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!

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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.


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 and Your Library's Catalog
One of my favorite research techniques is utilizing 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 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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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 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

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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" »

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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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