Today is four years since my dear mentor and stepfather John R. Walsh died. Two years ago I wrote a post about him that will give you some of his and our background.
What I’d like to share with you in this post is some of his brilliant thinking and the lessons we can take in a Web 2.0 world from his ability to strategize before the Internet/World Wide Web.
Next time you watch women’s golf and tennis think of John Walsh. Back in the 1970’s women’s sports had almost no corporate sponsorship. With no big money prizes and TV contracts there was very little interest. It occurred to John that this represented an opportunity for consumer products companies whose primary purchasing public was almost wholly women.
He pitched the idea to Colgate-Palmolive CEO-at-the-time David Foster, who passed away recently. Foster, who happened to really like women and golf, thought it was a great idea and the Colgate Dinah Shore Winner’s Circle Golf Classic was born. Foster even bought it a home – the Mission Hills Golf Course in Palm Springs. Its success also helped to increase sponsorship of women’s tennis.
Walsh and Foster boosted the careers of LPGA Hall of Famers JoAnne Carner, Nancy Lopez and Amy Alcott among many others. The two pretty much put the sport on the map. The fabulous PR strategy still puts Colgate-Palmolive in a positive spotlight today.
John’s big strategic idea: Great opportunities are out there. Look for an audience that can get behind something that already exists and is just waiting for support from a logical booster.
He did the same thing with Cutty Sark Scots Whisky, selling its global distributor and the Men’s Fashion Association to collaborate on a men’s fashion awards program at a time when there was no recognition for menswear designers. The Cutty Awards ran for years, garnering untold media attention for all and boosting the early careers of such fashion icons as Gianni Versace, Alexander Julian and many others.
In the days of Web 2.0 and online search, it’s actually much easier to come up with winning matches like these.
If you click the link at the top of this post it should bring up your audio player and a music file of John singing and playing one of his own compositions, “I’m In Love With San Francisco.” As I explained in my 2009 post, John played a mean piano – in the key of C only – and composed some wonderful songs. A man of words, he was his own lyricist.
Unfortunately, John’s songs remain unknown. I’m happy to give one of them some airtime here. The song was recorded to digital from an old cassette tape using an iPhone 4s so the quality isn’t great, but it’ll give you a peek at one other part of his creative heart and mind.
Here’s to one of the greatest winners I’ve ever known. Love you and miss you, John.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
In the past, if you wanted a new website – or to redesign an existing one – the first step was to find a web design firm. This was fine when your website was an online brochure.
Today, if you make your first concern the design and look/feel of your site, you’re missing valuable opportunities to use the web project to refine or redefine your business focus, to add new business lines – and to get found.
A marketing/business consultant is well suited to help you in this effort and is a prudent first stop. Getting an outside eye on your business and online marketing can yield fresh ideas about how you can use your web presence to grow.
Then find a good design/web development firm capable of implementing your brand identity and web strategy, offering technical advice, and organizing your content for usability. Your marketing consultant will undoubtedly be able to help you source the right partner.
Here are 20 steps to structuring a website project to maximize business growth:
1. Review and audit your current marketing, as well as new marketing approaches you’d like to add.
2. Be able to articulate, “What’s our business?”
3. Do a lot of competitive research. Look at other sites. See what your competitors are doing or not doing. A good consultant will come up with ways that you can leap-frog them with your expanded web presence. (Tip: SEO utilizing current best practices provides fertile soil for growth. Most businesses simply aren’t doing it, or doing it right.)
4. Be sure to answer the question: “Are there any new products, services or offerings related to our core business that we can and should add?”
5. Make sure you’re focused on the right customer.
6. Identify your market positioning.
7. Think out of the box to identify all stakeholders and key influencers.
8. Interview a few of them
9. Develop your key messages – the most important ideas you want to convey consistently to your audiences.
10. Do your keyword research – identify the words/phrases people are actually using to search on line for products/services like yours. (Hint: Not necessarily the words you’d use to search for them).
11. Organize your site by developing a sample navigation. Be sure to include a blog if you want to drive maximum traffic to your site. Have your consultant recommend internal linking strategies to help users work efficiently through your site.
12. Decide: What existing content can be re-used? What content should be scrapped? What new pages do you need to develop?
13. Determine the level of control you want or need to have over your website. What edits do you want to be able to make in-house without tech assistance. We recommend having as much control as possible if you want to use your website to help grow your business.
14. Source a web designer/developer who works in technology platforms that will accommodate the level of control you desire.
15. Provide the navigation and all the guidance you’ve developed in completing the steps above to your web developer. It will help them prepare a realistic budget.
16. Write/develop the content for all of your pages – including all SEO information for each page, any photos, videos and other media you’ll want to use – and provide the content to the web developer.
17. Get into the design process and have fun with the visual.
18. Code the site in accordance with the provided SEO, content and linking strategies. In the case of website re-do’s, make sure to properly re-direct existing pages and to retain important backlinks to the site.
19. Test and tweak for usability.
Emphasizing business and marketing strategy first in the web development process has never failed to yield new directions for our clients’ businesses.
The illustration “Dollar Sign in Space” is by DonkeyHotey under Creative Commons license.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Yikes! It’s the last day of May and to my horror I recognize that I haven’t yet posted to my blog this month. Yesterday something I read really got me focused on this.
For years I’ve subscribed to a great free vocabulary builder called A Word a Day. (It also includes an often-inspiring Thought for the Day.) Monday’s word usage example was from an article in the Christian Science Monitor by Erik Spanberg about Alexandre Dumas’ the Count of Monte Cristo. Spanberg explained that Dumas’ tendency to be wordy – even overly wordy – was “induced by the simple formula that the more he wrote, the more money he made.”
Fast forward to our online world and the formula holds true in spades. Hubspot — which put the oomph in Inbound Marketing — has done research that shows that businesses that blog get 55% more website traffic. And the more you blog the more traffic you get and the more opportunities to convert visitors to leads who will become customers by and by with proper nurturing.
Indeed I teach this to my clients and spend chunks of my billable time helping them to post regularly. All of a sudden I find myself suffering from Shoemaker’s Child Syndrome. I know for a fact that my business will grow faster if I blog more, yet here I am scrambling to not have a goose egg next to my May archives.
It’s not that I don’t write. I co-author an article every month for WestFair Online and its Fairfield and Westchester County Business Journals. I began writing for Technorati this month and provided a guest post to Network Solutions. These kinds of efforts definitely contribute to a broader web presence which is good for getting found. But more consistent blogging will get me more traffic faster and – more important – provide better value to you the subscriber.
So, how did I get into this non-posting mode? In all honesty, the way I positioned my blog – as a music as well as information/experience-sharing venue – has made it difficult to be as spontaneous as I need to be to post more. As much as I love selecting just the right tune from my jazz collection to share with you as you read, it’s very time consuming and I don’t often have the time anymore.
With this post I’m changing the model. The blog is still called New PR Words and Music, and I’ll still share music with you whenever I have the leisure. But when I’m pressed for time – which is most days – you’ll get words and images. I vow to do my best to make them helpful for you and your business.
Many entrepreneurs have proved that trial and error — and flexibility – pave the path to success. What have you changed about your business or your life in general that’s helped you to do better?Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
This is longer than most of my posts. But I’m really het up! Music-wise, no relevance. I just picked something that always makes me feel happy and relaxed – Flor de Lis by Djavan.
These days, when you’re convinced you should be advertising in your local paper, your newspaper ad rep will likely be trying to sell you an array of online services. Some – like Hearst Media CT — will even offer you a dollar for dollar match of print advertising for every dollar you spend in online advertising. Sounds great, right? Now my $10,000 budget just became worth $20,000. Yes, but by what metrics do you determine the value of this offer. Right off the bat, the offer implies that the print publications are worth zero.
I am all for effective integration of online/offline marketing. However I’m finding that as traditional media – especially newspapers – transition their businesses online, there are some big pitfalls for unwary advertisers.
Case in point: I recently launched a new medical practice that draws from a pretty local market. We built a website and carefully optimized it for organic search. We registered the site in the key local search directories – Google, Yahoo! And Bing and quickly began coming up #1 on page 1 for our important terms.
The partners in the practice wanted to launch with some local traditional advertising as well. We canvassed the local media for print and online ad rates. In our area – Fairfield County, Connecticut — Hearst Media now owns four daily papers in all but one of the biggest cities and a time-honored chain of weeklies that covers some of the key smaller towns.
Hearst said to us: Whatever your ad spend online and in a targeted bi-monthly health/lifestyle magazine, we’ll give you a 100%, dollar for dollar match in print advertising in our other publications.
Here’s the rub. What is the online ad spend really worth. The promise is that there’s lots of analytic data to evaluate the online ROI, but the reports are a real disappointment. We bought visibility on three daily paper websites with geo-targeting to three local weeklies. The problem is that Hearst can’t break out the geo-targeting.
The rates are based on CPM – how many impressions – not click throughs. Unfortunately the sales staff is not well-informed and the analytics not precise enough to offer any advice on placement, aggregate analysis of what constitutes a good CTR, or anything that can be helpful to a marketer trying to get value for a client.
Then there are deceptive ‘SEO’ programs that are sold as collaborations with Google and other search engines to get you to come up higher in search rankings. No one at Hearst could really explain the program to us. The best we got was that you get a landing page on the back end of their site. Does it have a backlink to our site? I asked. Yes I think so.
Here’s what the SEO program turned out to be.
Hearst set up a landing page optimized with the same search terms we used on our site. They grabbed copy from our website, cobbled it together, wrote and added some factually incorrect copy that they never submitted for approval. They established a tracking phone number that pointed to the client’s phone number. The tracking number’s reason for existence was to prove to us that Hearst had pointed calls to us from this landing page. A visitor who was interested but not ready to call might write this number down and if they called it two months later when we were no longer advertising with Hearst, they would certainly think we were no longer in business.
The more agregious thing that Hearst did was to steal our entire website code and recreate the site under a new url – the same as my client’s but with a 1 added to it. They changed the phone number on every page of that site to their tracking number. The bogus site was optimized with the same search terms as our original site to drive traffic for our terms to the Hearst websites. So basically, they put us in competition with ourselves in organic search. They took the video we supplied them for the landing page and uploaded it to a YouTube account that used the client’s name and again pointed those who clicked to their site – not ours.
Worse yet they were charging us to put us in a situation where Google could demote our legitimate search engine rankings for duplicate content.
Who are they designing this for? Maybe if you’re a very small local business and you have no website or web presence, Hearst and others providing similar products – the other daily in our area The Hour has something similar – might help you establish some online reach that you wouldn’t otherwise have. But if you’re a small business that has invested in your own website, SEO and online reach – do not, I repeat DO NOT buy such a service. Take the money and create a blog, hire a good, local SEO consultant to optimize your site. (BTW – you can’t come up on page one for $35 per month for any really meaningful search terms.)
Maybe you’d be better off buying a banner ad on the newspaper’s site with a link to your site or see if you can get them to give you a direct back link from their site via some content you provide – which could be worth a lot to you. But in my experience you can’t really get meaningful reporting to help justify the investment in these programs. These new newspaper offerings are not malicious, just part of an evolution in marketing. But they are potentially damaging, nonetheless. Get yourself up to speed and be part of moving media toward truly mutually beneficial solutions.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
To accompany a holiday-time post about accepting what’s out of our control in order to live productively, enjoy listening to jazz pianist Oscar Peterson’s take on ‘Let it Snow!’. Vibes player Dave Samuels gives it a tropical feel. Heading south anyone?
One year ago I was looking forward to 2010. The end of 2008 and most of 2009 had been really tough in the crisis economy. I had taken the enforced ‘downtime’ to change direction, learn, re-think my business and career, work out frequently and get very fit. In effect, I worked on controlling what I could control.
Come January 2010, I hit the ground running with new collaborators, a new set of ideas and tools to offer clients — and optimism. 2010 turned out to be a year of accomplishment.
Fortunately, the economy improved enough that some other hearty souls decided to launch a new business or expand one. Some of these fellow optimists became clients.
I’ve worked steadily all year helping these clients build their Web presence through inbound marketing. For most, we’ve started by creating or re-doing a website so that it can support interactive functions. You have to walk before you can run.
Out with the old. In with the new.
As we’re about to ring out 2010 and welcome 2011, I have to – once again — admit shock that it’s flown by so fast. Come January 2011, I’m going to hit the ground jogging. I’m assessing how to take my own business and my clients’ to the next level. With great foundations in place, we’ll all be very busy.
I’m writing goals for me and my clients. We’re in a technological world that keeps evolving faster and faster. No one has all the answers. This year I feel inclined to take it a bit slower.
Adrenaline was helpful. In a way it’s more difficult this year when much is already in place. But I’m even more optimistic. My vision of what I can control is different but it’s becoming clear.
I’m assessing the foundations built in 2010 and what they will support in the coming year.
I’m hoping that you’re also thinking about you and your business about now: How to give up what’s in the environment that you can’t control and keep moving ahead. What are you planning for 2011?Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
To make the realities in this post easier to swallow, listen to Sinatra’s swingy version of “Nice ‘n Easy.”
I just had dinner with my friend Mary Kay who’s a research consultant. We were talking about how difficult it seems in these dollar-tight days for marketing companies and consultants to be valued for the expertise they bring to the table. Everybody’s afraid to commit budget these days, and many companies are adopting a DIY or make-do approach. How to make the case to prospects and clients that failing to get the marketing help they need is counterproductive? Especially in a rapidly evolving marketing environment.
Then, like a flash, I remembered a piece of sublime wisdom that I learned from Al the Drain Man, my highly competent plumber – who is a big Frank Sinatra fan and also inspired the musical post today.
Al once shared his mantra with me: Nothing is easy.
He developed this belief over time after countless responses to calls where customers (including me the day he told me this) implored him, “Al can you get over here for fifteen minutes. I just have a simple and easy thing. It’ll take you no time. The sink’s dripping and driving us crazy (or whatever) and I’m sure it just has to be tightened up.”
Al would show up, take one studied look and realize that — counter to the customer’s amateur assessment — he was dealing not with a simple loose fitting, but years of neglect, or the incompetence of the original installer, or an unpredictable shifting of the soil under the house or a thousand other unforeseen problems.
Al would then use his experience to diagnose the real problem and spend the time required to resolve it. Even though it might have taken hours – not minutes – undoubtedly his expertise and skill would make it a faster and better job than were he a less accomplished craftsman.
Because it feels safer, we humans tend to minimize what’s required to resolve a problem or reach a goal. Often a prospective client will say to us, “We don’t have a budget. We’re just a start-up.” This, of course, doesn’t bode well for future success. Or we’ll hear, “We just need a press release (or a web page). Could you do that for us?” Sorry. Not if you really want to accomplish something.
Successful marketing just isn’t that easy. There are more and more moving parts and it can take a skilled marketing or PR practitioner to provide the thinking, strategy and implementation required to get those parts moving in synch. Companies need to plan for marketing and commit realistic budgets in order to compete in a more and more diverse, complex and competitive marketing arena.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
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