Saturday, May 10, 2008

Understanding Search Engine Optimization

Small Fuel recently blogged about SEO:

SmallFuel Marketing Blog

Link to SmallFuel Marketing Blog

SEO Explained for Small Business Owners

Posted: 14 Apr 2008 08:17 PM CDT

SEO explained for Small Business
Let’s face it. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a complicated subject—and not only is it complicated, but the professionals don’t even agree about what works best.

On the other hand, it’s become pretty obvious that SEO is no longer something businesses can ignore. Especially small businesses.

Where does SEO fit in with small businesses, home businesses, and freelancers? How can a small business owner make sense of the many parts? Is SEO practical or effective for small business?

These are all questions I’ve been asked repeatedly by clients, and I’m pretty sure they are questions that are on the minds of many business owners out there. With that as my motive, I’ve created this article to explain everything a business owner should (and shouldn’t) know about SEO.

What is SEO and Why You Should Care

Google Search Example
Search Engine Optimization is about getting more traffic by improving your rank in organic search. By organic search, I mean free search. So at it’s root, SEO is about getting free long-term exposure for your business.

Now there is an important distinction to make regarding types of SEO. There are generally considered two types of SEO, white-hat and black-hat, and they vary based on their primary goal. White-hat SEO is about making your site easy for Google to read, creating valuable content with relevant keywords, and building links in an honest fashion (more on these later). Black-hat SEO is pretty much about tricking Google into ranking higher, and doing anything dishonest to influence your search positions. There are several blurry areas, but for the purposes of this article I’m going to stay firmly within white-hat territory.

Now that we have that finished, let’s move on to the interesting parts.

Why you should care about SEO

The internet is only growing, and people are spending more and more time immersed in its digital waters. At the very center of this trend are search engines—they are the primary way of finding or being found on the internet. SEO is about getting you ranked well and helping you profit from search engines.

  • SEO brings traffic. As in, people looking at your business.
  • SEO increases visibility, so your business can be found.
  • If you set yourself up correctly you can benefit for years.
  • SEO helps manage your company’s reputation online.
  • SEO is a necessary step to marketing your business online.

If you want to expand your business onto the internet, there really isn’t another choice but to understand and implement good SEO practices. Without them, chances are you won’t get very far online.

Code, URLs, and Crawlability

The first step in optimizing your site for search engines lies with making the code and URLs of your website “crawlable”. Just as a quick warning, these are things you should know about, but you should probably have your web guru implement them.

The code

Basically, in order for you to rank and get traffic from Google or other search engines, they have to be able to read your website. The key point is that search engines can only read text. This means all of your images should have a textual description, you should have a lot of textual content, and you shouldn’t have an entirely flash or javascript website.

Here’s a quick test to see if search engines can read your site. Run your website through this Keyword Cloud tool and look at the different keywords that come up. If there are a lot of them, and they accurately describe your site, then the search engines can read it. If there are only a few words, or none at all, then you probably have a code problem. I’d go to your webmaster from there.
Good and bad code structure

The URLs

Once search engines can read your website, they index (save and file) each page based on the unique URL (the address you type into the bar). This is important because some websites don’t have a unique URL for each page, which leads to the content getting all mixed up in the search engines. If your website does this, chances are you won’t rank well in Google or any other engines. Take a look at the picture below for examples of good and bad URLs.

Not only are unique URLs important, but having keywords in the URL is also important. Search engines count URL and Title Bar keywords heavily, and if you aren’t using them then you’re missing out on a vital piece of SEO.
Good URLs and Bad URLs


This is something that we’ll look at more in the content section, but it needs to be at least brought up with regard to code. A properly optimized website will use semantic code to market headings, paragraphs, lists, etc… This means that each part of your content is given a relative importance. Google uses this prioritization to figure out which keywords are important, so you should ask your webmaster to make sure your website is coded properly to use these standards.

Content and Keywords

The content and keywords of your website are both things you probably have control over (you might even be able to edit them yourself), and are both parts of SEO that you can implement yourself.


Content includes any text, images, audio, or video that you put on your website. For this article we’ll focus on text, since it is the primary way Google understands your website. The others need to be described with text in order for Google to register them.

Here’s the simple overview of content and SEO:

  1. Content is good
  2. More content is better
  3. Lots of content is the best

Content is what search engines rank. If you have a lot of content, you will have more pages that can rank, and more ways to get traffic. So the more content you have, the better.
More content is good

But it’s not quite that simple, content quality is very important. A high quality article will get a lot of traffic from social media and will get more links, which is a big factor in SEO (see the next big section). Also good content will be relevant to your website and have relative keywords in it. So don’t just throw up a crappy page and expect it to rank well—your content needs to be well thought out and provide some good value.


When Google reads your content, it distills everything into a list of keywords (check out this tool for an example). It is those keywords and phrases that control what searches your website will show up for, so they are of crucial importance.

There are three important things to consider when looking for keywords. Is the keyword relevant to my business? How often is the keyword searched for? How competitive is the keyword?

Keyword Relevance You want to find keywords that have to do with your business so that they will bring in traffic that is valuable to you. A good way to come up with relevant keywords is to just brainstorm and come up with a list of words and phrases your target customer might use to find your website.

Keyword Popularity You need to find keywords and phrases that are being searched for regularly, or else you might rank #1 and get no traffic. Once you’ve got a list of relevant keywords I recommend using the excellent SEO Book Keyword Tool from Aaron Wall. It will show you how many times your phrase is searched for daily, and lists any variations that are also being searched for.
SEO book keyword popularity tool

Some Keywords are DifficultKeyword Difficulty Once you have a nice list of popular and relevant keyword phrases, it’s time to cross out most of them. Many keyword phrases, and most individual words, are extremely competitive and very difficult to rank for. When you’re just starting out, it’s best to go for the easy ones first. Here’s a tool that you can use to find keyword difficulty. I’d make sure to start with your least difficult phrases.

Content Structure

It’s important to structure your content in a way that is semantically correct. This means using the right heading style for each heading, and using them in order of importance. A properly structured page will look like an outline with big headlines, little headlines, and paragraphs. This semantic structure helps accessibility, helps people scan your pages, and help search engines rank you properly. Here’s an example of good and bad page structure:
semantic content structure

Popularity, Links, and PageRank

Once you’ve dealt with code, content, and keywords, the rest of SEO is kind of like a big popularity contest based on who links to you. Each website that links to you is saying “hey, this site is cool” so your ranking goes up a little. But it goes a step further than that.

Do you remember what happened in high-school when one of the cool kids said something was cool? That something all of a sudden became much more popular than if a normal kid had said it was cool. Google works in much the same way—links from authority sites count much more than links from a new website. The end result of all of this is something Google calls PageRank, similar to link popularity in other search engines, all of which is basically a measure of how important your website is online.

More Links, Higher PageRank, Better Rankings

Links are good
In order to give your site more weight, and get ranked higher, you need to build links from other websites—especially authority sites (sites with high trust and high PageRank). There are many different ways to get links to your site, some are good, and some are bad.

Some good ways to get links include quality directory listings, blog comments, writing articles, guest posts on blogs, and social media. Here is a great article about the fundamentals of link building if you want some more information.

Get Trustworthy and Natural Links

Probably because of the number of people competing for search rankings, it has become reasonably common for businesses to try cheating the system. Most of this cheating involves the process of automatic link building, and most of the time it works terribly.

In order to defeat the cheaters, Google has made trust a key element of ranking well. This trust is not built upon the number of links you have, but on the type and quality of each link, and the overall appearance of all of your links (your link profile). Because of this trust system, it’s very important for you to get links naturally and really aim for quality links.

Link Quality

Getting a quality link has several parts to it:

Originating Page The page that the link comes from needs to be a quality page, with relevant content, and not too many other links. If the page is a “links page” and has little text and mostly other links, it probably isn’t a great source. Also important is finding a page that has a relatively high PageRank itself.

Anchor Text Anchor text is the text that actually links to your website. Good anchor text will have relevant keywords in it. Bad anchor text will be irrelevant or just a URL.

No-Follow This point needs to be here for accuracy, but it definitely complicates the matter and is something that you should probably ignore if you’re new to this. Basically, a link can be formatted such that it won’t transfer any benefits to your site. These links are called “No-Follow” links, and shouldn’t necessarily be avoided (they can still send traffic) but they won’t help your search engine rankings.

Basically, you’re looking for other up-standing citizens of the internet who will link to your content because it provides value. If you try to pay for links, or get free links with no editorial control (anyone can get in), chances are you’ll end up with low quality links.

Getting Links With Content

One of the best ways to generate links is by creating outstanding content and publishing it on your website—you want to create the type of article that is so in-depth, or of such high quality, that other people can’t help but link to it. This type of content is often called linkbait because it is designed to get links. Some people find that a term a bit spammy, but either way the fact remains that you can get good links by creating really valuable content.

Should You Pay For This Stuff?

Whether or not you should pay for SEO services depends on your situation and your marketing goals. If you want to build a popular website that generates a significant number of leads, it’s probably going to be necessary to get some SEO help. On the other hand, if you only have a business card website that helps you sell in person, and don’t really want to sell or market online, then it might not be worth the time or expense to go after search traffic.

Consider whether or not you’ll be able to get a return on your SEO investment. If you send more people there, will your earnings go up?

If your website can’t generate leads, or sell your product, or make money, then you might want to think about that in more detail before investing in SEO.

When thinking about investing in SEO, it’s a good idea to see what resources you can afford to spend. You may be in a position where you want to pay someone to do all of the work for you, or you might be in a situation where it’s better to spend the time and do it yourself.

Whatever your situation, I always recommend hiring a professional to deal with things like code and website structure. It’s very rarely worth it to learn highly technical parts, especially considering they change frequently in SEO. The content and link building are things you can do on your own if you have the time and energy.

Further Reading

Search Engine Optimization is a huge topic, with thousands of articles written about each and every part. For those of you that still have questions, or want to look into things in more detail, I highly recommend the following resources:

The SEO Success Pyramid — This is a fantastic visual resource put together by a friend of mine named Matt McGee. It’s one of the best explanations of SEO that I’ve ever seen.
The Blogger’s Guide to SEO — This is a great overview article that goes into more specifics and details of search engine optimization. Most (if not all) of the advice Aaron Wall gives for bloggers applies just as well to small business owners and freelancers.
Search Engine Guide — Search Engine Guide is an excellent resource for all sorts of small business information and search marketing information. It’s one of my favorites.

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Optimistic Consumers?

According to this survey.... Yes!

US Consumer Sentiment Inches Up after Six Months of Declines

Americans’ economic enthusiasm rallied slightly this month, increasing nearly 10 points and reversing six straight months of declining confidence, according to the most recent results of the RBC CASH (Consumer Attitudes and Spending by Household) Index.

The survey, which measured the attitudes of 1,000 consumers earlier this week, found respondents more positive about their future economic prospects, but still worried about job security.

Click here to read more from

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Women's Blogging Habits

Now, here's an interesting study, just in time for Mothers Day:

Women Would Sacrifice Almost Anything But Chocolate For Blogging

A recent release of a new social media benchmark study of more than 6,000 women by BlogHer, in conjunction with Compass Partners, shows that 36.2 million women actively participate in the blogsophere every week, with 15.1 million publishing and 21.1 million reading and commenting.

68% of this BlogHer community is concentrated in the 25 to 41 age group (the GenXr's), compared to 42% for the general blogging population. Together, the Millienials and the Matures account for only about 10% of this community. Two thirds have completed college, and 46% earn over $75,000 compared to only 25% of the general community.

Online Women Demographics

General Population

BlogHer Women

Married/Living together



Number in HHD



Have children at home



Employed full time




High school graduate or less



Technical or trade school graduate



Some college/university



Graduated from college/university



Some post-graduate work



Masters or doctorate degree




Under $25,000



$25,000 - $34,999



$35,000 - $49,999



$50,000 - $74,999



$75,000 - $99,999



$100,000 - $124,999



Greater than $125,000



Source: BlogHer & Compass Partners, April 2008

The blogging rates are highest among Millennials and GenX "digital natives," says the report, and Online media participation rates decline with increasing age.

Online Media Habits by Age

Online Women (18-75)

Millennials (18-24)

GenX (25-41)

Boomers (42-60)

Matures (61-75)

Reading Blogs






Writing/updating blogs






Posting comments to a blog






Source: BlogHer & Compass Partners, April 2008

Additional highlights from the study:

Women are so passionate about blogging, says the report, that large percentages said they would give something up to keep the blogs they read and/or write:

  • 55% would give up alcohol
  • 50% would give up their PDAs
  • 42% would give up their i-Pod
  • 43% would give up reading the newspaper or magazines
  • only 20% would give up chocolate

Time shift from traditional media is accelerating in the general Internet population:

  • 24% of women surveyed watch less television because of blogging
  • 25% read fewer magazines because they are blogging
  • 22% read fewer newspapers because they're blogging

In addition:

  • More than half of women surveyed consider blogs a reliable source of advice and information
  • Half of women surveyed say blogs influence their purchase decisions

For more information, please visit BlohHer/CompassPartners here.

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2008 Consumer Spending Part 2

Just about every month there is at least one "merchants holiday" as my Dad used to call them. And whether or not it's a "merchants holiday" or not, you better not forget the Mom in your life tomorrow.

Guys are spending more than the gals according to this report from

Mother’s Day 2008: Men Will Spend More Than Women

Men intend to spend more than women this year on Mother’s Day, reporting an anticipated average “spend” of $170 compared with women’s $110, according to a Brand Keys survey.

The survey, part of the Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, asked 1,200 men and women (age 18-65) how they were planning to celebrate Mother’s Day.

Cards were the most popular gift, cited by 95% of respondents, followed by flowers and a special celebratory meal. Anticipated spend on meals, cards, and electronics were are all up 5% from last year.


Half of respondents indicated that they intend to connect with Mom via telephone - comprising of 60% men and 40% women.

  • 35% will visit her personally (40% of men, 30% women).
  • 10% will send cards (equally men and women).
  • 5% will connect online (4% men, 6% women).

Due to increased gas prices and subsequently fewer occasions of ancillary driving to shop, there will be more consumers shopping online (+6%), causing a decrease in intended spend in specialty stores (-4%) and department stores (-4%), the survey found.

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Harvey's ABC's of Selling-14

We're in the second half of the alphabet series of sales training tips from Harvey Mackay:

The ABCs of Selling

By Harvey Mackay

Not long ago, I was listening as one of my grandchildren practiced his ABCs. He had a little picture book that helped him remember what the letters stood for, and he studied it intently, determined to be the first in his class to know all the letters and words. With his determination, I knew he would master the alphabet in no time at all.

As he worked, I started thinking about what those letters mean to me, after a lifetime in sales and years of helping young hopefuls get started in their careers. I didn't draw pictures, but these are the words my alphabet book would include:

Availability for your customers is essential, so they can reach you with questions, concerns or reorders.

Believe in yourself and your company, or find something else to sell.

Customers aren't always right, but if you want to keep them as your customers, find a way to make them right.

Deliver more than you promise.

Education is for life—never stop learning.

Follow up and follow through. Never leave a customer hanging.

Goals give you a reason to go to work every day. When you reach your goals, set higher ones!

Humanize your selling strategy by learning everything you can about your customers.

I is the least important letter in selling.

Join trade organizations and community groups that will help you both professionally and personally, such as Toastmasters, chamber of commerce or Junior Achievement.

Know your competitors and their products as well as you know your own.

Listen to your customers or they'll start talking to someone else.

Maybe is the worst answer a customer can give. No is better than maybe. Find out what you can do to turn it into a yes.

Networking is among the most important skills a salesperson can develop. Someone you know knows someone you need to know.

If you are in the Fort Wayne Indiana area and need some recommendations on networking groups, contact me and I'll help. You can click here, and on the left side of the web page is a link that says, Send me an email.

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Friday, May 09, 2008

Friday Figures

For the statistician that lives deep inside each of us:

Volume 3 Issue 18 - May 5, 2008


28% of graduating college students plan to move in with parents or family when they leave school, according to Accenture.


18% of affluent Americans - defined as those with a household income of at least $150,000 or assets of at least $500,000 - who plan to buy a home in 2008 want to buy an environmentally friendly home, reports The Luxury Institute.


80% of employees would look to their employer or the government for financial assistance if they were injured or became disabled, but just 37% have short-term disability coverage through work, according to the Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education.


45% of Americans are cutting their vacation budget to save money during the down economy, says BIGresearch.


Children would rather eat their mom's cooking (71%) than their dad's (29%), reports Simon, a mall property group.

EPM Datafile Info:
Publisher: Ira Mayer

The EPM Datafile is an EPM Communications, Inc. service.
(c)Copyright 2008 EPM Communications, Inc.

160 Mercer Street, 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10012 | P: (212) 941-0099 | F: (212) 941-1622

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Insight from the Wizards

One of the emails I subscribe to is from Australia.

Craig Arthur sends it out free of charge and it includes some of the blog posts from Wizard of Ads Partners around the world.

Here's a recent excerpt complete with clickable links:

Making Better TV Commercials

By Michael Keesee, Wizard of Ads Partner

Here's a secret from the best producers of television advertising: write the words first. Then match the visuals to reinforce your message.

I can prove it. Turn off the sound and see which ads make sense. Then turn the sound up and try it again without looking at the screen. Most of the time the audio alone can carry the message. Most of the time the picture alone can't.

Many will claim television's power is in its pictures. They're wrong. Television's power is in it's ability to demonstrate.

Show the six-year-old making toaster waffles, or the clean dishes coming out of the dishwasher. Show how easy the prepackaged skillet breakfast is to prepare, or how even your arthritic Grandmother can open jars with the new cap snaffler.

Show people using your product or service and having great results, but match that picture to the selling message your words have already created. If your words alone don't carry the message, better rewrite until it does.

How to Make Business Good, When Times are Bad

Archetypal Patterns, Part 3
By Roy H. Williams Hear Memo...

"For more than a quarter century I’ve made my living dethroning market leaders and setting my clients in their places. And in all those years I’ve never seen a category leader do anything but what they do best. This predictability makes them easy to defeat."

Here's the Pattern: When times are tough and customers are scarce, business owners buckle down and try to become even better at the things they do well. They do this because they trust the Guide pattern, “This has always worked in the past.”

Perhaps you're doing the same.

But following the Guide pattern in a declining market won’t take you where want to go, since staying who you are won’t expand your customer base.

To grow your sales volume you must increase your market share. You must attract those customers who, in the past, have chosen not to do business with you. But those customers won’t make a new decision about your business until you give them new information. As long as you keep doing what you’ve always done (and saying what you've always said,) they’ll keep making the decision they’ve always made.

They’ll keep buying somewhere else.

To grow, you must expand your identity. Add to your message. Appeal to additional customers.

The Challenge pattern of new circumstances demands that you choose a new Guide pattern.

Leaders usually cling to old Guide patterns in times of stress. This is why challengers often overtake leaders during times of upheaval. The leaders were reluctant to reinvent themselves.

Click to read more ...

Causing Customers to Remember You at Their Moment of Need

From the library of the Wizard.... Planting a mental trigger.
One of the ways Wizard of Ads helps grow owner-operated businesses.

"Successfully implanted, a reticular activator will cause your prospective customer immediately to think of your company when she has need of your product."

YOU BUY A NEW CAR. As soon as you drive out of the dealer’s lot, you begin seeing cars just like yours everywhere you go. We can safely assume these cars were here yesterday — but yesterday you didn’t notice them, and today you aren’t looking for them. What’s happening?

Your old refrigerator begins to make odd noises. You finish breakfast and go to work, immediately forgetting about the refrigerator and the noise. During lunch, you read the paper and notice an ad for refrigerators on sale. You weren’t thinking about your refrigerator, but you notice the ad anyway. What’s happening?

You are asked to total fourteen different columns of single- digit numbers. Each of the fourteen columns adds up to exactly fourteen. You are now asked to name a vegetable. You say “carrots.” Why?

Planting a reticular activator in the mind of the customer is the Mount Everest of ad writers. The reticular activator is a mental trigger in your unconscious that directs your attention and causes you to notice and remember things you never intentionally committed to memory. Successfully implanted, a reticular activator will cause your prospective customer immediately to think of your company when she has need of your product.

It is easier to implant a reticular activator using sound rather than sight. Medical science tells us it takes 29 percent longer to understand written words than spoken words. This is because the brain must translate the written word into the spoken word before it can be understood. When we memorize the written word, it is the sound of the words we remember, not their appearance on the page. This is true even when we have been reading silently. We hear the words in our minds.

The eye cannot be trusted to remember what it has seen. One of the most frustrating parts of police work is that different eyewitnesses often recall an event differently. Yet people can repeat the last sentence a person said, even if they weren’t paying attention. How often has someone asked, “Are you listening?” and even though you weren’t, you could repeat verbatim their last statement?

Information taken in through the eyes enters into iconic memory and disappears in less than one second. Information that enters through the ears rattles around in echoic memory for nearly five seconds before it dissipates.

Well-written, intrusive ads establish echoic retention through the use of a reticular activator. Echoic retention and a reticular activator will cause you to say “carrots” after repeating the number “fourteen.”

How many times have you heard the phrase “fourteen-karat gold”?

From the Editor: But be warned - Planting a Mental trigger is NOT a short term strategy. It takes a relevant message (Uncovery and message development) and frequency (money)... and then you still have to wait for the moment of need. Do you have the patience?

PS. Do you need help planting a mental trigger in the mind of your customer?

Can Your Brain Be Tricked By Price

By Steve Clark, Wizard Partner & CEO of New School Selling
So, in essence, [price] is changing people's experiences with a product and, therefore, the outcomes from consuming this product."

The lesson says Baba Shiva is that: "there's a temptation among marketers to keep reducing prices. We're saying be careful before you embark on that strategy."
Image from "the most expensive Journal"Does the price you paid for that expensive wine at dinner influence your satisfaction with that wine? The answer to this question may reside in the folds of your medial orbitofrontal cortex, the part of the brain that registers pleasure.

In what should be music to the ears of marketers, the old adage that you get what you pay for really is true when it comes to that most ephemeral of products: bottled wine.

The Research

A recent study by Baba Shiv, an Associate Professor of Marketing at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business, and a group of researchers at California Institute of Technology concludes that people will experience an increase in activity and pleasure within the brain when they consume wine that they perceive to be expensive even though the part of the brain that interprets taste is not affected.

In an article, co-authored by Baba Shiv, titled "Marketing Actions Can Modulate Neural Representations of Experienced Pleasantness," published online Jan. 14 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, students were placed in a MRI and given sips of red wine-including the same one twice, with different price tags: $5.00 (the actual price) and $45.00 (a fictional price). The subjects reported that they liked the expensive wine more than the cheaper wine even though it was the same wine - a preference that was mirrored by an increased activity in the medial orbitofrontal cortex of their brains as measured by the MRI. While many studies have looked at how marketing affects behavior, this is the first to show that it has a direct effect on the brain.

The Marketing Implications

Click to read more ...

"There'll be two dates on your tombstone/ And all your friends will read 'em/ But all that's gonna matter is that little dash between 'em..." - Kevin Welch

And here's Craig's contact info:

Call to book a FREE alignment meeting. No obligation. No pressure. It is at this meeting we both decide if there is a fit between our 2 companies. It is only then can we explore your options. We will never try to sell you. Call (07) 4728 4866.

Craig Arthur - Wizard of Ads Australia

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Marketing Quickies

Some headlines from Mediapost for you to check out, once you've got the rest of your work done this week:

Nintendo's Wii Fit Campaign Is Targeted To Women
by Laurie Sullivan
[Technology] Advertising efforts, including TV and print ads, begin within the next two weeks. A flip-card type ad will line subway walls in Manhattan to give the illusion of movement for about two or three minutes as trains whiz by. Ad wraps on taxi cabs and buses are set to appear in the Big Apple, too. - Read the whole story...

Aiming For More PR, Land Rover Tweaks Annual Challenge
by Karl Greenberg
[Automotive] "We have two forms of communications, and one of them is 3D, which is the experiential side of the brand. And it's especially important for Land Rover," says the company's Finbar McFall. "Nothing sells these cars more than people driving them and showing off their capabilities. The spirit of adventure is at the hub of what we do, and this is the best way of showing off the adventure, and this is the best way." - Read the whole story...

Nike, Finish Line To Open Concept Store For Serious Runners
by Kevin Ransom
[Retail] Upfront will be Nike+, a computer chip in the shoe that tracks information from the athlete's training run, like mileage, calories burned, etc.--"and then they can take it home and sync it up to the Web, and check the results--and which also allows them to be part of a whole social community of runners. We think of it as a digital motivational tool," says Nike USA's Craig Cheek. - Read the whole story...

Trends Point The Way To Goji Berries, Gluten-Free Comestibles
by Karl Greenberg
[Food] The Center for Culinary Development says the group expects future trends to include mood foods, foods that offer satiety via artificial fillers. Among the ethnic-foods, Vietnamese food, Moroccan and generally North African food will grow in popularity, says Nielsen. - Read the whole story...

Brooke Shields' Family Stars In Royal Velvet Ads
by Nina M. Lentini
[Packaged Goods] The campaign, which will coincide with the launch of the brand at Bed, Bath & Beyond, will debut next month in shelter, lifestyle and bridal magazines. The theme of the campaign is "Royal Moments," with the ads showing Shields, her husband, Chris Henchy and daughters, Rowan and Grier, sharing "simple, warm and relatable family moments," Iconix Brand Group says. It is the first endorsement deal for the family. - Read the whole story...

Discover: Consumers Not Planning To Go Shopping With Checks
by Aaron Baar
[Research] According to the company's monthly "U.S. Spending Monitor Survey," nearly two-thirds (62%) of American consumers expecting to get a refund or stimulus check expect to spend the money on household expenses or debt repayment. In addition, 18% said they would put the money in savings or investment, while only 20% said they would use the money for discretionary purchases. - Read the whole story...

McDonald's, Ford, Others Sign On To TBA's Online Programming
by Gavin O'Malley
[Strategy] "Our role [for Ford]was to inform and educate young adults on the real benefits on how Sync can impact your life," says TBA DEEP's Brian Murphy. With a "seven figure budget," TBA created an original seb series featuring two young women traveling cross-country with the help of a Sync-supported Ford. The series has since been picked up by MySpace TV. - Read the whole story...

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Pain or Promise?

I met Wayne Ens a few years ago when he did a seminar on behalf of our radio stations. Once a week he sends out an email and this has some great insight for anyone in sales:

Why Obama Has Raised More Money than Clinton

There really are only two motivators in life and in buying decisions….fear of loss or hope of gain.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign clearly focuses on solving problems and minimizing pain while Barrack Obama clearly focuses on selling hope and a brighter future.

While Clinton offers the ‘experience’ to solve problems, Obama holds the torch for a new and brighter future seldom talked about by traditional politicians who focus on solving problems.

It remains to be seen which strategy will win, but it is interesting to note that a recently ‘unknown’ has been able to raise considerably more funds than the established Clinton.

Those of us in sales need to recognize that both ends of the scale, fear and euphoria, hold opportunities for us as well.

Most solution-oriented sales training or traditional consultative selling often focuses only on the pain side of the questioning continuum.

The moniker of some of these courses is; “When the price of the pain exceeds the cost of your cure, you have a sale.” While this is true, it is a mistake to under-estimate how much wider the purse strings open when your presentation appeals to advertisers’ visions, hopes and dreams, rather than focusing on solutions to short-term problems.

Wayne Ens

ENSMedia Inc.


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Harvey's ABC's of Selling-13

Time for a Friday Focus on the Wisdom of Harvey Mackay:

The ABCs of Selling

By Harvey Mackay

Not long ago, I was listening as one of my grandchildren practiced his ABCs. He had a little picture book that helped him remember what the letters stood for, and he studied it intently, determined to be the first in his class to know all the letters and words. With his determination, I knew he would master the alphabet in no time at all.

As he worked, I started thinking about what those letters mean to me, after a lifetime in sales and years of helping young hopefuls get started in their careers. I didn't draw pictures, but these are the words my alphabet book would include:

Availability for your customers is essential, so they can reach you with questions, concerns or reorders.

Believe in yourself and your company, or find something else to sell.

Customers aren't always right, but if you want to keep them as your customers, find a way to make them right.

Deliver more than you promise.

Education is for life—never stop learning.

Follow up and follow through. Never leave a customer hanging.

Goals give you a reason to go to work every day. When you reach your goals, set higher ones!

Humanize your selling strategy by learning everything you can about your customers.

I is the least important letter in selling.

Join trade organizations and community groups that will help you both professionally and personally, such as Toastmasters, chamber of commerce or Junior Achievement.

Know your competitors and their products as well as you know your own.

Listen to your customers or they'll start talking to someone else.

Maybe is the worst answer a customer can give. No is better than maybe. Find out what you can do to turn it into a yes.

When a customer says maybe, dig deeper and find out what will make it a no or yes. Be a partner in their decision making process

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

OnLine Pizza Sales

I admit, I was surprised by this:

Papa John's surpasses $1 billion in online pizza sales

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May 8, 12:17 AM (ET)

(AP) In this Sept. 23, 2005 file photo, Rich Butler, general manager of a downtown Louisville, Ky., Papa...
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Sometimes during peak hours, the phones are silent in Andy Freitas' pizza restaurants, yet the cooks are busy keeping pace with hungry customers.

That's because orders are rolling in through the Internet.

"It's pretty amazing not to hear a phone ring on a busy night," said Freitas, an operating partner with the largest Papa John's franchisee in the Washington, D.C., market.

In the past seven years, Louisville-based Papa John's International Inc. (PZZA) (PZZA) has made a lot of dough from online ordering - more than $1 billion to be exact.

The nation's third-largest pizza delivery chain trumpeted the $1 billion milestone Wednesday, noting that its U.S. online sales have been growing at an average clip of more than 50 percent per year. In 2001, the chain's online sales totaled $20.4 million. Last year, its online sales approached $400 million.

"It took us seven years to reach our first billion in online sales, and at our current pace and growth rate it will take us less than three years to hit our next billion," said Jim Ensign, vice president of marketing communications at Papa John's.

Other chains in the fiercely competitive pizza industry are tapping into the technology craze to give customers ways to order pies other than through the standard phone call or trip to a restaurant.

Dominos Pizza Inc. put its own twist on online ordering early this year by introducing a "Pizza Tracker," which lets customers keep tabs on the progress of their orders. Consumers can find out when their pies are in the oven, when they're on the way, and even the first name of their delivery person.

The tracking system has given a "big bump" to the growing online business, said Jenny Fouracre, a spokeswoman for Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Domino's. She declined to disclose specific online sales numbers.

Domino's also lets customers place orders from Web-enabled mobile devices.

Pizza Hut said it's online orders have grown sixfold in the last three years. Company spokesman Chris Fuller said the online segment is a significant part of the overall business, but he wouldn't give specifics.

Pizza Hut, the nation's biggest pizza chain, also allows customers to order via text messaging and mobile Web. The unit of Yum Brands Inc. (YUM) (YUM) soon will unveil a new method for ordering pizzas, dubbed "Pizza Hut Shortcut," that it says will be the fastest in the industry. Customers will be able to download a "widget" onto their computers that will let them place their favorite pizza orders with just one click.

Since launching its Web-based ordering in 2001, Papa John's said it has invested more than $15 million in online ordering technology. Customers can place online orders up to 21 days in advance. Another function lets consumers repeat their most recent orders with just one click.

Papa John's said more than 20 percent of its sales come from online or through text messaging, an option it introduced last year. The company said text sales are meeting expectations, but it didn't provide specifics.

Freitas said online business is driving higher overall sales at his more than 50 Washington-area stores. Online orders account for about half of overall sales at a couple of his restaurants, he said.

"I knew it would be a big part of our business, but this has blown my expectations away, and I think it's even going to go higher," Freitas said.

The concept is tailored for customers like Emily Goatcher of Raleigh, N.C.

"I'm so into the Internet and the ease of doing things that way," she said in a phone interview.

The online option lets her scan the menu and look up specials. She also thinks there's less of a chance of getting the wrong order. But the mother of two young children said the main attraction is convenience.

"Being able to log in and do it versus trying to talk over a baby crying or a 2 1/2-year-old that's running around the house is probably one of the main reasons I like to order that way," Goatcher said.

Not everyone in her family has made the Web-based conversion - her husband still places orders to Papa John's the old-fashioned way by phone, she said.

Ensign wouldn't tip the company's hand on future tech-driven ordering, but he said Papa John's plans to roll out new methods in coming months to make it even easier for customers to place orders.

He predicted the ordering options will multiply as technology advances.

"We're just going to maybe have five or six or seven or eight or nine or 10 different ways the consumers can order," he said, seemingly conjuring up new options as he spoke.

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Saving Face Public Relations

This week a new client of mine told me a horror story about another radio station in town that he formerly was under contract with.

The station bumped his commercials (They did not play), yet they were going to charge him anyway. After getting the run around about how this was the station's policy, and if you cancel we are still going to charge you 75%, he has refused to do business with them.

Look, mistakes happen. Screw-ups can be minimized by taking responsibility and doing what is fair, instead of just what you have legal right to do.

This came in my email from which explains what steps all of us should take:

Passengers: Your Captain Has Screwed Up

You probably know the approach pattern at your home airport very well. So what would you think if your plane were about to touch down when it suddenly jerked skyward, overshot the runway and headed out toward the ocean? Even non-nervous flyers would know something was wrong. Near collision? Problem with the running gear? Inexperienced pilot who needs a do-over?

A MarketingProfs team member experienced this scenario not long ago, and sat patiently waiting for an explanation from the flight deck. Anything at all, if only to confirm that everything was under control. But nada, zip, zilch. It took a full ten minutes—after circling around in a bizarre pattern—for the pilot to give the non-explanation that the plane would be on the ground in a few minutes. Our colleague left the flight seriously pissed off at the lack of communication.

It's never fun to deliver bad news. But in a post at his blog, Tom Peters emphatically underscores the need to keep clients and stakeholders fully informed of "a delay (wee or grand) or glitch (wee or grand)." It's better for everyone to know what's going on, and what you're doing about it, than to leave them seething in the dark.

"Make the call," he writes. "And if you have … let someone know about a glitch … call 'em again to update the status of the fix, or relay the sad but honest news that the fix is more complex than first imagined." It's Marketing Inspiration we can all use.

More Inspiration:
Drew McLellan: Are We Wearing Out Our Words?
David Reich: The Danger of the Sound Bite
Valeria Maltoni:
Let’s Talk About Your Web Site

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Why Google is Number One

Small Fuel Marketing wrote an excellent piece on Google that arrived in my email.

And before I share that with you, I have noticed that despite the experts that are trying to figure out how to beat the system of internet commerce, I have discovered a secret that I find amazing and so do a couple of website designing friends of mine.

This secret is the power of search.

There is more to this than I want to write now on this site, so I'm posting it one of my other blogs. Click here to read the Power of Search.

Link to SmallFuel Marketing Blog

What Google Can Teach You About Marketing

Posted: 01 May 2008 01:09 PM CDT

what google can teach you about marketing
With an undisputed command of the search engine market and a jaw-dropping stock price, no one can dispute Google’s dominance online. But this success didn’t come by accident—it was achieved by a collection of important marketing strategies that reinforced everything Google had in mind for their brand.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be a billion-dollar company to use the same tactics to make your company more recognizable. Let’s take a look at 5 Google-tested marketing tips that can help your business “rank higher” in the eyes of your customers.

Only Hire The Best (And Flaunt It).

hire the best
Google is well-known for hiring brilliant people – the best of the best. PhDs swarm the campus, eager to leverage their diverse backgrounds to solve challenges and innovate in ways that other companies just can’t seem to match. The reputation Google has built for hiring only the best and brightest is something they weave into their brand amazingly well, from the impressively titled “Google Labs” to the often-told fact that Google engineers are allowed 20% of their time to work on inventing new technologies.

What it means for your business: Your people are incredibly good at what they do. By highlighting the expertise of your people, you can add to your company’s story and stand out from competitors who don’t build up the human side of their brand. Take Google’s example and run with it.

Have a User-Focused Mission.

google's user focused mission
Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” —isn’t your typical bland company mission statement. Instead, their purpose focuses on delivering value to you while being carefully written in a way that reinforces the dominance and wide-reaching scope of the Google brand. And by using words like “accessible” and “useful” they communicate the benefits of their brand in a way that is attractive and compelling.

What it means for your business: You mission = your brand. Does your mission “sound good to you,” or does it answer the ever present question your customers have: “What’s in it for me?” Make sure that your mission statement gives your customers an exciting reason to buy into your brand, and you’ll keep them for life.

Do One Thing (Extremely) Well.

do one thing extremily well
Sure, Google has an ever-growing number of side services – Gmail, Google Reader, and over three dozen more – but that’s not the primary focus of their company at all. Google focuses on doing one thing extremely well, and that’s delivering links to relevant content (whether through search results or context-based advertisement). They know what side their bread is buttered on, and they pour themselves into over-delivering so they can retain their dominant market position.

What it means for your business: You can’t be all things to all people – so make sure you’re being the most profitable thing for your most profitable customers. Offering side services and add-ons is a smart move, but smarter still is devoting your focus to being an undisputed expert in your industry.

Run Your Business With Style.

run your business with style
Though people claim to make business decisions solely on rational thinking alone, it’s a fact that emotions play a large part in the decision making process. They know that if you enjoy interacting with a company, you’re more likely to do business with it and recommend it to others. Google does a great job of expressing its sense of style while not making it distracting. From their stylized logos that change to reflect holidays (and other quirky dates of importance) to their over-arching attitude that their work environment should be a fun one, Google knows how to capture attention, communicate a story, and leave you coming back for more.

What it means for your business: There’s a story behind your business and its philosophy – likely an untold one. Retell the story in a compelling, exciting way and let the experience build a brand that attracts the kind of attention that turns customers into fans.

Communicate With Your Community.

keep in touch with your community
Google excels at interacting with its community and industry, pulling back the curtain to reveal a little bit about what goes on behind the scenes and what is coming down the road. An excellent example is employee and search engine expert Matt Cutts, who blogs about Google on a regular basis. By providing a “name and a face” that can interact with their customer base, Google can get the word out about new products and services, solicit feedback from customers, and build their brand online.

What it means for your business: You can truly stand out by creating opportunities to interact with your customers and reinforce your expertise in your industry. Social media and blogs are powerful ways to build your brand and fan base at the same time (which makes the task of converting them to customers that much easier).

You don’t have to be a corporate giant to use the tools and strategies that make them successful. By using the five tips above, you can add power to your marketing and draw in the kind of loyal customers that keep your business growing year after year. Google started in a garage and has grown into the world’s most powerful brand … where will their marketing lessons take your business?

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The Big keep getting BIGGER

This is based on research from BIG Research. Click on the charts to make them BIGGER.

Shoppers Heading to Wal-Mart for Electronics, Home Improvement, Groceries

Higher gas and grocery prices, coupled with an uncertain economic environment, are driving more consumers to Wal-Mart for electronics, home improvement and groceries, according to the April Retail Ratings Report from BIGresearch.



For the Electronics category, Wal-Mart had the highest year-over-year growth in share of consumers that shop there most often: Its share increased from 15% to 16% from April to April, giving Wal-Mart a Consumer Equity Index (CEI)* score of 107.15.

(CEI measures growth in share year over year. An index of 100 signifies flat growth; an index of 105 indicates 5% growth.)

Best Buy had a slight decrease in share from 28.6% in April ‘07 to 27.7% in April ‘08, making its CEI 96.88.

Home Improvement

Home Depot continued to lead in the Home Improvement sector, but share of preference declined from 28.6% in April 2007 to 27.6% in 08 with a CEI of 96.39.

Second-place Lowe’s remained flat with a CEI of 100.46, while third-place Wal-Mart experienced relatively substantial share growth, with a CEI of 111.97.


Wal-Mart maintained a strong lead in the Groceries category as consumer share increased to 15.3% in April, from 13.6% in April ‘07.

Wal-Mart is also picking up grocery shoppers with higher incomes. Among households that report an income greater than $50K, Wal-Mart’s share of preference as a grocer increased from 12.3% in 2007 to 13.5% in 2008:


No. 2 Kroger marginally weakened with a CEI rating of 96.81, and No. 3 Publix underwent a steeper decline (83.98 CEI).

About the data: BIGresearch’s Retail Ratings Reports (RRR) are issued monthly for 12 major merchandise categories ( They are developed from BIGresearch’s monthly Consumer Intentions & Actions (CIA) Survey of over 7,500 online interviews.

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