Marketing pros, entrepreneurs and executives—win Jeff Hayzlett's best-selling book on business: The Mirror Test. Enter early, enter often!
We're giving away a free copy of Jeff Hayzlett's new book, The Mirror Test! All you have to do is email us with your contact info of choice—phone number, email addy, Twitter handle—and you're entered into the drawing. And don't sweat sending us an email, as we're anti-spam. You'll not receive anything from us other than info on the drawing. Okay?
Jeff Hayzlett is a larger-than-life marketing expert, who until recently was the Chief Marketing Officer for Kodak. Word on the street is he's moved on for a television show. Only time will tell. Until then, give us your info and get in on the chance to win Jeff's book.
We'll be announcing the winner early next week, so enter now!
It's time for the Marketing Tip of the Week, a feature dedicated to helping marketers get that extra edge.
This week's tip: Realize You're A Publisher.
What business are you in? High tech manufacturing? Health care? IT? Marketing? It doesn't matter what industry we find ourselves in any more because we're all in publishing.
With the advent of web sites and their use to promote companies, we all became publishers without even knowing it. Every business that matters in America has a web site. Even my dry cleaner has one! If you're in business you have to be online. It's just that simple. And, if you have a web site then you are publishing content.
So, the question isn't if you're a publisher or not. We're all publishing. The question becomes are you a good publisher or a lousy publisher? Are you putting out great content that your customers and prospects want to consume? Or, are you careless about content?
Some marketers get this. They see their web site as a digital printing press and they use it to regularly put out great content that they know their audience will love to consume. They're building loyalty, credibility and sales by being great publishers.
But, some folks just don't get it at all. They throw a site up and leave it there to moulder. The content is poorly written and it's not relevant to the needs of the users.
There was a time in England when owning a printing press was illegal. The monarchy knew that a press was a powerful tool that could be used for subversion and so only very trusted people were approved to own a press. The king knew that the ability to mass communicate was power. Today, we marketers have that same power sitting right in front of us. Are we using it?
Buy an offset printing press today and you can easily spend a quarter of a million dollars just to get started. But, a printing press is only valuable when it's in use. You wouldn't spend $250,000 for a press and then just let it sit in your warehouse. But, that's what businesses are doing today when their web site just sits there, unused.
Realize you're a publisher and use the power of your web site to make your business more profitable, stable and healthy.
Business people who have figured out Twitter’s power know that it’s an amazing tool for intelligence gathering, trend spotting, networking and business development. Its usefulness is easily under-realized and if you think Twitter is mainly for chatting, think again.
Let’s say you need to find an expert on solar energy for an article you’re working on. You can search people’s bios on Twitter using Google. You would construct a search string to look for bios that contain solar energy. Within a few seconds you’d have a list of people from all over the world that have something to do with solar energy. Then, it’s just a matter of following the ones that look promising and reaching out to them via Twitter. Within an hour you could be on the phone with an expert getting the info you need.
In addition, by searching for solar energy trends on Twitter you will find all kinds of discussions, news stories, articles and published research, which would be valuable to your article. You could use Google and search for relevant web sites, but Twitter provides you with real-time conversations—not just indexed content. That’s powerful.
Twitter & Journalism
This kind of power and time relevancy makes Twitter a must-use tool for journalists and publications. It’s like having your very own police scanner except you can tune-in to any topic you’re interested in.
Remember when a reporter had to move heaven and earth to ‘get the scoop’ on a story? Or how hard they had to work to find and cultivate sources? All these things can be done so easily using Twitter that it’s a no-brainer. Savvy journalists use it to follow important people, trendsetters and insiders, find experts, watch trending topics and get the jump on their competition.
I was poking around over the weekend to find local journalists using Twitter because I wanted to start cultivating relationships with the local press, something every small business owner needs to do. What I found amazed me.
I started at the RBJ. There’s nothing on their web site about Twitter. I had to really dig around the net to find their main account which is a feed of stories. Okay, but I want to connect with reporters, not receive a feed of headlines.
I searched Twitter to find ‘rochester business journal’ or ‘rbj’ in users’ bios and found one relevant hit: editor and vice president Paul Ericson. Wow! A guy at the top, this is a good sign, I thought. When I clicked through to his Twitter page I found that he had only one tweet and it was from January of this year. He had two followers and followed two users, one being his employer. That’s it. One staffer with a four-month old tweet. Not savvy.
The Democrat & Chronicle has fully embraced Twitter. They’ve even got a page on their web site that lists everyone on their staff with a Twitter account. It’s quite impressive. After following some of their reporters and staff, it’s clear that they use it actively. I’m amazed at how well they engage the community. That has to pay dividends for a business that makes its living reporting local news.
I’m no print media expert. But, I’ve been involved in business development, networking and research for decades. It seems obvious that if your job involves connecting with people, finding information and developing content, like a newspaper must do every day, you need to be using tools like Twitter. If you’re not you can expect to be left behind. It’s that simple.
Web site projects can be large and complex, making it easy for a project to get sidetracked or to fall short of expectations. The following five tips will help you deliver an awesome site that’s an asset to your organization and maybe even make you a hero in the process.
Here are five tips for web site development success.
1. Let your company’s goals and objectives drive the project
The best place to start with any web project is at 30,000 feet: your company’s goals and objectives. These goals and objectives should be your yardstick when deciding what your site should and should not do.
Everyone has an opinion on what your new site should look like or how it should function and it’s easy to get caught in the trap of trying to keep them all happy. But you’re going to spend a lot of company resources to deliver a new web site. A project of that scope should align with company goals and objectives.
Be a zealot about building a site that helps the company accomplish its goals. If a feature, design or function can't align, it shouldn’t be done. This will help you stay focused and it will give you a sound argument when dealing with all those 'helpful' opinions.
2. Refuse to choose between functionality and design
In the early days of web development you had to choose between functionality and design. Either you got a web site that had a lot of technical functionality and allowed you to manage your own content or you got a site that was visually stunning and delivered your brand proposition beautifully. But you could not have both.
Those days are gone! Open source content management systems (CMS) make it easy to build sites that are customizable and functional. That means you can have a functional and flexible site that is custom designed to deliver your message and give your visitors a great user experience.
So, don’t buy it when a stakeholder or vendor wants to focus on just one or the other. You can have it both ways and you should. Help your stakeholders accept the need for both high functionality and great design. Insist your vendors are able to deliver on both. If they can’t or won’t, find new vendors.
3. Content may be king but are you ready to swear fealty?
Everyone agrees that web sites need new content on a regular basis. A static site doesn’t cut it anymore, especially if you want your site to be found on Google and support your marketing efforts. But, here’s the problem: who’s going to create all that new content on a regular basis? Creating content every day, every week or even every month is a big undertaking and it’s easy to get overwhelmed and give up.
How many sites have you visited where the last post in the news section was from six months ago? What did you think? I bet it wasn't good. You don’t want to be that company.
You can beat this trap by developing a content strategy. Before you launch your new site you should have a strategy in place for content. A good content strategy includes the following:
It should also include a one-year editorial calendar. This calendar could include articles, videos, interviews, podcasts and any other item that you want to publish over the next year. It should identify who’s responsible for what and it should include due dates!
4. Talk to imaginary friends
One way to ensure your content meets the requirements of your content strategy is to create customer personas. A customer persona is a little like an imaginary friend. A persona is an imaginary, but accurate representation of an ideal customer.
So, rather than being general and saying, we’re writing for the owners of sheep dogs in America, you would create an imaginary person to represent your market. We’re writing for Sue Jones, a 53-year-old attorney from Boston who took an early retirement to move to Vermont and raise sheep as a second career. She is married and loves animals. Since she worked in the corporate world she is technologically savvy, but loves being back to the land. Sue enjoys training her sheepdog to help with the sheep.
You can have a number of personas depending on your customer mix.
Personas make it really easy to identify great content because you can get in the mind of your audience and understand what they need and want and what you have to offer that can help.
5. Measure for success
Finally, design your site with measurement in mind. Remember the first point? Develop your site to deliver on your company’s objectives. If you’re trying to deliver on your company’s objectives, then your site should be measured as to how well it’s accomplishing that.
Measuring is important because it does two things. First, it helps you to refine the site over time, as you can interpret the data and make changes until it’s doing exactly what you want it to. Second, it allows you to promote the success of your efforts within your organization. Some of your coworkers may be skeptical or ignorant of what you do. Or, maybe your manager was not keen to spend money on a new site. With real data that shows how the site delivers on company objectives you can win them over and gain more support for what you do.
So, launch the site and celebrate—you got it done. And then, after you’ve put down your beer, start measuring!
There’s a lot of work involved in developing and launching a new web site and that means all kinds of things can go wrong. Follow the five tips I’ve just shared and you and your organization will be pleased with the results of your hard work.
So, here's the deal. We use both company's products. Our office is littered with new and old Apple Macs. We've got G3's, G4's, a Power Mac, eMacs, iMacs, PowerBooks, MacBook Pros, iPhones and iPods. I don't think there's a single piece of PC/Windows tech in our whole office.
The same goes for Adobe. We've been using their products from the beginning, starting with PhotoShop and all the way through every version and iteration, including their acquisitions of Illustrator, DreamWeaver and Flash. We've got a number of versions of Creative Suite, too.
We're filthy with Apple and Adobe products and I can tell you from personal experience, neither one is remotely interested in choice!
Do you know what a new version of Adobe's Creative Suite costs? BTW, you can't be in our business without Creative Suite. There's just no way. How's $1,899 sound to you? And that's for the basic version. Two thousand bucks—does that sound like choice to you? And Apple's no better. We always have to pay top dollar for their stuff because they have such a closed system for development. Their computers cost more than PCs, their software costs more, it all just costs more.
Look, we love the products that both Adobe and Apple make. I don't think we really care if there's a choice or not. We just want to do great work and we want to use great tools to do it. But, please don't insult us by trying to portray yourselves as heros of the people. Your market cap is $18 BILLION, Adobe. It's hard to think of you or Apple as a victim.
Adobe, please forget 'choice'. It's a bit hollow coming from you. In fact, leave choice for the open-source software crowd. Or for fast food. Or cel phone carriers. Why don't you focus on putting your money where your mouth is? Show your customers that you appreciate them and give us a break.
You want to show how great you are? Drop your prices!
Hey, open-source fans, Wikipedia has a new look and feel!
It's not a major departure from their original look, but it goes pretty far in improving usability for both readers and editors of the internet's most popular open-source encyclopedia. I like what I see, so far. It's clean and easy to navigate and it keeps the information front and center.
The improvements were developed over the course of a year and based on the work of 635,000 beta testers. Talk about design by committee! Funny, unlike most design projects that are run by committee, this one is successful. I guess the trick is to have hundreds of thousands of volunteers involved. Who knew?
It's time for the Marketing Tip of the Week, a feature dedicated to helping marketers get that extra edge.
This week's tip: Map the decision-making process.
Everyone goes through a decision-making process when they buy something. We may not consciously think about it, but we all do it. Savvy marketers map the decision-making process of their prospects and then build campaigns that address every step of the way.
For example, I've got an auto lease that ends in 10 months. I'm not going to make any big decisions tomorrow, but I'm thinking about my next car in the back of my mind. Auto manufacturers need to be on my radar now. That's a step: felt need.
Then as time moves along and I'm researching options, they need to be on my list of top three cars. That's another step: research.
This goes on until I sign a piece of paper locking me in for another three to five years of financial commitment. Then the process immediately starts all over again!
Our job as marketers is to understand what steps our prospects will go through in making a purchase and to develop marketing assets and tactics that help them through each step. To do this we have to answer three things:
- What are the steps or phases of their prospect's decision-making process?
- What is our job at each step or phase?
- What tools are available to us for each step/responsibility?
The following table is an example—it's not a real decision-making process, just a quick hypothetical example.
What steps do your prospects go through when they make a purchase? Do they need to get approvals, convince others of the purchase or can they make the decision on their own? Do they have financing issues that play into the decision? Do they need to be informed of technical specifications as they research? How important are customer testimonials? Do they even know you exist?
Mapping the decision-making process not only helps you understand what steps your prospects go through when making a decision and what your job is at each step. It can save you a lot of time and energy because it helps you to focus. You eliminate needless activity and wasted money and put your time and resources behind engaging your prospect in ways that deliver success based on how they make decisions.
Bob Wright Creative is proud to announce that it has become a member of the Drupal Association.
We joined because the Drupal Association is the main organization dedicated to the support and growth of Drupal. The more we have been integrating Drupal into our web development offering the more important it is for us to get involved with the Drupal community. With thousands of members from all over the world we felt this is the place to be.