Committing Chocolate Fraud – And Loving Every Sweet Minute of It!

I say, “Let them eat chocolate- even if they don’t have money!”

Gimme more chocolate!

Here’s the conundrum for poor chocoholics: have you ever craved chocolate-dope so bad, but you couldn’t fit it into your grocery budget? Are your kids addicts too? Where they bugged you relentlessly for Hershey’s chocolate sauce or that 2 lb. chocolate bar, but you just couldn’t afford it (all facts aside that your kids don’t even really need it, but, c’mon- what childhood didn’t revolve around the threat of pocking your teeth with cavities)?

So it is without delay that this post is specially dedicated to my fellow mothers, wives, ladies, girls, guys (don’t want to leave anyone out on this because its sweet application is universal) who work hard at maintaining a strict food budget due to a single-income (or two), job loss, unexpected emergencies or any other kind of pickle that forces restraint on a grocery bill.

And it’s also for “the others” (just kidding). The others are people who may not have a cash flow obstruction, yet just like the rest of us spend their days dreaming of a place where chocolate is provided free, is a basic human right and believe it should be considered a staple that’s handed out in society. Desiring it to be as free as let’s say crystalline water slurped from drinking fountains, super strong wi-fi that’s public, or dare I say, a mother’s love?images (2)

If you fit in any category listed above, today is your day…

Chocoholics far and wide, big or small- UNITE! The time of deliverance has arrived!

How do I make homemade chocolate when I have no money?

Chocolate is something you take for granted until you don’t have any.” –Marja McGraw

download (5)I’ve always been a big fan of chocolate covered fruit- whether it’s strawberries, bananas, or apples (don’t even get me started on the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory store), I’m totally game. Even paid eight whole dollars for a Godiva covered strawberry once; now *that* is dedication. Anyway, chocolate covered cherries? Well, it has to be dark chocolate and I’m very particular about how I eat them. My “method” involves prying the bottom off with my teeth, drinking- or sipping- the juice inside, slowly biting the rim of the chocolate down just a bit, then gobbling up the remaining cherry and surrounding lid. Mmmm… Anybody else play that game? If you do, we were probably separated at birth and one day when we reunite we’ll be the bestest of friends and eat all our favorite desserts together in the same exact way!

[[[excitedly claps hands]]]

I digress. [[[clears throat]]]

One day, I don’t know how, but I got an idea. Buy some fruit, buy some Magic Shell. Grab my trusty dinner plate (which later graduated to a cookie sheet), cut some fruit up onto the plate and squirt some brown chocolaty shell-sauce all over that fruit. Put it in the fridge and then proceeded to bite my nails down to the nub waiting for the timer to buzz. Took it out right at the 15 minute mark, and voila! Chocolate covered fruit…

Little pieces of heaven images (1)

The kids and I had our forks ready and wielded them about like swords poised for battle. To ensure everybody’s safety, we carefully ate one at a time and made SURE everyone got an even amount of pieces. We nervously sat around the tray eyeing each other like rabid dogs; there was NO WAY someone was coming out ahead!

Since then, when there were days when the food budget was tight, I reeeeeally wanted some chocolate covered fruit. I don’t know how, and I don’t know the exact moment, but I came to the idea that I could probably make my own chocolate dipping sauce. After all, I’m a motivated and industrious woman and dang it- I’ve made no bakes before; of course I could make my own chocolate!

And, I could have sworn there were some apples left over in the cupboard… Hmm…

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download (4)But before I take you to the end of this trail, I’m going to quickly interrupt at this point and bring in a very brief public service announcement.  Let’s take a second and ask what can “being poor” be compared to? I’ve racked my brain for a few weeks now working on this post and I just can’t come up with a good analogy. Because that’s the point- you don’t have enough dough to just run out and buy fancy things like toppings and sauces. Sometimes you have to experiment with what you already have.

You see, I checked out at the library a documentary called, “A Place at the Table”(highly recommend watching it- it’s emotional) and it was about the hunger issue in America. As part of the film there was a story on a single mother of two little ones, who as a family, struggled to eat every day. In one particular scene the young mom heated up a can of Chef Boy-R-Dee ravioli, split it between the little boy and the little girl who were sitting at the table, and proceeded to make herself a sandwich to eat by herself in the kitchen- there wasn’t enough ravioli in the can for her. In this scenario, she was between jobs, on public assistance, yet the assistance only allowed a few dollars a day to eat on. When she did have a job, it only paid minimum wage, therefore she made “too much” for food assistance; so again, she struggled.

As for my family we’ve been blessed beyond measure that we haven’t faced what this brave young mother did. I found her story to be very touching and at one point in the film, when the tears fell, mine fell right alongside hers.

The good news in the story is that she went on to acquire a really good, dependable job and she even went on to Congress (I believe) to speak on behalf of other families like her own that struggle to provide healthy and nutritious food to her children. If you get a chance, Google “food desert”, you might be surprised!

download (3)All this to say, when you don’t know where your next meal is coming from, you have to be creative in so many ways in order to make all the food you do buy stretch. And, I mean STRETCH! So, as part of my blog I’m going to start sharing little tips and tricks of the trade I’ve learned along with my own mother, who as a single mother *also* learned to make a lot from a little. I want to give away anything that will profit another and one way to do that is to help make your food budget go so much further than anyone can imagine (hint: putting money in your pocket for other things!).

(Psst… and I don’t mean eating pancakes 25 days out of the month, either!)

How to make homemade chocolate/chocolate sauce and/or dip that costs pennies using what you have in your kitchen!

klz07

Now back to the apples in our cupboard.

As with any home there are “staples” in the kitchen. You know, condiments, spices, baking supplies, etc. They are ALWAYS there. For some, there’s always salt and mustard. For others, there’s always chips and beer. Just kidding, so… what’s your staple? Among ours is the usual round-up of:

  • White sugar (yes, I know that it will kill us someday)
  • Milk (or coffee creamer if you’re in a real pinch)
  • Margarine (one molecule away from plastic- sweet!)
  • Powdered sugar (don’t judge me; I can’t eat sugar cookies without homemade icing.  And, the cookies taste better when they are baked in shapes like stars, hearts, snowmen and bells)
  • Cocoa (I’m usually a snob and only buy Hershey’s, but today, I actually bought Aldi’s brand. We’ll see how she goes)

So, guess what? If you have these ingredients in your cupboard, you can totally make your own chocolate! Be prepared for a new era in your life: BC=Before Chocolate, and AD=After Dhocolate.

I got nothin’ people!

Wait, wait, wait- you said this cost hardly anything- free, even!? As my daughter so studiously pointed out, those food items cost money. And, she’s right. They do. BUT, if you are going to buy them *anyway* and you are only using mere ounces at a time, it *truly* breaks down to costing pennies. For us, we ALWAYS have sugar, milk, and margarine. When we do buy powdered sugar and cocoa, we make every effort to buy the economy size because that’s where you get the most for your money. Besides, having cocoa around is *great* for stretching those $1 brownie mixes, $1 cake mixes (it’s like getting two boxes for the price of one- I’ll explain how to do that in a later post), whipping up a batch of no bakes and many other things. Trust me, it’s worth it to save up (if you have to) and then buy!

Now, here are the quantities (if you, reader, disagree with these ingredients, please read the disclaimer at the bottom of this section):

4 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. cocoa

1 tbsp. milk (I just fill up the cap)

Small tbsp. of butter

2-4 heaping tbsp. powdered sugar (optional – makes it thicker)

This is how I do it. And, when I do it’s usually an extreme emergency because someone is going through the DT’s and I have to be quick. Plus, it’s super easy too! Bonus!

  1. Use 2 mugs. In one, mix your sugar and cocoa together. Blend well or you’ll have cocoa globs.
  2. Microwave the butter and milk in the 2nd mug until melted (microwaves vary- ours usually does the trick in 25 seconds).
  3.  Add wet to dry or vice versa. Mix well for about a one minute- and I MEAN one minute, let the sugar dissolve (unless you like your sauce grainy).
  4. Microwave again until bubbling (approx. 25-30 seconds), then stir again for a bit until smooth (should have a shiny look to it).
  5. Add powdered sugar a spoonful at a time until desired consistency. Adding more powdered sugar will make it more like icing/frosting. TAKE NOTE: when the powdered sugar is added this late in the game it has a tendency to leave a clump or two here and there —>clumps do not deter this family<—. However, if clumps give you the willy’s just add the powdered sugar to your sugar/cocoa mixture and mix well. IF your mixture gets too dry, just add a little extra milk.

__________________

DISCLAIMER: Let me preface to say that we are not organic hippies. Please don’t be offended by this term. You have to know the kind; they use essential oils to heal everything from cancer to dust in your eye. They eat only organic. Their water is perfectly Ph balanced. They wouldn’t be caught dead in a Walmart. You couldn’t pay them to use VO5 shampoo and they don’t shave their armpits.

But, that just isn’t me-us, no offense to those who want to break the age barrier. I use refined sugar, shampoos with sodium lauryl sulphate, meat that comes from cows that aren’t happy, the list can go on for days.

Honestly though, in real life I have some of the dearest and bestest organic hippy friends in the whole world and I love them dearly. Surprisingly, they love me back.

Even in all my facetious glory.

__________________
So there you have it! Feel free to dip apple slices, strawberries and diced bananas (or anything else you can think of (popcorn? toasted cereal? PRETZELS!). It’s delicious! Just yesterday, I made it a little thick with the powdered sugar, but not thick enough to dunk things, and dipped toothpick’d marshmallows into it. Once the marshmallows were sufficiently covered, I plopped each one onto wax paper and refrigerated them for that excruciating 15 minute wait time. The chocolate didn’t *completely* harden, but it hardened enough and they were AWESOME! Maybe if you are like Martha Stewart and know all there is to know about certain kind of hardening agents (like edible wax), you could develop your own chocolate covered marshmallow business! Or dipped apple slices, like this:f7a5fdcd2b24c0466b3abd4975139a5c

I have to make a dessert for a party, but I’m super broke, what do I do?

download (2)Pinterest has a lot of yummy looking images of food and desserts. I get a lot of my ideas from there. Some recipes are real gems, some are real stinkers (they always sucker you with that professional photography, don’t they?). And some of them are killer expensive; for example, I wrote down a recipe hemming and hawing the whole time because I knew the ingredients were going to be expensive. But, that dang high-def image hooked me line and sinker.

The recipe was for caramel bars that required 4 sticks of butter (yes, 4), a bag of caramels and a whole bunch of other things. I actually made the dessert and it turned out to be not only expensive (like $12-$15), but was very time consuming also (why not just be one or the other: cheap and hard, or expensive and fast? I mean, there should be some kind of trade-off). Was it good? It was good, but for all the effort and money, it should have DANCED in my throat.

Are you super broke? Is your work party or birthday party on a Wednesday? Here’s just one idea: buy a $1 cake mix, make the frosting listed in the chocolate recipe adding extra powdered sugar. Voila! Dessert for many for only a dollar! All you would have to do is mathematically figure out how to get a couple cups (the recipe I posted makes about a half cup).

I often challenge myself just to see what I can get away with how much I can NOT spend, i.e., save $$$.

Does that make me cheap? Heeeeck no. It makes me the whiz kid of finance! I take all that money and I spend it on way better things, like the fair, a day trip, dairy queen, gymnastics, various lessons, schooling, etc. There are so many ways to either A.) make what you want/need, and B.) stretch what you have! Every little bit helps reduce your food bill and put money into your pocket.download (1)

Give this recipe a try. It’s really good and you can make chocolate anytime with just a few ingredients and literally in only a couple minutes. Let’s also not forget that you can use this on ice cream, cupcakes or brownie frosting- now that’s rich!

Your kids will love it so much you many never have a quiet moment to yourself again. Ever! (Psst… we think it’s even better than the store bought stuff!)

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An Online Business That Makes You Money… Now What? — SELL IT, You Say?

imagesCASX4NZ7“The question has often been asked of me, “What do the owners of extraordinary businesses know that the rest don’t.”

Contrary to popular belief my experience has shown me that the people who are exceptionally good in business aren’t so because of what they know but because of their insatiable need to know more.

The problem with most failing businesses I’ve encountered is not that their owners don’t know enough about finance, marketing, management, and operations – they don’t, but those things are easy enough to learn – but that they spend their time and energy defending what they think they know. The greatest businesspeople I’ve met are determined to get it right no matter what the cost.imagesCAW7Q6UD

And by getting it right, I’m not just talking about the business.

I mean that there is something uplifting, some vision, some higher end in sight that “getting it right” would serve.

An ethical certainty, a moral principle, a universal truth.

imagesCATHZ0PQWhich is not to say that those I’m inclined to think of as extraordinary would necessarily communicate it that way. Many can’t. Even if they had the inclination they simply don’t have the words for it. But it’s still there all the same. You can see it in their eyes, feel it radiating from their bodies, hear it in the timbre of their voices.

imagesCA96MEHQOn the other hand, notwithstanding the search for “something higher,” the best of the best I have known are extraordinarily grounded people; they are compulsive about detail, pragmatic, down-to-earth, in touch with the seamy reality of ordinary life. They know that a business doesn’t miss the mark by failing to achieve greatness in some lofty, principled way, but in the stuff that goes on in every nook and cranny of the business – on the telephone, between the customer and a salesperson, on the shipping dock, at the cash register.

And so the great ones I have known seem to possess an intuitive understanding that the only way to reach something higher is to focus their attention on the multitude of seemingly insignificant, unimportant and boring things that make up every business. (And that make up every life, for that matter!)

imagesCA62OAY3Those mundane and tedious little things that, when done exactly right, with the right kind of attention and intention, form in their aggregate a distinctive essence an evanescent quality that distinguishes every great business you’ve ever done business with from its more mediocre counterparts whose owners are satisfied to simply get through the day.

Yes, the simple truth about the greatest businesspeople I have known is that they have a genuine fascination for the truly astonishing impact little things done exactly right can have on the world.

It is to that fascination that this book is dedicated.

This book is a guide for those who see the development of an extraordinary business as a never-ending inquiry, an ongoing investigation, an active engagement with a world of forces, within us and without, that continually amaze and confound the true seekers amount us with awesome variety, unending surprises and untold complexity.

While it may seem obvious, this fascination with the development of an extraordinary business is not the same as a fascination with success.

imagesCAEC44F2Certainly not the success we normally think of. Some end point which, having reached it, enables one to say, “I did it!” Because my experience has taught me only too well that end points in the development of an extraordinary business are instantly replaced by beginning points.

imagesCAH6PV2CSo, this book is not about ending, but about beginnings, about the never-ending game, the delightful and exhilarating process, the continuous evolution of our senses of our consciousness – of our humanness – which only comes from being present in the moment, from being attentive to what’s going on.

I believe that our business can provide us with a mirror to see ourselves as we are, to see what we truly know and what we don’t know, to see ourselves honestly, directly, and immediately.

I believe that our business can become an exciting metaphor for

“The Way.”

A wise person once said, “Know thyself.” To that honorable dictum I can only add for the businessperson on the path of discovery, good traveling and good luck.

imagesCAAEUR30I might also add a few instructive words from another wise man, Anthony Greenbank, who said in The Book of Survival,

To live through an impossible situation, you don’t need the reflexes of a Grand Prix driver, the muscles of a Hercules, the mind of an Einstein. You simply need to know what to do.”

4000478-515030-decorative-elements-border-and-page-rules

This excerpt comes from The E-Myth RevisitedMichael Gerber’s, The E-Myth Revisited.

1And, I cannot stress enough how much this book spoke to me. I picked it up, not *super* enthused about it… I had put it on “hold” at the library and when I finally got it, I’ll admit that it didn’t look too promising.

This is where the old adage, “never judge a book by it’s cover” totally comes into play.

From the moment I read the first paragraph, I KNEW that this is the book I have been waiting for. I can only say that it *perfectly* put into words all the thoughts and feelings I had swirling around in my brain for MONTHS.

Today’s post is just a Part 1; Part 2 will go into more detail about what I learned. Not to worry, this won’t hash out into a five-part series like last time, but I will say that it’s going to be very interesting. I love learning new things about business!

So, this is the quick gist:

It’s all about this:

Creating a system that will make your business replicable.

imagesMB12XCOWWhat that means is, enabling your business to be repeatable by someone else. In other words, taking yourself out of your business and allowing others to do it. It’s creating a residual income where you are not the one performing the work.

Sound’s interesting, doesn’t it?

In essence it’s learning to create a franchise that you sell for a profit.imagesS8UF0JL8 Stay tuned…


The Ultimate Marketing Strategy Checklist Your Small Business Needs To Make Money

This is the last post from my marketing series. I’ve summarized all the points I made across the board. Enjoy!

Guerrilla Marketing, 4th editionTake heart that every change can represent money in your life if you learn about it and do something about it.” – Jay Conrad Levinson, Guerilla Marketing

 

1appGiven the right circumstances, fire has a voracious appetite. It will eat up just about anything you put in front of it – if it’s hot enough. However, the point isn’t about the temperature, it’s the way it devours. At times, its power can be nearly unstoppable.

 

2firHave you ever felt that way? Not necessarily unstoppable, but a feeling of never giving up? You press on – you never give up, there’s always this hunger. Sometimes that feeling is strong, sometimes that feeling grows dull, but it’s an ever-present reality in your life – your online business life. It’s comparable to a fire that consistently burns – sometimes it rages, sometimes it’s mere embers, but it’s always “alit”.

 

3cashPersonally, I’ve always had that burn. It’s like a particular drive. To get where? That elusive place called, success? What is success? It seems to me that the definition for that term is different for everybody. For you that’s reading this, the chances I would imagine are creating for yourself an online business that provides you with a constant inflow of residual income, am I right?

 

4sqGoing back to square one, that’s what this blog is all about. It’s about creating an online business that does exactly that. What this blog isn’t about is dreaming up what exact business you are looking to grow. For example: computer programing, accounting, software/app creating, makeup tips, music videos, acting/modeling, the list goes on and on and on. You are the one that knows yourself best, you know what it is that makes you happy, what your passion is, what your “product” is.

 

5goalMy goal is to move you onwards and upwards once you are in that place of knowing what it is you are going to do. In my mind, the directives are somewhat generic across the board. Have a website? Check. Twitter account? Check, check. Facebook? Done.

 

So, if you are an FPI business owner, this blog caters to the next step. What do you do after you have all your social media in place.

 

6searNow that we’ve got that established, I first have to mention this; even today, for the most part, after all my years of Internet experience, I still see a constant search, a constant hunger for *instant cash*. People (myself included, I won’t lie) have this dream that they will stumble onto a platform that will turn their laptop into a virtual ATM. How do I know? The two biggest keywords on Internet search engines is…. Guess what?

 

MAKE

 

MONEY

 

1dreamFor most of us, we have a dream. Our ultimate goal and desire is to wake up to a cash machine sitting at our dining room table, or wherever our laptop might be sitting. There are those who believe that it can happen, and there are those who don’t believe it can happen. For those who do believe and actually know how it can be done, will charge you for this knowledge. For those who don’t believe that it can happen just aren’t open minded enough (or at the very least, haven’t found the right avenue).

 

Can it happen? Will it happen? My answer is why couldn’t it happen?

 

Why not?

 

1keyThis is what I think: it can happen. Here’s what you probably don’t want to hear: but it does take work. And how hard and how fast is up to you. But, here’s the KEY: if you have the right tools, it can be faster rather than slower.

 

So, what kind of work, you ask?

 

1sellI don’t know. Keystrokes? Phone calls? You have a product, right? The goal is to sell that product. You will NOT get money any other way. People have to buy something from you in order for you to get paid. Do you know of any business in this world that does not operate in this way? Whether it’s:

 

  • your time (viewing ads, assisting others, reading articles, etc.),
  • your information (what you know, what you’ve experienced, what you’ve done, etc.), or
  • your product (clothing, makeup, tools, accessories, specialty/novelty product, etc.)

 

2loveYou won’t make money any other way. Period. Craft your online business based on what you love to do. Sell a product you love. And whatever you do, don’t stop. It’s not hard to stoke the fires of perseverance and motivation, a term I’ve lovingly coined, “moti-verance” (if you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably seen me mention it). You stay at it, you search out and devour all the information you can and you study the people that have gone on before you in your field.

 

2checkJust don’t do all of that on the Internet alone. Go to your local library. Please, please, please trust me on this one. And then when you’re done with that, print this out and check off each one – one by one and see if this doesn’t completely jump-start your online career.

 

From Part 1:

The sole purpose of this blog is to equip you with the knowledge and give you the tools you will need to grow your business. This post is about one of the many facets out there working to propel your ideas and products out into the social world. It’s called, marketing.” – Joy @ Glowbees

 

  • Pin down 5 professionals heroes in your field through magazines, books and blogs.

___________________________________________

___________________________________________

___________________________________________

___________________________________________

___________________________________________

 

  • Stimulating the juices that water the super-fruit of your creative imagination.

Your top three methods:

_____________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________

Coloring a picture in a quiet place – don’t knock this one! It works!

 

  • Utilize these two points above to create something addictive about your online business that has the potential to go viral.

What is it?____________________________________________________

 

∇      Carve time out of your week to spend at least two hours at your local library reading quietly off in a corner somewhere.

 

∇      You have a notepad you’ve purchased that you now carry with you everywhere.

 

∇      Promoted three of your professional heroes via an email message using a sample message I’ve shared.

 

 

From Part 2:

1st

 

Success in the new era of business is driven by your ability to stand out and be truly remarkable. That requires an ability to tap into creativity, break the mold, introduce disruptive change, and dislodge the status quo.” – Josh Linkner, Disciplined Dreaming

 

  • Establishing what it means to be an FPI businessperson. Making sure you are fully integrated on each of the following:

 

o   Your own interactive web site                                                                                   ∇

o   Your business blog                                                                                                          ∇

o   A business page on Facebook                                                                                       ∇

o   Profile completed on LinkedIn                                                                                    ∇

o   Profile on Pinterest                                                                                                         ∇

o   Profile on Google+                                                                                                          ∇

o   A Twitter account                                                                                                            ∇

o   Accounts on the following news sites:

  • Tumblr                                                                                                                       ∇
  • Reddit                                                                                                                        ∇
  • StumbleUpon                                                                                                           ∇
  • Disqus                                                                                                                        ∇
  • Digg                                                                                                                            ∇

 

∇      Created a digital-free zone somewhere in your office.

 

∇      Knowing the combined top 3 creative methods your professional heroes share. Be brief, but not enough to lose specificity!

o   ___________________________________________________

o   ___________________________________________________

o   ___________________________________________________

 

∇      A controversial and opposing viewpoint to your business’ mission statement. As an example, I sell women’s clothing. My angle is modesty, which can in itself be a controversial subject.

 

o   ___________________________________________________

 

Two ways you will use this to your advantage:

o   ___________________________________________________

o   ___________________________________________________

 

1talk

 

People won’t talk about you if you don’t give them something to say. Anything that catches attention is a topic. Anything that catches attention and then gets talked about is a fantastic topic.” Andy Sernovitz’s book, Word of Mouth Marketing

 

∇    Completed a brief email interview with one of your professional heroes and then wrote a blog article about it bring exposure to them and to your business.

 

∇    Outsourced through an online hiring platform to promote your blog or business (this is an excellent time-freeing objective – it brings exposure to your business while you sleep, or play, or go out to eat).

 

∇    Created a colorful chart/diagram concerning your business containing everything that you know that others would find useful. The link to your web site is listed at the bottom for exposure. You have shared this on all your social platforms (for online viewing: an example can be found HERE).

 

∇    You have a give-away item that your clients eagerly anticipate receiving. Your logo and web site information is on this product (remember the Microsoft MVP program!).

 

∇    You are currently co-partnered with a charity that is dear to your heart.

 

From a word of mouth perspective, charities are especially powerful because they come with their own built-in network of talkers. When you connect with any nonprofit, from a national organization to a single, small youth group, everyone in that group has a reason to talk about you. They are organized, involved, and have ready-to-go communication channels.” Andy Sernovitz’s book, Word of Mouth Marketing

∇    Three words: YOUTUBE VIDEO CONTEST.

 

 

From Part 3:

 

untitled

Likeable Social Media: How to Delight Your Customers, Create an Irresistible Brand, and Be Generally Amazing on Facebook (& Other Social Networks)

[This] …is not about broadcasting your message and getting the largest reach and frequency – it’s about tapping into the conversation, listening, engaging, and empowering. The loudest, biggest spenders don’t win anymore. The smartest, most flexible listeners do.” Dave Kerpen, Likeable Social Media

 

 

∇    Three methods from Part 3 you are currently incorporating one a week to get more “Likes” on your Facebook business page:

 

o   ___________________________________________________

o   ___________________________________________________

o   ___________________________________________________

 

 

♣    TWITTER – Check when completed

 

∇    Your business hosted a live chat (and continues to on a regular basis)

∇    Holds a monthly (or less) contest

∇    Incorporates a semi-annual (or more often) giveaway

∇    Post brain games, riddles and funny jokes at least 3 times (or more) a week

 

 

∇    Established a private, closed group on LinkedIn with professionals in your field for the sole purpose of gaining knowledge, learning methods of promotion (for them), asking questions, creating a dialogue and gaining recommendations (this group is not to gain clients – I repeat, not to gain clients! It is to NETWORK).

 

∇    Established an open group of people you know in real life on Facebook for the purpose of support, encouragement, and ideas. These people are positive, upbeat and share similar business goals.

 

∇    You are incorporating at least two methods from Part 3 that enable you to be more likeable, transparent and personable within your business. These two methods are:

 

o   ___________________________________________________

o   ___________________________________________________

 

∇    You are continually in the process of writing small, brief, yet concise reports on trending heroes in your field at least once every two weeks using the methods listed in Part 3. You are learning:

 

o   How your goals and paths are similar

o   What you wish to emulate in their business life

o   What value you can bring to their table

 

 

From Part 4:

 

1mar

 

My goal with this whole series is to put marketing tools in your arsenal from every possible angle by acquiring the latest and greatest, yet critical information which will in turn, procure a wealth of tips & tricks every small business owner should have that leads to relationships, fans, sales, profits and success! – Joy @ Glowbees

 

Part 4 was about utilizing all the tools that I’ve written about in your off-line business life (no social media). You should have in place the following:

 

∇    An ultra-sleek, curiosity-inspiring bumper decal on the back of your car that includes your web address or logo.

 

∇    Brochures and 3×5 cards that you distribute everywhere you go that have a pretty person on them, are in color, give the people who see them complete simplicity in being more involved with your business (via TXT is a plus) (don’t forget that there are approx. 30 ideas for places to place them at in the post).

 

∇    You are set up on an online platform that allows you to receive texts through a “shortcode”. You are incorporating this into every possible marketing strategy that you use in order to make it easier for your viewing audience to:

o   receive something from you, i.e., newsletters, products, giveaways

o   ‘Like’ you on Facebook or follow you on Twitter/Pinterest, or

o   view your site, blog, & profiles.

 

∇    You are working on an ad project that you will place in a regional edition of an upscale magazine. The ad will be for your business or an eBook (see below) that you have written by doing the following:

o   creating the design and layout of the ad

o   considering the possibility of partnering with another business to cut costs (called fusion marketing)

o   ordering reprints of the ad for mere cents that you will:

o  place in mailers,

o  create a poster for,

o  have framed,

o  all with the words: “As seen in…”

∇    You have or are creating an eBook full of free information that you will give to anyone who wishes to download it complete with your web address listed in the footer of every page. Ways to get content are listed in the post.

 

∇    You currently have in place a reminder system for follow-up with clients after every sale (30 days, 90 days and one year).

 

∇    Every week you mail out at least 2 personal notes using the highest quality materials to potential clients or those on your mailing list that have not purchased from you yet. This note is to introduce yourself and give them an opportunity to receive something from you for free (through contest, promotion, giveaways deal, or eBook).

 

____________________________

 

I really had a great time blogging about all of the methods that have worked for me in my business. I truly hope that as you incorporate them in your own marketing strategies that they will kick-start your online business career selling whatever you are passionate about. And one day, your laptop will be your virtual ATM. Who’s to say that one day you won’t see this:

 

3payrecd

 

2groI’ve created something I wish I would have had five years ago. I believe that this is a pretty good break-down list of everything you should be working towards for your business, so print this out and keep it handy by your desk. For me, I use Excel in the form of this list. In one column I have all my ideas. Then, in approx. 1 to 2 weeks, I check back in and place in the column next to it what happened to that idea. I post updates, if you will in the next cell over. That way, I can see laterally what is working, what’s on hold, what’s not working, what I’m waiting on, etc. etc. And every 1 to 2 weeks I have a new column and I just keep following it over. At the bottom of my most current column I place new ideas, so it’s basically always growing, but never to the point that I can’t see what I’ve already done. It’s a nice system for me and it works.

 

Well, I really appreciate you taking the time to read my posts. And, if you have any questions or responses to these strategies and methods, I’d love to hear them!

 

 

Thanks for reading.

 

Joy

Unbelievably New & Easy Marketing Tips & Tricks – Without Using Social Media – Say What?! Part 4 of 4

Let’s Pretend Social Media Doesn’t Exist… Just For A Bit. How Would That Impact How You Do Business? Time To Pluck That Creative Super-Fruit!

4

1clockWow! We are at Part 4, already? Time flies when you’re having fun, I guess. And, I hope you had fun! It’s unfortunate that right now, I’m just realizing that this marketing series has throwing a crap-ton of information at you… And, it’s just now that I’ve decided that after this post I’m going to break everything down in a “summary post” for you with an easy to do list complete with a timeline of where you should be and where you should be going.

 

2overBefore we start, I first want to throw out there that my intention isn’t to overwhelm anybody. And, now that this marketing series is almost over I realize that I’ve pretty much thrown just about every marketing tactic there is, out there, at you, a little willy nilly. Kinda cool… kinda not cool. But, don’t think that you’ve wasted your time here with each post- NO! Although the break-down summary post coming after this one is going to be brief– it still won’t contain the necessary information that I’ve previously posted; so trust me, it was worth your while to read each post in this series. The purpose of a Part 5, if you will, is to just give you an ‘at-a-glance’ list to make sure you’re on track. It will be something you can print out and check off as you go and if you need to refer back to the post in detail- that will be just fine!

 

3moneyMy goal with this whole series is to put marketing tools in your arsenal from every possible angle by acquiring the latest and greatest, yet critical information which will in turn, procure a wealth of tips & tricks every small business owner should have that leads to relationships, fans, sales, profits and success!

 

4billySo, since we’ve covered a lot of ground digital wise, I’m going to go the route of old-school- by getting off social media for a bit. To do that, let’s pretend we live in the 1800’s and there’s no such thing as the Internet. Think of like this by repeating the next sentence: this is ground zero, here people (say that with a Western-Cowboy accent and the transformation will be complete!) and we are going to lay the ground-work for the basics… BUT not just any old basics- we are going totally to the NEXT LEVEL on this.

 

5futureThis will be the absolute latest and newest methods on the market to date. It’s nearly April, 2014 and I have yet to see this some of this information across the net (some of it, but not all). How do I know? Because I’ve been researching it myself and have come up empty handed (and I don’t know if that’s good or bad yet)! I’ve decided that I’m simply going to tackle it myself and become the ultimate, virtual pioneer in non-Internet marketing. This is going to include, A) what needs to be on your brochures, post cards, mailers, etc. (tactics not really done in small time business YET), B) making it EASY for your client to see you and then tap in, C) using the newest (FREE) technology for broadcasting your company, D) using amazing audio combined with flashy packaging to “wow” your potentials, and so much more! So, hold on to your cowboy hats!

4000478-515030-decorative-elements-border-and-page-rules

11suitDid you know you’ve been on a journey? Someone has snuck into your house and packed your bag whether you liked it or not- well… actually, you really want to go, you just didn’t know how badly until now.

 


How did this all begin? To be 100% completely, bald-faced honest, it started out by me doing a search on the mathematical formula for business success. Like the movie Moneyball, I figured that that there has to be some type of formula for success.

 

Again, to be honest, I’m still trying to find it. To the right is the book the movie is based off of —–>>>>>>

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game
by Michael Lewis

 

11recordDon’t you get tired of reading the same things over and over and over, feeling like a record spinning into nowhere, just going around and around and around? Don’t you want to move up to the next level by doing something totally revolutionary when it comes to social media and even doing something revolutionary that doesn’t include the Internet?

 

Listen, your business ventures will never be like every Disney movie ever made that incorporates some type of magic to get the story across. But, you’ll have to incorporate something like it;

 

…the magic of your creativity

(once again)

 

Only this time, you’ll use your creativity combined with my creativity (and the fruit of my research and ‘know-how’).
Guerrilla Marketing, 4th edition

As you better know by now, making consistent money on the Web means excelling in three areas: building your online mailing list, converting prospects into customers and customers into repeat customers, and automating the process through sequential autoresponders and online payment systems to free up your time for other activities.”
– Jay Conrad Levinson, Guerilla Marketing

 

So, without further ado, here’s THE LIST; your comprehensive, numbered, all-in-one place for marketing your business off-line. Let’s get to it!

 

11bump1. THE WHAT: Bumper decals for your car- not stickers via Cafepress in YOUR design that A) you will use yourself, and B) give away to customers who just bought from you, friends and family. And, not like this, by the way:

<<<<<<<——————

 

11carTHE WHY: If you are like most people, you drive A LOT. As an example, I put nearly 200 miles on my car yesterday alone. How many pairs of eyes do you think were on me the entire time I was driving? Probably lots- if not hundreds. The goal is to get “brand visibility”. Your brand is what you are aiming at establishing. It needs to be seen, it needs to be recognized, it needs to become part of a movement. Think that’s too big of a thought or dream? Then, you need to broaden your horizons! Why? Because ANYTHING is possible! Plus, it has an additional two-fold perk: gives you incentive to keep your car clean and keeps you cognizant of being a better driver!

 

11duckTHE HOW: Design it in a graphics program like Inkscape (you can download this fantastic program for FREE – I love it and use it nearly every day). It should be done in white. It should be simple. Above all- should BE COOL! It must be “shareable” and people should want to share it (by putting it on their car). Think about that white duck head sticker people put on their cars, you know the one I’m talking about. You’ll want to use some words though, possible your web address, or business name at least. Possibly a slogan? Invitation to join your exclusive club?

 

THE BENNIES: Great local visibility for your business garnering potential traffic to your site leading to sales, and also aids in establishing your brand.

 

Here’s an example from my own decal:

 BUMPER

 

If you would like me to design one for you, I can, for FREE. Well, not entirely free, but almost. All I ask is that you refer whoever asks about your decal to my blog, that’s it!

BUMPER2

 

 

22shutter2. THE WHAT: Brochures & 3×5 Cards – that you design via Shutterfly. They must include the image of a person (pretty girls get more attention – sorry, but true), be colorful, great typeset, AND the information you put on them must make it easy for your customer to get to you. See the *** below. 

22shareTHE WHY: If done right, you’ll get lots of eyes. If they’re shareable, they’ll get passed on. If you include the right information on them, they’ll stick around awhile. There is very little cost to this one, but the return can be high.

22matTHE HOW: You will physically place these in various areas and/or mail to your potentials and/or already established customers. Ideas for where to place: subways, schools, senior centers, college dorms, fraternities, churches, local community club centers, apartments, grocery stores, malls, car washes, condo party centers, hotels, military cafeterias, counters of public places, meeting convention centers, libraries, chambers of commerce, medical offices, roller rinks, waiting rooms at auto centers, party stores, company bulletin boards, tourist information centers, rest stops, banks, factories, beauty salons, bookstores, laundry mats. Can you think of more places?

22txtTHE CUTTING EDGE: Have you ever seen this, “TXT the word LOVE to 12345 and receive a free X”?? When a person texts something to a 5 or 6-digit number, those digits are called, “shortcodes”.

To get a “shortcode” to use as a marketing method, you have to buy one and it can cost you hundreds if not a thousand dollars a month (don’t believe me, just Google search it).

Here’s the catch that I discovered for small businesses: You can have one FOR FREE; totally legit, totally legal, no strings.

But, the way that I aim to use it is for people to text ME in order for them to get discounts, coupons, gifts, etc with my company. It doesn’t cost me to do that and it doesn’t cost my customer *depending* on their service carrier.

00easyYour goal is to create a system that makes it EASY for your clients, fans, potentials and other businesses to notice you and get something from you. Think about it, how many people do you know that dang-near live 100% of their lives on their phones? Mobile tech is NOW. If you don’t have a web site that can be read on an iPhone… well, you’re behind the times, my friend!

People will do something if A) it’s easy, and B) if something is in it for them. You’re going to do that with your brochures, flyers and 3×5 mailing cards.

00logoThe site that I use is at TextLocal (and no, I’m not being paid by them, really) and you can get a code that your clients and fans can use to simply txt whatever message you want to the 5-digit code they give you.

For example: You are having a promotional sale on your products. So, you create a flyer and distribute it around town. On that flyer you type:

Text the words, “SIGN ME UP!” to 54445 and receive a 20% off coupon on your next shopping trip with us!

 

01buildThe result is you can have your fan base text you to do ANYTHING YOU WANT THEM TO DO. What I’ve typed here is just a simple foundation. It is up to you to build on that foundation by using your own creativity- I know you can do it! Just put some thought into it and then think about this: by having them txt you, you can then move them to go various places.

 

Here are some simple and easy ideas for what they can get when they text you:

            • Signing them up for your newsletter
            • Giving them coupons for a purchase
            • Sending them a free gift
            • Ask them to visit your web site to be entered into a contest
            • Direct them to ‘Like’ you on Facebook for exclusive deals
            • Send them a link to follow you on Twitter
            • And, more! The possibilities are endless!

 

 

02save3. THE WHAT: Magazine Ads – By advertising your free eBook OR simply advertising your business. But, in order for people to respond to your ad, there has to be something they can get. Can you craft it around saving money, or making money? Maybe joining an exclusive club? That is what motivates people usually- money, deals and exclusivity. 

02bookFor an e-Book:

People, however, will always treasure and pass on information that is relevant and helps them with some aspect of their life.” – Jay Conrad Levinson, Guerilla Marketing

02book2Do a book report by checking out books from the library, magazine articles from the web (cite all articles you use), public domain, hire writers for very low cost. Be sure to write out a mission statement about your company and place your web address on every footer in small print. Make a snazzy cover page. The goal is to bring people to your site. Make it relevant, informative, free and useful. Take a month to do this, follow this timeline:

        • Week 1: Write your mission statement that includes what your mission is, what your company is about and what problems you solve. Utilize Dreamstime and Fotolia (they are the most cost effective stock agencies that I’ve found) to come up with ideas for a cover page. Find the best illustration that you can buy. Add your own personal text to the image.
        • Week 2: Get your content by checking out three books. Write 5 loaded paragraphs using information from the books. Incorporate stock images from Dreamstime as they high quality and FREE (people LOVE graphics!).
        • Week 3: Create more content via the web. Find three great web articles and PRINT THEM OUT to read at home. Get off the internet and concentrate on the articles themselves. Grab the best and most informative lines regarding your subject. Add your own ideas.
        • Week 4: Either hire out freelance writers for a few dollars (ask me how HERE if you have any troubles) or scour the public domain for information you can use. At this point, you should have plenty of good content.

 

downloadOnce you have that, save it all together with your website address in the footer as a .PDF file that people can download. You can then send it manually by email upon request or set up an automatic file downloading app on your web site. Instructions on how to do that can be found HERE.

 

To advertise your business:

Guerrilla Marketing, 4th editionA properly produced magazine ad, preferably of the full-page variety, gives a small business more credibility than any other mass-marketing medium.” – Jay Conrad Levinson, Guerrilla Marketing

Your best bet according to Jay, is to buy remnant space for a lower price in a regional edition of an upscale magazine (an example would be TIME Magazine), or partner with another business to split the cost. To find regional editions and prices for advertising click HERE. You’ll need to get familiar with the Standard Rate and Data Service, Inc. which is published monthly for ad rates.

01asinOnce you have an ad run, you can buy reprints available at a fraction of a cent each. Here’s why this is a phenomenal method for your business:

You will not necessarily gain consumer confidence from a single exposure to your magazine ad. But if you run the ad once, you can use the reprints of that ad forever.  One highly successful company ran a single regional ad in a single issue of Time magazine, then used reprints of the ad in its window and on its counter for nearly thirty-five years afterward. Reprints were also sent in direct mailings. His mailing in 2006 could even run a reporting that stated, “As seen in Time magazine.” – heavy duty name dropping from an ad run once in 1973. That’s getting mileage out of magazine advertising! – Jay Conrad Levinson, Guerrilla Marketing

 

 

00loyalty4. THE WHAT: Earnings for sharing – In some places you will see this frowned upon because people believe that you are “buying” your customer’s loyalty, but I disagree. This is how I see it: If you like the brand, like the goods, are already a fan and you’re going to share about your excellent experience anyhow (because people will ask you), why not get perks in the process that’s already going to happen?

00coffeeTHE HOW: By sharing with their friend and family base what they got from you is the goal. How this goal is achieved is by giving them incentive to do so. Now how you do that is up to you; it can be through gift certificates, entries into a contest, a free gift… actually the possibilities are endless! You can choose what you want to give in order for them to share what they’ve received from you. For example, have them take a picture of themselves with your product to share with their friends (including a hashtag of your company name) and how ever many “shares” they get are entries into a contest for a $10 gift certificate to their favorite coffee joint!

00benniesTHE BENNIES: If you are creative enough with this one, the rate of exponential growth could happen. One friend shares, then three of them share, on and on it goes. It’s more visibility for a small cost.

00guft5. THE WHAT: Your free gift included with every sale – Could be a:

          • mini-catalog (that you will ask for them to be passed on and shared. You’ll want to include somewhere that most of your customers pass them on to save on recycling, etc. (this is a persuasion tactic that is widely known in which if “most other people are doing it” they will be influenced to do it also). Check out this article, “Mini Catalogs Catching On as Economy and Culture Change” as soon as you have the chance.
          • Coupons in the form of a snazzy envelope complete with ribbon.
          • Free gift that your customer can actually use that includes your business logo on it.

00rememberTHE WHY: Once you have included some type of gift with your sale, the most crucial point to remember is: follow up afterwards – most business owners are unaware of how crucial follow-up is after the sale and that at 30 days, 90 days and at one year contact must be made. So, HOW do you remember this? At the point of sale, you create a calendar appointment on your Outlook (or other date setting platform) with reminders at those date points. On top of those reminders are WHAT you will send: email, mailer, small gift, fancy envelope celebrating your one year anniversary (with a coupon). Make it easy for them to recommend three friends to you based on your awesome ‘keeping in touch’ strategy.

THE HOW: You can create a catalog pretty much through any online publishing platform. The key is to make sure you have *awesome* graphics either through a stock agency (you can get images for FREE through the ones I mentioned above) and that it’s clean, easy to read, and fun. Create it in Adobe or graphics program like Inkscape (super-spectacular program that you can download HERE for free. I use this program nearly every day!)

00couponCoupons can be made on stationary that you choose, or visit your favorite craft store and browse the Scrapbooking aisle. Free gifts are up to you. Just put yourself in the shoes of your customer, what would you like to receive as a gift from a company you purchase from?

00env6. THE WHAT: Cold-call mailers – These are actual mailings that you will send to as many people as you can- friends, family, clients, potential clients, anyone that has shown interest in your company (or not), etc. But, these just aren’t any old mailers, these are reeeeeal personal. You will do something reeeeallllly different. So different, yet so old school. You will actually write in your own handwriting (the best that you can do) the addresses. To be completely real, it’s so RARE nowadays that people will actually be intrigued. The goal is to invite them to your site or blog.

THE WHY: Think about it, besides your grandma, when was the last time you received an actual envelope in the mail that was written by hand?

00paperTHE HOW: You’re going to need extra-special envelopes. I was even toying with the idea of possible small boxes, but I realize that that may be too difficult and get too costly. Some type of foil-type paper for the envelope would be creative, better yet, grab some decorative paper (they run a few cents per sheet) from your local craft store to make envelopes.

THE BENNIES: This may seem like a stretch, and possibly too time consuming to do. But, don’t chuck this one out the window. Why? You *need* to be more personable with your fan base. That’s a big reason why people even do business with a company. It’s the relatability, the personal touches, it’s “knowing” a person, a face, anything. It’s making someone feel special! And, what makes someone feel special more than a handwritten note?

00qualityThis task doesn’t have to be in the hundreds; it’s not about quantity, but quality. Pick 5 people you can send something to and make it a goal to do so in the next two weeks. Think about what you can send them that you know they will respond to.

4000478-515030-decorative-elements-border-and-page-rules

I hope that you have enjoyed the latest post in this series. I realize that it is a lot to take in… But it’s all possible to do. It’s easy, but does take time. I hope that you will at least implement three of them.

In closing, like I mentioned above, I’m going to summarize this all in a final Part5, so stay tuned!

Till next time!

The Algorithm Circle Of Love – How To Improve Your Google Ranking NOW!

How to improve the Google search ranking for your ideas or business~

arrows

I’ve broken down into brief snippets a blog post by: Jane and Scot Noel ** about what is needed for your web site to rank higher in the “Google machine” (that’s what I like to call it!). This is a very important post and one well-worth reading! I’ve summarized all the important points at the bottom, so if you are busy and just want to get there, you can… BUT, I truly believe it will be worth it to read the guest post, then see what I have to say…

mysteryTo the business owner with a website, what happens in a Google search is a mystery.  Why doesn’t your site show up when you do a search?  What’s the magic formula for getting to the top of Google?  It feels like there must be a simple secret that no one’s talking about?  Right?

Breaking Your Site Down, by the Numbers

secretYou bet it is! When trying to get your website noticed in Google, there is a formula, it’s a well kept secret, and there’s nothing simple about it.

Instead of the word “formula,” let’s say “algorithm.”  An algorithm is a set of rules or a process followed in a problem solving operation.  In this case, the algorithm belongs to Google, and the problem is how to evaluate websites and use them in answering online searches.

Of course the process is entirely automated, performed by computer programs that constantly evaluate and re-evaluate your website along with everyone else’s.  It goes on all day long, every day.  And the kind of things the Google algorithm looks for include your website’s age, the information it contains, and inbound links.

~~~~~~~

The parts that are underlined, bolded and colored red are the main points that I will touch on at the bottom. I would like to propose an idea that can help boost your ranking, increase your traffic, and give you more sales! I’m going to make it easy and fun…

1. How Old is Your Domain Name?young

Just as adults are given more respect than children, older domain names (www.mycompany.com) get points just for being old.  They’ve been around the block.  They haven’t gone out of business.  If two websites are equal in every other way, but one is older, the “mature” website will get preference in a Google search.

2. How Informative is Your Website?

contentMany people don’t want a lot of words cluttering up their website.  That’s all well and good, but then they shouldn’t expect great success in the world of online search.  Searches are not popularity contests that go to the prettiest webpage.

From Google’s point of view, their search engine is answering someone’s question.  Therefore if you are looking for a “Custom Home Builder in Pittsburgh,” for example, the site that presents only pretty pictures of custom homes takes a back seat to the one that is informative about the process of acquiring a custom home, and also happens to mention that they are in Pittsburgh.

How much content do you need?  There is no set number of pages or words, but if you want to show up above your competition, you’d better check them out.  If they have 15 pages of professionally written, informative content, averaging 200-300 words per page, and you have 2 pages, 50 words each, that you wrote yourself – well, you just lost that match.

[Here’s the kicker ——->>>>>>] Google favors well-produced content, and the algorithm reads through the content to find keywords, keyword phrases, and their synonyms.  It considers whether the page is “keyword stuffed,” or if the language flows naturally and is informative on its subject.

imagesS22MMREVAs best we know, the algorithm analyzes whether the keywords are used in headlines, links, bullet points, key sentences, etc.  Point by point, the Google algorithm breaks down your content by the numbers and compares it against all the sites competing against you.

By now you may be getting the idea that the only magic formula here is hard work and finding a good writer.  But even content is only a part of what the algorithm is looking for.

3. Who are Your Friends and Neighbors?

wallflowerIf your website is shy, just hanging out there on its own, it may get about the same attention from Google as the wallflower at a High School dance.  The Google algorithm counts every other website that links to yours.

Then it starts figuring out who your friends and neighbors are.

If a respected and authoritative site links to your website, that’s great!  An example might be the New York Times with an online article about your business that provides a link to your website.  There would be a lot of respect (and search value) given to your site for having such a link.

But if your website hangs out with the wrong crowd, where links were purchased by the hundreds from some fake business directories overseas just to make your site look important, then you’re going to be in trouble.

linkingFor most of us, the truth is somewhere in between.  You should certainly have links coming to your site from your own social media pages, including the likes of Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and others, depending on what is appropriate in your line of work. You may also have incoming links from your local Chamber of Commerce, trade association, municipal website, a local business directory, etc.

Over time, bloggers and other site owners will find your website and link to it just because they see it offers something useful to their audience. What they find of interest may be an article, case study, a specific product or service, or even some basic information of value to their audience.

Of course, if you want to affect Google’s opinion of your site by acquiring great links and cutting away possible bad ones, you’ll need some professional help.  That process is generally called Link Building, and it can be as complex and time consuming as any good marketing effort.

4. When Websites Shut the Door, or Send Wrong Signals

homeWhen the Google bots come to your website and say, “Hey, nice to meet you, we’re here to help the algorithm learn about your website, can we come in?” does your website slam the door and say “Go away!” If your website is hostile to the process, even great content and good links won’t help you.  We’ve even seen sites engineered (not deliberately we suspect) to appear as a blank page to the Google bots and algorithm.

All websites are not born equal.

Some menu driven systems, coding styles, and basic web development technologies simply don’t work well with Google. They may result in a fine looking, compelling design that customers love, but fewer clients will find you if Google hits a brick wall when it tries to analyze your website.

In general, your web developer needs to create search-friendly site architecture.  At a minimum, this can include such things as CSS style navigation, internal anchor links, image alt-tags, text on the page (not embedded in images or in code like JavaScript), and individually crafted meta-code for each page (including Page Titles, Keyword Tags, and Page Descriptions).

blackSending the wrong signals can be equally problematic.  There are still many developers who attempt “black hat” ways of attracting search engine attention.  These can include invisible text, keyword stuffing, duplicate websites, and much more.  Every day, Google finds ways to shut out such practices, and if your website is caught trying to scheme its way to success, it could take a long time to recover its credibility, if ever!

5. It’s Not the Same Everywhere

Naturally, when you type something into Google and see a page of search results, you assume that everyone who typed in the same thing got the same list of results.  Not so.

you-are-hereYour website is also evaluated for where and to whom it should appear.  At a minimum, Google knows approximately where the person doing the search is located.  If the searcher uses any of Google’s products, from Gmail to Google Docs, or Google+ to YouTube, then Google learns about the search patterns and online habits of the individual doing the search.

And  it modifies its search results accordingly.SEO

No, the results list is not drastically different for everyone at every computer, but the results do shift and the variances do make a difference.  While your Yard Equipment website may show up #1 for “lawn mower parts” locally, it may have no national presence at all.  Or if you use Google+, the search results may give preference to your website when you do a search, but no one else will see that spectacular result.

Obviously, what you see when you search is only part of the answer.  But Google does provide some free and effective tools to give you a sense of how your website is doing online, overall.  Have your webmaster sign up for and install Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools.

6. This is Not your Grandfather’s Google

Zeus-blog-post-keep-calm-follow-the-rulesAnother common misconception about Google is that whatever the rules are, they are THE rules – kind of like the formula for Coke is the formula for Coke.

Not quite.  The engineers at Google are always hard at work adjusting the algorithm, trying to improve search results overall.

Minor tweaks happen all the time, and major updates get cute names like Penguin and Panda (although perhaps they should be named after hurricanes instead).  These changes can and do affect traffic to your site all the time.

Why the changes?  Two primary reasons.  The first is that Google would like to improve search results and make them more relevant and personally useful to everyone who uses a Google search.  The second is to deal with websites that are built with black hat techniques (cheaters) and block them or devalue them in a search.

Unfortunately, no one can say exactly what effect any particular change will have.  Google’s intentions are clear, but the system is far too complex for anyone, even Google, to know the full effects of an algorithm adjustment until it happens.

If adverse consequences happen to too many valid websites, Google may adjust their adjustment.  If the results are beneficial, Google betterwill look for ways to improve them even further.

The bottom line is that if your website was search optimized 3 years ago, even if the techniques used were completely valid then, they are at least partially out of date today.  And what is being done today will need looked at again, sooner rather than later.

7. Summary

So now you know.  Secret formulas called algorithms check out your website and make judgments about where it should show up in a search.

images89EK6GO7These algorithms look at and weigh hundreds of factors, but a few of the major ones are:  the age of your domain, the content of your site, and the number and character of other sites linking to yours. Over time, the algorithms change, sometimes to your benefit, sometimes not.  Keeping up with it all has spawned entire industries, including Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Link Building.

These general concepts apply not only to Google, but to other search engines like Bing, Yahoo, Ask, and others.  For each one, their algorithms represent proprietary formulas (somewhat like the differences between the formulas for Coke and Pepsi).

While we hope this article is instructive, you should keep in mind that it represents an over-simplification.  Nevertheless, it should give you hope that you can take steps to make the Google algorithm look more kindly on your website.  Certainly, your competitors are out there trying…

~~~~~~~~

So… here we go.

I don’t know if this would be called, “adding my two-cents”… maybe it is. However, I have an idea that I would like to build on with your help based on what I learned in the above article. Keep reading 🙂

imagesEP3K5V1D#1: The Age Of Your Domain – Unfortunately for this one, I have no control over how old your web site domain is. Hopefully, it’s been around a while! If not, get your domain registered NOW. My preference is GoDaddy with whom I purchased my domain for 2 years for under $20 bucks- pretty good deal. Just be sure to Google: GoDaddy promo codes and use one! They will save you money. Once you have your domain, just forward it with masking to your home web site.

expert#2: How Much Content Is Written On Your Web Site – There should be some good, valuable, written content on your site. I hold to a good saying that goes like this, “Write what you know best and link to the rest.” Fortunately for everybody there’s no hard and fast rules when it comes to content. You can hire out for just a few dollars and have someone else write it, or you can do it yourself (to know how to hire out, just ask me HERE and I can tell you how to do this if you are on a very limited budget). Just make sure that you have good, quality content. As mentioned in Part 3 of my marketing series, hit the library and assign yourself a book report. Make yourself an expert on what you know and offer that information up on your site.

heartcircle#3: Link Building – This is where we are going to have some fun! I have a proposal for all my readers. What would you say to creating an “Algorithm Circle Of Love”? I would like to grab a hold of ten of you that are socially plugged in and do some link building based off of part 3 written above! Who’s with me? Let’s write some content for each other and boost our Google page ranking! I’ll post info about you on my top three sites:

          • Facebook
          • LinkedIn
          • My blog (here) and my web site

What are your thoughts on that? Think we can do it? I do!

a-update#4: Optimizing The Pages On Your Web Site – I know that this one was a hard one for me. I was so anxious to get my web site developed and published that I didn’t “baby” the page titles, keyword tags, and page descriptions like I needed to. Neglecting this baby will result in “starving” that search ranking in Google. So, as a tip and trick for y’all, get on your laptop (get off the internet and concentrate) and create a page in Notepad; write out all your keywords and tags. Then, on the next line write up a page title for each page and make sure that it’s good and contains awesome, relevant keywords. Then, write out a brief description for each page; again, incorporating your awesome, relevant keywords.

Once you have that information, login to your account settings for where your web site is being hosted at. Just copy and paste all of your wonderful information into those boxes. Get every single one for each page completely filled out the best that you can. This will help you get found so much better on all the big search platforms!

a-master#5: Google Analytics, Webmaster Tools and Alerts – I did briefly talk about these things in my blog post titled, “Getting Traffic, Growing Your Business – How To Go Viral TODAY!“. So, if you haven’t been utilizing these invaluable tools, make it a point to get going as soon as you can. If you’re super busy, like me, and the rest of the world, don’t be afraid to set an alarm on your phone. Make a date with yourself to devote just one hour to getting these tools implemented for your business.

a-fresh#6: Evergreen “Fresh”! – If it’s been some time since you’ve gone over the information on your web site, whether it’s information we can’t see: like keywords, tags, and page descriptions in your web hosting account settings, now is the time to just run over there and check it out. Be sure to update your information on a regular bases. As shown by the article, Google’s algorithms are continually changing, so be on top of this one!

~~~~~~~~

Well, that’s it for today folks. Drop me a comment if you are interested in my proposed Algorithm Circle, or contact me HERE. Hope to hear from you!

4000478-515030-decorative-elements-border-and-page-rules

**Jane and Scot Noel are the owners of CME Websites {Code Media Essentials}, a web development company.  Since 1999, CME’s reputation for developing search engine friendly websites has attracted a variety of industrial, consumer, and professional web clients.

Pushy, Sleazy Used-Car Salesman = Entrepreneur? Marketing Part 3 of 4

To start, we’ll recap Part 1 and Part 2 of this series in the briefest way possible.

Part 1 was learning about the need for ultra-wisdom and distinctive creativity. Part 2 was about how to utilize the heroes in your field to get that wisdom and instructions on how to cultivate that creativity.

2But, as great as those posts were… I have some bad news. It is with great sadness that I must tell everyone something. Here it is:

I am not all-knowing when it comes to being able to directly guide every single one of my reader’s businesses.

There. I said it.

Sad, huh?

The good news on what I can do is draw skeletons. Yes- I can draw skeletons. For you.

3Isn’t that great? I bet you were about to throw yourself off the roof of wherever you’re at, weren’t ya? Well, come on down and let’s talk a bit- back to skeletons. Yes, I can draw a one of those for you. When it comes to your particular business, I can lay out the bare bones of ‘how to’ or provide general outlines; however, to generate the muscles (wisdom) and cartilage (creativity) on that skeleton, you have to be the creator for that (and you are the single-most best person!).

4For example, just like a generic book on job interviews won’t tell you exactly what you need to say to become the next president of Ford Motor Company; it is simply a guide to give you a broad set of ideas/suggestions. It is you that has to draw relevant information (your own personal experience that nobody else has) into the best of those. You have to be the one to “knit together” the specifics and customize it to tailor-fit to your situation. Does that make sense? You design your own answers to fit your goals for whatever field you are in.

6Now, there may be a book about how to become president of one of the largest automobile industries in the free world, but I think you get my meaning because… you guys are all smarty-pantses in your own right. After all, you’re here, right?

In all my posts, after I have given you the skeleton, you must become the grand designer. You must utilize the tools of wise advice and pluck the creative super-fruit – I know you can do it and I’m going to show you how.

~~~~~~~

You know your audience. That’s your job – as a marketer.” Dave Kerpen, Likeable Social MediaLikeable Social Media: How to Delight Your Customers, Create an Irresistible Brand, and Be Generally Amazing on Facebook (& Other Social Networks)

This post will be about focusing on your customers, or in other words, your audience, or in other words, who’s looking at you, or in other words who’s talking about you, or in other words is there even a “who” out there for you on social media.

This post will re-direct from you, your brand, and your business to the ones, “out there”. (Part 4 will be along the same lines, but about how to implement various methods through your blog, web site, and non-Internet media.)

[This] …is not about broadcasting your message and getting the largest reach and frequency – it’s about tapping into the conversation, listening, engaging, and empowering. The loudest, biggest spenders don’t win anymore. The smartest, most flexible listeners do.” Dave Kerpen, Likeable Social Media

This is what we’re bringin’ at ya today! I’m super stoked to talk about the following three projects:

  1. Getting the recommendation – knowing why this is central to growing your business and learning how to implement the indispensable tools to make it happen.
  2. Transparency – Tips and tricks to exposing more of your personality so that others are more inclined to “watch you”. It’s about getting up close and personal, and giving your audience what they really want (and they’ll tell their friends, too!).
  3. Networking – Bringing necessary value and essential promotion to the heroes in your field in order for you to gain critical feedback (this is essential for you, and not meant to grow a client base).

8I’m bringing a new angle of information in this post and I’m confident this will absolutely benefit you and your growing business. It may seem like a lot to take in at first, but trust me, if you carefully integrate these techniques into your marketing plan, the payoff will be priceless. Why? Because, in essence you can only go as far as the people who, 1) support your business by buying whatever it is you are selling, and 2) people who have marched on to greatness before you; those who can guide and steer you on the path to success. And, that is what the four posts I am publishing really revolve around- establishing, growing and satisfying your client base and helping, promoting and serving your professional heroes. I’m going to help you in these two areas by providing a wealth of key methods that are tried and true.

9And to know what that is, I continually ask this question: what do I need to do next to grow my business? Once I find out what that is through watching, reading, studying and asking others, then I work at how I should do it. Once I know how, then I adapt it, perfect it, hone it, and become an expert at it. It is only until all that is complete that I can share it with you.

 

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Section 1 – Getting The Recommendation

9aTo start, I want to ask a simple question: how many of you have ever encountered a slick-haired, plaid-suited, cheesy smile, used-car salesman? To be honest, every car salesman I’ve ever met was dressed well enough, but haven’t you ever had this mental picture when that particular occupation comes up? It’s easy to visualize how they chase you around the car lot, and they just won’t leave you alone; they’re pushy, brazen and they play on the fact that you just don’t have the nerve to tell them to buzz off.

9bHave you ever felt that way as an entrepreneur over social media? I know I have. I’m constantly pushing my products around on Pinterest, eBay, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. And, it’s like you know that in order to be a good salesman, you’re going to have to bear with the “no’s” before you can get the “yes!”, so you just keep pushing plugging along.

9cNo one really wants to think of himself/herself as that guy. And, I get that at times it pays to be assertive. However in this day and age of technology when a person doesn’t want to deal with you, they simply turn you off, delete your message, unfollow you, or at worst- block you.

With that in mind, today we’re going to talk about the latest and greatest ways for growing your audience, increasing your social presence, and generating a better influence across the three biggest social media platforms – through the means of engaging others and how to best do that (basically by being the opposite of this ——->>>>>> 9e

The central focus will be putting yourself in your audiences shoes. Not to worry, it’s going to be easy- it will be through: transparency, what you say and how you say it, capitalizing on the power of the “like”, and working through groups (public ones and private ones) all on the three biggest social platforms you use on a daily basis (or should be using every day).

The skeleton, if you will, is the body of your audience. How will you make it dance?

#1) FACEBOOK – GET ‘LIKED’

9fThe best and most effective way to engage your audience/prospective clients is through your Facebook business page.

Why this is important: Companies and professionals who are worthy of people clicking their [business page’s] Like button will, in the short term, build trust and, in the long term, win the new Web in their respective categories.” – Dave Kerpen, Likeable Social Media.

The more your page is ‘Liked’, commented on, and shared the more it pushes your page up the in the new feed algorithm. This means that it will stay at the top longer in your friend’s news feeds getting more exposure/views- this is the goal. To read more on Facebook’s edgeranking, click HERE.

The benefits to that is whoever ‘Likes’ your page will be kept updated with your posts, links, pictures, updates, contests, promotions, giveaways for as long as that page is ‘Liked’, which means indefinitely.  As long as you don’t pull out the cheesy salesman card and tick your friends off, they’ll keep your page ‘Liked’ forever- w00t! There are a whole smackle of perks to being ‘Liked’, just check this page out HERE.

9gHow to do it: this is where the old adage rings true about thinking before you speak. This is crucial because the language you use can determine your edgeranking. It is uber-important that you know how to do this just right.


Dave Kerpen, in his book, likeable social media, gives a great example of how to ask engaging questions in a very particular way so that people are best inclined to “Like” your page. It goes like this, and I’ll summarize briefly- Company A posts an ad on their business page with a photo of their new product and a comment to go with it along the lines of, “Check out our new running shoes on our website and buy them now!” Company A is using old-hat, nearly obsolete traditional marketing to get this message out to their fans.

Now listen to the way Company B phrases the same type of method: “Click ‘Like’ if you’re excited about the weekend! Anybody going running?”

9iKind of getting you thinking, doesn’t it? Which one are you most likely to resonate with? I mean, who doesn’t like the weekend? The best part is that with enough ‘Likes’, your post will stay near or at the top of the news feed, get the most views, and on top that, possible “shares” from your friends (here’s that frisky little asset called the rate of exponential growth!). So, think about the language you will use in how you share your posts. Phrase your post with questions that can always be answered with a resounding, “Yes!”

I. More ways to get the ‘Like’:

Since were are looking through the lens of best serving your audience, and you’re putting yourself in their shoes, think about what it is that you would want to see on social media. Obviously, in most cases, there’s a “payoff”. What do you get when you ‘Like’ someone else’s page? Think about it. If it’s a particular brand of clothing, you ‘Like’ the page so that you will know about discounts, coupons, new items or general company news. You get something.

You need to do the same!

Along with implementing portion A (just above) by asking questions others will want to answer, or ‘Like’, think about posting a link, a picture, or video with valuable content that links to:

  • a special promotion you are doing, or
  • a contest you are running,
  • giveaways (“freebies”),
  • fun facts (meme’s are so popular right now) and trivia,
  • recipes, or “how to” educational tidbits (nothing lengthy)

Just put out there things you would, ‘Like’ and use your super-creativity to ask the right question that makes it easy for people to say ‘Yes!’ to. Or, in other words, phrase the question in a way that makes it ABSURD for people to say ‘no’ to.

II.) Make it easy-peasy

1)      Did you know that you can ‘Like’ pages through your phone? Read, “HOW TO: Like A Facebook Page Via Text Message

2)      Put a ‘Like’ button on all your web site pages and blog.

3)      Invite all of your friends at once to like your page with one click of the button.

4)      At the end of it all, have a giveaway for the 1,000th person! For ideas click HERE.

III. Using the self-serve ad platform FOR FREE!

Here is a Facebook “page” that breaks it all down. Just a great “go-to” place: Click HERE.

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#2) Using Twitter

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#3) Your LinkedIn Account

9jWhy this is important – LinkedIn is only as effective as your contact list is. Your effort to reach out to as many appropriate people as possible to grow your connections is the path to success in growing your own profile and your own business. The key word, however, is “appropriate”. …this means constantly growing your network in a targeted way.”  – Eric Butow & Kathleen Taylor, How to Succeed in Business Using LinkedIn

A)     Personally inviting a contact – click HERE for the best way,

B)      Requesting recommendations – click HERE also,

C)     Creating a group (1st step is creating a logo – ask me for help, I’ll create it for free) (2nd step is to not allow your contacts to display the logo), click HERE for a great tutorial.

Gaining their recommendation takes you further than any traditional marketing method out there in this day and age ever could.

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SECTION 2 – TRANSPARENCY

Now that we’ve canvassed the “big three” social platforms, let’s talk about being transparent.

9kNowadays, transparency is the “it” thing on social media (should have always been, but you know that there are always dishonest people out there, unfortunately. But, that’s not YOU!). You just have to be… you; and, likeable at that (remember cardinal rule #1, don’t be a jerk?).

Facebook and social networks are ushering in a new era marked by increased transparency and the most empowered consumer of all time. There is no doubt that this shift creates massive opportunities for the organizations that are most able to adapt their thinking and strategies to successfully implement plans via social media.” Dave Kerpen, Likeable Social Media

9lDon’t you want to know more about companies you support? Isn’t it nice to actually see the owner’s face? Aren’t celebrities who open up about their lives more “watched” (Ashton Kutcher)?  For the longest time, as a business owner, I was always given the impression that it was better to appear more “corporate” and that as an owner, standing behind that façade would make you appear more as a “magnate” therefore attracting customers. Once again, this is old-hat, obsolete traditional marketing tactics.

9mThis is how it is now- the more social media seems to unveil about a person the more it makes them seem… approachable? Relatable? I’m learning that that is what people really want. Even with people who are virtually untouchable- as long as they engage their fans and relate to them on a personal level, their following goes up. It is truly what people want and I’ll keep saying that.

9nOpening up and getting personal might be a little painful. But, think of it as a band aid- just rip it off and deal with the pain. This is not to say that I don’t realize exposing more of your personal life might make some uncomfortable, but don’t not do it. Remember, you can let more people know “you” without selling the whole kit-n-kaboodle; as the level of revealing is entirely up to you- you can use discretion (no hard and fast rules). Just don’t forget that as a company, people actually “buy” you first, they have to almost “know you” before they do business with you (not always, but generally).

Here are some ideas:

9o1. Share an embarrassing story –And, just to get the party started, I’ll go first. One day, in fifth grade, during the Pledge of Allegiance I decided to stand next to the teacher’s desk while we did. For some unknown reason (that I still to this day cannot figure out), I thought it would be a brilliant and hilarious idea to pull back my teacher’s chair while he stood up unbeknownst to him (my teacher was a big, burly man who weighed close to three-hundred pounds and he had a mustache). When the pledge was over, he went to sit down in a chair… that wasn’t there. He came crashing down so fast and so hard I swear the ground shook. For a split second imagine pure homicidal rage combined with manly embarrassment. It got REAL. He stood up, face redder than anything I’d ever seen and screamed out, “WHO DID THAT?!” Funny he would ask considering I was standing right next to him. Within a split second, every finger in the room was pointing at me. I was promptly asked to leave in the loudest voice I’ve ever heard. It went like this:

GET. OUT!!!!!!

Yup. The most humiliating story of my life… that is, up until the time me and my best friend were driving along one night when I decided to turn into a gas station. Like I said, it was at night, visibility was low, and I’m pretty sure there were other things going on that I won’t mention here, when I inadvertently drove over a big mountain of a hill next to the entryway. It was a landscaped sort of hill, but pretty big, and we might have even jumped it. Both our heads hit the roof. After the impact, we simply drove up to the pump like nothing happened, much to the amazement of other gas pumpers.

2. Steal jokes.

9pEverybody has a particular taste when it comes to humor. Don’t be ashamed of your taste! Look up jokes, find ones that are good… share away!

Taglines, clever sayings, and euphemisms are good, too. Google search is your friend.

3. Post a “what not to do” story.

9qThis one may take a bit of time. You’ll have to pay attention and be keen to what’s going around you. Not everyone can remember on the spot the last time they tried something and failed. I don’t know, maybe you failed at something yesterday, but it wasn’t very impactful. Keep track of what’s going on news-wise, television-wise and trending-wise that you might like to implement in your own life. If it doesn’t work, share it! As an example, on Pinterest there are some great ‘what not to do’ stories, or how they’re dubbed as ‘Pinterest FAILS’. Some are funny, some raise awareness, you get the gist. When it happens to you, keep track of it in your trusty notepad so that you can remember to share.

3. Share one of your dreams/goals.

9rRemember that guy from Pretty Woman who at the very beginning yelled out, “What’s your dream? Everybody’s got a dream!” I guess we don’t know if he was homeless or not, but don’t be like that guy. Don’t wander around screaming, k?

9sBut do think about sharing your dreams and your goals in ways that people can relate to. Ask whether or not someone from your audience has the same goal. If they do, help them out. Band together. Solve problems. Forge a friendship. Bring value. Above all things and most of all- do something to work on that goal.

9tEnd result: make your dream/goal a reality no matter how big, no matter how crazy, just do something to work towards it!

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SECTION 3 – NETWORKING

9uCreating groups on Facebook and LinkedIn are probably going to be the best ways for you to plug-in to the “wisdom” channel broadcast by your favorite heroes. This portion of the series will take you a little time, but that is OK- this is about quality, not quantity.

9vThese are the places where you can “test drive” your ideas, see what works and what doesn’t, and generally get some much cherished business advice, accountability, motivation and inspiration. These groups should be invaluable to you, as they can and will be a well-spring of knowledge, and a fountain of “keeping you honest”- this includes accountability, precious feedback, and constructive criticism which are imperative to your business growth.

9wWhen I did my own study on the subject of networking, everything I found was strictly limited to growing your client list in order to make sales. I found this information to be flawed and a tad insulting. Yes, you are to build relationships with your audience/fans/potential customers, but you “network” with other professionals for guidance, for encouragement, for educational purposes. Why? Because no one was born into this world with a full knowledge-base of how to run a business; everyone should have a group of mentors, go-to people, and guides for help. And since we will never truly “know it all” (even after a top college education), it’s foolish to suggest that we can ever stop learning at some point. I realize that sounds negative… But, it shouldn’t. Think of it this way: there’s joy to be found in the journey of learning and growing. I don’t know about you, but I thoroughly enjoy expanding my brain pan. Don’t you like to learn? Here’s another tad of truth: there is joy in the journey of learning. Hey, that almost rhymes! And, often times you learn best from those who have walked before you. 9x

So again, keep in mind that your groups are not to find clients- they are to network with other professionals who can bring value to your life and/or your business and vice versa. When you help promote them, they can help promote you. The end result of networking is to gain wisdom on what it takes to create a following, what it takes to foster relational growth with clients, what it takes to keep your clients, etc. etc.

For Facebook:

9yWhen you create a group on Facebook (how to do that is HERE), your goal is to create an open group with people you actually know in real life, or if not in real life, at the very least, have had substantial online contact with via email, Skype, telephone, text, etc.

Create the group as an “open” group, but keep it small. You will want to have it “open” in order for it to be able to be viewed publicly- the idea being that others can see and possibly glean some information even though the group will be exclusive. If, in the future, anyone asks to join they should meet the criteria, i.e., personal relationship.

  1. Start by asking five real people in your life and incorporate the willing ones (maybe even the unwilling ones) into your group.
  2. Try your very best to use discretion when it comes to whom you allow in. Your “inner circle” should have the following similar traits/goals that you do:

9zi.      Like-minded goals when it comes to business growth, marketing, online presence, customer service, etc.

ii.      Are positive, supportive, encouraging, motivated, ambitious, and creative.

iii.      Are helpful, knowledgeable, offer some value (no matter how small), and WILL engage in the group.

Once you have that established…

Wonder on over to LinkedIn and create a “private” group (how to do that is HERE).

The difference here is that it is OK to create a group of people you may not actually know in real life. BUT, you should have at least some contact. You will want to find some top professionals in your field and that can be done like this:

9aaAssign yourself little “book” reports using one of each of these mediums:

I.            Magazine

II.            Book

III.            Blog article

Write a brief summary of at least five people in your field, that have already trod the path you are on.  These people resonate with you. Ask and answer these three questions:

  1. How are our goals and paths similar in life?
  2. What has happened in their business life that I wish would happen in mine?
  3. What value do I bring to the table?

9bbThis little number should challenge you and cause you to really dig deep. Upon completion, you will use what you wrote to personally invite the people you have studied to join your private group. Remember this: there has to be value in it for them. Think about what that will be and use your creative super-power to accomplish it.

The goal is to remember is that each group should profit all involved (not monetarily, but educationally, economically, and promotionally)!

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In closing:

Guerrilla Marketing, 4th editionTake heart that every change can represent money in your life if you learn about it and do something about it.” – Jay Conrad Levinson, Guerrilla Marketing

Let’s continue to learn, grow, expand and help others! Hope you found this post helpful!

Till next time,

Joy

The Mouth That Paints A Thousand Words – Marketing Series, Part 2 of 4

1Before we begin Part 2, I thought it would be prudent to clarify some things. I need to know, are you an FPI? Are you a business owner socially plugged-in fully across the board? FPI’s have the following:

          • A completed website
          • A business blog

You are fully plugged-in on:

          • Facebook – you have a business page and even created your own business group
          • LinkedIn – same here

You have a following (no matter how small) here:

  • Pinterest – you’re an admin of your own community “group”
  • Twitter
  • Tumblr
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Google+
  • Disqus
  • Digg

2I’m making the dangerous assumption that all of my readers have these things in place. As much as I like to live dangerously (it’s my middle name), making assumptions usually don’t work out to the good.

If you aren’t FPI’d, get there! All of these sites are free to join, take minutes to complete and they are crucial in this day and age of social media. Did you know that 93% of marketers use social media for business? [fastcompany.com – 10 surprising social media statistics]

NINETY-THREE PERCENT!

Remember the part about truth that I mentioned in Part 1 of this blog series? Mmmm, yeah. I just read something pretty cool that backs up most of what I was trying to get at throughout that post. It looks like this:

BeFunky_Snapshot_20140304_3.jpg

I’m totally serious when I say that I just read this tonight in an amazing book I’ll talk about –see below about “stealing like an artist” (not the dreaming book) — and considering how I posted Part 1 yesterday, I think it’s all pretty neat!

4As a quick recap to my last post we went over the importance of superior wisdom and distinctively-awesome creativity and how you need both. Wisdom from other been-there done-that professionals in your field, and the cultivation, planting and growing of some “creativity super-fruit”.

The reason I wanted to lay the groundwork for these two qualities first is because you won’t go anywhere without them. Why?

Because——>>>>>> how will you ever market your business without above-average wisdom or without being distinctively creative?

Success in the new era of business is driven by your ability to stand out and be truly remarkable. That requires an ability to tap into creativity, break the mold, introduce disruptive change, and dislodge the status quo.”
– Josh Linkner, Disciplined Dreaming

You have to do this.

You CAN do this.

5So to continue our recap of Part 1, find your inner nerd! Step 1: go to your library (you won’t regret it, other professionals heroes say the same), step 2: keep a notebook on you at all times, and step 3: do something boring that frees your mind. For example, keep your notepad handy while you do dishes, stare into space, make mind movies, or like I said before, drive your car in silence (don’t crash while jotting down notes!).

4000478-515030-decorative-elements-border-and-page-rules

Now back to pic above about the library and the notebook- That pic above contains a page from a neat little book that I came across by  Austin Kleon called, “Steal Like An Artist”.

Steal Like an ArtistAnd, when I say “little” I mean little, like… 6” x 6” x 1.5”! But don’t let the size fool you, I found it to be pretty comprehensive and creatively constructed. The tagline is: “10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative”.

From Part 1, I wrote tips for creativity. I’ll quickly list them here-

    • Curiosity – ask ridiculous business growth questions about your field
    • Brainstorming – Business exposure, humorous pitches, your “hook”
    • Make something awesome – make a business logo using markers as an example?
    • Free time – Busyness murders creativity

I was a little stunned (and delighted) to see that the ideas I wrote about nicely complimented part of the “10 things” Mr. Kleon included in his book (remember that little thing called, truth?) as he also talks about those things.

However the one thing that I didn’t have that he introduces in the book is about writing not what you know, but what you like. I’ll share a pic that I saw months and months ago, but has stayed with me because it resonated so deeply. Edited to add that I couldn’t find the pic [INSERT BIG UNHAPPY FACE HERE].

6It was about creating your perfect life scenario within your mind before falling asleep. Seriously though, who hasn’t done this? It’s writing the story of your business life in a way that others want to read or you want to read.

Whenever you’re at a loss for what move to make next, just ask yourself, “What would make a better story?”

“The manifesto is this: Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to use – do the work you want to see done.” – Austin Kleon

How do you do this?

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Number one: getting off your laptop for a bit.

Number two: create a “digital free” zone in your office (tip from the book).

7Make the space you need to actually utilize pencils, markers, paper, and other office supplies to CREATE. If a commercial was going to be run on TV featuring your business, how would it look? What about a print ad in one of those over-sized magazines like the Detroit Hour? I would like to see one of my readers physically draw something out and send it to me!

I’ll give you an example from my own personal life: I often have trouble nurturing creativity when it comes to my commercial photography portfolios. I’ve traveled down the Internet road of “inspiration” (looking at other examples of commercial stock) and I always come away empty.

I have to ask myself,

‘What is the story that I would like to read about my life as a photographer?’

What can I do to get that ball rolling?

Remember this pic? 8

I become so overwhelmed and discouraged because it’s simply too much. So, I created a scrapbook. I put in that scrapbook idea’s for images I want to see. Or, when I write, I put those ideas down for what I would actually use for my own articles. Keeping these idea’s in a folder on my hard drive just-doesn’t-work. I’m “physically” writing the story that I want to see in my portfolios.

8On a related side-note, this makes me think of a good photographer friend of mine who, a long time ago was sad at the fact that film is becoming obsolete. She said that there was just “something” about being able to touch and feel the photographs (of course, I was chiding her a bit because I was super-duper excited to enter the digital age of photography where there were no more developed pictures of closed eyelids, messed up hair, wrong expression, out-of-focus faces and so much more. No more time or money wasted! Woo-hoo!).

9But,

…now that it’s been some time and I’ve grown in my study of the creative process, I understand what she was saying. I realize now that she was… well… a real artist. She’s an amazing photographer and I’m often jealous because she’s just a hands-on type person. I realize that in order for us to foster that type of growth, we have to simply step back from the computer and get our hands dirty.

9aWhen we do this, things happen, seeds get planted. After that, they get watered. Then, what grows from that can turn into a beautiful plant that produces choice fruit. It simply can’t be done any other way. It’s unfortunately that it took so long for this to sink in with me so please learn from my failure!

So back to my photography “scrapbook”- once I had the story that has been produced by my own desires and my own creativity, I now interact with the hero-photographers in my field. With this, I go even deeper (superior wisdom from others part) by:

  • Learning from them (not necessarily about their work but learning about them),
  • Gaining an understanding of how they think,
  • Studying their creative methods by receiving access,
  • It becomes an invaluable development of a small inner circle of heroes who assist you not only by inspiration, but portfolio growth based on your own creativity.

Are you getting the picture here?  And, this doesn’t just have to be about photography; it can be about the business of fashion & clothing (which I love, so I’m using that as an example), it can be about construction, accounting, baking, sail boats, auto parts, whatever business you are running.

9bThis is about YOUR business.

This is about marketing that business.

This is what you need FIRST before you get on that road.

Once you know the story of your business and what you want to see, hear, read and live regarding it, and once you have an inner circle of other hero-professionals (how to get them was in Part 1), you are now equipped to head on out and begin the process of spreading your ideas/products to the ends of the earth.

With a full understanding of having wisdom and creativity, we need to put that to use with all of the marketing methods out there. Which are these:

  • email newsletters,
  • direct mailing of promotional cards,
  • advertising online or yellow pages,
  • referrals,
  • hired salespeople, and
  • word of mouth

Throughout the next few posts, I’ll touch on the top five methods listed above, but for now I’m going to start with the last one on the list. I suppose because it peeks my interest in this technological age.

9cI’ve been doing the “Internet thing” for so long, I feel like I’ve lost touch with actual people! And, to be honest I didn’t know a whole lot about word of mouth (WOM) marketing up until recently.

untitled3When you think of “word of mouth” don’t you think of people actually talking to one another? I know I do. But, that’s not necessarily what it means anymore. It used to, but now with technology, everyone talks through the digitally written word now soaring through cyberspace. Our words come from our keystrokes and powerful keystrokes at that.

Andy Sernovitz’s book, Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking was the reason I wrote Part 1 of this series. Basically, in order to even have something out there that others will be inclined to share is going to require wisdom and creativity. You have to learn what works and what doesn’t. For the former, you need to do that creatively. Then, you can move on to studying and implementing the WOM techniques.

WOM marketing is dead in its tracks if it’s not share-worthy or buzzworthy. People have got to want to talk about it for it to work. People talk about things they are crazy about (think rabid Apple fans), they tell their friends, their family, their co-workers. Well, maybe not entirely “crazy” over things; but maybe information that challenges them, information that’s controversial, debatable even.

9dBottom line: opinions. Everyone has one (you know the saying which I won’t repeat). And, one of my passions is modest, yet stylish clothing. I have many girls in my family and I will tell you that it’s extremely difficult nowadays to buy clothing that isn’t low-cut, tight-fitting or revealing. I don’t want them dressing like nuns either, but when all the shorts you can see for sale at the local mall are so short your butt cheeks hang out, there’s something wrong there. And frankly, I’m quite sick of seeing it. It only perpetuates this idea that girls are only valuable and accepted by their peer groups, society and the culture at large by revealing their bodies. This is what they’re worth?! This is how they see their own worth?

9eC’mon. The girls in my life must know (because I tell them frequently) their worth is not in how they dress, or undress their bodies. How they appear on the outside is not “who they are” on the inside. When you cultivate and nurture a girl’s heart and she knows that true beauty lies there and not on the outside, she will respect herself and will respect others. That’s the truth.

imagesLQGDALXSYou may not know it, but that paragraph I just wrote containing my opinion (declared as truth) would be considered “controversial” in certain circles. There’s ALWAYS an angle to everything under the sun that has an opposite viewpoint (or opinion). There will always be an opposing view, no matter what.

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This is an example of what you will use to your advantage.

People won’t talk about you if you don’t give them something to say. Anything that catches attention is a topic. Anything that catches attention and then gets talked about is a fantastic topic.” –Andy Sernovitz

9fThis is one of the lenses you will look through regarding WOM marketing. A little caution flag first- you can’t be a jerk about things… EVER. Cardinal rule number one when it comes to business is this: you must be likeable. You ARE a business person after all, right? People are your business. Businesses rely on people. Your reputation is such that people should want to do business with you. They must want to share to others what you’re all about. These people who will share and talk about you are the ones who will help propel that little statement we mentioned earlier, “spreading your ideas and products to the ends of the earth”.

9gCardinal rule #2 is making sure you are surrounded by enthusiastic, life-loving people. Network with others who are POSTIVE POSITIVE POSITIVE. Encouragers, motivators, you know the people. Think right now about five people you know personally in real life who are in your life that exude these traits. And, that’s not to say you want people that are so “sunny” they’re oblivious to the need of constructive criticism when it’s needed, either.

Let’s recap:

  • Don’t’ be jerk (offer superior customer service no matter what and no matter to who), and
  • Find your five supporting people in your real life RIGHT NOW. Start an online group with them and only them (since you talk to them in real life, you’ll be able to sustain your online life together easier, i.e., the virtual relationship won’t fizzle out).

Sit tight, I’ll explain more regarding the second rule below… But first,

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Gaining Wisdom

Step #1: Find three professionals heroes in your field. Get their email addresses.

Step #2: In your email you are:

  • First going to explain to them how much their expertise has helped you in the area of _____________  (be specific). Then,
  • you will state that you are going to promote their work through all of your social media platforms (which you will),
  • by a very short interview through email simply asking three questions that you will also blog about thus giving them more exposure:

(if you would like to have a basic outline email I will share it with you for free, just contact me privately through the contact page and I’ll help you out)

    •  You need to find out what they’ve learned specifically about word of mouth marketing and how it worked for them,
    • how it affects their business and/or online presence
    • What advice they would give on how to grow your business based on this marketing method.

untitledStep #3: Broadcast through your blog the interview and how you will implement into your business what has worked for them. This step has a two-fold benefit: promoting your heroes, and at the same time keeping track of your own marketing growth through your blog (it would be like a digital notebook, logging your progress). Be sure to email your heroes upon completion so they will know about it.

9hStep #4: Hire a freelancer through oDesk.com or eLance.com to promote your blog and bring more exposure. Post a simple job posting that you are hiring for a “forum poster”. This virtual assistant can help you in efficiency like this: by outsourcing the work of promotion, you then have the ability and time to hone your craft of WOM marketing for your business. The beauty of it is, your VA will work faster and often times better at promoting your work by receiving much needed traffic than you can! (For a free step-by-step walk-through on how to do this, just hit me up through my contact page, I ❤ my VA’s! I am now better equipped and educated on how to delegate tasks through outsourcing thanks to in Tim Ferriss’s book, The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (Expanded and Updated) – If you missed my blog post on that, click HERE.)

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Being Distinctively Creative:

What you’ve learned from your heroes will now need to be put into practice.

789d75ca297492a3708f54aa10a32314Option #1: You can then make a diagram of the techniques you have learned. These are easy to read and if done well, are a big hit on Pinterest. By attaching a link to your website or blog through the picture of the diagram, viewers can find you. If it’s done well, is distinctive, eye-catching and easy to follow, it will get shared. Why is this important? Remember how we talked about the rate of exponential growth? It all starts with one pin, 2-3 other pinners pin it, then 2-3 of their friends re-pin it, on and on it goes.

For example, I created a chart (you can find it HERE) based on my inexperience and fear when it comes to horses. I knew I wasn’t alone when it came to this based on reading comment after comment on forums, Facebook and people I knew in real life. So, I charted out four of the simplest things I had done around horses that helped alleviate my fear around them give me confidence. I knew and believed that if it helped me, it could help others.

horseThrough that project, an idea was born to incorporate the steps I outlined into a method that can be transferred into a possible eBook or video directed at children somewhere down the road. I know so many girls and boys that love horses, but because of their size, are often afraid of them. By walking out the methods I charted, they can overcome that fear. I’m excited to get working on that project.

I then posted that chart on Pinterest and on Facebook (which included information about my web site) and I got some positive responses! I then looked at other charts and diagrams done by others regarding business, graphic design, navigating certain web sites, charts on how to write, how to plan weddings, anything I could find. Some were really creative and fun to look at. Some had been pinned many times over, equaling lots of viewers (if you have a moment, be sure to check out my, “Small Business Board” by clicking HERE – lots of great tips!).

Don’t forget to ask! Be sure to place in the description of the pin, “Please re-pin. Thank you!”

Goal: More exposure for your company, more talkers, more shares.

imagesW9MTE9INOption #2:  Designing and giving away some sort of device that has your logo on it. You can give this to potential customers or your current customers. Think some type of keychain device, a handheld gaming device small enough to fit in your pocket, a tote bag, one of those mugs with a teabag holder designed right into the side of the mug, something a person can USE…

But, this option has the potential to go way beyond what it sounds like. I know you can “creatively” think of something (you may have something in mind right now) that you know your audience would want. Think about the following questions/suggestions:

  • What would you like to receive from a company that would be cool enough to show your friends and colleagues?
  • How can you work to develop this gift into something people would eagerly anticipate receiving (look up the Microsoft MVP program!)?
  • Ask your real life friends on Facebook and LinkedIn about it (this is where your inner five real life circle of friends come in that we talked about earlier). Make a simple poll asking what it is they would want to get as a giveaway.
  • Go a step further: put all of their names in a drawing and then after two weeks, mail the best idea to the winner.
  • Don’t let this fade, find out every few months what works, keep it fresh and let it grow naturally.

Still stumped? Google search it. Search under, “most popular gadget” or “coolest giveaway product”. Get inspired. The trick is to be in a constant mode of positivity. Don’t ever say to yourself, ‘I can’t do this’, or ‘this will never work’…

Or, maybe you have an idea, but don’t know how to get it developed. There’s a solution to that to. Check out two of these sites:

ThomasNet.com

Shapeways

MAKE IT WORK!

Goal: More exposure for your company, more talkers, more shares.

Option #3: Co-partnering with a charity. This is my favorite and near to my heart. I have two that I’m passionate about, actually.

From a word of mouth perspective, charities are especially powerful because they come with their own built-in network of talkers. When you connect with any nonprofit, from a national organization to a single, small youth group, everyone in that group has a reason to talk about you. They are organized, involved, and have ready-to-go communication channels.” –Andy Sernovitz

For me, it’s the only way I can help the orphan and the persecuted and I love it! I love being a part of it.

vom

ivoHolding an online charity auction through eBay where 100% of the proceeds go to them is on my agenda in the coming months. It’s something I enjoy even though it will cost me something. But, that’s okay! You have to think about the things you WILL give away, it’s the natural by-product of good business. Just give something. Again, don’t limit yourself- give information, give products, give your time. It will require a little integration on your part, but trust me in the process of give-and-take, reaping and sowing, it does come back to you. Sometimes in ways you don’t expect, but it always does.

Two-fold goal: Helping others, exposure for your company, more talkers, more shares.

untitledOption #4 (at this point, why not do them all): Hold a video contest. YouTube is so accessible and there are some people out there that will do just about anything to be discovered (disclaimer: DO NOT INCORPORATE, ENGAGE, OR PROMOTE ANYTHING DANGEROUS). Hold it locally. Tell your friends, post about it on some local message boards, create a flyer at the library, tell Facebook.

untitled2Think about something (utilize your creativity here) regarding your field that people could do that was super crazy and worth talking about held in the form of a contest. Have those people submit their videos to you, create a mash up of it all into one whole video and then launch that video with a winner at the end (winner gets recognition, or a gift, your choice).

Some ideas could be a contest for a company mascot, best impersonation contest, best practical joke, a short comedic play about brain surgery/accounting, re-enacting your most embarrassing moment, eating contest, the ideas are endless. Just get thinking!

This one will need something original, so don’t be a copycat.

4000478-515030-decorative-elements-border-and-page-rulesWell, that’s it for today everyone. I think there’s a lot here to keep you on track for now. Till next time… Stay tuned for Part 3 coming soon!

–Joy