Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Microsoft using Hotmail to Sell Targeted Ads

In the Wall Street Journal reported today that Microsoft is using its Hotmail email system or rather the data it represents to sell targeted "behavior based" ads. The article states that the data users put in when the set up the account along with their search habits will be used to sell ads that can be very targeted to the user... or will they?

You basically are going to quickly develop two groups of people here. The first are people that put in real and honest data about themselves and will consider this a HUGE violation of privacy and they should. This is data that they willingly gave up to get an email account, not give marketers an edge in marketing to them. If they wanted to let marketers have this information they would have given it to them.

Microsoft should be ashamed. If I found out my dentist or doctor or anyone else that I provided personal information to sold my information to make a buck to other marketers I would be very upset and probably take it out on the marketers trying to contact me as well as the company that violated my privacy.

Now Microsoft says that they don't give personal information just general info, but the important thing here is they shouldn't be giving anything without my (or your) permission.This is the reason why trust continues to be an issue on the Internet and makes it harder for legitimate marketers to get people to give up information on themselves. Once they give it up, presumably for one purpose they find later it has been sold or used for another purpose they wouldn't approve of.

In addition, you have the added benefit of continual spying by Microsoft by monitoring your search habits. Next we will hear that they are reading the contents of the emails and presenting ads based on the types of emails you receive. Way to go Microsoft! Now that is a strategy to be proud of...full sarcasm intended!

The second group of people are those that provided totally false data when they set the account up to insure that if such a day would come like this that their information wasn't at all representative of them and what appeals to them. Yours truly falls into this category. Now Microsoft is out there selling my data along with everyone else's the problem is that the marketers that use it aren't getting a picture of the real person so the ads they present to me will be seriously off the mark. What do you think the chances are that I will correct their assumptions for them?

Building trust with customers is a very hard thing to do both online and off, but why you would deliberately violate that trust is beyond me and I believe Microsoft is on the verge a serious back lash from customers over this one. Those that gave real information will be angry and those that gave false info will have even less trust than they had before and will be even more wary of online marketers.

Michael Temple

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Google Docs

Google is really starting to score some kudos these days. I just started playing around with another one of their free tools, online document collaborator. Now similar systems sell for three times this price, but act today and you get it for the low, low price of nothing!

Ok, I couldn't resist my info commercial routine, but seriously this is a neat tool and in the past you did have to pay for software to help you do online collaboration of documents, but now Google has added it to their suite of free portal applications.

As a business model Google is moving more to the portal model, which is what Yahoo did a number of years ago and it appears to be working for them. The danger of course is that they begin to dillute their core competency of being a search engine. However for the moment the tools they are creating are useful and this is one I would recommend if you need to share documents and spreadsheets with people to do online collaboration. Check it out here.

Michael Temple

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Google Conversion Tool Beta Launch

Google is working to be the greatest asset on the Internet to marketing professionals. They have just announced the beta launch of their Website Optimizer tool. The tool is designed to help marketers test different elements of their landing pages. In my last post I wrote how Google was going to start grading landing pages for ad word sites and those sites the provided "poor experiences" were ultimately going to pay more for ad word purchases.

It now appears that Google is going another step forward and helping marketers build those great landing pages. In the old days when we used direct mail...you know the stuff in envelopes that goes through the post office and has been called "snail mail".

Well for those of that do remember scientific advertising using things like split A/B tests have been around almost as long as direct mail marketing. The problem was that a true A/B test could really only allow you to test one variable at a time against another. Using mail this was obviously a slow and expensive way to develop the ideal marketing message.

What is exciting about Google's tool is that it allows you to perform
multivariate tests. Which is a fancy way of saying you can test multiple variables about your landing pages at once, i.e. two headlines, two sets of introduction paragraphs, two offers, etc. all at the same time and according to Google their tool will keep track of the performance of each of these tests and help you narrow down the most effective message and landing page quickly. When you combine such a tool with Internet speed you get very fast test results.

While I have a love/hate relationship with Google I have to really give them kudos on this one. I am really impressed with the free tools they are developing and making available to help move Internet marketing to a more mainstream advertising medium instead of the lawless wild west.

However please remember the tools are only useful if you are putting the quality ingredients into the marketing campaign, i.e. strong headlines, powerful copy, calls for action, strong offers, etc. If you develop a poor marketing piece and use every tool Google has it will only tell you that you have developed a crappy piece of marketing that is causing your marketing budget to vanish faster than an Arizona frost. The first step will still be finding the right marketing consultant to help you identify the target market, develop the message, and improve upon it once Google's tools start giving you information about results.

Michael Temple

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Google Landing Pages Requirement in Force

Google has started their new requirement for an improvement in the quality of landing pages for Google ad words. As I have said before, it is about time. Creating ads that actually lead to informative pages for the purposes of creating leads and buying opportunities hasbeen sorely lacking since Internet advertising became the "in thing" to do. Now Google has actually gone so far to make this a part of their ranking system. I thought it would be interesting to go and see what Google thinks a "quality" landing page is.

As you might expect they are a bit vague, probably on purpose. However one thing they say is...

Openly share information about your business. Clearly define what your business is or does.

While this isn't very specific it does say one thing loud and clear that a well written page, i.e. good copywriting and solid communication skills is going to play a role in the quality of a landing page. Bravo Google, welcome to the club, to those of us in Internet and direct marketing this has pretty much been rule forever now. Better late than never I guess.

If you want to get the most from your advertising dollars online you should have been doing this all along, but if you weren't well now you have even more reason to join the rest of us in land of sound marketing principles. If you need help figuring out how to write good landing pages and copy for your pages please contact me or another competent copywriter because it now counts in more ways than one. If you want to see what else Google has to say about what a good landing page is you can read it here.

Michael Temple

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Merging Media

For a few years now two trends have been shaping up in online marketing. The first is the use of the Internet to promote local businesses that are constrained by geography, in other words it does them no good to get hits from people in another state or even city for that matter. Over the last 4-5 years companies that need promotion and think the Internet can give it to them have struggled with this aspect of a web site investment and promo strategy. This is one area that is showing some promise and will no doubt continue to expand. There are a number of good strategies that can be employed here.

For example, using offline local media to promote your web site. This is the concept of merging media. This has been common for large sites like Amazon, but not as common for the small or medium sized business that needs traffic on its site. I am speaking to an association of mortgage brokers today and will be talking about using local print ads to drive traffic to a lead generation web site and how to make that work for them as local brokers competing on national scale. Once you get local prospects to your site the idea is to convert them into a lead by having them sign up for a white paper or something else they find useful.

This morning's Wall Street Journal is reporting on a rumor that may be close to reality between Hot Jobs and 6 major newspapers to allow for cross promotion and the boosting of presence in local markets.

As I said I have been promoting this strategy for a while now, but this is the first time I have seen a major national Internet player merging attempting to boost marketing at the local level like this. If you want to read the story here. This will definately be a trend to continue to watch as it will have a large impact on both local and national businesses strivng for better marketshare in specific markets.

Michael Temple

Monday, November 20, 2006

DMA Email Marketing Guide

The DMA (Direct Marketing Association) recently released its email marketing guide that is jammed full of great info for email marketing. They just announced that it is now available online and I thought some of my readers might like to see it. Here is the link...

DMA Email Marketing Guide

This is a very good area for the DMA to spend resources for a few reasons...

  1. Email marketing is growing
  2. Email marketing and direct marketing go very well together and are really one and the same.
  3. The incredible amount of bad info regarding email marketing that is out there.
I felt the guide was pretty good overall. Please keep in mind as you look it over that the majority of the content was written by consultants and service providers so to some degree the information will be slanted, but probably not any more than any other "free" info is on the Internet.

Happy reading.

Michael Temple

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Landing Pages Receive a Needed Boost

It appears that Google has just changed the ground rules yet again for Internet advertisers, but this time for the better although many advertisers may not think so, or at least the lazy ones. Google has changed their algorithms to start "grading" the quality of the landing page that users land on when they click on an ad. Those landing pages that are done poorly or advertisers that simply send users to their home page will end up paying more for their ads.

While the change won't affect everyone it will raise the cost of the minimum bid for those advertisers that provide a "poor quality experience" for the people that click through from an ad. Unfortunately while some information is provided about what Google considers a "good page" it is a bit vague. However the good news is that I can predict with almost 100% certainty that the rules of good copywriting and advertising will still apply!

The lazy advertisers that don't want to go the extra mile and write a quality landing page for each and every ad they create will end up being charged two ways. The first way of course is through lost conversions. The second way is having Google raise the minimum bid on ads.

Now what I find amazing is the the first cost has been around since the beginning of pay to click advertising and yet I find way too many advertisers that simply want to go the easy route and send everyone to their home page figuring that somehow this says it all. Unfortunately what ends up happening is that people land on the home page and don't see IMMEDIATELY how the ad they clicked on is relevant to where they landed. Rather than stick around and try and hunt it out they simply leave. This is a long way of saying NO CONVERSION and hence NO SALES, which means NO PROFIT!

A conversion is the whole reason behind Internet advertising so I am amazed at the number of advertisers that don't know or care about the landing page. This has obviously cost them in lost sales, but many of them have ignored it. Then a few of them having evolved past the stage being able to simply make fire, like our primitive ancestors, they started creating copies of their home page so they could track how many clicks they received from an ad, but still no landing page! They wanted to know how many clicks they got, but still didn't go the extra mile to create and test the landing page.

Now Google has made this lazy way of advertising more expensive. It is like a new tax increase on poor practices. Creating winning landing pages can be technical from using the scientific methods behind direct response such as A/B splits and solid copywriting principles.

If anyone is contemplating advertising and wants to insure they get the most for their marketing dollar please
contact me to help you with the copywriting, strategy, or consulting on making your campaign better.

If you would like to read the full post where this info came from check out my friends over at
searchenginejournal.com I find their information very good.

Michael Temple

Friday, November 03, 2006

Data you can Bite Into

Here is a great study that was done by CIO Insight magazine about using the Internet as a sales tool. Now we are talking! The study is interesting in that it says most companies are using the web for new customer acquisition and revenue growth over all other things it could be using the web for. It also goes on to state that only half the companies surveyed believe the web is their most profitable sales channel...interesting.

Well the research confirmes it for me, most web sites and Internet marketing strategies suck! If they actually spent the same kind of effort on their web strategies as they do their sales force and other marketing they might just surprise themselves about how much more effective it can be.

If I have said it once I have said it a thousand times. The key points of utilizing the web as a profitable sales channel are *still* the same...

  • Develop interested and qualified traffic to your site. No easy task with the problems with click fraud and the constantly shifting ground of SEO.

  • Have an effective web site. I know this one should be a no brainer by now, but I still find tons of sites infected with Flash, poor navigation, crappy copy, and a host of other problems that will always keep them in the slow lane.
Now there are other elements that make for an effective web strategy such as loyalty programs and such, but these two are the biggies for the goals of most companies that were surveyed. This really isn't rocket science, but these people are still looking at the web the wrong way. Technology still doesn't sell, it helps sell, period. In my ideal world any web development company that ever used the words "new technology' or "cutting edge" in any sentence describing a business acquistion web site would be voted off the island and not allowed back ever again.

It is not that I am anti-new technology or still carve my notes in clay tablets. It is just that when you go to a lot of sites they have cutting edge this or that, Flash blinking all over the place and the copy looks like a 2nd grader wrote it and the navigation is so poor you couldn't find what you were looking for with a police search party.

Develop your sites around proven navigation, which can be augmented by research on your audience and effective copy, with just a sprinkling of the right technology tools to boost (key point) the sales process, not become the substitute for the sales process.

If you are interested in reading the date yourself here is the link...

CIO Insight Survey

Remember a profitable web strategy is possible for 100% of the companies if they learn how to do it effectively and spend the same types of resources developing it as they do their other sales channels.

Michael Temple

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Evils of Flash Catching On???

Here is a blog that I read on a regular basis and it appears they have posted a quick article on the evils of Flash. I read the blog and agreed with all the points. Unfortunately many of the comments posted were negative because they claimed this was an old argument and that Flash was simply a tool and that any tool could be used incorrectly. Fair enough, but unfortunately many designers that say that still use the tool incorrectly.

Rather than write out a long article on this, I will simply refer people to a position paper I wrote on the how Flash damages your Internet marketing efforts and why. You can read the the position paper for free here. I will also direct people to the post on this fellow bloggers site which you can access...

Blog Here

My short answer to all of this is that even if you don't build a site out of Flash which is one of the worst things you can do most designers still use it incorrectly because while they understand technology and miss the mark on marketing. There is a process that people go through in the sales/marketing process and in almost all cases using Flash on a web site throws a wrench into that process. Read the position paper and learn more.

Michael Temple

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Blog Use Growing in Canada

Here is an interesting article that shows that almost 1/3rd of active Internet users in Canada have used a blog in the last 3 months. While the study was performed in Canada, you can probably safely extrapolate those numbers to just about any industrialized country in the world and it would be fairly accurate representation of blog use.

The article mentions that blogs are a double edged sword. On the one side it gives companies a great way to spread information about their product and services as well as feedback from customers, but on the other side it gives customers a great way to spread complaints.
Finally, it mentions that blogs can be written by professionals or amateurs. Let me just say that if you are a company wanting to use blogs as part of a marketing campaign that you don't hire amateurs. Not to say amateurs can't write well or help boost existing marketing efforts, but they should never be the marketing effort.

For an effective blog strategy to work you need to formalize it as you would any marketing or PR campaign. You also need to use a professional writer to help develop the content for the blog. Finally, you need an Internet or marketing consultant that can help you integrate this into your existing marketing and PR efforts and make field adjustments along the way to get the most from your investment.

Here is a link to the
full article

Michael Temple

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Blogging Changing the News World

I found this interesting story and I wanted to share it with my readers. The story is about how blogging is becoming a "source" for journalists when finding, researching, and writing stories. The author of this article is going to be presenting this talk at the DMA Association meeting coming up, but the stats of journalists turning to blogs instead of press releases and more traditional PR firms for stories is staggering.

Click Here for the Story.

I found it interesting that the author of this story used the words push vs. pull in terms of PR. I have written and used this terminology for years regarding advertising and marketing, but this is the first time I have seen someone else use it in conjunction with PR. However the strategy is the same in either case. The audience (in this case journalists) wants to pull their stories and sources as opposed to having stories pushed on them or "pitched" as the term is often used by PR firms.

This will really change the way PR firms work in the future if the trend continues. If you want to see my thoughts on this same topic regarding Internet marketing and advertising see my
white paper I recently wrote on this topic in conjunction with Flash based ads and web sites.

Also a couple of years ago I came across
this article that discusses the need for "corporate blogging policies" if the blogging trend continues. Basically, the thought is that PR firms can sanitize or spin stories certain ways to achieve a certain effect and it appears that journalists are pushing back against this by using blogs as sources, which they probably feel gives them a different angle to look at or a more "raw" version of the story before the PR people re-work it.

If corporations are going to include blogging as part of their marketing and PR strategies then how they use blogs will have to be formalized, just the current PR strategy is. You don't want cowboys out there in your company writing whatever comes to mind in a blog and having it become the "official" position of the company or put the company on the defense because a journalist read the blog and follows the trail.

From politics to business to life style, blogs are changing the Internet and offers a tremendous opportunity to businesses if it is implemented correctly. I offer help and consulting on this topic as well as many others and if I can be of help to your company please
give me a call or email me with your questions and thoughts.

I am also working on a new white paper about blogging strategies that will be published on my
web site soon. Please check that or this blog for an announcement when I have it ready. Until next time may your Internet marketing strategies be successful.

Michael Temple

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Trinity Strategy

The trinity of Internet marketing is a triangle of competencies you need to focus on to build your web site strategy. If you focus on these 3 areas your Internet strategy will improve. If you focus on just one of them to the detriment of the others you will develop an unbalanced strategy that will not yield the results you are looking for. Here are the 3 competencies...

Customer Centered Web Site: The first step in any web marketing strategy is creating a great customer centered web site. This is much easier said than done. You need to understand who your audience of your web site is. What problems do they face? what solutions can you provide?

Once you know that your site needs to match the two things together. It is ok to talk about your services and products, but remember if that is all you got than don't expect too many visitors to come and stick around. People search the web for information if your site can provide that and other value based information and resources visitors will want to visit, spend time, refer others to the site, link to the site, and many other great things you want them to do.

Traffic: It doesn't matter if you have the greatest web site on earth, if nobody knows about it and don't visit, your site will fail. Now once you build your great web site and create content you need let people know. Obviously being listed in the search engines is a key and the fact that your site is content and value driven will make this process easier. Work on building incoming links to your web site. Share the wealth, give away some of your content for others to put on their sites or put in their blogs with the understanding they link back to you. let the press know about your site with press releases that offers links back. Finally, don't forget about good old advertising both online and offline to let people know what they can find if they come to your site.

Action & Loyalty: Once you have visitors on your site you need to do two things before they leave. You want them to take some type of action. This action can be purchasing a product, calling about a service, signing up for a newsletter or Filling out a form for a free whitepaper or special report. This step generates a lead, sale, or prospect that you can market to in the future, but people won't do this unless they find enough value in what you are offering and trust you enough to take this action. That is done with effective copywriting.

The second step is creating some type of loyalty program, i.e. giving people a reason to come back and be repeat visitors, not just a one time visitor. Ideally this visitor has the ability or resources to offer a link to your site, recommend it to others or bookmark it for future reference. If this is what you want them to do make it easy and obvious for them to see this and take that action with design and copy. Another component of your system needs to be capturing their information in your CRM (customer relationship management) database so you can begin the process of building a relationship with them which will create the highly coveted trust that is required in business and the very profitable repeat business and increased lifetime value of a customer.

There you have it, the trinity. If your sites focus on all three of these elements you will be on your way to a better web strategy, more visitors, increased leads, more sales, and higher profits.

Michael Temple

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Content & Value Win Award

Here is an interesting story that backs up what I have been saying for years. Thomasnet.com has won for another year the Web Awards, which is awards that are given to the 96 top industry web sites each year for excellence in Internet marketing. Here is a link to the press release...


What I find interesting about the story is the fact that content is one of the key reasons given for winning the award again. The site offers drawings for engineers, news, etc. Obviously a site that has done it's homework on what the audience wants/needs and provided it via their web site.

The days of simply throwing up a web site and forgetting about it are (thankfully) long gone. We are in the era of content equals value. If you need some value based content for your site check out some of the services I have on my site such as copywriting and development of white papers. If you really need to step up to the next level a full blown consulting project on developing a destination site may be in order. these items can really help you begin creating the very valuable content that will win customers and bring new visitors to your site.

Michael Temple

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Click Fraud - New York Times

It would appear that pay to click fraud is getting some serious attention these days. Here is another article in the New York Times that appeared over the weekend...

Full Article

A few interesting things I found in the article...
  1. One of the best way to defend against it is to measure conversions against ad dollars.
  2. This is very difficult for small businesses to do.
  3. The only sure way to defend is to audit your click stream data for accuracy.
I also found it interesting that the article pointed out doing the above (with the exception of 1) is extremely time consuming and difficult for small businesses that are already overwhelmed with search engine marketing. The other option they had was to hire expensive search engine marketing firms to monitor and track this information for them, which might be as expensive as the fraud itself.

There is another option that didn't seem to make it into the article...EDUCATION! If you understand how SEO and Pay to Click marketing works and how that works with an overall web marketing strategy you might be able to do this more effectively for your business. I offer a number of seminars on web marketing and SEO where these small businesses can come and learn.

I suggest those of you that own small businesses consider getting a group together for me to come and speak or have your professional associations call me to come and speak at an annual conference for your group. Also by all means check my web site
article and position papers areas reguarly as I will be posting articles of interest for free there that will help educate small and medium business owners on these topics. I also publish an Internet marketing newsletter for the best price on the Internet, anywhere...free.

Remember the best offense is a good defense and knowing how to defend your business from this will come from a solid understanding of web marketing and its associated topics.

Michael Temple

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Pay to Click Fraud - Padding the Numbers

Here is an interesting story I came across that I thought my readers might appreciate. The article was written in Business Week and addresses a clearly growing problem of click fraud. Click fraud is the manipulation of paid to click ads to rack up extra cash for the ad sellers like Yahoo and Google.

Of course both companies claim they have sophisticated formulas and techniques for eliminating bogus clicks, but my question is how do they know what a bogus click is? Who is to say that clicks from China, Egypt, and other countries are not actual real clicks. How do they actually know that a paid group of "professional ad clickers" in Minnesota isn't actually legit. The fact is they don't. They can write formulas that nail some of this activity, but it won't stop all of it because stopping all of it requires they stop recycling ads and become mind readers that can determine a person's intent...two things I don't see in their future.

Some percentage of clicks on recycled ads and other bogus campaigns is always going to get through. It is like tolerating some percentage of corruption from the Mafia, we know it goes on, but since it is such a small percent and spread over lots of victims we can tolerate it. I wonder if everyone of you that use pay to click ads feel this way as well.

The FBI and Postal Service is now investigating this according to the article, but clearly their resources are limited at best and even if they discover a fraud if it is located in another country the actions they can take will also be very limited.
In the end there are only two choices you will have available to you...
  1. Stop using pay to click advertising and put your marketing dollars in other places.

  2. Police your own pay to click results and report what you believe to be scams.
The first choice is an easy one. The second is bit more problematic as it involves you looking at your click results and trying to determine if the people coming from those clicks would be "real" prospects or scams. Here are a few suggestions to help you determine good clicks from bad ones...
  1. Insure that you are getting distributed clicks from a wide area and be suspicious of all activity coming from foreign countries unless that is the target of your campaign.

  2. Use specially designed landing pages for your click through results and measure those pages carefully for the amount of time people spend on the pages and where they go after landing on the pages. Quick hits with very short visits and then leaving again may indicate a scam.

  3. Measure your conversions from ads. Any direct marketing effort needs to be measured against actual results. If you track your numbers and find over time that it takes 200 hits to get one conversion and suddenly you start getting 800 clicks with no conversions and your ads or landing pages haven't changed you better start looking for a scam.

  4. Test your ads against other forms of marketing such as SEO or other online marketing (not pay to click) and see what performs better.
In the end nothing will protect you completely, but careful vigilance and whatever, if anything, that Yahoo and Google does will be your only defense. Here is the link to the article...


Until next time, watch those clicks!

Michael Temple

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

More than a Sign

In my daily combing of the Internet looking for valuable info to share with my readers I came across this article for using Internet marketing to improve business in the lawn care and landscape businesses. Having just spent a fortune on both of these items this year I took a special interest in this and started to read. I think you will find the article interesting as it echoes much of what I say on this blog...


The author says some key points here that bare repeating...

  • More than a sign: The author astutely points out that a web site can't just be an electronic version of a sign in front of your building. In the industry we refer to these sites as "brochureware" sites which is another way of saying a site that looks like an electronic copy of your brochure and is updated about as often.

  • Generate Traffic: The old Zen saying is that if a tree falls in the forest with nobody to hear it does it make a sound? Consequently if a web site is on the Internet and gets no visitors does it exist? I actually have the answer here...no, if nobody sees your site it might as well not exist. Your site exists to convey or communicate a message. If nobody ever hears that message than it falls on deaf ears, or in this case no ears. The point is you must use search engine marketing, optimization, and advertising to insure that people see your site.

  • Offer Value: The author also points out that your site must offer value. This can be white papers (gee where I have I heard that before) software applications, calculators, articles, etc. It must give a value to the user outside of simply conveying what you sell and what your hours are etc. Make your site customer centered.

  • Branding: The author finally points out that your site is a great place to brand your logo and image. Building a brand is expensive and time consuming. The Internet can help speed up this process if used correctly. What does your web site say about your brand?

  • Lead Generator: The author goes on to talk about how the site helps generate leads for their franchise's and helps consumers locate them throughout the country and because they do all the things above they have a site that is seen, valued, and acted upon by their audience.
This guy is clearly on the right path and his company will be one of the success stories of the Internet. To those you that are still are not convinced that a web site is a living, breathing, and growing entity that requires constant attention will not get much value from your site.

This guy has figured out how to spin the web into gold and his company will reap the rewards. I am giving this guy my "straw into gold" award of the week.

Michael Temple

Friday, September 01, 2006

Small is Standard

In this recent article, I came across a British writer that says that CRM is a making a come-back after a few years of massive failed implementations. He goes on to say that taking a pragmatic approach and realistic expectations are one of the reasons for this trend. I pretty much agree with him to this point. By the way here is the link to the article...


Unfortunately this is where his vehicle starts careening over the cliff. He goes on to state that small businesses are using CRM on demand (fancy term for CRM that is web based) because the cost of ownership is lower, fine, that is true, but then he says something I can't believe, I actually had to read it a couple of times to make sure I wasn't seeing things...

"Smaller businesses tend to have relatively standard business practices"

You have to be kidding right? Some of the most complex CRM implementations I have ever done were for small or medium sized businesses. Typically there is nothing "standard" about these businesses. That term is reserved for giant companies that can't steer out of the path of the ice berg if that had a over a month to see it coming!

Small businesses can't afford to be "standard" in anything, if they are they will be a standard statistic for why they went out of business. Small and medium sized companies that want to be big companies and survive need to be fast, unorthodox, creative, smart, and able to dodge bullets!

Small businesses don't have the luxury of a giant staff, vast marketing budgets, a well trained sales force and many of the other "standard" things of large Fortune 1,000 companies. Instead they have far fewer resources and must use what they have very well and achieve higher than normal "home runs" to be successful.

CRM can give a small business some of these advantages, but rarely have I seen a system that will work out of the box (or off the web) because the company is standard. All companies have some standard things they need to do well, i.e. achieve sales, effective marketing, strong financial management, etc., but how those things are done and how many resources it takes to do them well is what separates the winners from the losers.

"Standard" is great for things like car parts and computers, but not for marketing and sales operations of any business, least of all a small or medium sized one. Large companies have tried for years to bring in new talent and set up "entrepreneurial" centers in an attempt to replicate some of awesome power of small and medium sized companies and their ability to innovate and out smart much larger opponents.

While CRM may be making a come-back because of things the author has stated the weakness of CRM solutions has always been the ability to offer cost effective customizations for the small and medium sized company. The CRM firm that figures out how to create customizations, scalability, and cost effective implementations and management as well as ease of use in a box or on the web will be the next great software company.

Michael Temple

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Flash Burns

Adobe Flash is all over the Internet these days. There are thousands of sites that have Flash banners, headers, videos, and entire sites built in Flash. However I don't think all this Flash is a good thing. Flash is often a distraction that is introduced to a web site visitor and the distraction often takes the person's attention away from other elements or sections of your web site that are much more important.

I have written previously about having a purpose for your web site and offer a program called "The Purpose Driven Web Site". Without a well planned web site strategy your web site will probably be a dismal failure. To avoid this you need a purpose for your site and that purpose has to be clear to you and your audience. You should have a defined action you want them to take and a goal you want to accomplish and help your audience accomplish.

I think that purpose or goal is often interupted and often not completed because of poorly planned Flash elements that distract a user from doing what you hope they would, like say BUYING SOMETHING! If your Flash is costing you in lost sales and lower profits you need to read my most recent FREE position paper...

How Flash Is Costing You Money and Hurting Your Internet Marketing Strategy

I hope that those of you with Flash infected web sites will take the time to read this free white paper before it costs you too much in lost sales and profits. The choice is up to you and the clock in ticking. Lost time is lost opportunity. Read it today.

Michael Temple

Friday, August 18, 2006

Make It Personal

I am often reminded in this busy world in which we live soaked with technology that we often forget to make a personal connection with our friends, customers, prospects, and others. We often forget that a personal note or card sent on the right occasion can really pour a turbo boost on your relationships with everyone.

Now many of you are saying that is great, but I don't have time to keep up with something like this. Well, technology has come to the rescue here. There is a great new web based company that allows you to shop for a card, write a personal note in the card, and drop in the mail with a live stamp on the envelope from the comfort of your own computer in about 2 minutes for a cost that the card store simply can't beat. Check it out at...


This is one of the ideal uses of technology. It takes an age old tradition such as sending out personal cards and makes it easier, faster, and cheaper than it has ever been in the past. Like all of my strategies blending common sense marketing with technology is a winning combination. Check it out today.

Michael Temple

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Quiet Desperation

In Pink Floyd's famous song "Time" on the Dark Side of the Moon album they have the following lyrics...

"One day you find out 10 years got behind you no one told you when to run you missed the starting gun"

As I thought about these lyrics I realized this is pretty much the average company's Internet marketing strategy. Back in the height of the dot com era several now non-existent companies thought all they had to do was get their business on the web and some of the magical dust everyone was snorting in those days would make them a millionaire!

The more frenzied the action got the more people believed nothing mattered except getting your business on the web. Once that amazing strategy got de-bunked we still have a whole group of people putting up web sites, but not doing anything with them. They spend money to build it and figure "they" will come, but they usually don't and hence your investment is wasted. Just as Pink Floyd's lyrics say no one told them to do something so 10 years later they find they missed the boat. Lost time is lost opportunity.

Your web site strategy breaks down into 3 neat chunks if you will (4 actually, but who is counting). The first one is developing traffic to your web site. If you fail to get people to your site then it doesn't matter how cool it is or how much awesome Flash you have or anything else. You can develop traffic both online and offline and I have found both are critical to your success. How much of each depends on your business, customers, markets, goals, and a host of other factors. However the point is there is a constant battle to keep your site visible and get people to come to it. I could discuss strategies to do this all day long, but that is a story for another day.

The second main component is getting someone that actually stumbles (yes stumbles is the right word for most people) to your site to actually find what they are looking for and take action. That action might be signing up for a newsletter, picking up the phone, buying a product in the store, completing a survey, etc. I have talked many times in the past about getting someone to take action once they are on your site. As a quick summary I believe this is done through sharp copy and content, intuitive navigation, layout, and a few other tricks that will funnel the visitor to the action you want them to take.

The final component or next to final is doing something with the person that takes action. If they buy something online, sign up for your newsletter or some other self-fulfilling action then we go to the next step (below), but if the action was to email you or pick up the phone and call you then you need somewhere to put this lead and a system to move the sale along. This is best accomplished with a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system that tracks all the basics about a lead, automates some of the basic sales functions, such as mailings, email follow ups, and scheduling calls.

A well designed sales system in your CRM program is going to yield gold because it will help you follow up with each person systematically (key point) over time until you close the sale or the lead is dead, which in my universe, like in the cartoons, death is only a temporary set back. Once they are dead you can always recycle the lead on a new sales system that isn't as aggressive. Who knows someday that person/company may become a live lead again long after you competition has given up and found another job. Wouldn't you like to be the one there at the right time to land the account?

The final step regardless if you closed a sale (loosely defined) once they visited your site or as a result of the CRM follow up you now have to ask yourself about the life time value of a customer. There are countless stats out there that I won't make you drudge through that say it is much easier to make a sale to an existing customer than constantly finding a new one. Unfortunately new customers become old and forgotten once you have closed them to many companies. The Righteous Brothers have it right in their song "You've Lost that Lovin' Feeling"...

"There is no love in your eyes when I reach for you and you are starting to criticize little things I do"

The point is that once sales people have "conquered" the customer they forget about them and move on to the next elephant and eventually your competitor will be waiting in the shadows for you to slip up so they can club you over the head and take your hard won customer away.

Therefore you need strong loyalty and customer service programs to keep your customers; to show them how much you appreciate them. If your business is strictly over the web then you need to give people a reason to return to your site. In other words get the maximum value from each and every customer you bring to your site, get to take action, and close the sale. You are never done "closing the sale" in my book, it is something you must do each and every day to insure that your competitor keeps following you and not leading you.

Martha Rogers and Don Peppers in their now famous books on One to One marketing are always talking about share of customer not share of market. In other words if a customer buys $100 dollars a month of services or products you sell do you get the entire $100 they spend or do you get $50 and your competitor gets $50. Your goal is obviously to get every last dollar that your customers spend on a category of product or service that you sell with every customer you land.

Loyalty and service programs that are off the charts will do this (as well as having a great product or service) if that service is your web site it better be top shelf as well or else your competitor who is only a click away will eat your lunch.

In summary four key parts of a successful web strategy...
  1. Develop Traffic
  2. Get visitors to your site to take action
  3. Close, track and keep selling with a sales system and CRM system
  4. Have awesome service and loyalty programs to maximize the value of every customer
Anything less is going to cause you and your web strategy and marketing to fail. Pink Floyd says it so well...

"Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time...Hanging on in quiet desperation"

That is, in my opinion, the average company's web strategy. They never seem to find the time to develop new traffic, update content, close new sales, etc. So their web site and as a result sales hang on in quiet desperation and they wonder why they can't get ahead.

Start running today or else you will wonder why you missed the starting gun.

Michael Temple

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

What is Your USP

Imagine for a moment that when you got ready to do your grocery shopping every grocery store in your area suddenly showed up at your front door and offered you their best rock bottom price on the stuff you were looking to buy? Would you ignore the lowest price and buy from Kroger instead simply because they are Kroger? Probably not.

Now imagine if among the grocery stores that showed up a farmer came as well and while he wasn't the lowest price person that came, he offered wholesome, fresh, and all organic foods. Now would you choose the lowest price producer or would you be willing to buy from the farmer that had a better product, but not the lowest price.

This strange scenario is exactly what the Internet has brought to us today. If you are ready to buy something in about 3 minutes you can have your computer go out on the Internet and bring back a list of the the products you are looking for, ranked from lowest price to highest. Each of these companies will even ship it right to your door.

The Internet has created a true commodity market for a lot of products. In my example at the beginning of this post is not realistic and unless you have a ton of extra time on your hand driving or calling all around town to get the lowest price on your groceries you will end up paying a premium on some of your stuff.

However for the things that you buy on the Internet this is not true. Several search robots and other tools will give a total list of online sellers and give you the option of buying at the lowest price, so why wouldn't you buy at the lowest price since it is so easy find and buy at the lowest price?

USP - What is yours?

The answer is USP which stands for Unique Selling Proposition. This concept is what truly makes you different from other competitors. Hint here, lowest price is not a good USP. Unique selling propositions can be based on service, quality, brand appeal, and many other elements, but the key is they are things that are unique to you and difficult or impossible for your competitors to duplicate and still offer it at the lowest price. If your competitor can match your USP perfectly and still offer the lowest price maybe you should find another line of work.

If you have an eCommerce site you need to know what you are selling (hint: I am not referring to the product itself) for example when people buy a plane ticket they don't really want a plane ticket they want the ability to be transported from point A to point B quickly and efficiently. So I ask you again what are you really selling.

Next how can you add value to what you sell that is difficult or impossible for your competitor to offer? You need to be able to create true value for the premium you are going to charge for your product.

USP is Critical to Your Survival

If you can't add distinction and value to your product then the consumer has no reason to pay anything more to you than the lowest price for the product or service, which means that with the Internet they probably won't buy from you. Sad, but true.

I know I am shattering the dreams here of tons of people that hired consultants that said just put your business on the web and retire to Maui. Running a business on the web is just as difficult as running it in the bricks and mortar world, maybe even more difficult because without a solid USP you are going to be reduced to a commodity in very short order.

I recommend that if you truly want to succeed on the Internet that you start with USP. Find out those unique selling points you can offer and charge for them. If your USP is truly unique and not easy to duplicate and if you can get traffic to your site and persuade them to buy with your copy and USP then you will make money.

Man that is a lot like a real business and work isn't it? Better cancel that flight to Maui.

Michael Temple

Friday, July 07, 2006

Twice as much, but same total

Back in the days of my youth I had a childhood friend that I used to spend the summers with including a couple of weeks per year with them at his family's cottage on a nice lake. My friend's father was the type of person that always had a neat way of looking at the world and great insight into people and business.

One day after coming in from swimming I saw my friend's dad cutting a brownie out of a pan of fresh brownies. First, he cut the entire pan into nice even squares and then carefully removed one square for himself. He then proceeded to cut that square in half and only ate that half. I didn't say anything to him, but about 15 minutes later he went back and ate the other half of the brownie.

Now with my curiosity peaked I asked him why would he take a normal size brownie, cut it in half and eat both halves 15 minutes apart? Without missing a beat he replied "so I can eat twice as much"...

Now math wasn't my best subject, but I was pretty sure there was something wrong with his math and his logic. He didn't say anything else and for 30 seconds I sat there in silence trying to figure out what the heck just happened. Finally, I replied, that doesn't make any sense whatsoever! He just laughed and walked away.

For years I have remembered that day at the lake and still can't figure out his logic to this day. Since we are in the midst of summer right now and I recently got back from a lake I was thinking of this event again. I started wondering if this logic applied to marketing and sales and sure enough I think it does.

There are plenty of marketers out there that go out and slice the market up into tiny segments and then proceed to cut those segments into yet smaller segments. Then they do this flurry of activities and don't seem to get any more sales than before. They create expensive customized marketing to each of these little segments hoping to boost response rates. In sales, reps will go out in the field and spend twice as much time doing wasteful activities and at the end of the day will still have the same [poor] results.

My point is that there are a lot of web sites, marketing campaigns and sales reps out there that do twice as much, but still end up in the same place as if they had done half of that work. Why? Several reasons actually, but I am going to focus on just a couple. One is that they aren't figuring out how to pre-qualify the target market with their copy or their offers.

By their very nature headlines, copy and offers can speak to a very specific group of people and call out only the ones that are truly good prospects. Sales people will sometimes waste tons of time doing paperwork, driving around meeting customers on opposite ends of town, and other activities that are wasteful. In short both the marketers and sales people end up doing twice as much work and still end up getting the same slice of the pie.

Poor copy, bad lists, poorly organized web sites, wrong target markets and a host of other factors are to blame. Year after year this goes on and year after year it never improves in many companies. The reason is that with so much "activity" going on they must be doing everything right, but yet they still end up with the same thing when they are done.

I think the reason for this is that most marketing (including Internet marketing) is not treated like direct marketing. For years direct marketers were forced to show results. Everything they do is measured. They measure how many pieces go out, total cost, how many responses, which pieces produced the most responses, how fast those responses came back, total lead cost, per lead cost, increase in sales, etc.

Unfortunately too many marketers today and Internet marketers aren't forced to do business the same way. They can promise cool technology and the newest and best gee gaw on the market and businesses will pony up the cash for it. This is one of the reasons for the dot bomb crash in the late 90's among other things.

My point is that if all marketing was like direct marketing and all the stuff you did was measured for its exact effect you would start cutting out the half of crap you are doing that isn't bringing any benefit to your business. There is a saying in advertising that half of what you spend on advertising is a waste, unfortunately you don't know which half.

Your Internet marketing campaigns from the email sent out, delivered, opened, clicked on, landing page visited, time spent on page, number of visitors, number of sales, and total sales is all measurable. Unfortunately too many companies don't conduct a campaign this way. They just put up a web site, forget about it and wonder in a random meeting at some point in the future if that stupid "web thing" they bought was worth it.

The goal should be to measure everything. If you put up a new article on your site put it on a special landing page first and notify your eNewsletter subscribers that it is available and track how many come and download or read it. If you are doing banner advertising make sure that the ad clicks through on a unique page that is not part of your overall site so you can measure how many people come through. If you are not sure what message to use in a campaign do an A/B split and create two landing pages with the two versions on each one. Then send out two batches of emails with half giving links to "A" and half to "B" then figure out which of the two messages produced more sales.

The next time you do a campaign take the best one of the two and change two things and run another split test and see which of those two pulls better. Keep doing this and keep perfecting until you have a campaign that has eliminated the half that doesn't work and gets you the results you want. This is scientific and while I would love to take credit for it marketers much older than me came up with these concepts years and years ago.

The goal is to continually and ruthlessly cut out the wasteful non-producing marketing activities and keep the stuff that works. Your goal should be to grow sales, but if you fail to do that at least be sure to only do half of the amount of wasteful activities to get to the same spot!

Michael Temple

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Gone Fishing

I always like those bumper stickers that say things about the owner has gone fishing or would rather fish than work and all the derivations of each of these. While stuck in a traffic jam one day and wishing I was actually fishing instead of looking at orange barrels I started calculating how much money I was losing because I was in the middle of a traffic jam and not at my laptop, phone, or in front of a client selling something or billing out my time to a project.

just for the record, I would not recommend you start calculating how much money a traffic jam is costing you, it could be hazardous to your mental health and possibly the physical health of the next construction worker you see stacking another orange barrel right in the middle of the only lane that isn't already blocked and jammed up!

Ah, but alas I am on a tangent. My point is that too many business owners (of all sizes) waste time or have their time wasted by other activities, like orange barrels and hence are not able to do activities that help make them money. Question, is your web site in this category? Does it help you make money or simply waste your time and hence cost you money?

Simple question for some, more complex for others. A recent statistic I read said that most white papers (those prolific 7-12 page marketing pieces that are rarely printed on white paper) are delivered electronically more than in any other format.

This little nugget of information combined with the rage at the orange barrels created the fishing model in my head. If my web site had a great, well written bait piece, call it a white paper, booklet, tip sheet, etc. on it and people were finding it and downloading it while I was stuck in traffic doing absolutely nothing than I would be making money and gathering leads for when I got back to the office.

Ok, some of you are saying "hey genius, people have been doing this for years on the Internet, where have you been". I would respond I didn't realize it because I have been in this stupid traffic jam for the last several years! No seriously I realize this is not rocket surgery, but I am still amazed at the number of web sites that doesn't have this material on it and don't create fresh versions of these materials to continually gather leads while they are doing other things. I still come across tons of sites that have the typical about us, services, products, pictures of our employees (including pets) and many other things that couldn't interest the prospect less. So while the model is not actually mine nor is it completely new and innovative it also is not being followed by a large amount of buisnesses.

However imagine a prospect that comes to your web site and instead of being put to sleep by reading about your latest "about us" overhaul he/she finds some well written copy talking about a new booklet you have made available called "How to Create a Profit Centered Web Site" (one of my own creations) do you think they might be enticed to download it? I am guessing if they don't know the last person that called them because of their web site they might want to.

Now you don't just include a simple link where they can download this document, you ask them to give you their email address, name, and maybe phone number and then once they submit this information then you roll them over to another page where they can't download the document...yes you read that correctly I don't give them the bait at the rollover page. Why? Because years of driving around orange barrels has made me a cruel and insensitive human being. No, because if you are a fisherman like me the fish come up and take your bait and at the end of the day your net is still empty.

I recommend that you roll them over to a page that offers your newsletter sign up, information about your downloadable products, the ability to refer a friend to your site for another free download that was even better than the last and of course a note that tells them that an email will be arriving shortly with a download link. By doing it this way you will be assured that whatever email address they gave is actually real and you can actually deliver a message to.

In addition, you should have this email message go out automatically. Don't make the person wait until you get the message and respond because if you do they will get upset and may even forget 10 minutes later they visited your site and asked for it. You want them to have it right now, after all it is a bait piece and designed to move them one more step into your sales process. Here are the items I think this strategy must have to be successful...

  • A way to make your prospects aware this document exists on your web site and why they want to get it. This can be done with an email blast, radio ad, direct mail postcard, or any other vehicle designed to alert people.
  • Fantastic copy that gets the reader's attention as soon as they land on your site letting them reinforcing and expanding on the message in your step above as to why they want this and how to get it.
  • A truly well written and (important point) educational document that is not just an oversized brochure for your company. People want information, not just sales crap.

  • A web site processing system that collects their contact information and attempts to alert them to other things you might have available they might find interesting.

  • An automated way to send them the document they just asked for.

  • A CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system to put the lead into and track it to the successful close of the sale (a story for another day).

  • A catalog or other sales piece that is built right into the white paper or email message that tells them about all the products and services you offer. If they find your bait piece valuable and informative you want to make it very easy for them to buy your additional items.
If you follow this simple, but proven model on your web site the next time you are in a situation where your time is being wasted you can be confident that your web site is constantly fishing and delivering new leads and prospects to you.

This little bit of information may keep you safely within the little white lines on the road when you are stuck in the next traffic jam. You won't necessarily be making piles of new money, but you also won't be wasting all your time either...you will be fishing.

Michael Temple

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Internet Killed the Video

In the early 80s when M-TV launched the very first song they played was video killed the radio. This was their idea of saying a revolution had occured and radio lost. Now music would be delivered with video and music and change the way people enjoyed both. Now this trend is continuing yet again only it is our old friend the Internet doing the killing.

A recent story in the Wall Street Journal (June 12th, 2006) talks about how local TV stations are struggling to stay alive as the consumer finds new sources of entertainment and ways to get that entertainment delivered to them. The article discusses how local TV stations used to be some of the most profitable businesses in the country, but now that people are using the Internet more and content is also being delivered via through cable companies they are hurting. The article goes on to say that advertisers are not putting as much money into these stations as it did in the past because the viewers just aren't there.

In MBA lingo this is known as a paradigm shift which is a fancy way of saying the ground rules are changing for these guys and is fundamentally changing the industry. Industries that have this happen to them either adapt and find new ways to exist or fade away.

Now enough about the downside, what is the upside here. Well quite simply it is opportunity! The advertisers that are no longer spending money with local TV stations are going to be spending that money somewhere and since the Internet is the thing stealing viewers attention away I am willing to bet that a large chunk of that cash will be diverted to the Internet.

The next question is where on the Internet are all these stacks of dead presidents headed? Of course it will be with those web sites that attract and retain visitors or as the Ad industry calls them "impressions". Is your web site in a position to get some of these ad dollars? Well if you have visitors coming to your site and those people read, download, and spend time on your site doing stuff and (key point here) you know who that group is then you can bet your bottom dollar that advertisers will be willing to spend some cash with you.

I am going to start a new thing here called TIR which is going to be my own acroynm that stands for "Temple's Internet Rules" since my name is the front of that acryonm I get to make the rules up. My first rule is going to be...

TIR #1: Create compelling, fresh, and innovative content and visitors will come and return to your site.

It doesn't matter what your site is about as long as it attracts an audience. On any given day I browse the web for news, politics, economics, finance, hobbies, etc. You name it I have probably browsed a site about it. The good sites I put in my favorites menu, the crummy sites I have totally forgotten the name of... bad news if you want to attract advertising dollars.

With the continuing spread of high speed access to the Internet video will play an increasingly larger role in dynamic content as well as the old standby of text, photos, audio and dynamic content like database driven information. The web site owners that create this content and get larger and larger shares of viewers the more likely they have ad space to sell.

Once this content is created you can sell ad space, sell memberships to premium content, sell information products and many other methods of making money off of this content. You can deliver this content with video, podcast, audio, text, ebooks, etc. To those that can generate this content you are on the verge of a new world of opportunity.

Now I don't know about you, but I think buying a radio or TV station is a little bit more expensive than starting a web site so the future will be in the content itself not the capital it takes to broadcast this content. Local TV stations 10 years ago probably thought they were indestructible, today they are wondering if anyone got the license plate number of the truck that just hit them.

Question, are you driving the truck or laying under it?

Michael Temple

Monday, June 05, 2006

Are You Getting Fresh!

It has been a little while since my last post. I have been working with several clients recently on completing new web sites. On a few of the projects I am getting a distinct impression they want me to go away and so they can actually pay for their kids to go to college instead of paying me so my kids can go to college! Building and designing an effective web site can be a large undertaking for any business, but especially a small business.

It is expensive and time consuming and many clients just want to take a deep breath once "it is done" and throw my business card in the garbage and be glad that they are done paying me. Not so fast, unfortunately you have only paid enough for my kids to get through their Freshman year, so we need to find something else to spend your money on! Fortunately for me I have just the thing... Maintenance!

I am obviously being coy here, but the point is an accurate one. Too many individuals want to just forget about their web site once they get it finished, but unfortunately you can't do that or your investment in a new site will be quickly lost.To get the most value from your site you need to keep working it like a farm. Most farmers wouldn't last long if they just planted some seeds and stopped working.

Your web site needs to grow and mature and that is where the work comes in. Fresh content is the only thing that keeps people coming back over and over again and brings in new people from word of mouth and/or better rankings in the search engines.

Here is just a partial list of things I have found to add to a company's web site after they were created...

  • Articles
  • Discussion boards
  • Reviews of new products
  • Technical support docs and forums
  • Calendar of events
  • Product/service manuals
  • Tip sheets
  • Booklets of new functionality, services, information
  • Videos
  • Audio files of shows, events, and other content
  • Free reports
  • Newsletter archives
  • Links to stories/info your customers would find interesting
  • eBooks
  • Podcasts
  • Blogs
As you can see the list is basically a long one and with a little thought I am sure you can come up with items I didn't add to the list. Now you obviously don't have to add all of these, but if you did imagine the visitors you would have!

The point is that once your perfectly crafted text about who you are and what you sell are done you have a lot of work ahead of you to keep the leads and customers coming back. Your web site is a lead generating and tireless salesperson for your organization, but it needs one thing to keep going...new fresh information and content.

Now how do I create all this "stuff" you may be saying. Good question, a lot of it you can find from other sources and just post the content on your site (with the author's permission of course), some of it can be developed by research and in some cases you will need to hire a professional copywriter to help develop certain things like white papers. Did I mention I also am a copywriter... hey my kids want to be doctors, you know how expensive medical school is :)

Seriously, you don't have to create all of it at once, it is done little by little each month or quarter and you will update old stuff while adding new things, eventually before you know it you have a kick butt web site that gets tons of visitors and lots of kudos for the great content you have developed. Remember growing content and your web site is a marathon, not a sprint.

So once that project is finished don't just forget about your site and hope the leads and sales will start pouring in, because they won't.

Michael Temple

Monday, May 22, 2006

Direct Response Web Site

One of the things I ask clients and prospects alike is what they want from their web site or Internet marketing strategy. Some have exact answers and some don't have a clue. Some tell me they are not sure, but they are being told by people that they have to have a web site. Now don't get me wrong I love marketing and helping people but if I was alive 60 years ago and someone came to me and said their was this great new thing called TV and I should be advertising on it for my business I think I would want to know how that is going to benefit my business. I think I would want to know the exact effect it would have on my company's bottomline. Unfortunately not enough business owners ask those questions and for the small business person that can really create a hard ship as they toss money out that could be better spent somewhere else.

Now somebody reading this right now might be scratching their head wondering why I would be willing to turn down business from someone that couldn't answer this. I would tell them I don't do it often, but I have turned people away because I tell them I don't think I can help them and in those cases I won't take their money. To most people I simply need to coach them through the thought process and we can come up with a strategy that will work and a way they can benefit.

One of those strategies is the direct response web site. This is where the site literally guides the user into a certain course of action just like a piece of direct mail would do. I work with the client to figure out what the "thing" the person is supposed to do is and then we plan the strategy around it. This strategy is a combination of traffic generation, site architecture, copy, and offer.

This last element the offer is really a key piece. People are not going to call you or give up their email for no reason. They are going to have to find something on your site that is so interesting and so valuable that they give you their contact information so they can have this item in your offer. It could be free subscription to your newsletter, it might be a tip sheet, software trial or might be a white paper or even e-book. Whatever "it" man, that sounds like eBay, is what is going to cause them to say they trust you enough to give up some information to get this information from you.

It helps to get this information if you also have a rock solid privacy policy that basically says you won't spam the crap out of them or sell their name to every email list on earth. In otherwords that you and you alone will use this information to communicate with them.

In direct response marketing this is known as the "bait piece" and is so named because it gets an otherwise nameless prospect to talk to you and thus allow you to "catch" them. However you must then show respect to the trust they gave you by respecting their privacy and giving them the information or thing you promised. If you execute this step well then moving the person to the next phase will be easier. If you blow it at step 1 by sending them a bunch of crap or the thing you promised never arrives or is a blatant marketing piece your chances of moving to step 2 have probably dropped to zero or worse!

The information that you offer should do two key things. First it should set the standard for what you are selling and in the process show why you or your company meets that standard. Second, it should give solid easy to digest information that is going to help them today. If all you do is mail or send them one of your 3 panel brochures you have just thrown a great opportunity away.

Other things the bait piece should do is demonstrate that you or your company is the expert or the premier company to deal with on whatever it is you are selling. This will be done through the quality of the information you present in your bait piece and from quoting or referencing other credible sources to back up your statements and position so people can see you actually do know what you are talking about.

This strategy needs to be carefully thought out and executed to work well. I help people all the time to develop these marketing pieces and place them on an effective web site that will actually accomplish something besides sucking up server space on the Internet. However too many individuals don't think this through and then can't figure out why they don't get any leads or help from their web site.

A direct response web site includes all the same elements as any direct response media, get attention, get them interested, get them to desire what you have, present a great offer, and fufill your promises. Do these and you will be amazed at the responses you get from your web site. If you want more information on this type of stuff please check out the articles section of my web site to learn more or sign up for my awesome e-newsletter.

Michael Temple

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Copy is King

I seem to have a theme here about coming down hard on all the fancy "jee-wiz" technology someone can incorporate on a web site. Now don't get me wrong, I use and believe that technology is necessary for your web site, but that shouldn't be the only thing that makes your site "great". People come to a web site for information and unfortunately when you have flashing ads, fancy Flash intros, and scrolling ads etc. you don't give them this information.

The best way to give them this information is through copy on the site. This copy is typically delivered through text on the page, but could also be delivered through a video or audio file on your site as well. Your copy needs to get the visitors attention right away and pull them into the body copy. As the person reads you need to build interest in your business, service, or product. In addition, you need to convert this interest in desire to have what you are selling. Finally, all the desire in the world is no good without action. Get the person to take action!

This principle is called AIDA which stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. This is one of the many models that copywriters and advertisers have used in developing marketing pieces for years. There are many other models, but they are just others ways of saying the same thing.

Now the question probably arises is how do you accomplish this task? Write about the benefits of your service or product not the features. What is the difference, well my smart ass answer is higher sales. Features are the facts about your product or service such as it has a 80 GB hard drive and 3.2 Ghz chip etc. Benefits by contrast is what someone will get out of doing business with you. For example, a computer that is faster allows you to access files faster, complete work more quickly and hence makes you more efficient and more profitable.

If you don't remember anything else I wrote here remember this...

People buy benefits not features!

If the copywriting on your web site or in your marketing materials follows AIDA and is benefit based writing and not just features you will find your web site more productive and not just an alter to the gods of fancy but useless technology. Copy is truly King, those that know this sell more and those that don't give jobs to the rest of us by keeping useless web sites on the web and mailing out tons of worthless marketing materials. Hmm, come to think of it, maybe you should just continue doing all the web sites and marketing the old way so I will always have a job!

Michael Temple

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Added Web Site Value

No matter what size your company is or how big your web site the question of creating added value with your web site for your prospects and clients is a critical one. All too many companies decide that the web site is about them and their company, but it is not, at least not in the way most companies think.

Ask yourself what can you do to your site that will get people to come back and visit if they are not a customer? Is it articles, free resources such as software, eBooks or bulletin boards that add value to the user's life and create a positive experience for them. Creating a community of some type around your site is a way of building a base of visitors that come and visit; even if they don't buy something or call right now, if they keep coming and learning about you eventually they will want to do business with you.

I know a web site that I visit regularly because the owner posts an MP3 of his talk radio show he does each week. Plus he puts articles and other great resources up there. Over time I have really come to appreciate his philosophy on life and business. His offering is seminars that he teaches, which are pretty expensive.

Had this guy emailed me, sent direct mail, advertised on TV or radio or heck even called me I probably wouldn't have been interested. Instead I found his site on the Internet while searching for something because he did the right things to give exposure in the search engines. Once I was on the site I started looking around and it wasn't long at all before I could see all the value this guy was offering.

The more I listen and read his "free" stuff the more intrigued I become with him. I am sure eventually he and I will meet and I will be forking over the hefty sum of cash for his seminar because I already have a good idea what I am going to get from it and I want more. He has taken the time to build a relationship with me through the offering of his resources and ultimately that is what every owner of a site that hopes to sell something, anything has to do.

Now for people that are already a customer for this guy his site continues to add value on topics of information they may not have taken from him. They will learn and grow because of listening to his additional programs and reading the articles. Because they have already had at least one class from him they now have even a better appreciation for his philosophy and I have no doubt over time will be repeat customers over and over again.

If your web site is simply an overview of your company and services/products with a contact page and it only gets updated once a year weather it needs it or not (sarcasm intended) then it is doubtful you will ever win as many customers or get repeat ones from your web strategy.

Remember your site is about the prospect and customer. If you spend time giving them value they will in turn provide your business with value. Help them get something more from your site besides a list of your services and a phone number and you will be surprised how many new customers come from your web site, but you will also be developing stronger loyalty to your existing ones.

Now this strategy can go much deeper with online communities that people sign up for with newsletters and forums as well as web casts and "member only" types of information and account information, but that is only the same strategy I am already talking about taken to a higher and more refined level.

It is all about added value and if you give it you will get it back many times over. If you choose to keep a simple "brochureware" site, save yourself the hosting and development money and mail them a brochure instead it is cheaper and will get about the same pathetic response.

Michael Temple