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November 2006
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January 2007

Online Event Marketing & Promotion

I had the pleasure of attending a very nice fund raising dinner over the weekend. The one challenge I experienced was finding information on the event at the organization's web site. Unbeknown to me the organization recently renamed their event.

The organization could have made the user experience significantly easier by posting a simple event link on their home page. Instead the information was buried on a difficult to find secondary page.  If you are holding a public event for your company make it simple for people to find information.

Consider some of the following suggestions:

  • Display a prominent event link from your company's home page
  • Have good directions to your event with maps
  • Suggest parking areas for your event and where people shouldn't park
  • Offer people the ability to purchase tickets online
  • Comprehensive contact information
  • Building a web site that creates excitement for the event

If your event takes place every year keep the same web address and site running all year long.  Some companies choose to date their event web address, e.g.  Try not to do this.  This hurts your online branding and event search optimization efforts.

Consider registering and hosting a separate web site for your event.  Domain registration and hosting have become very inexpensive.  One of our client's operates a microbrewery and restaurant.  They have a web site to support the microbrewery and restaurant.  Each year they conduct a large brew fest.  Next year we're going to encourage them to maintain a separate web site to support their event.  Keeping a separate event page from your company web site helps you focus on specific user target markets and event goals.

There are significantly more suggestions for online event marketing.  Hopefully some of these brief points get you thinking and headed in the right direction.

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Why Invest In Search Engine Optimization?

Aaron Wall of asks:

"Why should a legitimate business need to worry about SEO?"

Companies that smartly implement SEO (Search Engine Optimization) as part of their online strategy tend to be very successful online. If you are serious about leveraging your online presence you need to get serious about SEO.  Too many companies miss the boat when it comes to SEO.  It is important to remember that SEO isn’t a single universal solution.  You still need to integrate SEO with a balanced design, copywriting, usability, plus a few marketing strategies on your web site.

Continue reading "Why Invest In Search Engine Optimization?" »

A Great Customer Service Example

Yesterday I flew home from my conference in Vegas.  My connecting flight was delayed in Chicago for three hours.  There were a number of people who were upset over the delay.  The airplane that we were scheduled to take to Rochester had not arrived in Chicago. How the pilot of our flight handled the situation made all the difference. His actions are a great example of good customer service.

The pilot and co-pilot waited with the rest of the people.  They were just as anxious to leave as all the passengers.  When the pilot knew there was going to be a problem he himself made the announcement to everyone waiting.  He apologized and offered to speak with people if they had any further questions.  I cannot recall the last time something like that happened on a delayed flight.  You usually have to deal with a company customer service person with far less customer service skills.

This is a simple example of great customer service.  The pilot had nothing to do with the situation.  But he was the face of the company at that time. Good customer service seems to be waning these days. Take an example from above and make the most of a bad situation.  Acknowledge there is a problem or mistake. Then try your best to amend the situation in a timely manner.  Regardless of how simple the remedy, very few companies can acknowledge a mistake or take proper corrective action to amend a customer service problem.  Make sure you don't do the same with your customer service.

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Bunnies, Martinis, and Brand

The airshow convention finished with a wonderful gala. Unlike some of the other gents I decided to stay in my tuxedo after the gala finished.  That decision would prove very useful later in the evening.

My adventuresome ways can get me into the most interesting situations.  After the gala I decided to head out to the Playboy Club. What better place for a young man to be adventuresome? 

I always try to learn something with each new experience. In this case it turned into a lesson in branding.  Very few companies truly understand how to market their brand. The Playboy Club does an excellent job of tastefully presenting their brand.  The branding starts when the elevator door opens up to the club.  Everything is branded from the bathrooms to the matches. But it isn’t over done.  There is history and stories to go along with their brand. After I picked up my Martini at the bar I started to peruse the surroundings. As expected the Bunnies are beyond beautiful.  Because of their beauty they become a dangerous distraction for young men seeking success at the card tables. I decided to stay away from the tables. During my adventure I did manage to meet some lovely ladies from California and chatted with them.

What can cotton tails and cufflinks teach you about business branding? Study other companies and how they implement their brand.  Business innovation usually stems from recreating current ideas or resurrecting old ideas.  Next time you are out and about take the time to observe your environment.  You’ll be amazed what you notice when you really study something.  Look for the business angle. Your next great idea might come from something most people will never notice.

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2006 ICAS Wrap Up

My time at the ICAS convention is coming to a close.  I finally gave my presentation today and received some great feedback.  It is going to take some time to see if all my efforts are going to pan out. Tonight we have our Gala and then I'm going to spend some time out in Vegas.

I hope that people take some of the advice that I've given out and implement it on their web sites. 

"The Fortune is in the follow up." This has been a term I've heard many times.  During the course of my stay I've collected a number of business cards.  I'm going put this business philosophy to the ultimate test. 

If anyone is interested in some basic search engine optimization techniques I've made my presentation available on

The Value of Free Information

For the longest time I refused to give away free information.  If you wanted the information or service, you needed to pay me.  That ideology was a huge business mistake.  My business mentors told me to give away free information years ago.  I finally wised up. Today I give out tons of free information.  I encourage anyone with a unique service or product to do the same.

What if I give too much good information away?
You can't, people love free information.  If you give them enough of it, they'll return for more.  High quality information positions you as an expert in your field. Businesses want to hire experts.  Experts in a particular field carry with them a high degree of trust and credibility.  Both of which are significant buying factors.  Experts also get paid more.

You don't need to give away your best information. 
This is where you will make your money. You can tease people with good information and make them pay for the best information.  Just make sure your best information does what you promise. 

Go out there and give away great free advice.  It is one of the best, yet most under used of business practices.   This has led me to more sales leads than any other process I've used over the years.

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Concentrating on User Centered Design

Users have their mind set on the information they seek.  If you can align your web content with what your users desire you'll be more successful online.  This seems logical to everyone, but few people actually follow through on the logic.

One of the biggest mistakes a company can make online is not providing users the information they desire.  How many times have you visited a web site excepting one thing only to get another? Many companies decided what their content is going to be via committee. Upper level management has meetings and creates a strategy based on their desires.  What they are really doing is imposing what they think is important on the user.  This process rarely proves successful. In many cases it frustrates the user.

Successful web sites concentrate on user centered design.  They focus on providing high quality content and take extra strides to deliver that content effectively.  Theses companies take their egos out of the equation and focus on delivering high quality content to their users.

How do I provide users with relevant content? One suggestion is to take a survey of your users. Setup a simple survey via email.  If you're web site has been up for a while you should have more than enough user email addresses.  In the email, ask users what type of information or content they seek. Tabulate the data and find the top requests.  You'll usually find that what you think the user needs and what they actually want are two different things.  Make sure you provide the user with what they need and enjoy your online success.

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Networks and Marketing

The airshow convention started today.  I spent most of the time catching up with friends and meeting new people.  One of the people I had dinner with might bring me a tremendous amount of business.  The ironic thing is he initially started a conversation with me because of the airplane polo shirt I was wearing. 

People always say "you need to be in the right place at the right time." My advice is make sure you put yourself into the right place at the right time! It is easier than most people think.  If you are passionate about your market get yourself out to all the conventions and trade shows.  You can accomplish so much by meeting new people who are passionate about the same thing. 

Years ago I came up with an industry specific business idea.  I spent years developing it and competing against business with more resources.  That business idea has been sitting on the shelf for a few years. Today I started a conversation that might allow me to join with one of my industry competitors and punch through a huge barrier.  All those years of work and money invested might actually pay off.

Because of the power of personal networks I've achieved what other people classify as "impossible." It is amazing what you can accomplish with a few drinks with someone. When you have a good network in place almost anything is possible.  "We live in a world that offers no guarantees, only opportunities." - Michael Michalko. Grab your business cards and get going!

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Marketing with Stories

I finally made it to Vegas yesterday.  It is amazing how quickly one city in the middle of the desert can continue to grow.  Everywhere you look something new is being developed.

Today I find myself at Zion National Park, Utah.  The views are majestic and inspiring. 
During my hikes there were small historical placards with all sorts of interesting history and stories.  This reminds me of Seth Godin’s writing on the value of telling a good story. Whatever you do in life have a good story to go along with the experience.  The same methodology applies for web sites. If you are trying to sell a product or service online get the user engrossed via a good story. Create a story with words and pictures focusing on your target market.

One web site that does a great job of telling a compelling story with their product is Surefire.  Surefire sells some of the highest quality flashlights in the world.  Check out their web site and see how they use stories to sell their products.


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Magic Marketing Sales Technique

I'm reporting in from Chicago, Illinois.  Today has proven to be quite the flying challenge.  I'm heading out to the International Council of Airshows Convention in Las Vegas to speak on search engine optimization and online marketing.  During my wait in Chicago I took some time to look at a number of airport kiosks.  It is difficult to imagine how anyone can make money in an airport.  Many of the sales people are pushy and the products are not appealing. There is one exception that comes to mind.

During a recent trip to Florida I had a layover in Philadelphia.  There was a young gentleman performing magic tricks. Of all the kiosks and sales pitches I've ever seen at an airport this one was the best. He never came up to you, didn't need to shout, or interrupt your walk to get attention.  All he did was levitate a card.  You could see he was enjoying his work.  He was being passively unique and allowed people to come to his booth on their own.

After watching for a bit, I approached the magic kiosk and spent some time talking with the young gentleman.  I've been performing magic since I was a child and that made for a good personal connection. From our brief discussion he told me the trick was around $30.  When he told me how many he sold a day I was floored! He could of been lying.  But in the 5 minutes I watched him do his trick 10 people came up to him. One person purchased the trick.

Passively unique marketing also occurs in the airshow industry. All you have to do is fly a high performance airplane over a populated area and people will gather in mass.  I've witnessed this in the middle of a work day. There was a jet team practicing for an airshow in Rochester, New York.  The jets would fly a similar route near the downtown area.  Each successive pass brought more people outside to watch.  You had people in the streets and on rooftops watching in awe for over 30 minutes. P.T. Barnum would be proud.

The magic kiosk and airshow example illustrate a simple business lesson anyone can use.  If you are going to market something make it passively unique.  You'll sell so much more than the pushy and obnoxious sales person.

Unexpected Online Business Success

If you think your great idea is going to be huge and profitable online you usually get a very different result. How often does anything go the way you expect it to? There have been a number of wild ideas that I invested in over the years that were financial duds.  Everything looked good on paper but something didn't pan out as expected.  Fortunately I learned valuable lessons along the way. 

I found a similar trend amongst successful online friends. One friend was running a series of web sites for years without making a dime. Today he gets most of his traffic and income from a site he started two years ago.  For him the difference was in his thinking and approach.

A site I started last year led me to rediscover a whole new side of the Internet.  It was a fundamental that I knew existed but never fully embraced.  If you really want to be successful online learn the skill of direct marketing. You can have the greatest product in the world. But, if nobody knows it exists or wants to purchase it, you're going to have a hard time making sales.  Other people can take an average product or service, market it like there is no tomorrow to the right niche market and be very successful.

Gladwell points this out in his book The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make A Big Difference; it is the small things that can make a world of difference.

There comes a time on the Internet where you have to stop doing your homework and start executing on your ideas.  Gone are the days when you had to invest large sums of money to get started online.  Make sure you have you've done some homework, have a strategy, and ensure your marketing skills in place.  When your ducks are in a proper row go for it!

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