Take an SEO refresher course

Small business owners don’t necessarily need to be SEO experts, but you should have a firm grasp on the basics – even if only to direct a web designer.

The search engine world changes pretty frequently, but not as much as SEO folks would like you to believe. In fact, you will waste a lot of time and energy trying to keep up with folks that want you to think there are new ways to game the search engines. Here’s my advice: Bookmark these sites, visit them, read the books the site authors have written and recommended and then make sure you take a refresher course every 6 months or so.

Calling All PR Firms

I am always on the look out for guests for my podcast show. If you represent authors or business folks that have a great story to tell my small business readers and listeners, drop me a line

Social Contesting – A new word of mouth marketing phenomenon

George Silverman, Duct Tape Marketing blog reader and author of the fabulous book The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing, pointed out a word of mouth marketing trend in response to my post earlier today on contests.

He explains what he calls a Consumer Generated Contest (But, I’ve named it Social Contesting – since, even George claims that consumer generated contest isn’t very sexy – so, you heard Social Contesting here first!) Social Contesting is when a customer creates their own contest using your product or service or involving some way to make your product or service more useful or to help solve a greater problem. These contests take on a life of their own when the social media of blogs, rss and search are applied. Think of the implications of a contest that involved YouTube, Flikr or Digg. This is a really interesting idea.

From Silverman’s Blog:

“It’s a “Consumer Generated Contest.” CGC (You heard it here first – I”m looking for a better name). Its implications can be HUGE. A customer has stepped up and put up $100 into a PayPal account, inviting others to join in and contribute. Within a few weeks, it climbed to over $12,000, and got worldwide coverage in the blogs and technology press. Also, someone stands to make a lot of money from marketing the solution itself. As I’ve written before, it would cause sales of Macs to multiply.”

Full Entry Feeds

I’ve received numerous requests for the full entry of my posts to show up in my feed. Your wish is my command.

Landing Pages for Referrals

Landing pages are pretty standard fare these days – you run an ad in a publication and drive people to a landing page specifically designed to generate one response only – sign-up for a newsletter, enroll in a teleseminar, request a white paper.

What if you took this tool and designed a page on your website just for referrals. In other words, a page that you would share with your clients and strategic partners that they could use as a tool to refer your business. Instead of telling a potential referral to “check out” your web site, your referral sources would tell them to go to a specific page set-up to quickly greet them, educate them and acknowledge their status as someone who has been referred.

This simple personalization step will allow you to speak directly to this special visitor and even go as far as giving them a specific call to action. Knowing that your referral sources have this tool to use will also help make sure that the referrals you do receive are highly qualified.

Take the idea to the next level. If you have strategic partners that routinely refer prospects or ones that your would like to convince to routinely refer prospects, set-up a page just for them. Feature their logo and a welcome message just for their referred visitors. Once you create the template for this type of page, there is no reason you couldn’t create 10-12 of these and really add a professional touch to your referral process.

Here’s an example of a Referral Landing Page created by one of my strategic partners.

Google reveals the future

Google officially entered the software business last week with Google Pack– a suite of software offerings from Google AND others such as the Firefox Browser, Adobe Reader and Norton Anti-Virus. The entire pack of offerings can be downloaded and installed with a few clicks.

So, the only remaining question is. . . when do we get the word processor, spreadsheet and CRM tool with it?

Harness the Internet at Half Price

I’m teaching a course starting next Wednesday (10th) and running the following two Wednesdays where I will walk through ways for small business owners to harness the Internet to build their business, even a local business.

We will spend sessions discussing basic small business search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, blogs, RSS, email, ezines and other marketing automation strategies.

Participants receive a workbook for each session as well as an audio from each teleseminar and lots of resources.

I want to get some more participation in this important topic so I am cutting the price from $199 for all three sessions to $99 – Enroll here

Start Offline, Move Online

No matter how far this whole Internet thing comes, there will always be some great prospecting to be done offline. I don’t know maybe there will come a day when everybody shops and buys online, but right now, direct mail is enjoying a resurgence in effectiveness as more and more companies try to generate leads by way of email and other online advertising.

One of the best way to generate cost effective leads is to combine proven offline strategies with efficient online strategies.

Here’s my advice:

Go to SRDS.com and find a list of people who have purchased a product or service like yours, buy that list and send everyone on it a compelling offer. An offer found only on one page on your web site. (The page you advertise in your direct mail.) Capture the names and addresses of everyone that takes you up on your offer and start marketing the heck out of that list.

You can do this very same thing by running small, inexpensive classified ads in local paper or even USA Today. Make the reader an offer they can’t refuse and watch your web traffic and leads go through the roof.