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November 2006
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2006 Blog Highlights

Today’s post is short and sweet.  I’ve collected user data and visitor feedback to present my 2006 post highlights.  The highlights cover a wide swath of ground from aviation to Internet marketing.  My hope is that the various posts will get you thinking more about your own business ideas.   Make sure you take action!  Please feel free to pass the information to family and friends, because everyone interested in the web needs to know this stuff.

The Most Fun You Can Have with Your Clothes On
This post contains a short video and article about following your passion.  When your work is your passion, you’ll never work another day.

Thomas Edison and the Internet

Like computers, too many people fear making a mistake on the Internet.  Learn how Thomas Edison embraced mistakes and why you should strive to make mistakes online.

Online Marketing Like P.T. Barnum
(Part I)
More Marketing Like P.T. Barnum (Part II)
A look at Joe Vitale’s synopsis on P.T. Barnum’s “Rings of Power.” Learn how you can apply the techniques of the world’s greatest marketer to your web site or business.

Networks and Marketing

Discover the power of networks. You need to tap into the power of your industry networks.  Are you ready? Warm up your business cards.

Unexpected Online Business Success
Things never go as expected, especially online. The small things and targeted niche markets can help you.

Why Worry About Search Engine Optimization?
Learn why every business needs to consider leveraging Search End Optimization. SEO can drive high quality traffic to your web site.

Above the Fold
Do you know why it is so important to keep your most important content above the fold?

On Being Late
It’s important to be on time.  Yet there comes occasions when we become detailed.  Use this helpful advice to smooth over the next time you are late.

I’m really looking forward to the New Year.  It’s my goal to publish two Internet related books in the coming year.   Look for my “Do it Yourself Usability Guide” series coming shortly.  I’ll also be releasing a series of downloadable PDF documents focusing on SEO, Usability, and Internet Marketing.

See you later 2006!


There Is No Perfect Web Strategy

People approach me all the time about starting a web site. One of the most common questions is "What exactly should I do?"  They're usually disappointed by my answer.  Businesses need to understand there is no cookie cutter web strategy for every web site. Yes you can concentrate on some macro fundamentals like design, marketing, and usability.  These are things any web site should possess.  But in many cases it's the small things that count.  More important is a business giving their web strategy time to work.  Here is the best part; there is no set time frame. You need to use your own judgment.  Two important factors any company needs to take into consideration are time and strategy.

You need to look at your time frame with patience.  I've stated this previously, many businesses want immediate results with their web site.  The one thing you will learn on the web, much like investing, is that wealth and prosperity are built over time.  The "I want it yesterday" mentality dooms more web projects than you can imagine.  I've seen Fortune 500 companies sacrifice very smart strategies because they became impatient.  Yes you have to set limits on time frame. But make sure that limit isn't too short.

When it comes to strategy I look to other good examples within the business world.  A brick and mortar company that is an ideal success analogy is Wegmans Food Markets.  Wegmans' core model is based around being a grocery store. They have a very simple yet systematic approach to ancillary services.  Most stores have your staple grocery store service bakery, meat department, and pharmacy.  In many cases individual store demographics dictate which additional services are provided.  If a service (Sushi bar, Kids Fun Center, Photo Processing, Dry Cleaning, etc.) doesn't work out it is pulled and replaced with another.  If no ancillary service works out the individual store reverts to their core model.  This is a continuous store by store process until the right combination is found.

You can apply the Wegmans' methodology to your web strategy.  Concentrate on creating a long term strategy supported by ancillary services.  Your core strategy can be rooted in design, marketing, and usability.  These core services can be supported by additional technologies or services including: Organic SEO, PPC Campaigns, Copywriting, Public Relations, E-newsletter, Surveys, etc.  In many cases additional services can be added at comparatively low cost. Mix and match what works best.  You need to determine the proper time frame to test each service or combination of services.  Once again, there is no perfect combination and you can't rush success. Organic SEO can take several months to take root. Time is the largest mitigating factor.

You need to realize that there is no magic bullet or perfect web strategy.  When I recently asked a friend how he attains 40-60K visitors a day, he didn't have a concrete answer.  As he put it, "I just kind of did it." Successful web sites are built upon a systematic strategy that is continuously modified.   You need to make a decision on what you want to do and set forth in your strategy.  Regardless of your strategy make sure you give it time to work.

Want to get more great info? Check out the articles below:

 


Focus on Web Site Conversions

Are you converting your web site traffic?

One of the largest marketing mistakes web site owners commit is not having a plan to get visitors to take action upon arriving at their web site. Numerous companies look at their web statistics for the past month and are confused as to why so many people visited their site yet there is no appreciable change in revenue.  This is where the conversion factor comes into play.

A conversion is the process of your user taking some predetermined action or series of actions.  It is a measurable metric.  As an example, 10,000 people come to your web site in a month.  Of the 10,000 visitors, 100 of your visitors take a predetermined action.  In this case they make a purchase from your web site.  The end result is a 1% conversion rate.  100 purchases / 10,000 visitors = 1.0% Conversion rate.  In order to be successful online you need to concentrate on converting your web traffic.

Conversions don't always need to be in the form of a purchase.  Many people concentrate on building email lists to soft sell their product or service. Doing so increases the lifetime value of that perspective customer.  I know of one person over the last few years that amassed over 15,000 email addresses.  He delivered high quality content via his newsletters on a regular basis.  Imagine what you could do with 15,000 people dedicated people on your email list?

The cold hard truth is that most visitors come to your site and never return.  There are a plethora of reasons.  In some instances it takes several visits before a visitor will take any action.  You need to establish trust and credibility with your user.  A miniscule number of people will convert in their first visit.  You need to get people to come back to your site often enough to establish credibility.  In today's day of information privacy that can be a very daunting task.  After the trust is ultimately established it becomes much easier for you to convert users. Web sites that retain their traffic for subsequent visits are referred to as having a high degree of "stickiness."  Users are attracted to come back because of any number of onsite factors.

Here is a brief list of things you can do to establish trust and credibility:

If you can establish the criteria above you should be in good shape.  Can you put a check mark next to each item listed above? If so, you should be well on your way to creating a trustworthy and credible web presence.


Creative Thinking: Brains and Brawn

This post is an extension of the “Discovering Web Site Ideas” post.  In the post I briefly mentioned my methodology for coming up with new ideas.  Today I’m going to expand on this simple technique. Hopefully it will allow you to come up with some of your own great ideas or creative solutions.

I believe that everyone should visit the gym at least three times a week.  Being fit is extremely helpful if you want to be successful in the business world.  Exercising gives you that extra spark. When I work out in the morning I feel energized throughout the day.  If I miss my routine, I drag all day long.  What does exercising have to do with idea creation?  Some of my best ideas come to me while exercising. I'd like to share with you a technique that anyone can use.

During a recent visit to the gym I had a dilemma floating around my brain.  I wanted to make some extra money before the end of the year.  I wrote down the following question: “How do I make an extra $5K in the next week?”  Initially I had no idea.  At the end of the routine I had my solution.  A day later I presented my idea to the client and mission accomplished.  It isn’t always going to be that simple.  But we all have to start somewhere.

This process works best with a weight lifting routine, but can be modified accordingly.  It is based on a 1-2 hour workout.  It utilizes the time you rest between exercises or set.  Here is what works for me.

The Idea Creation Workout

  • Bring a small notebook or a sheet of paper and a pen to the gym.
  • Before you start, write down a question or two.
    e.g. “How do I market this new idea?” or “What can I do to increase services revenue?
  • Keep the notebook or paper with you throughout your routine.
  • In between each set or individual exercises try to write down an idea.

Make sure you don’t force your ideas onto paper.  An idea won't always pop into your mind.  Give the process time. This probably sounds hokey, but let your brain come up with a solution.  I’ve asked a few knowledgeable people on why this is such a simple yet powerful technique.  The best response I received is when you are working out, you are working your muscles not your brain.  Sometimes the best ideas come when our brain has a chance to relax.  You’re letting your subconscious mind take over.  It sounds crazy, but it really does work.

By the end of the routine I usually have all my ideas or solutions.   Here is the really important part.  You need to act upon your ideas.  Too many people talk about their ideas and then never act upon them.  The successful people in this world run with their ideas.  They might not get it perfect or right the first, second, or twentieth time.  But in the end successful people make it work.  Which person are you?


Learning How to Be an Online Business Success

People always use the excuse that they never have time to learn. I'd argue that there is a decent amount of time to learn something new every day.  Learning takes dedication. You probably have an hour or more a day to learn going to and from work. With the advent of MP3 players and the availability of downloadable podcasts, the chance to learn how to be successful online has never been easier. 

To be successful online you need to be constantly learning.  You might not be able to work on our web sites at every free moment. Tweaking your web site on your laptop while in traffic doesn't strike me as the best idea.  But we can certainly make the most of time when we aren't actually working. I've identified two easy to implement ideas that are tremendously helpful to learning.  They won't work if you aren't dedicated.

Learn while you drive or take public transportation
Try giving up some of your radio time to learn something new.  While you are driving or commuting to work listen to a book on tape or CD about business or marketing.  The selection of helpful audio books is vast. Your library might have some great books on tape or CD, all for free! MP3 players allow you to listen to audio podcasts of various online gurus.  Depending on where you live you might be able to get a few hours of learning, just sitting in traffic or on the train. 

Learn while you exercise
If you have an MP3 player, use it during running or working out. Load it up with some useful podcasts and you're good to go as you exercise.  If you use a paper notebook to track your workout routine keep an area to write down new ideas that jump into your brain. 

Read while you wait
Another suggestion is always have a book to read.  Just one book at a time would suffice.  Bring it with you where ever you go.  Whenever you are waiting in line or waiting for an appointment, start reading.  If you put forth a decent amount of dedication you could probably finish a book in a week or two.

With all the technology at our disposal it has never been easier to learn something new.  You probably have your own ideas for learning sessions.  It's up to you to determine how you use your time. You can always make more money, but you can't make more time.
 
Additional Resources:

Want to get more great info? Check out the articles below:


Are You Taking the Time to Analyze Your Web Statistics?

My main focus for today is to encourage people to get setup with analytics software and learn how to use it.  A later post will look into some of the finer points of analyzing web statistics.

There are plenty of decent analytics programs on the market.  One of my personal favorites is Google Analytics.  It is a free service with few restrictions.  Google Analytics is easy to install and web based.  This allows you to check your web statistics from anywhere with a web connection.  Data is compiled every few hours, making it near real time.  Their current restriction allows you up to 5 million page views per month.  If you have a Google Adwords account their page view restriction is lifted.  If you are getting over 5 million page views a month, that’s a good problem.  Purchasing higher end analytics software should be a question at that time.

Whatever analytics software you use, take the time to read the manual.  There are so many people that only have a basic grasp of how to use their analytics software.  The more you understand about the program the more you can leverage the data.

You should check your analytics on a regular basis. Some people check monthly or every few months.  This isn’t enough.  My usual routine is checking at least twice a day.  You don’t need to spend an extended period of time going through statistics. As you learn to use your web statistics program the process becomes very quick.  It should only take a minute or two each time you check.  Real time tracking is beneficial in this area because you don’t need to compile a report each time you check your data.

When I check my statistics daily I look for two things: daily traffic trends and referring traffic sources.  First, I compare my daily traffic from day to day. This helps me gauge in the short term my traffic performance.  Second, analyzing referring traffic sources helps me to determine the effectiveness of my organic and paid search engine campaigns.  I might also look at what pages or articles people are checking regularly.

Make sure you understand the difference between hits and statistics.  Businesses need to recognize the difference because they are inadvertently misrepresenting their statistical data. 

Another pet peeve is hearing business people brag about how much traffic they get to their web site.  Traffic is great as long as you can capitalize.  You need to start with concentrating on getting high quality traffic.  High quality traffic refers to users from your target market, not the general user populous.  Those users are interested in what you have to offer. After getting high quality traffic, you can then focus on converting that traffic.  A conversion usually involves an online sale, capturing an email address, or another set of performance metrics.  It’s not about quantity of traffic but quality of traffic.

If you are serious about your online aspirations make sure you have a good web analytics application working for you.  After you have good data to work from you need to be able to interpret that data.  Get setup and go play.

Want to get more great info? Check out the articles below:


A Controversial Topic for the Real World

Merry Christmas and Holiday Greetings to everyone!  I have nothing relevant to add to my Internet advice today.  In my first contribution to off topic subjects I've decided on a controversial topic: sweatpants in public.  One of my friends insisted that I would never write on such an offbeat topic. Here you have a light hearted post for Christmas.

As my friend Mike put it he "wouldn't be caught dead in public" with sweatpants.  He says it's an unwritten rule that you aren't allowed to wear sweats in public.  Personally, I don't see the big deal.  Sweat pants seem to have an unfair prejudice against them.  How many people wear sweat shirts in public or hoodies?  It is the same family of fabric. Why the prejudice below the belt?

Below is an interesting supporting perspective provided at Iris.com.

  • They're comfortable--it's a no-brainer.
  • You don't have to change out of OR back into your pajamas in the morning and evening.
  • You know you don't need to put on anything with buttons or a zipper to catch the eye of that hottie at the coffee shop. (Not sure if "hottie" refers to a man or a woman. Shrug.)
  • No one ever split the seam of their sweatpants bending over.

Brian Moylan at WashingtonBlade.com posted the following: "The style of dress in this country has gotten excessively casual to the point that it's even acceptable to wear sweatpants in public in places other than the gym."

There you have the information; now you decide. Merry Christmas, Mike!


Expecting Success Online

Everyone with a web site should have a goal in mind.  As I’ve stated before, having a web site just to have a web site isn’t enough.  Be pragmatic when setting online goals and strategy .  Most businesses miss the boat by setting goals that are far too difficult to achieve.   When the desired result isn’t achieved, in the shortest time possible, most get frustrated and quit.

I’m fairly pithy in this article.  Please don’t confuse an experienced and pragmatic viewpoint as negativity.  Many people get frustrated when I don’t tell them what they like to hear.  I refuse to pass along impractical online dreams to the masses.  But, I do believe you need to be smart, realistic, and positive with your online pursuits.  To be successful online takes dedication and hard work.

One of the biggest keys to online success is embodied in the following words “Marketing. Marketing, and Marketing.” People need to know about your web site and how to get there.  You can take a decent product or service and market it properly to achieve tremendous success.  Or you can have the best product in the world with zero marketing and go nowhere.  Smart marketing is quintessential!

I have a number of friends who want to become wealthy using the Internet.  Yet when I tell them what’s involved they respond with “I don’t have the time.” I think this is a load of dung.  The people who are serious about being successful online find the time.  I’ve tried to help and encourage almost a hundred people over the last decade.  Of all the advice that I’ve given to friends; two people have taken the initiative to move forward.  They understand the risk versus rewards scenario.  At the end of the day it’s up to the an individual to take initiative.

Almost every single online success story had humble beginnings. I cannot think of anyone who did remarkably well right from startup. Several people stumble through the online growing process.  Most of the Internet gurus started off making a few hundred dollars a month. Today some of them make in excess of $150K a month.

Set your online expectations reasonably high, but not too high.  If you choose to play the online game: play it with knowledge, tenacity, and determination.Nobody is entitled to anything but opportunity.  Not even to a level playing field. Nothing. Nada. Just opportunity.”  - Dan Kennedy

Want to get more great info? Check out the articles below:

 


A Web Site Redesign Mistake

Are you considering a web site redesign in the near future?
During a web site redesign there is a mistake that many businesses unnecessarily commit. This article takes into consideration that you already have an existing web site.  The mistake involves taking down your old site while transitioning to a new web site.  During the downtime a temporary page or splash page is usually erected. Such a scenario can create a liability to your brand and your web site.

Changing Over Too Quickly
In the web development world I see a tremendous amount of pressure to transition into a new site as soon as possible.   There are too many times when a client pressures their developer to put up an incomplete web site. I've been in this situation myself.  In my professional opinion the client's new site lacked a significant amount of content.  I attempted to justify my concern with the client. In the end the client insisted on launching the incomplete web site.  We complied with their request and posted the web site.  It looked very empty.

Why should I leave my old site up until my new site is complete?
Taking down your old web site can have an adverse affect on your SEO/SEM endeavors.  Over the short term references to your old web site files are still going to be indexed in search engines. If people click on a link that doesn't exist anymore you are going to face problems. When you put up your new site it might take weeks or months to get all your pages indexed properly.  Consider keeping to the same file naming conventions and directory structure.

Change in the Background
Keep your old site running while you test your new design.  Give your users a sneak peak of what direction you are headed in the future. Encourage users to provide you with feedback on the sneak peak.  They might be able to identify something that you didn't even consider or identify a costly mistake.

Your web site redesign transition should be seamless.  Keep your old site up until your new site is ready to go.  Changeovers should be done with minimum impact to your users. If you are expecting a time consuming changeover consider doing it late at night.  This will ensure minimal impact on the user.  Don't forget that the web is world wide.  Be conscientious of where you user base is located.

Take Your Time
Take your time when redesigning your web site because your users will never know the difference.  Make sure you get your site done right the first time as opposed to as quickly as possible. "I just didn't like how the old web site looked" is not an acceptable justification for removing your old site during a redesign. Something is better than nothing.

Remember you should redesign your web site for the convenience of the user. Sometimes business people have difficulty taking their ego out of the equation.  There are exceptions to this recommendation.  On exception is when the old web site is such a liability to you or your company that it needs to come down immediately.

If you take some time to think through the redesign process, you can save yourself significant time and money in the future.


In the Name of Backyard Adventure

Every once in a while it's good to get off topic.  While down in Florida, I try to make the most of my away time. I'm fortunate enough to have a wonderful place to stay whenever visiting Florida.  For me, vacation is about adventure and exploration. Take the time to look around you; it's amazing what you can find.

One place few people consider for an adventure is their own back yard.  You don't need to go some place exotic to find wonderful things.  Most people live their entire life without knowing about the interesting history that surrounds them.

Having grown up with the Goonies and living in a house with a small forest in the backyard created a catalyst for exploration. The great stories are endless. My immense intrigue of discovery is still present.  Being a little older provides you a greater appreciation for what you might discover and the historical context.

During the last two days in Florida I've made several interesting discoveries.  From a nearby 1715 Spanish treasure shipwreck to a hundred and fifty year old military fort.  The beach that I run on was once used to train for the D-Day invasion and considered the birthplace of the Navy SEAL. All of these historical landmarks are within two miles of where I'm staying.  Yet, most people who live here have no idea of their existence.

You probably have some treasures waiting to be uncovered in your area. Engage in some local history research at your library or online.  Just make sure you have permission to visit historical sites. Some sites are on private property. If something a little more modern is up your alley consider Geocaching.  It involves modern day GPS technology, the outdoors, and treasure hunting.  It's a blast!

With the Holidays upon us, everyone should take some time to have fun.

Additional Resources:

 


Discovering Web Site Ideas

I am a big advocate of everyone having their own web site.  It doesn't even need to be something business based. But if you are thinking of a business idea, web sites are a great place to start.  You can have a web site to share photos or create a Blog to get great information to the masses.  One of the top challenges everyone faces at the beginning is: "What should my web site be about?"

One of my business mentors gave a very simple concept for generating great business ideas.  His concept can easily be adapted to generate web site ideas. Get a piece of paper or a notebook and write "What can I teach someone?" across the top.  Some people can instantaneously create a list and others take their time.  Put that question in the back of your brain for a day or two.  As you begin to think of ideas write them down on the piece of paper or notebook containing the question.  As soon as your brain kicks in it is amazing what you can get down on paper.

Your ideas should be something you a passionate about.  People who really enjoy their field of work are passionate about what they do. This includes people who are highly successful in business and on the web.

I used this approach in a slightly different manner when I started this Blog.  There were a few ideas floating around my brain in terms of article topics, but not many.  I found a piece of paper and wrote "What can I write about in my Blog?" across the top.  In between workout sets at the gym I'd write down a few article ideas.  By the end of my workout I had over 60 article topics.

Regardless of how good your web site ideas are, look carefully at the market you are going to tackle. You should always do a little homework on the competition of the market and saturation levels.  If it is a broad market look toward a niche market.

Though this is a very simplistic approach it really does help to get your brain energized.  Writing the question and answers down on paper is very important.  The last caveat is as follows: Ideas are nothing unless they are acted upon.  Go out and have some fun!

Want to get more great info? Check out the articles below:


A Web Site Redesign Suggestion

Another flying adventure delay!  Here I am writing from Flight Level 330 going 453 Knots (521 MPH).  Unlike my last commercial flying delay this one is far more interesting.  As I went to board the airplane filled with passengers, we all felt a thump!  It wasn’t one of those “closing a hatch” thumps.  Here is the hilarious part. The baggage handler whacked our airplane with the baggage truck.  Or as my friend Timmy put it "your airplane was involved in an auto accident." What wasn’t funny was the delay associated with the incident.  We were fortunate enough to be quickly transferred to another aircraft and departed in under two hours. So …

Are you thinking of improving or redesigning your web site in the near future?

Allow me to suggest one of the simplest, yet most underutilized, money saving ideas in web redesign:  Research your idea first elsewhere.  Try to find another web site that already implemented a similar idea. Analyze their implementation and then think of ways to make  improvements.   Do this over a series of three or four web sites.  You might consider a mini-usability study.  After you complete this process type up a document outlining what you like and dislike. Pass the information along to your developer.  This will save you time and money.

A few months ago I conducted a usability study for a new client.  The client put a significant amount of emphasis on the employment section of their web site.  In order to achieve their goals we looked at what other companies used for employment sections.  After our analysis and usability study we combined our ideas with their developer’s ideas. The end result was a highly usable and effective employment module. More importantly we saved them a tremendous amount of time and tens of thousands of dollars in additional development costs. There was no need to come up with a brand new concept.  It had already been created for them.

When you are thinking of redesigning you site there is no need to reinvent the wheel.  Too many businesses insist on doing it their way.  You should insist on doing it the best way. Go and emulate another web site.  Notice I didn't say plagiarize.  People borrow ideas online all the time. In many cases the old ideas just evolve and get used over again.  There are plenty of great ideas on the web. Go out and borrow one and then improve upon it.


P.T. Barnum's Tenets of Super Effective Marketing (Part II)

Here is the continuation of Joe Vitale's outline of Barnum's "Rings of Power".  The Last Five Rings of Power center on people, creativity, networking, writing, and speaking.

P.T. Barnum's Last Five "Rings of Power"

  • "He believed in people helping people to get results."
    Vitale points out that Barnum was a proficient at getting the most of personal and business networks.  His amicable personality and established trust made it easy for people to help him. He used his personal contacts and connections to get him privileged access. This helped him significantly in furthering his business.

    Use the networking power of email lists and strategic partnerships to help promote your online ventures and events. With the emergence of YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace . . . social marketing has set the Internet ablaze with buzz marketing. Don't forget your network. If you have family or friends inside a certain industry, they might be able to share valuable advice. Network using services like Facebook and LinkedIn.

  • "He believed in negotiating creatively, treating employees and performers with respect."
    Barnum was a crafty negotiator.  He would always look at the possibilities a situation offered and attempted to capitalize.  He was revered by those around him. He treated his employees and businesses associates with the highest respect. 

    In the business world you need to be a great negotiator.  If you are fortunate enough to ride up the ladder of success, bring those who helped you along. There are few if any people who make it to the top without the help of others.  If you surround yourself with successful people you are more likely to be successful.

  • "He believed all was well."
    He lost personal property, his fortune, and his family. Regardless of personal circumstance Barnum always found a way to forge ahead.  His personal experience never left him with a chip on his shoulder.

    You aren't going to get your endeavor perfect the first time. Each attempt at success is a new opportunity to learn something and make improvements.  You might make several mistakes along the way but that is part of the journey. Don't be afraid to fail.

  • "He believed in the power of the written word."
    Barnum loved to write.  He used his word smith skills on the general public and with public officials.  To the very end he was dedicated to his writing.

    Apply the power of words to your web site.  Learn copywriting skills to deliver a powerful sales message your audience.  Some of the simplest web sites on the Internet are very successful because they make the most of their copy.  They compel their users to take some form of action with words.  You can't do much online without words.

  • "He believed in the power of speaking."
    Speaking was almost second nature to Barnum. "He knew that the spoken word could move mountains."  He used his speaking abilities to further just public causes, cultural learning, and his business.

    Public speaking is a great way to get the masses to visit your web site.  Your credibility will increase and you can establish yourself as an expert.  If you aren't comfortable speaking in public utilize a blog. Blogs allow you to get your message out to the masses from almost anywhere.  Blogs are also becoming a tool companies are using for product and service feedback and to create new products.

Source: Vitale, There's A Customer Born Every Minute, pp.11-16.

After you had an opportunity to review all of Barnum's Rings of Power get a pen and paper and come up with your own interpretations.  Sometimes the simplest ideas can lead our brains to discover completely new ideas.

Additional Resource:

Have you ever considered including some of P.T. Barnum’s concepts into your own event marketing and promotion?

Below you will find a small collection P. T. Barnum posts that will help you with promoting and marketing your event. There is at least one good idea waiting for you to use with your event.

Take the time to read through a few posts.


P.T. Barnum's Tenets of Super Effective Marketing (Part I)

Another one of my favorite historical business heroes is P.T. Barnum.  He was the greatest marketer on Earth during his lifetime. Like Thomas Edison, P.T. Barnum would be an Internet "Rock Star" if he lived today.The advice below has been proven and tested over the last 150+ years. Technology has changed, but the fundamentals remain the same!

In Joe "Mr. Fire" Vitale's Book, There's A Customer Born Every Minute, he describes many of the techniques Barnum used to become the world's "King of Marketing."  Most of what Barnum learned about business and marketing happened, before he started his circus.  If you're an event promoter or event organizer, you're going to want to pay careful attention to Barnum's tenants. He achieved all this in a time without radio, television, or the Internet.

In Vitale's book, he outlines Barnum's "Rings of Power".  These "Rings" were the keys to Barnum's amazing business success.   These keys can be slightly reinterpreted and applied to most businesses and events.  Hopefully some of the suggestions below spark an idea or two.

P.T. Barnum's First Five "Rings of Power"

  • "He believed there was a customer born every minute."
    One of the largest misconceptions is that P.T. Barnum said "there is a sucker born every minute."  He never said that - you won't find it in any of his books, writings, or speeches.  Barnum virtuously believed that the world was his marketplace.

    Vitale points out that Barnum considered anyone with .25 cents in their pocket a potential customer.  Each day that goes by more and more people go online. You need to think well beyond your local market. If you are online your market is worldwide.  Use that massive audience to your advantage.  At the same time, don't be afraid to narrow down your target market. Less can actually be more.

  • "He believed in using skyrockets."
    People described Barnum as a master of public relations.  Barnum would push the limit to get huge public and media attention.  Pushing the limit often involved publicity stunts . . . Both P.T. Barnum and Thomas Edison used elephants to attract media attention.  In Edison's case, he executed Topsy the elephant.  Both men received an amazing amount of media attention because of their antics.  I don't condone their actions (Edison's animal cruelty), but there is something to be learned. Ultimately the public attention trickled down to the masses and created an amazing buzz.

    Is there something you can do to stand out from the crowd?  With every business trying to get consumer attention you need to be different. Try to be passively unique. Think of what will help you move to your audience's center of attention

  • "He believed in giving people more than their money's worth."
    Barnum traveled to the ends of Earth in order to find what fascinated people.  He would bring the most unique entertainment and awe inspiring artifacts to his audience. Regardless of what he thought was fascinating - his focus was always on his customer.

    The same analogy can be painted in regards to your event or web site.  When someone shows up to your site are you presenting them with high quality content? Few people are disappointed when your web site delivers what you promise. The same analogy applies to events - are you giving your patrons WHAT THEY WANT? (Not what you think they want - there's a HUGE difference.)

  • He fearlessly believed in the power of "printer's ink."
    Barnum knew how to get the most out of the media. Because of his ability to provide interesting and unique stories the media became Barnum's prized resource.

    Provide the public with unique stories on your web site.  Perhaps you can tell a compelling or powerful story to sell your product, service, or event. Are you getting the most out of your public relations campaign?  Regardless of how good the message . . . If nobody knows that you exist or why they should care - you'll never be noticed.

  • "He believed in persistent advertising."
    His use of free and paid advertising ensured that his marketing message was delivered around the world.

    You need to actively get your message out to the public. Harness the power of free advertising: high quality back links. In today's world you can use SEO and PPC campaigns to help get your message out.  Don't forget that positive word of mouth is still one of the best free forms of advertising. There are so many channels to get your message out today - don't leave any stones unturned.

Source: Vitale, There's A Customer Born Every Minute, pp.11-16.

Throughout his life Barnum keep to his systematic methodology.  This proved immensely successful. Anyone promoting their event or a business should carefully study P.T. Barnum.

Learn about Barnum's Next Five Rings of Power.

Have you ever considered including some of P.T. Barnum’s concepts into your own event marketing and promotion?

Below you will find a small collection P. T. Barnum posts that will help you with promoting and marketing your event. There is at least one good idea waiting for you to use with your event.

Take the time to read through a few posts.


Get A Free Event Marketing Education

There exists one of the most forsaken educational institutions on the face of Earth.  Anyone with a little dedication can get the equivalent of a college or masters degree in almost any subject area.  Any guesses as to what it might be?  No, it's not the Internet.  Most people already know that I'm hinting about the second most obvious choice, your local library. I firmly believe libraries to be one of the greatest of educational opportunities in the world.

Event_marketing_resource_library

Proven Information
The nice thing about the library, unlike the Internet, is that most of the information in libraries have a decent amount of credibility.  Though you can't ensure that everything in a library's collection is 100% accurate. I'd argue that it is far more credible than the Internet. Too many people read something online and consider it to be fact. It is difficult to know who to trust online.  It is only a matter of time before some inaccurate blog post creates a major international incident if it hasn't already happened.

Educate Yourself For Free  
Libraries are a great resource for any professional, entrepreneur, or event promoter.
  It allows you to satiate your desire for knowledge. Best of all it is free - provided your library books aren't overdue.  I've acquired a vast amount of knowledge courtesy of my local library.  A nearby branch had the best collection of Internet resources available locally and I took full advantage of it.

The Human Search Engine
Libraries also have their own version of search engines known as Librarians.  Librarians do a great job of pointing you in the right direction and might suggest additional resources. 

Leveraging Amazon.com and Your Library's Catalog
One of my favorite research techniques is utilizing Amazon.com and my library's online catalog. Using the technique below will minimize your chances of reading books that aren't helpful or interesting.

  1. Go to Amazon.com and select "Books" from the Search drop down menu.
  2. Enter keywords on the desired topic area(s) into the search box and Press Go.
  3. After you get results, look at the "Sort By" pull down menu and select
    "Avg. Customer Review." Press Go.
  4. Note the top rated titles. Copy down the ISBN number or book title.
  5. Check your library's catalog to see which high ranking titles are available.
  6. BONUS: If the library doesn't have the book, they might be able to purchase it for you.

Your library is one of the great local services you have available.  Take advantage of it!

Event Marketing and Promotion Books
To get you started, here's a FREE digital copy (PDF) of the advertising classic, Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins.

Below are some of the best books for improving your event promotion and marketing skills. You should be able to find the books in most local libraries or a nearby bookstore.

There's a Customer Born Every Minute:
P.T. Barnum's Amazing 10 "Rings of
Power" for Creating Fame, Fortune,
and a Business Empire Today Guaranteed!

Author:  Joe Vitale

ISBN-10: 0471784621
ISBN-13: 978-0471784623

Permission Marketing:
Turning Strangers Into Friends And
Friends Into Customers

Author:  Seth Godin

ISBN-10: 1416526668
ISBN-13: 978-1416526667

All Marketers Are Liars:
The Power of Telling Authentic Stories
in a Low-Trust World

Author:  Seth Godin

ISBN-10: 1591841003
ISBN-13: 978-1591841005

Getting Everything You Can
Out of All You've Got:
21 Ways You Can Out-Think,
Out-Perform, and Out-Earn
the Competition

Author:  Jay Abraham

ISBN-10: 0312284543
ISBN-13: 978-031228454

How to Write a Good Advertisement
Author: Victor O. Schwab

ISBN-10: 0879803975
ISBN-13: 978-0879803971


Tested Advertising Methods
Author: John Caples

ISBN-10: 0130957011
ISBN-13: 978-0130957016


Offsite Resources
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Want to get more great info? Check out the articles below:

(.PDF)

The User Attention Span

User_attention_span A few years ago the average attention span for a web user was about 8 seconds.  Your site had to load in those few seconds or else you potentially lost a user.  That was during the "covered wagon" days of the Internet.  With more people getting broadband access the playing field is changing yet again.

A recent study conducted by Akamai Technologies found that a user's online attention span is getting even shorter.  Over 1,000 web users were surveyed.  They found if a shopping web site took longer than 4 seconds to load, 75% of the participants would not return to the site.   The study also found that 30% of the user's formed a negative perception about organizations with poorly designed web sites.  Some of the top complaints included poor navigation and a long checkout process. 

If you are looking to build an e-commerce site study the top online retail sites.  I know many people criticize Amazon.com for being too simplistic.  The Amazon site is almost entirely text based.  The navigation is simple and they leverage their search feature.  Over the years they have added additional features but remained true to their original design.  Their original design works.  If you go through some online retail sites you'll notice a number of similarities.  Integrate those similarities into your site and keep it simple.

Too many web sites pack their pages with irrelevant content that slow web site load times. You need to grab the user's attention and keep it.  Give them a reason to come back in the future. Don't forget that there are people who still use dial up service. Make sure your site is mean and lean.  When is the last time you heard someone complain about an easy to use web site that loads too quickly?

Additional Resources:


Staying Above the Fold

Aurora_Image Next time the Earth gets whacked by a big solar flare keep your fingers crossed that it is a clear night and the atmospheric conditions are ideal. Then make an effort to go outside to watch.  Yesterday I was lucky enough to witness the Aurora Borealis for the first time.  It essentially looked like an upside down water fall. Seeing pictures and video doesn't do it justice.  I could strike an analogy but that would be cliché. On to being "above the fold" ...

The term "above the fold" gets used pretty often in the web and graphic design world.  I use the term on occasion in my articles.  There are enough people who still don't understand the concept that I thought it might be beneficial to give a better description.

As I have described before, the fold is the viewable area on a web page that doesn't require you to scroll down to see additional information. The term found it's origins in the newspaper industry.  Since a newspaper is usually folded in half or creased, editors concentrate on getting the most important information on the top half of the page.  The same methodology is used with web site design.  The area above the fold should be considered your "selling section" or your most valuable web site real estate.  It's your first best chance at selling people on your product or service. 

All of your most important web site information should come above the fold.  This includes your headline, navigation, your most important text or links to articles.  Make sure your copy is compelling and draws your user into the information.  Use a bold headline!  Too many designers clutter the area with advertising pollution.

If you have an important offer or holiday special keep it above the fold.  Try not to tuck critical information below the fold.  The end result is that you will get fewer clicks on those links and offers.

Unlike a newspaper the fold on a computer screen is in constant flux.  Because of all the different monitor sizes and screen resolutions there is are no universal measurements.  Check out your web site on different monitors and resolutions to find a universal approximation you can use.

The bottom line is keep your most important information above the fold.  Maximize the use of your on screen real estate for the most impact possible.
 


The SERP That Really Counts

If you want to be successful with your online presence you need to leverage SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Look at targeting a series of keywords and focus on getting on the first page of the SERPs(Search Engine Results Page).  There are only ten positions on Google that really matter #1-#10.  Everyone wants to be #1 on top search engines and so should you.

Why is getting a top ranking position so important?
The higher your position the more visitor traffic you command.  If you can get a top listing for a competitive keyword you are well ahead of the pack.  Keep in mind there are plenty of companies that never achieve the number one spot and do very well online.

Continue reading "The SERP That Really Counts" »


Everyone Should Have a Business Mentor

I'm a big proponent of everyone having at least one good business mentor. If you don't have a business mentor go out and find one today. 

A mentor can steer you clear of making mistakes that will cost you time and money. Mentors are great sounding boards for business ideas.  Their advice might be a catalyst for your next great idea.  Perhaps they are able to show you a different perspective or alternative solution to a given challenge. 

Find a mentor who is genuinely interested in assisting you.  Perhaps they possess traits that you want to emulate as a business person or entrepreneur.  Ideally find someone outside your organization or base of friends. Doing so will ensure that you personal or professional growth doesn't cut off a great resource.

Your mentor might be inside or outside your business market.  If they are inside your business market you can leverage their experience and advice to accelerate progress in your field.  Having a mentor outside your field can also be an advantage.  An outside perspective can give you feedback and insight those inside your field might not consider.  You'll have a different looking glass on the world.

In most cases your business mentors never charge you for their time.  But make sure you don't monopolize their time.  Regardless of how busy my mentors are they always have a few minutes to pickup the telephone and talk.  Always check to make sure they aren't too busy to lend you a few minutes before jumping into a conversation.

Express gratitude to your mentor. Verbalizing your gratitude is a nice gesture.  But consider writing a hand written thank you.

Two brains are always better than one.  Don't delay in getting a business mentor.  The time invested in finding a good mentor will pay dividends down the road.

Additional Resource:
Inc. Magazine - Mentor Articles

Want to get more great info? Check out the articles below:


The Importance of Organic Search

One of the most difficult web methodologies to sell a company is organic search engine optimization. Some companies we've tried to sell organic SEO services to have labeled it "black magic" and "a waste of time."

Organic Search ExampleMost companies don't want to produce high quality content for their web sites.  The infamous "we don't have time for that" line always comes up. Many companies also refuse to accept that a well thought out organic search campaign can take six to twelve months before appreciable results can measured. Their mind set is "I want it done yesterday." I appreciate any company's desire to have quick results.  But don't forget that value is built over time, especially online.

The clients who have embraced organic SEO have done very well for themselves.  The best part is that most haven't even realized their full potential. Companies that successfully implement organic SEO get higher quality traffic and keep advertising costs down.

Continue reading "The Importance of Organic Search" »