Monday, December 31, 2007

Your Website IS your Business Credibility!

Today, a business Website can either enhance the credibility of a company or damage it. We live in an online world now, and the first thing sales prospects do is to check out your Website. If it's good, easy to navigate and quickly conveys the nature of your business and differentiating strengths, the site helps sales. If it is obviously home-grown and amateurish, with dead-end pages, the site will destroy your credibility and cost your company sales.

The shame of it is that it doesn't cost that much these days to have someone create a professional Website for your business. No matter what size your organization is, the Internet creates a level playing field. A well-designed site that presents your company in a credible fashion and captures sales leads is worth every penny. And in the process, the new or enhanced site can be optimized for search engine spiders so that your organic ranking improves and brings in even more clients.

The ROI for creating a new site or improving your existing site is extremely high. It is the best, long-lasting investment any business can make in 2008. So, as you draw up your buisness resolutions today, put this at the top of your list!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

What is the Purpose of your Website?

There are millions and millions of business Websites on the Internet, and I'm continually surprised by how many were apparently put up without any thought about what was trying to be achieved.

I say this because many are obviously nothing more than online brochures for the business products or services. These treat the Internet the same way as hard-print advertising or collateral materials.

Other business sites are designed for the Internet but are not optimized for search engines. Many also lack a means of capturing sales leads and hard to navigate. Kinda makes me wonder what they were hoping to achieve...

The first and most important step in launching any Website is to define its purpose and goals. Is it to be a reference site? A customer support site? Or, do you want an online marketing machine? The answer determines the resultant site design and content. Conversely, failure to address this subject before building a site will inevitably lead to frustration and expensive site revamping.

So, what do you want your site to do? Is it accomplishing this? Need help?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Market your Website with Free Articles

One of the most inexpensive means of promoting your Website is to create and distribute free articles on the Internet. There are a half-dozen major sites that are dedicated to this purpose and the best part is that is FREE!

And the articles do not have to be long - three or four paragraphs will do. Write about something you know. Keep it narrowly focused and related to the service or product you offer on your Website. Include an author box with an embedded link back to your site. That way, interested readers can go directly to your site to learn more. Articles are a great sales lead generator!

Moreover, free articles get widespread distribution on the Internet. They are picked up by other blogs, Websites and newsletters for content. So, your free article (with its embedded link back to your site) results in an explosion of one-way links back to your site and considerable traffic boost.

There's nothing not to like about using free article distribution as a means to improve your Website traffic and search engine ranking. Contact us if you need help getting this going.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Importance of Disaster Recovery

The San Diego firestorm (and yes, I live in a threaten area near Fallbrook in north San Diego county) reminds us just how important it is to be prepared for a disaster. For a business, this means having one or backup copies of critical records. Studies have demonstrated time and again that businesses which are unable to recover critical information typically fail after a disaster.

And it's not enough to just have a backup copy of important information. You need to have backups that are stored off-site or are at least portable. For those of you who operate home businesses, backup your data daily to removeable disks (e.g., a zip drive or memory stick) or to a portable external drive that can be quickly disconnected and thrown into a travel bag. Some home businesses even use different memory sticks for specific files. Store at least one copy off-site (someone else's home, a safe deposit box, etc.). Have a dedicated fire-proof and water-proof safe box to preserve data stored on removeable storage devices.

Ideally, critical data should be backed up to a remote site that can be readily accessed from any location for fast recovery. Inexpensive online services, like Carbonite, that provide continuous, secure background backup over the Internet are a good, easy solution.

Don't feel snug if you have important information in an online Website database and not at your your business or home office location. After all, what happens if the Website location suffers a fire, flood, tornado or terrorist event? Always download and backup your Website on a periodic basis. Likewise, maintain duplicate backup files of really critical information, rather than entirely trusting your livelihood to a remote backup site.

Finally, make sure your backup solution allows you to quickly access or repopulate data. It does no good to protect critical information if you run into problems when you try to restore it.

You won't realize how very important your business records are until you actually face a disaster...and by then it's too late if you haven't taken prior precautions.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Creating Market Awareness for your Products or Services

Public relations ("PR") is not a black art. It is as essential for small businesses as it is for large corporations. Let's face it - it's hard to sell your product or service if the market you are targeting has never heard of you.

Of course, you can blanket your target market with expensive advertising in magazines, the radio, television or newspapers. But did you know you can accomplish much the same thing through effective PR programs? In many ways, PR is "free" advertising and often much more effective than expensive alternatives.

Public relations takes many forms. It can be a press release that takes on a life of its own on the Internet, placing an article about your company in a widely read publication, having a published interview, winning an industry award, or briefing industry analysts. These activities spread your message in an effective, credible fashion.

Online press releases and articles contain embedded links back to your Website. Since these get picked up by other Websites, newsletters and blogs, interested readers often follow the embedded links to your Website. This increases your Website traffic. Also, having incoming links from other Internet entities drives up your organic search engine ranking. It's a win-win situation!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Use Google PPC Conversion Tracking to Determine Advertising ROI

Google PPC advertising (Adwords) is effective, but can be a very scary proposition. if you don't know what you're doing, you can burn through a lot of money very quickly with little or no results. In short, it really, really pays to employ a knowledgeable person to set up your Google PPC advertising.

Google Adwords has a neat feature that allows you to track the business results from your online advertising. Essentially, it works like this:
  • Set up your Google ad campaign
  • Each Google ad should go to a separate "landing page" where you present your sales argument and have a lead capture form or "buy" button.
  • When a prospect clicks on the "Submit" or "Buy" button on the landing page, you should have a "Thank You" page to which they are automatically transferred. The only way anyone can get to the "Thank You" page is by clicking on a button on the ad landing page.
  • Google Adwords provides a conversion tracking feature that generates specific code which can be inserted on the Thank You" page for each landing page. This code notifies Google when someone arrives on the "Thank You" page.

Thus, Google will record all arrivals at each "Thank You" page as a lead or sales conversion for the landing page tied to a specific ad. This data is displayed in your campaign summary by Google Adwords. In effect, this tells you how well an ad and its associated landing page is performing in converting ad click-throughs into either revenue or sales leads. This is your "return on investment (ROI)" for Google advertising.

Knowing your ROI for Google advertising is essential. Without it, you have no way of measuring how much a lead or purchase is costing you in terms of advertising dollars. If it's too high, PPC advertising may not be the answer for you. A high ROI figure can also alert you to the need to improve your conversion rate by tweaking your ads and./or landing pages.

Need help with Google PPC advertising? Contact a professional at Small Business Smart Marketing: (866) 284-4955 or via email at

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Fastest Way for a New Company to get Sales

When you finally launch that new business, you probably start your marketing campaign with a Website. But it takes a long, long time for your Website to bubble up in organic search engine ranking. So until it does, you're still invisible on the Internet. Meanwhile, you need sales and money to pay bills. Right?

Want to know how you can quickly begin to generate sales leads from the Internet? It's simple - implement a local pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaign. That way, your PPC ad will be visible to Internet searchers at the exact moment they are looking for what you're selling. This overcomes the weaknesses of your Website being nowhere in sight in organic search returns. And you are only charged when someone actually clicks on your ad. Otherwise, it's highly-visible free advertising.

Done right, local PPC advertising can be VERY effective...and very economical. But setting up PPC advertising is not for amateurs. Believe me, you can run through a lot of money real fast with little or no results. Google and Yahoo have their own algorithms for managing PPC advertising and they are not obvious, nor do they necessarily work to your favor.

It pays to engage an experienced PPC advertising manager to set-up, optimize and manage your online advertising campaign. Someone who knows how to create winning landing pages that capture leads or gain online sales after a rpospective customer clicks on your ad. You will save money and start generating sales sooner by turning to someone who knows what they are doing. Just ask anyone who rushed into PPC advertising - I'm sure they'll echo these sentiments.

Need help launching your PPC advertising? Contact us at or at (866) 284-4955. ;~)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

All You Need is a Website to Get Internet Business. Right?

The days when you could just put up a Website for your business and wait for sales leads to come rolling in are long gone. It's amazing how many small business Websites are actually "invisible" on the Internet.

Today, your Website must be optimized for those little critters known as "search engine spiders" that continuously crawl the Internet, indexing and updating a humongous database of Websites. Next, you need a sustained program to acquire cross-links with complementary sites, something that all search engines place a high value on in determining your site ranking. And you need a form or two on your site to collect sales leads. Finally, you need meaningful content on your site, and the more often you update your content, the better Google and other search engines like your site.

Don't kid yourself - all this takes work...lots of work. But the results can be phenomenal. I've seen small businesses go from zero Internet business to being bombarded with leads in just a matter of a few weeks. Done right, Internet marketing does work!

An easy way to find out what you can do to boost Internet lead generation is to take advantage of our Online Marketing Appraisal. We will examine your site and prepare a custom report with specific recommendations for turning it into a powerful Internet marketing machine.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Organizing Your Customer and Prospect Marketing

As your small business grows and you pick up clients and solicit prospects, it becomes very important to organize your customers and manage them properly. That's where customer relationship management (CRM) software earns its money.

With a CRM solution, you can easily keep track of your customer and prospect contacts, their status in the sales funnel and even create a unique marketing program for each. The latter is especially important. If you lay out a series of steps in your marketing program (e.g., send customized greeting, sign up for email newsletter, send autoresponder set of special offers, etc.), then you can rest assured that you will not neglect to nurture your customers or pursue possible new clients.

Remember, it costs a lot more to capture a new customer than it does to retain an existing one. Also, it is easier to sell more products or services to an existing customer than a new one. And finally, nurturing prospective customers through ongoing marketing messages helps to close sales.

For small businesses, an easy CRM answer can be found online at This Web-based service is free for up to three users in your company. I use it and recommend that you take a look at it.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Is Your Website Search Engine Friendly?

The days when you could just put up a Website for your business and wait for sales leads to come rolling in are long gone. It's amazing how many small business Websites are actually "invisible" on the Internet.

Today, your Website must be optimized for those little critters known as "search engine spiders" that continuously crawl the Internet, indexing and updating a humongous database of Websites. If these spiders can't easily traverse your site, you are in trouble. If they can't readily identify your line of business through indicated keywords, you've got problems. If your site is in a heavily competitive marketplace and it's not optimized for a specific market niche, it could take a long, long time before you see it showing up in the first three pages of search results. And if you don't show up in the first three pages, chances are that the only way your marketplace will ever know you exist is if you point them to your Website address.

Of course, it takes more than just search engine optimization to turn your Website into a high-power lead generator. Most search engines also place a heavy factor on the number and quality of incoming links as a measure of your site's popularity. And that takes a lot of work to achieve.

An easy way to determine if your site is search engine friendly is to take advantage of our
Online Marketing Appraisal. Our experts will examine your site and issue a custom report with specific recommendations about what you can do to turn your site into an Internet marketing machine.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day Thoughts

Unless you have actually been in a war, it is hard to understand why veterans hate war and will do anything to prevent it. War is barbarism. War is seeing your friends die...everyday. War is giving up hope of ever returning home again to your loved ones. War is despair.

There is no such thing as a "smart bomb." Once the "dogs of war" are let loose, there is no controlling them. Death sweeps the land and feeds on itself. War quickly becomes senseless killing.

I cringe when I hear politicians who went out of their way to avoid the draft and Vietnam talk about "sacrifice" and "supporting the troops." Yet, they are so willing to send our sons and daughters off to the black hole of Iraq to die for their discredited beliefs.

If there could be just one change to the Constitution, I would like it to be that politicians could not vote for - or simply launch - war unless they committed to have their own children, brothers, sisters and other relatives between the ages of 18 and 45 actively participate in a combat zone. Do you think that would have changed the Iraq vote?

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Have a Great Idea? Sell It on a Single-Page Website!

Do you have a great idea? Did you come up with a better "widget" that you know will knock the world dead? Well, now you can begin marketing your widget worldwide within just a few days.

A great way to give your idea life is to launch a single-page Website as a 24x7 marketing machine that has but one purpose - to generate widget sales or capture leads. And you can accomplish this for under $4 monthly!

If your widget really is a great idea, you will be surprised how effective a single-page Website is. It is easier to optimize for the search engines too. For example, if you get a pertinent domain name, such as, implementing the right meta tags and keyword densities is much simpler than a normal business Website. And you can have this for under $4 monthly in hosting fees!

The good news is that you don't have to understand how to put up a Website, how to write persuasive site content, how to create and insert order forms or set up online payment. We can do all that for you. Moreover, your "great idea" can be transformed into a dynamite Internet marketing machine within just a few days. Throw in some targeted pay per click advertising and watch your sales grow.

Contact us to learn just how affordable it is to launch your better widget.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Evolution of Online Advertising

There are changes occurring in online advertising. Google is experimenting with pay-per-conversion advertising, wherein advertisers will only be charged when a prospect actually takes a desired landing page action (e.g., filling out the lead capture form) and winds up on the site's thank-you (i.e., "conversion") page. This will take of click fraud. It is also a more meaningful way of charging for online advertising. Expect Yahoo and others to follow Google's lead on this.

Another innovative approach is "pay per call" advertising introduced by Ingenio. It works in much the same fashion as current PPC advertising. You create an ad, set your bid price for calls, and then your ad appears across the Ingenio Advertising Network which includes AOL Search and other sites. However, you are only charged when an interested prospect actually calls you!

Search engine advertising, which is the fuel driving Internet marketing, is evolving. Just look at recent innovations in local PPC advertising. What's exciting is that this change is being driven by both technology and customer demands. I think this is a good thing. It will benefit all small businesses by letting us get more "bang for the buck."

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Business Plan Sanity Check

For a small business or start-up, getting a "sanity check" for your business plan from an experienced consultant can mean the difference between success and failure. The small expense of having an experienced person review your business plan (or simply your strategy, whether it's written down or not) is more than recovered by the insights gained and the avoidance of costly pitfalls.

And for those of you who do not have a written plan that has been scrutinized by someone who is "business knowledgeable," recognize that you are winging it! Are your goals realistic? Are they achievable? Are they even the right goals for your business? And do you have realistic action plans to achieve your goals? Are you leveraging your strengths while minimizing your weaknesses? If you don't know the answers to questions like these, you may already be headed for serious trouble.

Too often, start-ups and small businesses don't even see trouble coming until it is too late to do something about it. That's the purpose of a well-thought-out business plan - to look ahead and increase your odds of success by avoiding likely speed bumps. The failure rate of businesses who don't take the time to think through their objectives and strategies is dramatically higher than those who accomplish this upfront and perform at least annual reviews.

Without a roadmap for your business, how will you know if you're going in the right direction? If you don't have the experience, aptitude or skills to prepare a business plan, then employ a knowledgeable consultant to help you put one together. It will be the best money you ever spend.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Are You Invisible on the Internet?

Here's a good exercise. Create a matrix with five columns and five rows. Blank out the upper left cell, but label the other four top horizontal cells, "Google," "Yahoo," "MSN," and "Ask." Then place your Website's top four keyword phrases in the left column. Now, do a search under each search engine and list your position among the returns in the appropriate cell. For example, if one of my key phrases is "curved widgets," and my site came up on page 2 in the number five position when I enter that phrase into the Google search box, I would enter "page 2 - 5" under the Google column for that phrase.

If you do this for your top four keyword phrases, you will get a real good idea of how well your site is optimized for the four search engines that account for at least 98 percent of all Internet searches.

If your Website isn't showing up within the first three pages of search engine returns (for your strategic keywords or phrase), then you are invisible on the Internet! If your site shows up on page 1 for all search engines for all keyword phrases, you walk on water. If it's somewhere in between, you have some work to do.

For anything but the "walk on water" results, there are two things you can do to drive more traffic to your Website. First (obviously) is to improve your search engine optimization as necessary. This is a long-term solution that takes time to implement and show results. Secondarily, you can utilize targeted, local pay-per-click advertising to get economical leads while your organic search-engine ranking climbs a competitive ladder to success.

Go ahead - grab a pencil and perform this exercise. The results may surprise you. Need help?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Every Small Business Needs An Internet Marketing Strategy

It is almost impossible for a small business to survive today without a Website. If you don't have one, you are just not credible. Moreover, since most Americans go online to find goods and services, you will miss out by not being included in the world's largest virtual directory. Of course, this means that a small business must also have its site optimized for its keywords, or it will still be invisible on the Internet. And, as long as your business is online, why not leverage it to capture sales leads or boost your revenues by letting customer buy online?

Plus, it is easy and economical to employ local online advertising to boost awareness of your business. Free local listings are available from Google and others. Moreover, local pay-per-click advertising is very cost-effective. This is where your ad only appears to those in your local marketing area and you are only charged a small fee if and when they click on it.

So, if your business doesn't have a Website, get one! And if your Website is doing nothing for you, fix it. Contact me, and I'll give you a quick evaluation of your online situation and how you can turn it into a money machine.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Always, Always Back Up Your Data!

For those in business (and really anyone), nothing is more important than backing up your critical information on a regular basis. If you have ever had the horrifying experience of a disk crash or a paralyzing virus attack (and I have), then you know what I'm saying. Your business can quickly grind to a halt if, for example, you lose customer contact and purchase records, critical projects or WIP, photos, accounting records...use your imagination. Put simply, it can be catastrophic and hard to recover.

At minimum, get a Zip or external backup drive. They are cheap today. I just saw an ad for an external disk drive that offers over 300GB of storage for $139!! Whatever you do, be sure to backup critical data immediately after you create or update it. Better safe than sorry, so make this a standard practice.

A "hands free - worry free" solution is to subscribe to a Web-based automatic backup solution. these work in the background, always backing up new files over the Internet while you continue your work. Obviously, you want to make sure that transmissions are secure and that the repository is itself backed-up on a regular basis.

These online solutions used to be costly, but now they are quite affordable. I use Carbonite myself, which cost just pennies a day. It's a small price to pay for peace of mind. If I ever do suffer a disaster, I'm confident I'll be able to recover and stay in business. ;~)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Constant Contact Email Newsletter Online Service - Product Review

Constant Contact is one of the premier online services for creating, managing and distributing an email newsletter.

I am a Constant Contact affiliate and offer it to my clients when appropriate. On my Real Estate Internet Marketing Website, I even provide a service to get Realtors off to a fast start by setting up their Constant Contact account, newsletter parameters, and importing their images and email lists. Most start out taking advantage of the Constant Contact 60-day free trial, then transition to a monthly subscription ($15 monthly for up to 500 email contacts). Those with 50 email contacts or less can use the Constant Contact service for free!

Being very familiar with Constant Contact, I have prepared a product review for visitors to my Small Business Smart Marketing website. This is an objective analysis, pointing out some "gotchas," and pinpointing Constant Contact's best market fit. If you are thinking about using an online service to generate, distribute and manage a newsletter or other type of email campaign (electronic postcards, promotions, events, etc.), then do yourself a favor and read this Constant Contact product review first.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Drive Qualified Traffic to your Website with Press Releases

Press releases are an excellent means of capturing qualified traffic. After all, if someone is interested enough to read your online press release, then click on your embedded link, you have a qualified prospect who is motivated!

And never underestimate the wide circulation that press releases achieve! Using a service like PRWeb for online distribution allows you to assign keywords and tags for RSS feeds and blogs. You will be surprised at how much traffic a single press release can send to your site. Your press release shows up in other Websites, newsletters, blogs, forums and then gets archived there.

Think about what it does for your search engine ranking to quickly gain a large number of one-way links from highly-ranked sites!

And online press releases live on forever. I'm still getting traffic from a press release I did two years ago!

Small business people and entrepreneurs can utilize our economical PR service at to create and distribute press releases. Realtors should check out out unique low-cost PR service at