic climate and you will soon find out it’s all about the online world. These peak performers have identified a golden opportunity to expand market share while also reducing cost through applying simple online marketing strategies. The most exciting part of this skyrocketing industry is that you can easily participate too!

Research tells us that there are more 1.5 billion–yes I said BILLION–online users today, and every three seconds someone new joins the internet community. Statistics tell us that in the next 10 years the online world will create more multimillionaires than ever in history. Will you and your business be one of them?

The funny thing is, once you know the formulas to online marketing, it all seems rather obvious. And every time you log onto your computer, whether it be to visit a website, read an e-mail or a blog, view video or tweet–you understand the online marketing strategies that you are viewing.

For one thing, you can see the mistakes other business owners are making with their online marketing that is costing them time, clients and, ultimately, MONEY.

To help you avoid making some of these costly mistakes, take a look at these six simple tips I put together for you:

KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid is the acronym, right? Well, in the online world, “A Confused Mind Will Always Decline!” For example, something simple is your business e-mail address. You need to have an e-mail address that matches your business name. No yahoo or hotmail e-mail address such as, If your business web site URL is, then your e-mail address should be something along the lines of What does your business card currently say?

Credibility. Build it, and they will come. You always want your business address, contact telephone number, fax number and e-mail address listed on every page of your website and all of your correspondence via e-mail, blog, Twitter, home page, etc. so your prospects and customers can find them easily. Don’t make them search for it. Why? Credibility. You want to build trust with your prospects and customers–to help them understand your product/service and that you are a real business. Let them know you really exist.

WIFM: What’s in it for me? Your website and online marketing efforts need to be geared toward WIFM. One of the biggest mistakes most people make with their online marketing efforts and website is that they make it all about themselves. Your site and correspondence needs to be about giving your ideal demographic of prospects and clients what they want as quickly and effectively as possible. For example, take a gander at your home page on your website today. It should have 75 percent “you” and 25 percent “we,” “I,” and “us.”

Have a professional picture. Branding yourself and your specific service and/or products is essential. Don’t scrimp on a great head shot that you believe will resonate with your ideal demographic. This head shot will be viewed multiple times in different areas on your site, e-zine, blog, video, social media networks, information products, etc. This picture is a representation of you and your business–and has the opportunity to quickly attract or turn off your online prospects and customers. If you don’t have one, make a plan to get one today.

Fonts. Use a single font on your online marketing promotions and website. Too many fonts and sizes will confuse the eye and make them difficult to read. Think of clean, clear and easily consumable when you think of your online promotions. Remember, if you make it difficult or distracting to consume your website content, e-zines, sales pages, blogs etc., you will most likely not have an impact with your online marketing efforts.

No “know, like and trust” to be found. This is a big doozy for many folks who jump online and start sending out random promotions or post a website that is really just one big, fat brochure. Old-school mistakes. In the online world, one of the secrets to success is building your “know, like and trust” factor with your prospects and clients. One of the easiest ways to do this, but least often used, is getting a little personal. Most businesses completely miss the boat on this one. It’s all business with no personal, “humanistic” note. My students have told me the first thing they read is my little personal note when they open their Insights issue each week.

As a business owner, you have surely experienced countless times that people buy from people they know, like and trust. So go ahead, get a little personal and let your prospects and clients know, like and trust you a little bit more.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

8 Quick Tips To Improve Your Website By V. Summers

As a business owner, you have an incredible opportunity to get it together when it comes to your website being a key tool to generate traffic, appeal to visitors and, ultimately, provide a powerful gateway to more clients + sales along with more revenue + profit.

So, if you aren’t generating biz from your website, here are a few tweaks you could make to enjoy more traffic and appeal much more to your audience:

1. Valuable content hidden “below the fold.” Research tells us you have seconds to capture your website visitor’s attention. If your visitors need to scroll down your home page to view valuable content about your services and/or products, you’ll most likely lose them. Similarly, if you have a call to action to subscribe to your e-newsletter or blog (which, good God, I hope you do!), place it where it will be visible without scrolling down the page.

2. Jumbled page. Some websites have too much going on; they look unprofessional and, quite frankly, like a hodgepodge of different things lumped onto one site. Others have ads that fill every nook and cranny. What can I say? Such sites are overwhelming.

Today, as small-business owners, you have the incredible opportunity like never before in history to have an online presence for little cost that competes successfully with the biggest players in your industry. Ensuring you have a website, brand and overall look that are professional and uncluttered is essential to driving big sales and big business through your website!

3. No call to action. What do you want your visitors to do when they visit your site? To subscribe? To call your business for more information or an appointment? To leave a blog comment? To buy? Your job is not to give everything you have; your job is to give your visitor enough to take the next step.

Let them know what to expect and, if your request is reasonable, they may very well comply. If you don’t ask, they may not know what to do, and they’ll leave–perhaps forever–without taking action.

4. Distracting ads. Unless you are going to rake in big bucks with pop-up ads, blinking ads, glaring banners, sexy ads, etc.–just leave them off your precious web pages. Why water down your message and brand with these type of ads that yield little ROI?
Remember the saying “KISS’–Keep It Simple, Stupid.” There’s something to it when it comes to ensuring that your website makes you money! If your ads are your content, then please disregard everything you’ve read on this blog.

5. Making it all about you. The old broken-down model of websites for us business owners is one that somewhat mirrors a print brochure and, sadly, a lot of business owners have yet to get the “WIFM” online marketing memo. Meaning, ‘What’s in it for me?’

How many “I’s” and “we’s” do you have on your website’s home page vs. “you’s”? Communicating to your visitor in a value-added direct tone that makes it all about them by emphasizing the “you’s” is a key ingredient to any successful online presence. In fact, go count the “you’s” now on your home page–there should be a ratio of at least 75 percent “you’s” vs. 25 percent” I’s” and “we’s.” Be prepared to be awakened to quick, powerful shifts you can make ASAP with your home page to begin!

6. Difficult to connect. Write for your ideal demographic only. I am not seeking to connect with everyone; I am seeking to connect with entrepreneurs who are committed to growing their sales and revenue and to being more profitable –oh, and are interested in using the internet to help support growth, too. If you visited my website and you are not an entrepreneur or at least not one looking for new marketing and business success solutions–you will not stay on the site very long.

However, if you are my target market, you will stay and most likely subscribe to our e-newsletter list–yep, our “call to action.” That’s what research shows via our analytics.

7. Spelling and grammar mistakes. There ain’t no excuse for bad spellin and grammar. However, I would be fibbing if I told you we haven’t had typos on our home page before, ‘cuz we have.

But you want to do your best to have a system to continually check for these errors on an ongoing basis. We happen to love Microsoft Word in this office and are continually running new content through the program to ensure that we address these errors. Like right now, as I write this article for you!

8. Old content. Fresh content is good for driving traffic via search engine optimization, as Google rewards you for “fresh, relevant, good quality content” and for attracting repeat visitors, along with more business. Think about it, do you really want to work with a company that has old content that looks circa 1999?

The more you see a business grow and innovate, doesn’t it attract you to want to do more business with it? If a business has content that appears the most relevant to your needs today in this current market cycle, doesn’t it also create a level of immediate trust that the business knows what it is doing with its products and/or services? That it is a true expert at what it does?

Your website is kind of like your credit score, in that it’s a moving picture, not stagnant. The more effort you put into it being great, the more business it will drive for you and fuel your overall company growth. You need to remember, as you expand your online presence, that your website will expand with you.

You will learn more about what does and does not work. What to upgrade and what to let go of. This is the beauty of the internet; it is always changing, and it is always open for business. Make a plan to implement these steps and re-review your site on an ongoing basis (i.e., every 30 to 90 days at minimum) to ensure that it upgrades with you as you grow your business.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

4 start-up mistakes you must avoid By Steve Strauss for USA TODAY

Q: Steve – I have been watching the start-up series you are part of at USA TODAY. I was wondering if there are any typical mistakes that you see start-ups make that I can avoid. I am new to this entrepreneurship thing. Thank you — Asa

A: It is never fun to make a mistake in business, even if they are inevitable. And worse, mistakes are both more prevalent and more dangerous during the start-up phase of your business because your idea has yet to be fully cooked; the start-up period is, unfortunately, usually the 'error' part of a 'trial and error' phase for you business.

That said, even though mistakes are to be expected, they need not be crippling, or even negative. Not a few entrepreneurs have stumbled into success when they discover ways to make money in their business that they didn't know were possible. For instance, Dr. Spencer Silver was trying to create a super sticky glue for his employer, 3M, when he mistakenly came up with an adhesive that was instead sort-of sticky. What to do with somewhat sticky glue? 3M created the Post-it note, that's what.

So no, not all mistakes are bad mistakes.

But there are some mistakes that can and should be avoided as you start your business:

1. Taking on too much debt: Most entrepreneurs have to take on some debt to fund the dream. That is expected and fine. But you simply must 1) keep that indebtedness to a minimum, and 2) have a plan for paying it back from the get-go.

It will take a while for that new business to begin to generate revenue, and while that happens your debt load will increase due to interest. And the bigger it grows, the more it threatens the lifeblood of your business, your cash flow. Keep your debt low and get out from under as soon as possible.

2. Having no marketing plan: As I am wont to say, starting a new business is like being alone in a dark room – you know you are there but no one else does. The only way to turn on the light, the only way to get people to know you are out there, is through marketing and advertising.

It need not be expensive. There are scores of ways to get the word out without breaking the bank – everything from tweeting to flyers to creating a viral video can work. In fact, over at my site,, I offer a webinar called Marketing on a Shoestring (click "Webinars" on the homepage).

Market and advertise your business, and then do it some more.

3. Not choosing well: This may sound a little amorphous, but it's not – it has to do with looking before leaping, and that is always a good idea in business. For instance, some people get so excited about a business idea that they don't really stand back and give it the proper, objective analysis they should. .. and then, for instance, they are surprised that the rent at their store in the mall makes turning a profit quite challenging, or that this franchisor is hell to work with.

Other examples of not choosing well include:

•Partners: Before going into business with someone, do a project or two together. See if your styles are compatible. See if you think about money and growth the same way.

•Vendors: A contract with a bad vendor can doom your business.

•Bad location: It could be too expensive, or maybe it is too off the beaten path.

Choose wisely, grasshopper.

4. Not having a great team: There are 20 million businesses in this country that are one-person endeavors – solo practitioners, freelancers, independent contractors and so on. That is all well and good, but it still does not mean that you have to be totally on your own, and you shouldn't be. The problem with being too independent is that there is not another person around to give you feedback and share the work.

So the important lesson here is to take advantage of the help that is out there:

• The Small Business Administration (SBA) and its Related Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) offer tons of no-cost and low-cost counseling and seminars.

• SCORE does this too.

• Business schools need businesses with which they can place interns.

• Part-time employees can be hired inexpensibvely.

• Business associates can become an informal board of advisors. Other entrepreneurs can become part of your mastermind group.

Mistakes may be inevitable, but these ones are not.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Making Your Point... Quickly

This article, by Will Craig, is short and sweet the point! With Facebook and Twitter and all of the other social media out there you only have a few key strokes in order to capture your audiences' attention before you run out of space. Time is valuable to everyone these days and if you can remember these 4 simple rules you will be able to say what you mean, speak in a language that will be comprehended and remembered and be successful in getting YOUR point a crossed!

Sharon LaMothe
Infertility Answers, Inc.
LaMothe Services, LLC

Hubbard Glacier July 2009

Making Your Point... Quickly

by Will Craig

The media has changed the way we communicate. If you plan to hold an audience -even an audience of one- you must now think in terms of brevity, pacing, and distinctive language. Below is a formula used by television producers to write 30-second commercials. Keep in mind, this is the language of people who only have a half a minute to sell you something.

Something used to specifically gain attention, i.e.: headlines in a newspaper, TV and radio "teases," chapter titles in a book. What is the most fascinating, unusual, striking, or funny aspect of your message? That's your hook. Put it up front!

Build Up
Who, what, when, where, and how. Just like the news story that follows the dramatic headline. This is where you explain, reinforce, and prove your point.


This is where you drive your point home, ask for the order, or close the deal. This is the reason for the message. The hook and the build up allow you to make your point with impact.

The Point (in thirty seconds)
We live in a headline society. If you can't bottom line your thinking, you won't be a top line success. Everyday your success is being determined by how well you communicate. Marshall McLuhan said, "The medium is the message." In this case, the medium is you. You telecast your own messages and the ratings you receive from your audience determine your success in life.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

How To Increase Your Blogging Productivity by John Chow

Whaaaat, don’t tell me you didn’t… are you for real?! Well, what happened? Are you sick?…

Did you ever have a similar conversation with your boss? I’m sure you did. We all experience the unproductivity beast at times. In case you don’t recognize it, try this for size. You just spent a whole day procrastinating about your lack of productivity and go to bed a frustrated person, ready to do another day of … doing nothing.

When We Have To Stop Kidding Ourselves

It’s OK to be a master procrastinator from time to time, but not most of the time! Interestingly though, a lot of people who claim they can’t make money online are exactly that! They busy themselves with meaningless tasks such as reading blogs, eBooks, tutorials, email, and the countless other tasks we do each day. Oh, I did forget Twitter, chat and other social media.

If you don’t see growth in your business, look at what you DO each day to help your business grow. Do you actively:
  • Market your business?
  • Work your business to earn money? 
  • Brand your business?  
  • Network with people who can bring you new business?  
If you said no to all of the above, then you need to do some major renovating and restructuring of your working habits. In fact, you NEED to get proper working habits, because you clearly don’t have any.

Admission Is The Key

When we are unproductive, we usually are for good reasons. We could be: 
  • Exposed to constant distractions.  
  • Unhappy about our working environment.  
  • Unclear about directions.  
  • Resenting our boss.  
  • Unmotivated.  
  • Experiencing a lack of passion/drive.  
  • Or we could simply suck at self-management.
If you do, then don’t worry. Not everyone is born a productive guru. Most of us have to unlearn bad habits and learn good ones. Whatever the reason for your lack of action, as long you admit to yourself that in fact you do suck at being productive, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Be honest about your lack of productivity and don’t kid yourself about doing the things that don’t matter to your bottom line. Checking email a dozen times a day won’t put money into your pocket. Neither does chatting on instant messenger.

Once, and if you have reached your daily target, you can indulge all you want into the pleasure side of business/a job.

Setting Benchmarks

  A great way to beat unproductive habits is by setting benchmarks. I like to work with daily income goals myself. If I haven’t reached a certain income target in a given day, I simply don’t rest. I work when I’m sick, angry, frustrated and happy. To me, all these personal states of being don’t matter as much. What matters is my business and going forward. 

Is it easy? Heck no. At times it is the hardest thing I do, especially when I work with the worst cold, or fever. But as long as I can work, I usually do.

There is much satisfaction in finishing a day, knowing I’ve done all I could that day. It is the one reason why I’m successful and not wishing to be!

How you too can become a productive person, in charge of your destiny

The step from major procrastinator to major achiever is often smaller than you think. The secret of the whole concept lies in the step.

It’s the action, or the lack of it that ultimately makes the difference in your day. If your head is filled with things you need to do, then you should try to prioritize your priorities first.

The quickest way to stop procrastinating is to ‘just do it,’ in the true Nike sense.

Reclaim your life by facing the unproductivity beast head-on. It’s not going to be easy while you retrain your habits, but I can almost guarantee you that it is possible to become a very productive person by following the tips below:

  •   Work in short productive bursts. The burst is determined by your concentration span. For some this relates to 20 minutes at a time, while others can last a full 45 minutes.  
  • After each productivity burst take a short break to refresh your mind and body. 
  • Drink lots of water. Try to avoid too much coffee (yeah, I now it’s my vice too.)  
  • Opt to work in a no distraction zone whenever you can.  
  • Make sure your office is well lit and has fresh air.  
  • Start the day with the most complicated task.  
  • Work out a system that works for you, forget what the gurus say.

Enjoy the ride!

Feel free to add your tips on becoming more productive.