Marketing Trends to consider for 2012

I sort of disappeared in 2011. It was a challenging year for me personally and professionally. While trying to center myself and my business for the New Year, I did a lot of research, attended quite a few webinars and teleconferences and visited a lot of other blogs. My objective was to get a better sense of where things are headed.

• What will our customers expect from us?
• What are their needs?
• Are there gaps in the information and services available that are not being met?

These are the types of questions you might consider when working on a business plan. My objective was to gain a big-picture, longer-range view given the economy, staggering competition and my own need for greater clarity. The results were interesting.

Mobility is only going to increase

mobile phone or smart phoneIts not news that the use of smart phones, iPads and tablets like the Kindle Fire will continue to grow. The untold story is that these new portable devices will demand more and provide even greater challenges for anyone creating content for the web.

SEO Expert Sean Mitchell says that having a mobile optimized website is a new factor in the search engine rankings. Google considers mobile so important that it has added a mobile robot to scour the results users see when they access the web from a smart phone or iPad.

If viewers have to do a lot of scrolling around or zooming in to read your content, expect to take a hit in search rankings, Mitchell warns.

This means you will need a second website for mobile users – one that is optimized for smaller screens — that serves up just the right information for the person on the go. Contact information, maps, coupons or menus will play a leading role.  Your mobile optimized website will probably include fewer, fast loading images because mobile surfers will be less likely to wait for slow pages to load.

Some mobile platforms use software to detect the surfer’s browser. If the software detects a safari or android browser, it automatically re-directs the surfer to the mobile site.

Content developers now need to consider:

• What goes on the main site vs. the mobile optimized website and what linking will occur between them?
• What marketing strategies will you use to drive prospects to your mobile site?
• What will happen to your main site as more people reach your web real estate from mobile devices?
• How will this affect your marketing budget and your tracking systems?

This is going to be fun!

Social media will continue to play a major role in lead generation

Traffic generation strategies will grow even more complex with the need to incorporate dozens of social media sites into your marketing plan. Smaller businesses are overtaxed now. But increasingly, you’ll need well planned Facebook fan pages, as well as an effective strategy for LinkedIn and Twitter. And almost everyday, I hear about a new social media site that you can no longer ignore.

Multimedia will play a bigger role in internet content

To engage site visitors and compete with larger companies, you’ll have to create videos, slide shows, info graphics, webinars, podcasts and who knows what else? This will put a lot of pressure on one or two-person businesses. You’ll either need deeper pockets to outsource some of these projects or joint venture partners to pick up the slack.

So what will all of these new content demands mean for small businesses, home businesses and solopreneurs? It’s going to get harder and harder to compete.

In such an environment, it may be critical to have a recognizable brand that is easily distinguished from your competition. Or you may need to specialize in a very narrow niche.

I don’t have a handle on all the resources that will help you succeed in this environment yet. But  join our email list so you won’t miss future blog posts on this topic.

Marcia Ming

P.S. If you’re looking for a complete software package to create mobile optimized websites, take a look at Jason Fladlien’s WP Mobile Pro. It meets all of the criteria I mentioned earlier and is optimized for most smart phone browsers.

Want to Start a Blog? The First Thing You’ll Need is a Great Web Domain Name!

By Nicole Dean

More and more moms are getting into the blogging scene. Some for fun, some for profit, and some for both. Why not make money while you’re blogging about your favorite stuff, right?

It’s easier than ever to get started blogging. But the first thing you need before you begin is an idea for your domain name.

What is a domain name?

It’s the “www (dot) SOMETHING (dot) com” that people will type in to get to your blog. It’s like your address.

How do you Know What is a Good Domain Name?

There are some standards for what is a “great” domain name verses one that makes you wonder what on earth that person was thinking!

In order to help you to come up with a great web name that you’ll love for years, here are my unbreakable rules for choosing a domain.

1. No hyphens. Avoid dashes and hyphens. I’ve been there. Done that. Regret it to this day.

2. No numbers. Do I spell it out “seven” or is it the number “7??

3. Avoid words that are difficult to spell. Although I once was really excited about using a domain with the word “catalyst” in it — I found that no one could spell the darned thing.

4. Domain should end in .com. I don’t bother with other endings like .info or .biz. People tend to type in .com at the end of everything, so it’s usually best to stick with a .com ending.

5. Domain must NOT have any copyright names in it. I would not recommend using “Starbucks”, “Disney”, or any other company name in your URL or you may get a “cease and desist” email. Yes, even though you’re starting as a little mom blogger, eventually you might get huge. So, it’s best to plan for success in advance and avoid using trademarks in your URL.

6. If I’m looking to sell your blog down the road, it must be generic enough. For instance, I wouldn’t buy “NicoleKnowsFootball.com” to talk about my favorite football team if I planned to sell the site ever, because I’d have to find someone named Nicole to buy it.

And my big, bad unbreakable rule.

7. It must pass the Oprah test.

What exactly is the Oprah test? Well, I picture Oprah saying it out loud. “Today I have with me, Nicole Dean, author of Blah blah blah and owner of NicoleontheNet.com”. Is it memorable? Easy to spell?

You can’t do that with MyNumber1-BestHome-Remedy-Treatments4New-Mothers.net.

Why is this Important?

A difficult domain is actually wasted opportunity and wasted traffic slipping through your fingers. If you’re promoting via audio or video (maybe on podcasts or on YouTube) – you need a domain that is EASY to remember. It has to make it into the person’s ears and to his brain and stick. Heck, even if you run into an old college friend and say “Stop by my site www (dot) somethingcool (dot) com” – you’ll want her to remember long enough to actually come to your blog, right? So, make it simple. Make it memorable. And you’ll be glad.

Plus, honestly, it’s a credibility issue. Would you really buy something from MyNumber1-BestHome-Remedy-Treatments4New-Mothers.net? I hope you wouldn’t even think of getting out your credit card for a site like that. SCARY. And would you feel comfortable referring it to your friends? Not a chance.

How do you get a domain name of your very own? 

You can get a domain at www.momwebs.com which is also my recommendation for Web Hosting. As you sign up for your domain, you can get hosting at the same time. And… they’ll even set up your blog for you for only $10. Plus, there’s a phone number that you can call if you have any questions.

With all of that help, there’s nothing stopping you from setting up your first blog.

I hope this has been helpful. And, I really look forward to seeing YOU on Oprah!

Nicole Dean is co-owner of Mom Webs Hosting – www.MomWebs.com where you’ll find the host with the most. It offers everything a mom blogger needs – reliability, unlimited hosting, and customer service that never makes you feel intimidated — all at a price you can afford. MomWebs.com was created to help overcome the technical hurdles that may be preventing moms from sharing themselves with the online world. Check out the free training at MomWebs.com

Are Big Product Launches Always Great for Business?

I’m familiar with Jeff Walker and his Product Launch Formula. I know a lot of these big internet marketers brag about their server crashes and how much money they made in a few days. But I question whether a big product launch is always the best idea, given the huge strain  put on staff, servers and infrastructure to pull these big launches off and the potential for disaster.

Done wrong, a big product launch could actually damage one’s reputation. Here’s Why.

I recently bought a product that I was totally excited about. It is a scorching HOT product in a niche that promises to dominate the future. I absolutely loved the sales page, the graphics and the videos used to sell the product. And I was equally ecstatic about the training videos – all 50 of them and many other resources. There was no question that these people had over delivered. I thought it was one of the best purchases I have ever made.

Second Thoughts

oops - a product launch snagAnd then a tiny mix-up involving a second product that was part of an upsell led me to ask big questions about whether I should pursue what looked like a terrific business. Without totally revealing the product, I’ll tell you that part of it involved using the vendor’s software to deliver a service to customers.

More than a week after my purchase I’m still trying to gain access to this second part of the offer. So I put in a ticket with their customer support and apparently with Clickbank. The problem came when Clickbank responded. The message included a note with a number to call which ironically happened to be in my own zip code.

Surprised manI dialed the number only to learn that the person on the other end was another person who had purchased the product, never received it and had complained to Clickbank. I still don’t know how this mix-up occurred. But now, I had big questions about the services of this company.

Could I count on them to deliver? Would my customers face serious snags in their services? Could my business receive a black eye if I promoted these services?

The people who created these wonderful products are very young. What they put together was extremely ambitious. I am sure they are on their way to earning millions of dollars. But at that moment I started to see this as a risky venture for me because I could not control their services, and yet my business would depend on their delivery.

I share this story to demonstrate how important a customer’s experience can be to your small business. You always have to keep in mind how your customer will be affected by the actions you take.

It might have been better for this company to roll out the business in stages. By all accounts they sold several thousand copies of this package. That was a lot to manage with a big product launch involving a number of super affiliates.

fax mixupIt’s the ancillary pieces – the related software – not the training itself, that gave me pause. If the software works as promised, it should be awesome. But as I started to realize how many people would rely on the services of this young company, I wondered if they would be up to the challenge, given the mix-up I experienced.

The message I would share is to anticipate the things that are likely to go wrong. Plan your product launch to ensure you can deal with the inevitable snags. This product was so good that I bet these guys will overcome these challenges.

Still, I wouldn’t want my customers wondering if I can really deliver everything I promised, because of customer service snags. Remember this story as you plan a new product launch for your business. And let me know what you think by leaving a comment.

Affiliate Marketers: Do You Struggle with Any of the Top 10 Problems With Affiliate Marketing?

Super Affiliate Lynn TerrySuper Affiliate Lynn Terry recently asked her Facebook followers to share their top affiliate marketing problems. The 10 listed here were among 20 major issues people mentionned.

Here’s Lynn’s list of the top 10 Problems With Affiliate Marketing:

  1. guy in a white coat showing problems affiliate marketers face Choosing a Profitable Niche
  2. Working with Affiliate Links and HTML Code
  3. Getting Traffic
  4. Making Sales
  5. Writing Content
  6. Writing Sales Copy
  7. Motivation & Time Management
  8. Working with Affiliate Program Managers/Merchants
  9. Link Building
  10. Building a Responsive Mailing List

If like me, your online business involves promoting other people’s products as an affiliate marketer, you’ve surely struggled with most of the problem’s on Lynn’s list.

What is really cool about Lynn’s post is that she not only identifies the problems affiliate marketers face, but she also links to previous blog posts she has written that provide solutions to these problems.

With the post and the links, you’re getting a terrific education from a very successful affiliate marketer. So I strongly recommend that you visit her site to read Top 10 Problems With Affiliate Marketing. You don’t want to miss this.

10 Savvy Marketing Ideas for 2011

 savvy marketing for small businesses2011 should be a year of great opportunity as well as many challenges. Many of you are trying to keep your small businesses alive or starting new ones to replace lost incomes.

The good news is that you have never had such a positive array of marketing vehicles to help you succeed. Here are 10 savvy marketing ideas to help you promote your small business this year.

  1. Exploit social media by developing a presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter and other sites, focusing on the sites most appropriate for your business. Facebook is on fire this year so most businesses should have a presence there — either a fan page or group. We’ll talk more about this in future blog posts. The social media sites you select should mirror your marketing concentration.
  2. Define and expand your small business brand. If you don’t have a brand, develop one. In case you’re wondering, we specialize in savvy marketing for tiny businesses — the one you’re running from your kitchen table at home, a small shop or office, or the back of your van or truck.  To develop your brand, decide what you do best and what you want to be known for. Work your brand into everything you do and all of your marketing. Use your branding to set your business apart from your competition.
  3. Use video marketing as effectively as possible. There are a variety of ways to use video in your marketing. This topic is complicated so we will do a post on video marketing very soon. Stay tuned.
  4. If yours is a local business think mobile. How will customers find you from their cell phones? How will your site appear on those tiny screens? Will they find what they need — your location and possible phone number quickly without a lot of scrolling?
  5. Create a blog and post regularly — at least once a week — on topics of interest to your target market. Your blog can be written, audio, video, or hopefully a mixture of these content forms. You can include photos, other graphics and even photo slide shows as some of the big sites are doing.
  6. Provide great content — content marketing is hotter than ever! Keep an eye out for content in various formats that will appeal, educate and entertain your target market. We’ve carried several posts about content recently, but look out for much more as the year develops.
  7. Do keyword research to find the issues and products your target customers care about. This is one of my least favorite activities but I am conceding that you can’t succeed without doing keyword research to discover what your market wants.
  8. Concentrate on buyer keywords. Using the right keyword phrases, you’ll be able to connect with your audience just when they are ready to buy. I am working on a special feature on keyword research, so join our list or register for our RSS feed.
  9. Focus — don’t use a shotgun approach in your market. Develop a plan and stick to it. That doesn’t mean you can not be flexible when challenges arise. But you should avoid jumping on every band wagon that comes along, or listening to whomever shouts the loudest.
  10. Use the talent within your organization to exploit the areas where you are strongest. If your people are better at talking than writing, concentrate on audio media — such as blog talk radio or Ustream. If your team includes writing talent, concentrate your marketing efforts on article marketing, blog and forum posting, and press releases. If you have people who know what to do with a video camera, than concentrate your efforts on video. You need a little bit of everything, so focus on your strengths in house, but be prepared to outsource the things your staff can’t do well.

That list of savvy marketing ideas should keep you busy. Whatever you do,  keep learning. As I told you last time we are in the middle of a media revolution. Things are in a state of flux and if you snooze in this environment you will definitely lose. We promise to help you stay on top of all the changes, so visit often.

We’d love to get your thoughts on our 10 Savvy Marketing Ideas. So leave a comment. Tell us what you are doing in your business. Tell us what has worked, or not worked for you.

Change is the only constant in Today’s Social Media Revolution

We’re in the midst of a social media revolution that threatens to reshape the Middle East. The impact of this revolution appears to be transforming media, marketing and advertising in ways that are not yet fully understood.

In the past the advertiser ruled. Now the consumer has the upper hand and a two-way conversation has replaced yesterday’s pitch fest.

I learned a little about what to expect in a revolution as a history major in college. After reading leading works about the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution and other revolutions involving third world nations, I came away with one key lesson:  the only constant in a revolution is change.

Social Media and Revolutionary Change IllustrationAlready the current media revolution has wreaked havoc on traditional media – newspapers, television, radio and advertising. In recent years, Google and other search engines led the way. But now with the emergence of giant social media networks, all the rules have changed.

Now real people can publish their own messages, pages, pictures and videos and they no longer tolerate one-way conversations.

These dramatic changes have left whole industries in disarray. For example, I belong to a group of published authors on LinkedIn where the big question is will the printed book survive? With the introduction of the Amazon Kindle and the Apple iPad, these writers are rightfully asking  how these changes and the growing acceptance of eBooks will affect their livelihood. 

Staying on top of all of this change is a daunting task for any business. I can write something only to find that some new wrinkle has altered the landscape entirely.

Several recent studies suggest that we are closer to the beginning of this revolution than the end. I suspect that if we could travel 50 years into the future we might not recognize the media and marketing vehicles.

As a student of history, I would never have imagined that a revolution that began in 1917 with the deposing of the Russian Czar would ultimately culminate in the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.  As a kid, I used one of those black typewriters with round keys and no power source. No way could I have imagined reading a book on a wireless device that could pull new content out of thin air?

My point in all of this is that you should expect change. In business school, they teach you to not only plan for opportunity, but for the worst case scenario as well. This is not an environment where you can grow complacent.

To get a better idea of what I mean,  you should read two recent posts on ClickZ.com, a site I monitor to stay up on changes in the Internet Marketing space.

Learned Helplessness in Marketing

Facebook Ads Get Half the Clicks of Network Banners

Just when the experts think they have it all figured out, some new innovation changes everything.

While you don’t want to respond to every new twist or turn, you do need to adapt to the sweeping changes with strong headwinds. And I suspect that social media like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube will point the way to the future.

To learn more about the trends taking shape in Facebook marketing, grab a copy of Facebook Marketing Secrets by joining our list.