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WordPress Plugin Favorites

WordPress LogoAs you may have noticed I’ve migrated this blog to WordPress.

I love the platform and have become an evangelist for it. I’ve always been a fan, but now I can be a fan from experience. My first order of business is to publicly thank Lloyd Budd, with the WordPress team, for graciously and flawlessly handling the import of years of blogging posts and comments and feed and permalink redirects that allowed my readers and the search engines to stay intact, seemingly without a hiccup.

Now on to one of the best aspects of the move – plugins, widgets and addons. WordPress has an army of developers out there making tools that allow WordPress users to enhance their blogs with useful (and sometimes goofy) additions to the base software.

There are lots of places to find these, including the WordPress site, but here’s a nice WordPress Plugin Database and make sure you also visit Weblog Tools Collection.

    Here are some that I currently employ:

  • Share This – allows readers to bookmark and send a post via email
  • Related Content - Finds posts on my blog that are related to the current one
  • Akismet – Flags comment spam for easy deletes
  • Sphere – Finds related content around the web
  • WP-Cache – Makes the blog load much faster

I will probably add more to showcase books and products and make comments more lively, but a word of caution, you can go overboard with too much bling, make sure your additions benefit your readers – don’t add spinning gizmos just because you can.

Now, WordPress users, tell me about your must have plugins.

The Changing Role of the Phone in Marketing

Lots of marketers and journalists are writing about the use of the phone as the hot new marketing machine. Apple’s iPhone release hasn’t done anything but flame this hot fire either.

The truth is that for most the phone as a marketing medium still only represents possibility, but there are some fun and interesting plays being built around this that may be worth a look for the right business.

The most common growing use is in the are of text messages (SMS). So far, this has been primarily an email replacement for opt-in parties. This should continue to expand.

Here are a couple idea starters for some new categories ripe for phone applications.

Advertised text messaging on demand – Mobile messaging T-shirtReactee – Create a T-shirt with a text message – Viewers see the shirt text a short message to 41411 and get a more detailed text message back in return. This could be a great play for events, non-profits and political causes. Try it – text ducttape to 41411.

GPS or category coupon delivery - Cellfire sends coupons for pizza, flowers, and movies to mobile users who redeem them at the store by using their phone. The coupons are stored on the phone.

Free information services – Free directory assistance from Goog411 – To try this service, just dial 1-800-GOOG-411 (1-800-466-4411) from any phone. You can search by name or even category and have the contact details sent to your phone while you are connected – all for free.

For the moment, one thing looks pretty clear, the standard interruption advertising methods (now almost becoming lumped with spam) won’t cut it here. Traditional CPM ads don’t seem to make sense either. What does look like it will gain traction is service replacement models that are ways for users to give permission to advertisers who are willing to give or takeaway something that was a cost and turn it into an ad supported freebie, much like the 411Info model.

It will be interesting to see how this space evolves over the next few years.

The Move to WordPress is Official

Regular visitors to this blog may note a slightly different look today.

I have migrated this entire blog to WordPress. I am very excited about the expanded possibilities this platform gives me. The folks at WordPress have been a great source of help in this process, which in my case was not an easy one.

You may notice some funky stuff as the redirects and database imports settle in but then it will be back to the fun stuff of running a blog. You shouldn’t need to change any of your subscription or link details although the new URL for this page is now http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog

This is a great time for me to thank the many readers and subscribers out there that make this all worth doing.

What Could You Learn From the Best Retailers?

Retail can be a tough business. Competition is fierce, location is everything, and the buyer is fickle and expensive to reach.

That’s why successful small retailers perfect the art of loyalty, referrals, word or mouth, promotion, and community building.

You know, as I read that list I wonder why service businesses don’t take a page from this book. Is there anything on the list above that would hurt your marketing efforts. Of course not.

All it takes is looking at your marketing from some new perspectives.

  • What if you offered gift certificates for your services?
  • What if you mailed those gift certificates to your loyal clients and encouraged them hand them out?
  • What if you offered bridal or baby registry? (C’mon, get your neighbor’s kid a tax return for their wedding – way better than a toaster)
  • What if you held over the top events for your clients? (I know a remodeling firm that buys out a Christmas tree farm for that year’s clients)
  • What if you had a holiday, client only, sale or new service introduction?
  • What if you held education forums aimed at very specific niches of your clientele? (single women, parents with kids going to college, sports minded families, people learning to be more green.)

Another benefit of some of this kind of out of the box thinking is that it presents great opportunities for some PR. Are there any other service businesses in your town offering bridal registry? Be the first – the media loves a first.

A little creative thinking and this list could really get interesting. Pay attention to folks like Apple, Urban Outfitters, Target, Ikea and those local main street superstars that seem to thrive in the shadow of Wal-Mart in every town across America.

What other ways could service businesses use these tactics?

TypePad Adds Web Page Creation to the Mix

TypePad, one of my favorite blog creation tools just added a killer (yet, why did it take so long) feature called Pages.

The Pages feature allows you to create your entire web site using the TypePad system. You create your blog, polish your template, add the widgets and features you want, and start posting content. Then you come back and hit the Pages button in your admin panel and start adding pages for your products, services, people, processes, and whatever your site needs using the same editing and uploading tools built into TypePad. Your pages will all carry the template look and features you’ve already designed.

Truth is, you’ve always been able to do this if you could code, but now it’s dead simple and anyone who can type can create and edit your web pages.

So, is it a blog or is it a web site – further evidence that it’s about the content, it’s about the connection, it’s about the community – who cares what you call it.

Social Content for Business Geeks

I ran across a new social play called Daily Hub. It seems a bit like a digg with tagging and voting but with a more narrow focus – stuff small business folks might want to read.

The site looks promising and I’m going to keep watching, reading and posting to it.

A quick read of their manifesto and social software comparison chart is worth the visit.

But What Do I Write On My Business Blog?

Man, do I get tired of the question posed in the title of this post.

Creating content has always been a good idea, if you’ve got a business, at least one that wants and needs customers, then you need to create lots of relevant content – a blog just happens to make the process a whole lot easier. So, stop thinking about it so much and start writing.

Write what? – everything that happens to you is content if you let it be.

Everything you think, say, read, see, smell, taste, hear, encounter – it’s all there waiting for you to turn into something useful for your business. All you have to do is apply it. Life practically vomits content fully at your feet if you just pay attention. Yeah but, yeah but, yeah but, – stop whining and start paying attention with this new radar and watch what happens to your brain.

It’s not enough to sit down in front of a computer and think – what should I write today, that’s why you’re stuck, it’s just too hard to create from scratch like that. You’ve got to start actively taking mental notes all day long. (I carry a pocket moleskin notebook, like the one pictured here, everywhere I go)

    Do this and all of sudden you will find that you can:

  • Turn something you overhear on the bus into a lesson your readers can relate to.
  • Fully explore the answers to questions your prospects pose over and over again
  • Tell the story you read on another blog and make it fit a solution you provide
  • Tell your readers all about the conference you attended
  • Paraphrase the lyrics of song you heard on the drive home to drive home a point
  • Share the moments of truth you discovered reading a new book
  • Introduce visitors to a symphony that’s just right for the office

When you begin to look at content creation in this way you will start to filter much of what happens all around you in ways that matter to your clients and prospects – team that with getting your filtered thoughts down on a blog routinely and you’ll be amazed at how many ways you grow personally and professionally.

Speaking at mesh in Toronto

I’ll be hanging out and presenting on new media use in Toronto this week at the mesh Conference.

The sold out event features keynotes from Richard Edelman of Edelman PR and Michael Arrington of Techcrunch.com

I’m looking forward to a trip to Canada and meeting lots of Duct Tape Marketers.

Check out the mesh schedule.