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Monthly Archives: July 2011

Insect in a Web – Always with a Spider

It was five in the morning when I headed on to a town next to our city. As I used the bus for transit, I saw a lot of establishments on the sidewalk. I noticed fast food restaurants, printing shops, banks, convenience stores, internet cafés, coffee shops, bars and many other businesses. Epiphany struck me when I realized that many of these businesses have been around for quite a long time. I remember when I was young, I used to play computer games in some of those internet cafés. I even tried skipping classes in order to ace a game among my friends and classmates. I also remember that I usually bought candy in the convenience stores to feed my sweet tooth.

These businesses have created quite an impression to other people and, personally, to me. I could not really imagine how these establishments went through  the years. I could not comprehend their hardships and sufferings, and the people in charge who made it all happen.

Then I got to the town I was heading for. It was not as urbanized as the city I came from. In comparison, it was a little bit silent and hushed. There were some internet cafés and local pubs around the town. Curious enough, I went to one of their internet shops to figure out how technologically advanced or delayed the people were. When I opened the door, I was greeted with a view of over forty computers.  A piece of mounted paper on the wall said the rental rate was less than a half dollar.

As I passed by some computers, I noticed that the computer renters were blogging. Some are outsourcing and promoting other company through online writing. Some others were doing graphic design and web development. I approached one of them and asked how long he has been doing that and he answered, “For almost a year already.” Despite the town’s quietness, the people are indeed catching up with technological advancements.

That was when I realized how  businesses like these internet shops keep up with the industry. Businesses have sub-businesses regardless of how small they may be. The shops have customers who in turn have personal customers. They interminably work together for good. With the people’s resiliency, each contributes to an indirect assistance of sustenance to every business in the web of establishments.

Your author Chris Marentis writes about what he has learned in over 25 successful years in business, he specializes in local search engine marketing at his local internet marketing company Insect in a Web – Always with a Spider.

 

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The Benefits of Using a Vehicle Wrap to Advertise Your Business

The secret to effective advertising is to make a great first impression. Vehicle wraps are a very memorable way to spread your business’s message. Vehicle wraps for sales, service and delivery vehicles are a powerful branding and marketing tool.

Attention Grabbing

Brightly colored, attractive vehicle wraps make your company vehicles stand out from all the other cars on the road. Passing drivers won’t pay much attention to a plain white van on the road, but they will notice a well-designed vehicle wrap. Colorful vehicle wraps are so engaging that peoples’ eyes naturally gravitate towards them.

Reach a Wider Audience

Depending on how many vehicles you own, how often they are on the road and how far they travel; you can reach tens of thousands to over a hundred thousand viewers per month. You can reach a larger audience with a vehicle wrap than almost any other form of advertising. Many businesses gain more customers from their vehicle wraps than their websites.

Non-Aggressive Advertising

Unlike radio ads or print ads that interrupt a person’s reading, vehicle wraps attract attention without disturbance. Potential customers can easily spot your message without significant distraction from what they’re doing. Customers respond better to advertising that doesn’t take an “in-your-face” approach. Many people enjoy striking vehicle wraps and don’t mind the advertising.

Get Mobile

Vehicle wraps travel into the view of potential customers instead of you waiting for them to see your television commercial or run across your newspaper advertisement. As a business, you can non-intrusively reach out to customers over all the roads your vehicle or vehicles travel. The lead possibilities from mobile exposure are nearly endless.

Cost Effective

Unlike billboards and advertisements that have consistent reoccurring costs for as long as you advertise, you can change your vehicle wrap as little or as often as you like for less money. You can make an initial investment for a fraction of the cost of other long term advertising campaigns and generate results for years.

Local Advertising

Vehicle wrap advertising is targeted because you are advertising to your local market. The people who will see your vehicle wrap the most are the people in your area. Local marketing produces outstanding results because people like to deal with nearby businesses.

Protection

Vinyl vehicle wraps help protect your vehicle’s body from scratches and small dents from road debris. Specialists can also easily remove vinyl vehicle wraps without damaging the vehicle’s paint. Vinyl vehicle wraps help keep your vehicles in better condition for when you need to trade them in or sell them.

Outside of being an additional advertising expense, there are practically no downsides to using a vehicle wrap for advertising. Most business owners feel that they recoup the expensive of having vehicle wraps in the added exposure their business receives. If you want to stand out from your competition, a vehicle wrap is a wise investment.

About the Author: Tony Smith is a full-time writer with a passion for business and marketing. To learn more about him, visit Internet Content Writer online.

 

News Flash for Small Business: Forget Google and Bing/Yahoo (Microsoft)

You can’t compete and you never will.  It’s amazing that I still see internet “marketing” companies advertising that they absolutely guarantee the result of having your business appear “Number One on Google.”  Big whoopdi-do.  All that is required to get that done is to have you name your business the same as your email address.  I chose Bayintegratedmarketing.com, and guess what?  I’m number one on Google if you enter Bayintegratedmarketing.com!  What a surprise, since every email address is unique, meaning that I am the ONLY Bayintegratedmarketing.com on the internet.  What does this buy me?  Everyone that enters the specific URL I have purchased finds me.  The only limitation to that is that if you are not already familiar with Bayintegratedmarketing.com, you don’t know to enter that specific set of characters.

Try competing with some of the real keywords the “big boys” use and it gets real expensive, real quick.  See how far you get with “Internet Marketing” or “Insurance Sales” or “Chiropractic.”  If you are lucky enough to be branded with a “long tailed keyword” like “South Valley Yamaha” you can get some traction, but it really only works for geographically limited offerings like a motorcycle store, or a dentists office.  Anything that has a larger appeal, like a publishing company or marketing house, is doomed.  People spend literally hundreds of  thousands of dollars on Google Adwords campaigns for those precious “placed”  or “pay per click” ads.  They also spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on buildings full of geeks to try to load keywords into content packages to outguess the ever changing Google page ranking algorithms.  More money is spend on content farms to churn out a never ending supply of content to blast the net with these optimized keywords in the absolute power play end run of “free” or “organic” search.  The big boys have floors of their office buildings dedicated to the competition for this sacred turf, so don’t even bother.  The best you can hope to “own” is something like “shoe store state street Santa Barbara California.”  God help you if there is more than one shoe store there.  This is true of any general classification, but excruciatingly true of professional services that don’t require a geographic presence.

That being said, there is hope for the “mom and pop” after all.  If you sell shoes, by all means go after that State Street long tail keyword, but also make sure to get yourself included in the myriad of local directories that list your products geographically. There are lists of literally hundreds of local directories, but a pretty good start is available at http://bit.ly/poYGFi     or you can easily download the entire document at http://bayintegratedmarketing.com/   use the drop down “site submission links” under the tools tab.

Local directories are great for products that require physical presence, are hard or costly to ship, and or are expensive enough that the consumer still wants to kick the tires.  Customers need a reason to shop local.  Not so important for books, batteries, or bedding.  What about services, and those things that do not require a physical presence?  Although it is hard to get raw data, most of my recent webcasts and podcasts have pointed to a single, quickly growing alternative to Bing/Yahoo (Microsoft) for professional services search, one that has passed the Goliaths of the industry for that search:  LinkedIn.

 

Caregiver Finds Coworkers Unreliable and Negligent

I bounced through a lot of jobs during college. I waitressed for a couple years but finally decided I couldn’t spend another summer reeking of old seafood and explaining the difference between sea scallops and bay scallops. I scoured the want ads hoping to find a new job and stumbled upon an ad for caregivers. I called the number on the ad, left a message, and promptly forgot about it. The search continued.

A week later, I received a call from the owner of the caregiving organization. She asked some basic questions about my age, my background, and what hours I could work. Before I knew it, I had a job with no background check or qualifications. She set up a meeting at my first assignment, a 98-year-old woman with mild dementia who was living in her home of nearly eighty years. I showed up at the house, filled out some paperwork for taxes, and was left with my client.

Caregiving is a strange job. I went into a client’s home and from there, I might be responsible for anything. For one terminally ill client, all he wanted me to do was sit and watch horror movies with him. He had been a makeup artist for the films and spent hours explaining the techniques he used on various monsters and villains. Another client had severe Alzheimer’s and my entire shift would be spent answering where her long-dead husband had gone.

The fact was, as a 20-year-old college student I was severely under qualified for what I was being asked to do. I knew nothing about medications or lifting techniques or the proper way to change on adult diaper. I cheated my way through most situations. The people I was taking care of either required such minimal care there was nothing to worry about or so much care they weren’t in their right mind to realize whether I was qualified or not.

I drew the line at a very ill woman who, in addition to requiring oxygen, needed dozens of medications a day. She wasn’t able to remember what to take or when and wanted me to figure it out. I had known this woman less than a day and the pile of medications thrown in a shoebox next to her bed held a confusing mix of instructions I spent hours trying to get through. I finally called my supervisor and explained to her I didn’t feel comfortable administering these medications. I was told that was tough and I needed to figure it out. I refused to take care of the client again but kept the job. The money was good, the hours flexible, and I was desperate.

Although I worked solo, I met other caregivers during shift changes and the sad fact was, many were much less qualified than me. The wage coupled with the hours attracted a host of caregivers I wouldn’t trust with my dog, the type of people who were completely unreliable and downright negligent. I returned to one of my favorite clients only to discover she had a severe urinary tract infection that none of the other caregivers had caught. Not only did the room smell disgusting but the client spent most of the day sleeping. When she was awake, she hardly made sense. I called her son and then an ambulance within two hours of being there. I asked one of the caregivers who had been working earlier in the week why no one had noticed how sick the client was. The other caregiver told me she just assumed the client was dying since it was nearly her time anyway.

Caregiving was a job I enjoyed but was equally repelled by. There are caregiving organizations that require certification or at the very least a background check but a shockingly high number of caregiving outfits require nothing more than a W-4 and a drivers license.

Contributed by CareerConfessions.com, a collection of inside stories from the workplace like this teacher’s confession.

 

Brand Aid: The Building of an American Dream

What does the advice of most of the world’s most successful people always contain?  There is always some language to the effect that success requires 5% innovation and 95% perspiration.  There is just no easy way.  Sure, there is the occasional “Pet Rock” and some sort of moronic fluke every now and then like Justin Bieber, but most overnight success stories take years.  I am reminded of a story about an aging Pablo Picasso taking a napkin and scribbling one of his sketches on it.  He handed it to the lady who had requested it and informed her that his fee would be $25,000.  Upon this news she was aghast and exclaimed “but that only took you 30 seconds” to which Picasso replied “but it took me 40 years to get there.”

The short answer is that there is no short answer.  Building your own personal brand takes discipline and time.  It’s funny how incremental investments of time and effort can add up though.  Two years ago my gig as a corporate travel development manager fell prey to the recession, and the fact that the owner’s son had the same title I did.  Blood being slightly thicker than water, the writing was on the walls and I could feel a career change calling me.  At this stage of my life it was improbable that I could re-create myself, but what I did was to take an inventory of what was usable, what really interested me, and what was needed to get to a position that would make all of that possible.  Every interesting marketing job that crossed my path I was not qualified for was noted in a log.  Every job skill that eluded my possession was documented, and when there was a statistically significant sampling of what were my most impactful areas of deficiency, a solution began to show itself.  The answer was for me to return to school and pursue my masters in internet marketing.  There was no financial aid available, and it was expensive, but the investment had to be made in myself so back we went.  I say we, because my wife had to sign off on our making a several thousand dollar investment because I was out of work.

The choice to analyze where the investment needed to be made, what skills needed to be learned, was an easy one.  The money was tough, but do-able.  The time it took each day to study and look at a “bigger” picture was an invaluable discipline.   Re-branding myself became my 8 hour a day job.  OK, a good 6 most days, but there were plenty of 10’s and 12’s in there around final’s time.  Paying attention to my mentor Jay Berkowitz, we began to blog, created a reputation as a social media instructor, began publishing other articles in syndication, and established an optimized website for the business.  Everything was new, from what to charge, to billing, to properly setting client’s expectations.  Slowly over the months of my routine (wake up, check emails, publish blog, reach out to my business group on FaceBook and LinkedIn, and at least 2 webinars or podcasts a week to keep current) there began to be a bit of traction.  The last time I Googled my company name it occupied the entire first page of the search results.  It almost brought tears to my eyes.

With a bit of practice we were able to get several of our clients to be ranked #1 for their local businesses in LinkedIn.  It never seemed possible to me to be able to effect search engines THAT much, but the incremental discipline of doing that little bit EVERY DAY is finally paying off.  My routine only takes me about an hour a day in the morning, and the rest of the day can be spent working on client projects, mentoring, or the occasional Giants game.  It’s all good as long as I invest that hour or so every day in myself. I have also learned a few things along the way that keep me from beating my head against the walls.  At first I tried all of the techniques I learned in business school that were taught to me by people who had worked for Coca ColaMcDonald’s, and Sprint.  Some of those techniques were transferable and scale-able, and some not.  I never thought it would come down to abandoning SEO as we know it, but I have to admit the Google/Bing/Yahoo universe is no place to spin your tires.  Its just not worth it.          to be continued.

 

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I Once Was Lost, But Now I’m Found

Was blind, but now I see.  No this not the “Through The Bible Hour”, and we will not be visiting the remainder of the song “Amazing Grace” although the epiphany that has evoked the title of this article is possibly as profound as some spiritual experiences.  The awaking, as it were, for me was the advent of permission marketing.  Having been a product of the ‘60’s where the momentum of interruption marketing, particularly on TV, hit its peak, we were chained to our Chesterfield’s (that’s a couch for you millennials) and fed a steady diet of Coca-cola, Downey fabric softener, and Winston cigarettes.  There was no escape.  Marlon Perkins was extolling the virtues of Mutual of Omaha while wrestling Orangutans in Sumatra, Ronald Regan was spewing forth 20 Mule Team Borax, and Lloyd Bridges was ironically hawking Standard Oil on his aquatic action/adventure show Sea Hunt.

There was no TiVo.  There were no means to zap commercials.  The television volume was elevated to the point that even if you ran to the refuge of the kitchen for a Dr. Browns Cream Soda, the message followed you.  This was the golden age of push marketing, and it was one of the most amazing phenomena to ever smack the unsuspecting public square in the jaw.  Second only to junk mail and Jehovah’s witnesses for obnoxious tenacity, the caissons of Madison Avenue rolled through our collective living rooms like Rommel marching to the sea.  Since much of the advertising was institutional by nature (see the USA in a Chevrolet) it was damned near impossible to track, so with the absence of solid metrics the under girding philosophy became “more is better.”

My brother-in-law ( one of those young Gen X’ers) asked me the other day to explain the difference between push and pull marketing.  What was described in the above paragraphs was definitely PUSH marketing.  Eventually what it made us all do was push back.  It’s gotten to the point that every program I watch is pre-recorded so I can fast forward through the fray, every pop-up they try to send my computer is disabled, and my wife and kids are the only ones that have my correct iPhone number.

So how, you say, does one reach a potential customer now days?  As they say in some of the twelve step programs, attraction rather than promotion.  That means content, lots and lots of great content.  They have to want to come to you, so the only way to make that happen is to have something to come to.  Ironically, and synonymously, there has to be a “where” for prospects to go before they can go “there.”  It might be your website, your blog, or a social media site, but there needs to be some central place on the internet where your brand resides.  Since many of us rarely darken the halls of a brick and mortar “store” if avoidable, the cyber locations make far more sense.  The only problem is that there are so darn many of them, the search algorithms that take folks to different sites are getting so complicated that I’m not sure even Google understands half of what it does.  How does your average Joe that owns a “mom and pop” family business establish a presence worth the effort?   More to follow.

 

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I’m Sure That You Are Way to Busy to Read This

I just don’t have the time.  There isn’t the bandwidth.  There are not enough hours in the day. The hurrier I go the behinder I get.  Surely these are very common and familiar phrases in your work-a-day world.  To me, only the last one holds any modicum of truth.   Indeed, the more harried you allow yourself to get, the less efficient you become.  How many projects are put off simply because of poor time management?  How many concepts are thought to be staggering simply because of the perception that the project is just too big?

Consider the space shuttle.  Taken at its entirety the project was of such magnitude that nobody alive could possibly have attempted such a thing, yet broken down into its component tasks and properly scheduled it was one of the most successful and satisfying undertakings of modern man.  There is rarely a case to be made for not having “enough time.”

I have seen manager after manager bemoan the rigors of their daily schedule ad infinitum.  Seriously, to the point of spending hours at the coffee machine or behind their desks bitching and moaning about how little time there is in their day.  How many times during the day do we really schedule time to invest in the things that are actually going to SAVE us time in the long run?  In my former life the business development of a major corporate travel management fell to my responsibility.  There are absolutely no end of executive administrators and “C” level managers we ran into that realized there travel program was absolutely out of control (costing them hundreds of thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours annually) but simply didn’t “have the time” to sit down with us and get it fixed.  Ironically, these same managers and admins somehow “had the time” for their engineers and managers to sit down on their computers and book their own travel, often making mistakes or deliberate misuses of corporate budget that any professional agent would have caught in a heartbeat.  These same engineers and managers also seemed to have the “time” to spend on weekend “teambuilding” retreats, trade shows, and product user group meetings.  It seems to be that “time” is not the issue; rather it is one of priority.

Properly setting your priorities, and holding to the discipline of enforcing your schedule, is of key importance in time management. It reminds me of a friend I had growing up that had to buy all of their groceries at a boutique market because they took credit cards, and the local market did not.  They couldn’t just eat beans and graham crackers for one single month to save enough to pay off the credit card debt and start paying with cash at the market across the street that cost about 2/3 of what the boutique market charged.  Instead of exercising the discipline and “sucking it up” for a small period of time, they continued to pay exorbitant prices for their groceries, and monthly interest charges on their credit cards.

Time is money.  If you don’t take the time to invest in your future, you will not have any savings.  Our next installment will discuss how to invest time wisely on your internet presence:  your website and your social media profiles and sites should be your best “selling” assets.  Have you invested the time to make sure you are taking the maximum advantage of those golden resources?

 

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