Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Looking Towards 2007

I'm one of those people who makes resolutions each year. I also make predictions of things that might happen during the coming year. At the end of each year, I compare my resolutions and predictions to actual results to gauge my achievements and (often with fun) my ability to foresee the future. To me, 2006 has been an interesting year with some wins and some everyone else, I imagine.

As I look towards 2007, I pray that someone with common sense takes the reins in Washington. The endless war in Iraq goes on and on with no realistic plans and no possibility of a good outcome. As a Vietnam vet, I feel for the people on the ground. To me, they are being sacrificed in a fruitless attempt to salvage Bush's legacy (is that an oxymoron?). In Vietnam, we lost 1000's of young men while first Johnson and then Nixon sought "peace with honor." We all saw the final, inevitable outcome of that conflict. I wonder how the parents, wives and children of the dead feel about their needless sacrifice... Sorry, but as you get older, you tend to see things in a different perspective.

I also hope that we as a people find a way to feel good about our lives. We need to have national goals and programs that unite rather than divide us. We need leaders that focus on hope and what we can accomplish rather than name-callers and those vested solely in their own concerns. We need demonstrated competency, not more Katrina's.

And believe it or not, I'm neither a Democrat nor a Republican. I'm a registered Independent who remembers when the Constitution was respected and out country was admired around the world.

I urge you to take time out, clear your head, and jot down some personal and professional goals for next year. Then put them where you can't help but stumble across them every so often. Just having a visible reminder is an indicator of what we could be, of what each of us could achieve if only we applied our willpower and creativity. Think about it...and I promise to focus again on business in these communiques starting in January.

To each of you, I wish a very happy and prosperous 2007.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

It Doesn't Cost a Lot to Promote your Business Online!

Most small business operators have the misconception that they cannot afford to promote their business online. In fact, just the opposite is true - they cannot afford to not promote their business online!

Small businesses can have a Website for under $100 annually. Local and nationwide pay-per-click advertising, when prepared and managed by a knowledgeable person, is affordable and can yield a very high ROI. Simple things like distributing a monthly e-mail newsletter will significantly boost sales while incurring minimal cost. Low-cost link exchanges with complementary Websites will drive qualified traffic to a small business. Doing online press releases and distributing free articles will add hundreds (if not thousands) of interested monthly Website visitors.

Want to learn more? Click here.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. In today's troubled world, I hope you take time out to count your blessings and let your cared ones know how much you love them. ;~)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Pacing Yourself

In order to succeed at anything you do, you have to learn to pace yourself. There must be a balance to your life or you will burn out.

This is a problem that all entrepreneurs face. We work too hard. There are too many projects to complete. But in doing so, there is the danger of losing creativity and your perspective. Teach yourself to take time out to smell the roses. Spend time with your family. Relax. Take a bike ride, go to the beach, have coffee with a friend, but do something to break up the intense pressure and wind down. Breathe, and rejuvenate yourself.

A lesson we all have to learn....again and again.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Landing Page Essentials

Whether performing PPC advertising, running a special or doing a seminar, it is critical to have a landing page where interested parties go when they click on the action button. This is the page where your sales argument is presented. Everything on this page should be designed to entice the visitor to take a specific action, such as providing their vital statistics in exchange for a free widget. Typically, the purpose of a landing page is to capture a sales lead or to sell something via a credit card transaction.

The essentials of a landing page are to have a Header and Sub-Header that reinforce the benefits presented in the ad or webpage that led the visitor to the page. The textual content is a persuasive dialogue, sprinkled with testimonials, that leads the visitor to conclude that this is a good deal...something he/she can't live without.

Credibility is critical. Hence the testimonials. If others have been successful with the offering, it alleviates the fear of proceeding. No one likes to be a pioneer. Offering a "satisfaction guaranteed" policy with a full refund within (say) 30 days usually overcomes any lingering doubts.

Boosting the transaction with freebies to raise the ante is a powerful enticement. Putting a time limit on the offer creates a sense of urgency and spurs the visitor to action.

And the "action" must work flawlessly. Be sure to test-drive your transaction process to ensure everything works as it should. A significant percentage of potential buyers drop out at the purchase stage when it takes too long, has errors or is just plain confusing.

So, careful design of your landing page is essential to achieving a high conversion rate. Always remember that it's like a funnel which guides users to the decision you want them to make.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

I'm Back!!

The curse of independent consulting is the business cycle. When it's dry, it's really dry. BUT when it rains, it pours. Kinda hard to predict cashflows, but always welcomed.

In case you've noticed my absence during the past few weeks, it's because I have been caught up in a typhoon. Interesting work - putting up a Website for a public access cable company, for example - but time consuming. I now have several Internet marketing consulting clients, and I enjoy the variety of assignments and creativity they demand. Sometimes, however, they all enter a hot phase at the same time, and I hang up my life for a few weeks. Well, not entirely. There's still time for the occasional golf game or bike ride along the beach. After, why work for yourself if you don't take time to smell the roses?

No matter whether you work for yourself or for an employer, it's still the same. You gotta take time to smell the roses, to take your sweety to dinner, play with the kids and just unwind. In today's fast-paced society where it's hard to escape the phones, email and IM's, that's easier said than done. You can tell the ones who are successful - they are calmer and often wear smiles.

Just a thought ;~)

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Use Negative Keywords to Fine-Tune PPC Advertising

When employing pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, don't forget to make use of features which allow you to specify "negative keywords." These are keywords that you do not want to cause your ad to appear. Proper use of this feature will help you to target your ads towards real prospects and can dramatically reduce erroneous click-throughs, thereby making your monthly PPC budget go further.

Successful PPC advertising is all in the tuning...

Monday, July 31, 2006

Don't be Afraid to try Something New!

If your site statistics indicate that you are receiving a good traffic volume, but most visitors leave within 30 seconds, it's time to try something new.

The key is to experiment...and keep experimenting until you see a favorable shift in your site's "stickiness." This can be measured by sales conversion or simply a positive change in the duration that typical visitors spend on your site. Look at return visitors too - the more the better.

But the bottom line is that a Website is dynamic. You always have to be adding new content and adjusting your offerings, layout, navigation, incentives and attractiveness until you find a formula that works. That's why it is so important to carefully review your site statistics on at least a weekly basis.

Hint: Make small changes and give it a few days to see if the change is having a positive effect. If not, try something else. Keep experimenting and sooner or later, you'll find the right mixture that puts money in your pocket!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Valuable Content is Key to Website Marketing

Many small businesses treat their Websites as nothing more than an online brochure. This is OK if all you want is a place for sales and support people to point customers and prospects. But it foregoes the opportunity to tap into a worldwide, 24x7 market.

The best and simplest way to turn your small business Website into a marketing machine is to add valuable content that is periodically refreshed. This can be free useful tools, authoritative whitepapers, articles or eBooks, a directory to useful sources, etc. These build credibility, a preprequisite to collecting names, phone numbers and email addresses. And if you are selling online, achieving credibility among site visitors is an absolute prerequisite for success.

Add valuable content means that your site is more likely to be bookmarked as well, leading to return visitors. If your content captures attention, it is more likely to get passed on to colleagues and business associates too. This is called "viral marketing," a phenomenon that can significantly increase your business.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy 4th of July!

How do you know when you are a workaholic? I think I answered my own question. Here I sit during the morning of what is suppose to be a relaxing holiday, banging away to complete client assignments. Even worse, it doesn't feel like work to me. I enjoy what I do...maybe a little too much.

Time to stop and take the dog for a walk before the Pacific sun burns away the June gloom.

Happy 4th, everybody.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

New Service - Affordable Online Marketing Appraisal

A lot of small businesses put up a Website and promote it as best they can. Yet, they seem to hit a wall. Their site never appears within the first three pages of search engine returns for their keywords. In effect they are invisible on the Internet. Or despite a healthy flow of traffic to their site, sales never seem to increase. Where to go from here?

If you find yourself in this position, you might feel a sense of hopelessness. Maybe you've tried several things but nothing seems to work. It's like an invisible barrier keeps your online marketing efforts from succeeding. You would give anything for a knowledgeable Internet marketing expert to look at your site, but have neither the time or money to spend on a consultant.

Now there is a way to get the answers you need to revitalize your online marketing, to point it in the direction of success. A simple course correction can often make all the difference in the world. We know that online marketing works. Now let's make it work for you!

Pacifica Endeavors is proud to introduce our exclusive Online Marketing Appraisalsm service. Our new Online Marketing Appraisal service provides everything you have been seeking. A Pacifica Endeavors online marketing expert will personally review your Website and its underlying code. Assessments and recommendations will then be presented for:

  • How you can improve your search engine ranking
  • What you can do to improve sales conversions among site visitors
  • Inexpensive online marketing methods for your consideration that will dramatically increase Website traffic

You will receive this insightful feedback in the form of a documented PDF report within a few days of applying for the Online Marketing Appraisal service. And every part of the appraisal report will be "meat;" there is no fluff in the Online Marketing Appraisal package. You will get a penetrating report with solid recommendations guaranteed to increase your online business.

Learn more...

Friday, June 23, 2006

Be Proactive!

Lots of people complain but fail to do anything to turn their Websites into proactive marketing machines. And there are a number of actions that can be taken, each of which can boost the traffic flow and (if applicable) sales. If your Website is not living up to its expectations, find out why and do something about it.

Sometimes, just the simplest action can make all the difference. Don't be afraid to experiment. Read and learn; educate yourself...or hire someone knowledgeable to audit your site and make suggestions. But whatever you do, don't just sit there and let it go on. Every Website has the potential to become a mean, lean money-making machine...yours included!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Analyzing Your Website Traffic

The key to improving your site is diligent review of the its statistics. Your hosting vendor typically provides a report capability as part of their service. Checking these on a regular basis offers valuable insights into visitor behavior and clues to how you can make your site more productive. For example:

  • On what page do most people enter your site?
  • How long do they stay?
  • Where do they exit your site?
  • Where are they coming from?
  • Where do referrals come from?
  • What external links are sending the most traffic to your site?
  • How often are search engine spiders crawling your site for updates?
  • What keyword searches are sending most people to your site?

Reviewing these stats and thinking about them is the quickest way to enhancing your site. For example, if most people enter your site on the home page, but leave with 10 seconds or so, then you know that your homepage needs a little work. Also, one linked site is sending you most of your referral traffic, perhaps a closer business relationship with that site is in order. If Google is not regularly crawling your site, maybe you should re-submit to them. Think about it...

Friday, June 09, 2006

The Joy of Being an Entrepreneur

Sometimes, when I get up at 3AM to finish a project, I question my sanity and contemplate getting a "real job" with scheduled hours and a steady paycheck.

Then later, after finishing and watching the sun come up, I take my dog for a walk along the rural backroads in northern San Diego county, and I know why I do this. It's the freedom to manage my own time that keeps me going. And I remember the 1 1/2 hour commute every morning, the endless stress and often having to work for "intellectually challenged" executives. Suddenly it all comes into perspective - Yes! This is why I do it....the freedom to control my own life, to manage my own destiny.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Your Website Selling Proposition

Every Website needs a "unique selling proposition" in its initial view (above the fold). This statement explains what differentiates you from the hordes of competitors and the benefits to the viewer. Remember, you have about ten seconds to capture the interest of a Website visitor, so make your selling proposition compelling!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Pace Yourself!

It pays to "come up for air" every now and then. Having just completed a three-week, heads-down project with a firm deadline, I was feeling like a zombie. Taking time out to re-charge the batteries is important. From now on, I'm going to bring some balance into my consulting life, mixing bike riding and coffee with friends along with the work.

Guess it's never too late to learn...

Monday, May 15, 2006

New Sales Position in a Start-up?

One of the best ways to quickly generate qualified sales leads is through pay-per-click (PPC)advertising with Google. To do this, you need:

1. A Website
2. A landing page that can only be reached through the PPC ad, where you essentially present your sales argument and somehow capture the visitor's vital statistics (name, email, etc.)
3. A motivating incentive (e.g., discount on services, free whitepaper or product, etc.), coupled along with a sense of urgency (Today only!).

The PPC ad must be carefully prepared to ensure you only receive click-throughs from qualified prospects. Otherwise, PPC advertising can cost you a bundle. ;~(

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Make a Weekly Plan

Most businesses can benefit by setting aside time to plan out their work week. The simple exercise of establishing goals to be accomplished each week can make a tremendous difference. Success comes from having a strategic plan that is broken down into weekly tactical plans. Think of it as a roadmap to get you where you want to go.

If you have employees, holding a Monday morning staff meeting is an excellent opportunity to review the past week’s events and progress while establishing objectives and deciding priorities for the current week.

I’ve always found that taking time at the end of each week to document accomplishments provides an opportunity to assess what works and what doesn’t. While things are still fresh in your mind, you can gain insights and brainstorm ideas and priorities. Then set it aside for the weekend (schedule permitting) and use this material for the Monday morning staff meeting. Often you will find that it percolates in your mind over the weekend and reflection brings refinement which helps you on the road to success.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Why Employ a Marketing Consultant?

Most people are good at one or two things. Successful people learn to focus on areas where they can be most effective and to acquire talent to address their remaining needs. This is where a marketing consultant can help.

A good marketing consultant is someone who has been in the trenches him (or her) self. With his (her) experience and skills, they should be able to quickly identify what needs to be accomplished to satisfy your objectives. Moreover, he (she) should be able to prepare a comprehensive plan and implement it for you at a reasonable cost.

At Pacifica Endeavors, our clients can expect to receive a many-fold return on their investment in marketing. Our fees are recovered many times over through increased sales resulting from leads generated through innovative marketing programs.

Monday, April 10, 2006

You Gotta Love Press Releases!

Press releases are a wonderful vehicle for getting your message to the marketplace. They create visibility, enhance credibility and, when placed online, live on forever.

Using inexpensive services like PRWeb to distribute a press release online is an excellent means of garnering widespread coverage of a product announcement, big sales win or an upcoming event. The beauty is that you can embed links so that your press release drives interested traffic back to your Website! And since online press releases float around the Internet forever and get picked up by press sites and newsletters, they provide a plethora of one-way links to your site, thus driving up your search engine ranking.

Don't just send out your press release online. Local newspapers and industry periodicals are always eager to get "filler' materials. If you mail or fax your press release to them with a cover letter, they will likely print it.

So, one simple document gets a lot of attention. Try accomplishing one press release monthly with embedded links. It's a cheap way to boost your Website traffic and capture more sales leads.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Credibility in Today's Business World

I'm amazed whenever I come across a small business that still doesn't have a Website. Even in this day and age when Website hosting is dirt cheap, some businesses lag behind. It is essential to your credibility to have a Website...and not just any Website, but a good one that presents the image of your business that you want to communicate to your target market.

A well-planned Website ultimately translates to more customers and more money in your pocket. It doesn't have to be a huge Website, nor are e-commerce and other "bells and Whistles" required. It just has to be pleasing to the eye, easy to navigate and contain useful information for clients and prospective customers. Oh yes, be sure to let interested visitors know how to contact (or locate) you.

The final step is to at least complete the meta tags before submitting the site to search engines and relevant Internet directories. These include the Title, Description and Keyword tags. If you really want to get a lot of traffic from your Website, get a professional to optimize it for the search engines. And once your Website is active, promote the heck out of it!

Monday, March 27, 2006

It Pays to Have a Plan!

There's an old saying, "How will you known when you get there if you don't know where you're going?" That's why having a well-conceived business or marketing plan is so important to the success of a small business.

Every hour spent in the planning process will save you hundreds of dollars down the line. Because it's time-consuming, sometimes difficult, and entrepreneurs are eager to jump in and get going, upfront research and planning are often neglected. Yet, it always comes back to bite you in the butt! The bottom line - you can discover pitfalls and miscalculations upfront or you can trip across them down the road after spending a lot of money.

That said, I'm off to enjoy a mental health day skiing the slopes of Snow Valley in the San Bernardino Mountains of southern California. We have it all - I can ride my bike 15 miles to the beach, or drive a couple of hours and be in beautiful mountains. No wonder the whole world wants to live in sunny San Diego.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Half of Marketing is Just Doing Something!

Quite often, small business people are so tied up in running their business or servicing customers that they forget to carve out time for marketing. I know this is particularly true for those who sell a service (such as consulting). Then one day, you come up for air and discover that the sales pipeline is empty.

It take discipline to set aside time and funds for marketing. But without doing so, small business people fall into a vicious cycle of "feast or famine." The secret is to launch some ongoing marketing programs (such as pay-per-click advertising) that generate a steady flow of sales leads. You also have to schedule time weekly to devote to marketing activities, for without them your company will have to be pretty darn lucky to grow.

Just doing something - anything! - to create market awareness of your product or service is better than doing nothing. Try committing at least two hours weekly to marketing and you'll see a difference!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Put Your Business Online - Step One: Put Up A Website

Hi Everyone:

Most people just starting a business - and even those who have their business off the ground - realize that online marketing has huge benefits, but don't quite know how to go about it. There appear to be lots of confusing choices... and most look expensive.

But the potential rewards of Internet marketing are so huge that you can't ignore them. Right away, a Website gives you a worldwide 24 x 7 x 365 audience, putting you up there along side the big guys. In the virtual world, small businesses can have as much clout as big corporations.

So step one is to get a website if you don't already have one! The good news is that there are ways to have an effective online marketing platform for just pennies a day....IF you are willing to do a little work yourself. If not, hire someone affordable like me to do it for you. But whatever you do, GET A WEBSITE up and running that sells your products or services. And since it takes a while to get noticed by Google, Yahoo, MSN and other search engines, the sooner you get your Website up, the better.

For those of you who need a primer in setting up an online business, download "Put Your Business Online," which is written for non-techie novices. It explains everything you need to know to get started with creating your website and promoting it. You will be amazed how fast a business can grow through online marketing.

Marketing Consulting for Small Business People and Entrepreneurs

Hello fellow small business persons and entrepreneurs!

Welcome to the Small Business Smart Marketing blog. My name is Al Kernek, and I'm one of the Principal Consultants for Pacifica Endeavors LLC, a marketing and sales consulting firm located in sunny San Diego whose customers are people just like yourself.

You can check out our Website at, but why not hang around a bit and take a look at our blog too? Be sure to bookmark it because we give away lots of valuable free advice to those who are starting a business or who already have a small operation underway.

Feel free to contribute to the discussion by leaving a comment or asking a question. We update this blog nearly everyday. Enjoy!