Stand Out or Be Benched!

Once again, its Super Bowl time and the buzz of football fans’ excitement fills the air! Due to the special occasion, I thought I’d share with you some of my thoughts on how marketing your business is like football.

Yes, believe it or not there are connections between this crazy sport and your business…

Marketing is just like any competitive sport in that, in order to play the game and be successful, you have to stand out from the crowd.

If we’re talking professional sports, you could still make some money sitting on the bench with all of the other players that are competing for your position, but it is the player who is actually out there on the field showing his/her stuff and making the big plays that is going to make the big bucks.

Think about a football team. It is made up of a bunch of different people who specialize in certain parts of the game. Although there are a number of different positions, there are always at least 3 or 4 people vying for the same position. Obviously not all of them can play at the same time, and of course, the one who is the best is going to get substantially more time on the field.

It is the one who plays the most that people recognize and cheer for. He not only gets paid way more money than the other 2 or 3 guys on the bench, but he is the one that others consider to be a success.

The other people sitting on the bench are just some other players that may get to go in every once in a while, and may even have a good play here and there, but nobody will remember them. As far as the fans are concerned, they are just like every other guy on the bench, and therefore are not perceived as “as good as” those who actually get playing time and are watched by millions of people all over the country.

The business world is exactly the same.

No, you’re right – there is technically no bench and 99.9% of the time no business will be viewed by millions on TV. However, the concept holds true.

Those businesses that do not stand out from the crowd won’t ever gain the recognition needed to become truly successful. If you have no customers, it’s equivalent to never getting out onto the field to show your stuff.

If you never get out onto the field to show your stuff, you might as well not be a player.

Same goes for your business. Why be in business if you don’t get to work your magic and help those you’re most able to serve with your gifts, skills and experience? Might as well shutter the doors.

You have to be playing your game in order to make your business thrive.

The way in which business success is different than sports is that it’s not necessarily the best of the best that gains the most recognition and that conquers the market.

It is the business that really sets itself apart from the others as reliable, trustworthy, and knowledgeable and that creates a message which allows them to stand out as something special in the mind of their prospects that will see the most success.

If your potential client doesn’t see you as the obvious choice with exactly the solutions that they’re looking for, they’ll look right through you. You’ll be as invisible as someone who got cut from the roster. You’re no longer even a backup choice at that point.

There may be other great quality, dare I say even better businesses out there that give better service for a cheaper price.

But if nobody knows who you are, no matter how good, bad or indifferent you are at what you do, then you are no different than the subpar businesses that people regret going to.

Unless you differentiate yourself and your business from the masses, you will always be a benchwarmer that is the backup plan in case the starter isn’t available for some reason or another. Or maybe, like we said earlier, you’re cut from the team and never get the chance to create the winning play.

In order to even get a chance to play, you MUST set yourself apart.

How do you do that? Well, the first thing is to know what you want your business to stand for in the minds of your customer.

And that something had better be attractive to them.

Because believe it or not, the game is not about you – it’s about how your prospects and clients perceive you.

And as you know, the only thing that matters from their perspective is whether or not you can deliver the answers, solutions or transformations they’re looking for.

So put yourself out there as a player that is ready to compete and show just how much of a stand out player you can be. All of your prospective clients are like scouts looking for the next best thing…by setting yourself apart as different and focusing on your strengths, you can make sure that YOU are that business.

While watching the Super Bowl this week, think about how your business is like football. Comparing business marketing to sports may seem like a stretch, but if you think about it, the two concepts really do have a ton in common.

Let me know if this concept resonates with you, and how.

Until next week, enjoy your football and I hope your team wins!

 

Would You Buy The Box Of Cereal That Just Said “Cereal” On The Box?

Although positioning your business is by no means rocket science, it isn’t the simplest thing in the world to do, either. It’s multifaceted, and as such, requires a multidirectional approach. You can’t just do one thing and call it good.

In order to create a truly successful business and to clear out a space in the market to call your own, you must approach positioning from a number of different angles.

Many people either neglect, or don’t know how to use, some of the important positioning tactics available to them.

One of the most commonly made positioning mistakes is being too generic. Defining oneself or one’s businesses in a generic way, using generic ads and campaigning messages, explaining one’s business to others in a way that they have heard a million times before…the list goes on and on. Blah blah blah…

The LAST thing that you want to be is generic. Have you ever heard someone say that they aspire to be generic? That they would really love to be one of the sheep that follows some other go-getter blindly?

NOBODY WANTS THAT! And you shouldn’t settle for that either.

And yet, millions and millions of passionate service professionals and business owners who genuinely have the ability to change lives get stuck in that generic mindset.

And then they wonder why it feels like they’re invisible and they’re not attracting the clients that they need to survive.

Let me explain it to you –

You Can Not Attract Energizing and Fun Clients to Work With You

If You Look Like Everybody Else

Who Does What You Do

 

In fact, right now, print this page up, and then cut that blockquote piece out and post it above your work space.

Get that done?

Okay, onward…

Uh-oh…some of you didn’t do that!

And after I asked so nicely, too…What’s that all about? : )

Here’s another one for you to cut out and paste over your desk…

Would You Buy The Box Of Cereal

That Just Said “Cereal” On The Box?

 

You have to think outside of the box and emphasize what makes you and your business unique. If you have had experiences that help you to relate to your target market, emphasize that!

If you offer something that nobody else does, make sure that everyone knows it! And do so in a creative way…

Celebrate and focus on what makes YOU different from the rest!

Showing that there is something that sets you apart from other businesses in your market is the first step to gaining potential clients’ attention and recognition. However, like I said before, it is not the ONLY step.

Next week I will go into another positioning mistake that altogether way too many people make and how you can avoid doing the same.

Until then, ask yourself these questions. How is what I offer different than what my competitors offer?

What makes both me and my business unique?

How can I present my business in a way that makes it stand out from the crowd?

If you can’t think of anything, well then think about what steps you can take to make your business unique and different from the other generic commodity businesses.

I know that it may feel like a big task, but it is a necessary one.

Make it a great week, and see you on the flipside!

Positioning: Molding Your Business Image

Creating a successful business relies heavily on the right positioning by you as a business owner. Good positioning can be the difference between a surviving business and a thriving business.

So what exactly do I mean by positioning?

If you ask ten people, they may all give you different definitions of the word “positioning.” This is because it is not a super simple and straightforward concept. The positioning of a business involves a number of different things, and there are a ton of different strategies out there.

However, in a nutshell positioning is the steps that a business owner takes in order to become the recognized name in specific market.

It’s what you do to create top of mind awareness, meaning that your business is the first that comes to people’s minds when they need whatever service you provide. By using good positioning tactics you can create a space in the market that is essentially YOURS.

That brings us to the next question – What kinds of things can you do to better position your business and to gain greater success?

Well, first you need to dig deep and figure out what you really want your business to stand for and what you want to accomplish through it. When doing this, there are a number of things that you should take into consideration.

For example, what are you passionate about? In my opinion it is always best to build your business around something that you are truly passionate about.

That way, you are a lot less likely to get bored and/or end up hating what you do. If you focus on your passions, not only will it allow you to better serve others, but it will add an element of sincerity to your work that potential clients will see and be inspired by.

I absolutely believe that if you’re following your passions and serving to the best of your ability with your gifts, skills and talents, you’re actually doing your greatest good in the world.

Once you have figured out what you are truly passionate about and how you want to apply that to your business, you need to identify your target market. These are the people that you will focus your marketing towards and the people that you believe will most benefit from your services.

After doing that, you need to think about what makes you and your business different than your competitors. Like I said before, if you do not SHOW that you are different in some way or another from the masses, your prospective clients will not see you as any different from them.

On Thursday I will continue with the idea of positioning and go further into HOW to set yourself apart from the crowd. Until then, I want you to really think about what your passions are and what you truly want to accomplish through your business. This is the MOST IMPORTANT step when it comes to creating and defining your own business.

The world is at your fingertips, it is up to you to mold and create the business of your dreams…

 

Everything is Marketing

You may think that your business exists for serving your needs. Because of course you went into business for reasons that revolve around you.

Maybe you wanted more autonomy or freedom, or more money or longer vacations or … whatever.

It’s not likely that you went into business for yourself because you wanted to make your life worse.

But here’s where the shift needs to happen for you if it hasn’t yet.

Right here…Are you ready?

It may have started out being about you.

But once it’s past that initial catalyst, your business is not about you.

It’s one of those concepts that are kind of hard to get your head around…

But let’s give it a try.

The Only Reason A Business Is In Business (including yours) … is because it serves a need for a customer. Because if you have no customers, guess what?

You have no business.

Consequently, everything you do in your businesses is marketing—Everything!

Even the smallest things that seem almost irrelevant embody elements of marketing. This is because everything you do in your business ultimately revolves around your customer.

Whether the task revolves around your ability to generate leads or attract prospects or to service your current clients or not, it’s all about attracting, servicing and retaining them.

It doesn’t matter if it’s an activity typically considered marketing – like crafting your marketing message and going to networking events – or things that are not typically considered as “marketing,” like customer service, hiring an accountant, or emptying the recycle bin and cleaning the windows in your office entryway…

There are aspects of marketing in each and every single action you take that has anything to do with your business.

Think about it…

Why do you take the actions that you do? In order to enhance your business.

And why do you want to enhance your business?

In order to make it more enticing and desirable to prospects, referrals and clients.

Every step that you take is done in order to better your business in a way that will make it more appealing to, and a better fit for, your potential and current clients. It is about presenting and marketing yourself in a way that brings more people in and keeps them coming back.

If everything in your business doesn’t revolve around your prospect/client’s needs and desires, it should. And I’m not saying that you need to be open until midnight seven days a week, or anything like that. But I think you “get” that.

So…This is where you need to start – in shifting your mindset to revolve around the CUSTOMER PERSPECTIVE.

What do they need? In what form are they looking for it? How can I help them get the solutions they need? How is this task helping me to create a better experience for my prospects, referrals and clients?

Because that’s the whole point of your business – to serve those you’re most able to by following your passions and sharing your gifts.

 

 

Would You Rather Be A Generic Commodity Or A Brand Name?

In the marketplace, would you rather be a cola beverage or Coke? What about a box of tissue or Kleenex? Adhesive bandages or Band-Aids? Puffed rice cereal or Rice Krispies?

Take a second to think about these pairs…

There’s definitely a difference between the first and the second item in each. But why?

Because one is a brand name and the other is a commodity.

A commodity is a generic and undifferentiated product or business. It is one of the masses, and in the mind of a potential client or consumer, it is no different than all of the other ones in the endless sea of options.

A recognized brand name is automatically preferred by the consumer. Why? It boils down to the recognition factor.

It is the first thing that pops into their head when they are in need of whatever product or service someone has to offer.

Because a brand name is so well known and recognizable and has already built such a strong reputation, it comes with an automatic position of credibility and authority.

There is an implied concept of “BEST” and “NO RISK” with a recognized name because the assumption is that it would not have gained such a reputation if it was not reliable and one of the best ways to go.

Doesn’t make it right, but recognition generally builds esteem in the mind of the consumer.

Think about it… how many times have you chosen the recognizable over the mystery choice? Even though the mystery choice may very well have been the better selection?

I do it all the time when I’m out of town and need to find someplace to eat. I’m more likely to choose a recognizable restaurant chain over a small local hometown eatery. Why? The small local hometown place could very well have delicious and amazing, healthy, home-made options that would be preferable to the mediocre straight-from-a-can-or-freezer, processed food choices that I know I’m going to get at a chain restaurant.

But…it’s a bigger risk to sit down at the local mom and pop diner I’ve never heard of before. I don’t know what their standards are. So I stick with what I’m familiar with: mediocre but recognizable.

We all do it with different things.

When creating and developing your own business, the concepts of brand name and commodity are really important to understand.

If you truly want your business to be successful, you must create a name for yourself. Become recognizable.

Otherwise you will blend in with the crowd, and if potential clients can’t see a difference, then there is no difference between your business and all of the other ones out there.

And they have absolutely NO REASON TO CHOOSE YOURS.

In order for people to think of you first, they must KNOW about you.

Over the next couple of weeks I am going to help break down ways in which you can gain greater appeal and increase the success of your business.

This is my true passion, and there is nothing that I would like more than to help share my expertise with you in order to help you reach your true potential.

So let’s get started!

Over the next week think about ways in which you can position yourself to be more visible and gain greater recognition in your marketplace.

Leave me a note in the comments with what’s going great for you or what’s your current struggle in making yourself more visible.

Make it great!

My Top 8 Easy and Effective WP Plug-ins

Although WordPress comes complete with some pretty useful and nifty stuff to begin with, plug-ins are a handy way to make it even better! As I mentioned last time, not only can they help you customize your blogging site, but they can also make it much more efficient.

To begin with, what is a plug-in exactly?

I’m gonna give you the easier to understand and simplified version, because if you’re like me, you might not understand all of the crazy techno jargon.

Basically, a plug-in is a piece of software that can be added to a website or program in order to alter it in some way or another. For example, you can find a plug-in that adds your social networking links to your blog site so that the reader can click on the icon and go directly to your page.

Plug-ins can add things to your blog site, change the format of certain parts of your site, or even make it more efficient.

If you want to make a change or add something to your site, chances are there is a plug-in that you can install that will do it for you.

That having been said, below are 8 plug-ins that I think are not only very useful, but that are super easy to manage for the WordPress beginners out there.

1. GoogleXML SiteMap

If you only install one outside plug-in to your blogging site, this should be it. The GoogleXML SiteMap plug-in generates a sitemap that helps Google and other search engines to better index and navigate your blog. Not only that, but it notifies all search engines when you create a new blog post.

This is an extremely helpful plug-in in terms of SEO and if you want readers to find you blog, it is a MUST HAVE.

Even better, it’s FREE…so take advantage of it!

2. Contact Me

It is paramount that readers and prospective clients do not have to search for your contact information and that it is always readily available to them. If it isn’t, there’s a good chance that they won’t take the time to find it.

This is such a great plug-in because it ensures that you will never have to worry about losing clients for that reason.

The “Contact Me” plug-in gives you a form that you fill out with all of your contact info. After installation, a stationary link with that information is incorporated into your blog page.

Do you see the blue tab on the right hand side of my blog post? That is what installing it will do for you. Not bad, right?

Cost for this depends on how far you want to go. The simplest version, and the one that I use, is FREE. With it you get a contact form, unlimited contacts and unlimited groups. If you want more features, there are packages starting at about $4.00 a month and increasing depending on what you want.

3. Subscribe 2

One way to make sure that people who have read and liked your blog come back to read more is to incorporate a subscribers list to, or in effect “like,” your blog. The more often someone views your content and is reminded how great of a resource you are, the more likely they will want to use your services.

The reason that the Subscribe 2 plug-in can be so beneficial to you is because it not only creates and maintains a subscriber list for you, but it sends an e-mail out to everyone on that list each time you publish a new post. It also generates a form for your readers to fill out in order to subscribe to your site.

You can customize the e-mails that get sent out to your subscribers as well as the settings for when the e-mails are sent out.

Subscribe 2 can save you a lot of time and effort and will ensure that your readers remain up to date at all times. It is also FREE, meaning that the benefits substantially outweigh the costs because there are none! ; )

4. Akismet

Akismet comes installed with your WordPress blog site, a perk because that means you don’t have to take the time or effort to install it yourself. That being said, you do have to get an API key to activate it.

What Akismet does is prevent comment spam from being posted on your blog. Although I prefer to go over comments myself and manually accept or deny them, it is a great plug-in for people who do not have the time to put into doing blog maintenance every day.

It is a convenience thing, plain and simple. You do not want a blog filled with comment spam. It looks unprofessional and is overall just a turnoff to readers. Akismet filters out all of your spam for you, which leaves you with more time to focus on other things and a pristine wall ready for quality comments and discussion.

5. Digg Digg

Digg Digg is a great little plug-in that adds your social media icons to your blog site. It ensures that it is super easy for your readers to connect with you via FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn and many other social networking sites.

Not only does it allow you to connect to those sites, but it integrates buttons that show how many users have “liked” or followed your through each networking site as well.

It makes it easy for your readers and potential clients to stay updated on what you are doing and offering and will create more traffic to your networking profiles.

6. All in One SEO Pack

The All in One SEO Pack plug-in is another great SEO tool. It is a plug-in that modifies the options that you have when writing blog posts. What it does is it allows you to add a meta title, meta description, and keywords to your post. These additions increase your search engine optimization exponentially.

The reason why I have not included this higher on my list is because it is not as easy to use as some of the other ones. You cannot just install it and then expect it to work swimmingly for you.

In order to reap the full benefits of this plug-in, you have to put in a little bit of extra work. It is by no means difficult; it just takes a little bit more time, three to five minutes at the most.

Enter in the title of your post, a short description of what your post is about, and your main keywords for better SEO…and voila! Your blog post is set to go and has a better chance of being found by prospective clients.

The basic package is free, or you can buy the pro pack for $40.00-$70.00

7. WordPress Policy Pack

I have just recently found this plug-in, and I love it. Including a terms of use, and disclosure/disclaimer policy in your blog site is very important. However, writing these things can not only be a huge pain in the butt, but super time consuming.

This pack comes equipped with templates for a bunch of important policy pages. You do need to put a little bit of work into it to make sure that each page fits your company and exactly what you want it to say, but all things considered, it makes it a much, Much! easier and less painful process than creating them from scratch.

After you first install the pack, you will need to fill in a form with the necessary information about you and your business. Once this is done, the info will automatically be incorporated into each of the pages that come with the pack.

The next step is deciding which pages you want to be incorporated into your blog. There is a good chance that you will not want to activate each and every page. That’s fine; just don’t check it off when you are choosing the pages that you want.

Simple as that.

You can also edit each page if you feel it does not already address everything, or says something that does not pertain to you and your business, before you put it up.

If you don’t want six to ten new pages created in your Pages menu, it’s simple enough to create one Parent page titled Terms, Policies and Disclaimers. Then you just go in to edit each of the policy pages and select each page’s parent to be your Terms, Policies and Disclaimers page. That way you can set it so that the only page that needs to show up on your menu is the parent page, and each of the individual policy pages can be accessed from the parent page.

Unlike the other plug-ins that I have featured for today, this one isn’t free unfortunately. The package costs a onetime fee of $20.00. Not free, but also not that expensive. And for the time and frustration it saved me, it was very well worth it in my opinion.

Because instead of spending hours creating the terms and policies and disclaimers pages, I spent about 20 minutes total reviewing the pages, and I made a few little tweaks to make them more appropriate to my sites, and it was super simple and painless.

Twenty dollars saved me literally hours upon hours of research and writing time that we would have spent to create our own version of each of the pages.

8. Twitter Tools

Twitter tools can be great, BUT only if you are a Twitter user. What the plug-in does is fully integrate your WP blogging site with your Twitter account. This is great because if people follow either your blog or your Twitter, they in effect get updates on both.

You can alter the settings in order to use it for different things. You can set it up so that each time you make a blog post, a tweet is automatically created with a link to that post. You can also set it up so that recent tweets appear on the right side of your blog, posts are created from each tweet, and you can pass your tweets along to another service.

The extent to which you incorporate your Twitter activity into your blog and vice-versa is completely up to you.

 

Plug-ins enhance the appearance and functionality of your blog. Above are some of my favorites that are really easy, but also very effective. There are MILLIONS out there.

What plug-ins have you found to be especially helpful? Is there one out there that you thought you would really like, but turned out to be a big headache? Share your stories by clicking on the bubble in the upper right hand side of this post or by leaving a comment below.

Until we meet again…make it great!

 

 

WordPress: The Best Business Blog Hosting Platform Out There

Last week I briefly went into some of the benefits that having a business blog can hold for you and your business.

Although there are a number of perks that come hand in hand with maintaining a blog, it truly is one of the best measures that you can take to humanize your company for your target audience. However, you want to make sure that the blogging platform that you choose allows you to showcase your strengths.

So is there one blog hosting platform that is better to use than others?

In my opinion, the answer is YES!

WordPress is the cream of the crop when it comes to blogging.

“Why?” you may ask…I’ll tell ya!

The first thing that you need to know about WordPress is that there are two different versions: wordpress.com and wordpress.org. Although they have a lot of similarities, there are a few differences between the two that are important to understand before creating your blog.

WordPress.com is a website where you can create your blog, and your blog address is going to be a wordpress.com address. In other words, not at your own domain – not at yourbusiness.com. This impacts your ability to brand yourself.

So WordPress.com is good for bloggers who do not have their own website/domain. It allows you to create and maintain your own site on their platform.

However, if you already have a website, which as a business owner YOU SHOULD, wordpress.org is a better choice for you. Not only does downloading the software version allow you to use it on your own website, but it allows you to use your own custom domain name or url as well.

This is extremely beneficial with respect to SEO (search engine optimization) and it will make it easier for people to both find and remember your site.

Aside from that obvious benefit, there are many other reasons why I recommend WP as a blogging platform as well.

For one, it is 100% FREE. Why pay money for something when you can get it for free? Especially when it offers essentially everything you could ever need for your blog.

Oh, and…it is constantly being updated and enhanced to better meet your wants and needs.

Compared to most other blog hosting platforms, WP is super versatile. You can customize it to fit your needs and business in a number of ways.

One of the first things that you do after you install your new WP blog on your domain is to pick a theme or template that will be the base of your blog. This is the visual layout of your blog, which of course needs to be attractive and engaging and represent who you are and how you want your audience to perceive you.

Not only are there thousands of premade themes – many of them free, and some of them paid – but you can create your own if you have the skills, or you can outsource the task to someone fairly cheaply on oDesk or http://www.fiverr.com/ if you like.

With most pre-designed themes, once you have installed it, you can customize it by putting in your own pictures and ideas.

What’s more, if there are certain aspects of a theme that you don’t like – say the contacts form- there is usually a plug-in (or add-on) that will allow you to change it. There are thousands of plug-ins that are easy to install and that serve as easy to use tools to help you create your ideal blogging site.

You also have a lot of choices about the organization of your blog site. You can choose which widgets – which are essentially helpful tools – that you want to incorporate in your sidebar.

If you blog often, it would be a good idea to include the archive widget, which allows readers to pick a month and see which posts you have written during that month.

If you are familiar with a lot of other websites that you know would be beneficial to your readers/clients, you can include them in your blogroll.

Again, one of the best things about WP is it is so customizable and can be manipulated to showcase you and your business in exactly the way that YOU want it to. It does require a degree of expertise to design new templates, etc., but as long as you don’t want to go too design-crazy, the basic functionality is easy to use.

Although the steps and concepts that I described above may sound complicated, WP is set up in a way that is really straight forward, and easy to use and understand.

Trust me, when I first decided to install WP in order to create my first blog, I was terrified that it was going to be overwhelming and that I would have to hire someone just to set everything up the way I wanted it. I am not exactly the most tech-savvy person when it comes to website design and coding and all of that jazz.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have gotten some help here and there. BUT, for the most part I was pleasantly surprised by how easy the whole thing was, and I’m confident you will be too.

And of course, that means it’s easy to train my interns to use the blogging platform as well – that’s important because they generally come in with no WordPress experience at all.

Another bonus is that when you are confused or have questions, WP has some great resources available to clear them up. WP has a huge archive of tutorials that cover a ton of different concepts.

If you don’t understand how to install a plug-in, all you have to do is go to the search bar, type in what you need to know, and a ton of articles will show up that will cover everything you could ever possibly want or need to know about plug-in installation.

It makes solving a problem really easy and it can be done in a snap.

If for some reason you can’t find what you need to know in any of the tutorial articles, the WordPress team is at your disposal as well. All you have to do is join the forum, which takes about two seconds, and then post your question. You can expect a reply within a day or two.

They are the techno-geniuses, and are there with the very specific purpose of helping YOU. When I was having a difficult time understanding the process that I would have to go through to change some visual elements of my blog, they not only told me what I would have to do in order to make the changes, but were very willing to provide coding help. Their confidence and willingness to help allayed my fears, and strengthened my own confidence.

The main dashboard is extremely straightforward, and it will notify you automatically if there are new comments for you to moderate or if there are any updates for the software or plug-ins. You can easily access every aspect of your blog site from the dashboard.

When writing posts, there are a number of options for you. You can either save your writing as a draft, schedule it to be posted at a certain date and time, or post it on the spot.

The tools bar at the top of the post makes it simple to add pictures, videos and hyperlinks to your post. And what’s more, WP uses the same shortcut commands as Microsoft Word does, so you don’t have to learn any new methods in order to quickly customize and change your fonts.

Another advantage to WP is that it is very SEO friendly. Not only is it keyword oriented, but WP make it really easy for Google to rate your content. The “category” option for each of your blog posts, the ability to name your links, and the inclusion of keywords makes it much easier for Google to find your posts and to rank them higher on search results pages.

Overall, WordPress is an awesome blogging platform. It exceeds expectations where many other blogging platforms are lacking.

So if you feel like you want to incorporate a blog into your business website, keep WordPress.org and their downloadable software on the top of your list of blogging platforms.

Do you have any WordPress stories of your own? Are there things that you just don’t like about it? Let me know your thoughts by clicking on the talk bubble icon on the upper right hand side of this post or by leaving a comment below.

Take the world by storm – why not? It’s yours!!

Make it Great!

Important Things to Incorporate into Your Web Site Continued…

Last week I left you with three different pieces that are essential to include in your business website. Today we’ve got four more things that you’ll want to incorporate into your site.

1. Contact Info

I know that we talked about this last time, but I can’t emphasize enough how important it is that a potential client can easily find your contact info on every page of your website. People are much more likely to use it if they are being constantly reminded to do so.

There should be an extremely visible link that the reader can click on in order to make contact with you.

You can see mine on the upper right hand side of this blog in blue. It is incorporated into every page and does not move when the reader scrolls up or down.

The site that I used to incorporate the plug-in into my site is ContactMe.com. It’s an easy and super effective way to make sure that it is effortless for potential clients to contact you.

2. Testimonials

Including a few testimonials from past clients who loved your services is a great way to instill a higher level of confidence and trust in potential clients.

Those powerful statements about how passionately you serve and how skilled you are remove any lingering doubt that a potential customer might have. In their minds, if other people have loved you, there is no reason that they won’t as well.

Testimonials should be personal and positive. It is best to avoid using generic compliments and raves because they can come off as disingenuous. You want it to not only be — but come off in writing as — authentic, relatable, specific and personal.

Even better is if the testimonials you get talk about what dire or dramatic position the client was in before they met you, and even the doubts they had that they could be helped.

Then when they explain how powerfully they were impacted by you, it holds even more credibility…and it really helps your prospective clients to see that other people, just like them, have been helped by you and your amazing gifts and talents.

3. Privacy Policy, Terms and Conditions and Disclaimer/Disclosures

The inclusion of all of these things within your website is important as well. They set the rules and regulations that you and anyone with whom you do business dealings with must follow in advance. They explain the rights of both you and those people you work with, and can save your butt in the unlikely and unfortunate event some legal issues arise.

In most cases, the privacy policy goes along the lines that anything disclosed to you by customers or business associates will remain between you and that person. If that is NOT your policy, you need to make it clear because that will most likely be assumed and could be a cause for mistrust if not established from the very beginning.

There are always exceptions to non-disclosure as well. Those need to be stated.

Privacy policies not only protect both you and those you work with in legal situations, but create further trust.

Although much of it is legal jargon, and most people will probably not actually read them, having them available is important.

These additions may seem nitpicky or trivial, they are most certainly NOT and should NOT be forgotten or blown off.

You can either insert these by yourself, or if you use WordPress you can upload plug-ins that will do it for you.

If you do a search on the web, you will find numerous plug-ins that will take care of each for you.

If you want to spend a little bit more money ($20.00), you can buy the WordPress Policy Pack. It not only comes with these three policy pages, but many more and you only have to input your business information once, and it will be applied to each page automatically.

4. Business Blog

A business blog is one of those things that is optional, and that may be more practical and beneficial for some than others.

Obviously, I am an advocate and think that they are a good idea and that they can significantly help a business. After all, you are reading one of my posts right now.

If you want to include one, and have the time to put in to maintain it regularly, GO FOR IT!! If you are just starting out and don’t have the time or effort to put into it, or you just plain don’t want to, then don’t. It’s your prerogative.

There are definitely benefits of having a blog presence though.

Creating multiple posts, and therefore multiple pages, increases your visibility in the endless sea of pages on the internet. The more work you have out there, and the greater the number of times your name is mentioned, the greater the traffic to your website will be.

And it’s another way to connect to and maintain contact with your potential, current and past clients. To potential clients, it serves as proof that you know and care about what you are doing. Your blog can also be a big credibility booster for you.

Business blogs are also a lot less formal than the rest of your website, and you personality can shine through a lot more.

For your current and past clients, it can serve as a reminder of just how great you are and that you will be there in the future if they need or want to use your services again.

Blog writing is a great means through which you can share passion for what you do, form strong blonds and connections with your audience, show your human side and be more relatable. You can showcase yourself and your knowledge, and overall, just have more fun with the work that you love doing. After all, doing what you love is supposed to be enjoyable.

 

Like I said before, there is a lot of freedom that you can take advantage of when you are creating and personalizing your business website. BUT, there are a few essentials that you can’t forget.

Is there anything else that you think should be a part of each and every business website? What kinds of things have and haven’t worked for you on your business site?

Let me know by either leaving a comment by clicking the bubble icon on the upper right hand corner of this post or by making a comment below.

Make it a great week!

 

 

Stuff I Love – Kunaki

If you’ve ever wanted to publish your own training CD or DVD, (or even an entertainment one) Kunaki is the place!

It’s cheap, it’s fairly simple to upload your files, and they even have a simple design tool to create the cover of your CD or DVD if you don’t have the skills or capability to design a fancy-schmancy one – although to be honest, lately I’ve taken to hiring a graphic designer from oDesk or Fiverr.com to design a more professional looking cover for me.

I just give the designer the dimensions that Kunaki specifies, then when they’ve created my cover, I simply have to upload it and voila´– there it is.

If you want to see my latest, you can see it at Turn Conversations Into Clients.

Now, I have to tell you that there is virtually no customer service at Kunaki. It is all very self-serve and driven by technology – not humans. And they only do single disc products. If you do multiple disc packages, you pretty much have to do each single disc, and then put the package together yourself. Or maybe the better option is to find a different cd/dvd fulfillment place that can do multi-disc products.

This is how they explain the process on the Kunaki.com website:

How is digital manufacturing different from traditional manufacturing?

You design and configure your product (case, disc, inserts, cover art, contents) with our publishing software. The software renders a precise 3-D replica of your product and lets you modify and review different possibilities. The software compiles your product’s content, packaging, art-work into a single digital file and uploads it to our facility.

Then a seamless, automated system accepts orders; manufactures, prints, assembles, packages, wraps, and ships your product in minutes.

Digital manufacturing eliminates setup costs, coordination, human error and most labor costs. This yields a constant low production cost for all quantity levels — so you can order smaller quantities with minimal upfront and warehousing costs.

 

But the pluses are nice –

First off, very reasonable – I’ve never seen such low prices – depends on how many you order at a time, but about a dollar or so per CD.

You don’t have to order multiple copies (although you can.) You can order as few as one or as many as thousands at a time.

They’ll even dropship to your customers for you so you don’t have to keep a basement or garage full of your product and do your own fulfillment.

They’ll include a barcode on your product if you like.

They have systems in place to make it easy for you to sell through CDBaby and Amazon…

I could go on and on, but…

Well, why don’t you just go to the website and see for yourself – just go to http://www.kunaki.com/, but remember – I warned you: don’t expect anything fancy.

But if you’ve been wanting to create your own product, maybe an audio training or DVD and you want a professionally created product – not something that you duplicate one by one on your CD/DVD writer – then check out Kunaki.

I’ve been using them for almost two years now, and the only issue I’ve run into is when I forget to order at least one copy of my product at least once every six months. Because they delete your files if there’s been no orders in 180 days.

That’s a pain to have to re-upload everything, but really not the end of the world. I’ve decided I’m just going to include it in my calendar every five and a half months, and that will resolve that issue.

Make it Great!

Important Things to Incorporate into Your Web Site

I would like to begin by saying that I hope you got a chance to learn a little bit more about, and perhaps even partake in some of the activities of, Global Entrepreneurship Week last week. After all, it celebrates YOU and your accomplishments and aims to inspire you to reach even higher.

With that said, this week we are back to the topic of your business website. In a previous post, we established that it’s an important facet of your marketing strategy, but what are some of the “must-have” elements that you need to incorporate into your site?

When building your business website, you have a lot of freedom with respect to the layout and overall visual presentation. Your website should be a representation of you, and as such, unique to you.

However, within that freedom naturally comes a framework, meaning that there are a number of elements that you should absolutely incorporate into your website. How you choose to do it is largely up to you.

 

Below are the Top Essential elements that YOUR business websites should have.

1. Easy Navigation

The most important characteristic that your website must have is EASY NAVIGATION. I’m sure that at some point in your virtual adventures you have come upon a site that is just plain confusing and does not seem to want to let you go to the page that you are looking for. Did you stick around, or go somewhere else? I know I for one have moved on. It is pretty likely that you can find the same information somewhere else, so fighting with a difficult website to extract the information that you are looking for just isn’t worth it.

If a website is confusing or difficult to navigate, people will not stay long enough for you to say “Thanks for your interest!” There is nothing that people dislike more than inconvenience and being led on what seems to be a wild goose chase. Easy navigation is key to keeping people around to see what you have to offer.

All links should stand out and it should be blatantly obvious where they go. There should be either a horizontal list of page links at the top or a vertical list along the side of each page. Not only does incorporating this into every page ensure that your potential clients can access whatever page they want at any stage, but it is also a good SEO technique.

However, unless you are creating an authority site – something like CNN.com or another one-stop site for all aspects of a given topic, it is important that you do not create an excessive number of pages either. Keep your navigation bar simple, even if you do have a larger number of pages. Nobody wants to go through a million different links to find all of the information they are looking for. I would limit it to ten links in your navigation menu at most, and less if possible.

Make sure that every main element of your business has a page, and then expound on each element within each page.

Easy navigation is not a difficult concept. If at any point you are unsure about your layout, ask for outside thoughts and opinions. If your non-tech savvy uncle, friend or grandmother finds it confusing or annoying, then other people probably will too.

2. Home Page

Your homepage is what your potential customers will see first. As such, it is essential that you make it engaging and interesting. You want to catch their attention and draw them into exploring your site further.

The last thing you want to do is give them a reason to look elsewhere. It should be professional, but your unique personality should always shine through.

There should absolutely be graphics of some sort, whether it is a picture of you, your work place, or some other aesthetically pleasing image. Graphics catch the eye, and hold attention much more efficiently than text alone does.

Something else that generally does a good job of grabbing potential customers’ attention is a deal of some sort. If you are having a sale or you are offering a desirable product or service for a good price or free, your home page is a great place to showcase it. With the economy in the hole, people are even more apt to look for the best deals they can find.

Your homepage should give the viewer a basic understanding of what your business is about. If you offer multiple services, it’s a good place to include a list of those services. It should be relevant and should promote trust in you and your company.

3. About Page

There should be a page somewhere that summarizes who you are and contains some important information about your business.

Although this page is technically your “About Page,” I would not recommend that you actually label the link that way. It is too generic, and says nothing about you or your business.

Use something that is more personal, which could even be the name of you or your business. This is a great place to show why YOU are the best person to help them resolve their problem and why.

Even though the About page is theoretically about you, you still need to maintain your focus on who your potential clients are, and why they’re looking for you and your expertise. You MUST speak to them where they’re at.

As you explain what you do, why you do what you do, your vision as an entrepreneur, etc. on your About page, you must at the same time be focused primarily on them and how and why your services are exactly what they need right now.

How do you solve their problems?

For example, if you’re a real-estate agent that specializes in downsizing seniors, you need to know why they (or a family member) is on your website looking into you and your services.

What is the conversation going on in their head?

Perhaps that conversation goes something like this:

“I need to move into a smaller house – this four bedroom place is too big for me now that my spouse has died. I can’t keep it up anymore. The maintenance is too much for me, and it’s got too many painful memories – but heck, we’ve lived here for 28 years, and I can’t bear the thought of leaving; it’s all so overwhelming.

And I don’t know the first thing about selling a house these days – it’s changed so much since we bought this place almost thirty years ago – it’s so much more complicated. I’m terrified that I won’t understand it at all – and what am I going to do with all this stuff we’ve accumulated over the past 30 years?

If I move to a smaller place, I’ll have to get rid of some of my collections and antiques, not to mention just all the furniture and where will I go?

How will I ever find another place…blah, blah,blah.”

So how do you respond to that? Even though your About Page is presumably about you, in reality it needs to be about them first and how what you do can help them. So your About page will talk about you in a way that builds credibility and authority in the arena where they need help.

It will most likely be the most personal of your pages and it should help potential customers relate to you and form a bond of trust.

So…yes. You can explain that you were born and raised in the local area, but explain why that matters to your prospective client.

You can explain your passions, your hobbies, your interests, but be sure to tie that back in to them and where they are when they’re looking for you.

If you have a special degree, certifications or whatever, explain why that’s relevant to them from where they’re sitting right now – and where they’re sitting right now is considering whether or not you’re a fit for them.

So I recommend that you don’t talk about your parakeet collection or the fact that you lived in a commune for 8 years unless you can find a way to tie it in with your expertise, your skills, or your blessings in a way that matters to them.

Other important information that you can add to this page, and that needs to be easily attained somewhere on your site, is your business hours and location and your contact information.

Depending on what you do, your business may or may not have a physical address. If it does, you need to make it visible and easy to find.

Linking it to Google Maps makes it easy to get directions to your place of business and helps the viewer calculate his or her bearings.

Hours of availability are also something that needs to highly visible and would fit in great on your about page.

Although your contact information should be accessible from every page, it is a good idea to organize it into a section that on the about page as well.

 

Next week, we’ll continue on with several more important parts of your website that you won’t want to forget. Come back to make sure that you cover all of the angles that need to be covered in order to ensure greater success for you and your business!!

Until next Tuesday, go out and make it a great week! : )