It Took This Long...

This is a message of hope to those of you who have not updated your business website or the Update Image internal pages because you "don't have the time".  This week we updated our agency website to show the radio broadcast of Insight on Business the News Hour in the header bar. Three years after we started broadcasting from the Des Moines Radio Group.

Three years...

It's not that we didn't WANT to make the change. It's just that it was a secondary issue...but, in reality it's not. You see when you fail to adjust your home page or internal pages to add new content getting "found" by the search engines is more difficult.  Some tips from "The Procrastinator":

  • Your Blog - If you do a business blog (you do...right?) make sure you tie it to the home page of our website. Why? Because when you are posting you are automatically adding fresh content to your home page. Ask your Web Developer to make it happen;
  • Change Wording - At least twice a month alter the wording on your home page and your "About Us" page. You can keep the same general theme and intent but changing the words around offers fresh content;
  • Stuck? - Sometimes we get so busy or we get stuck on WHAT to write about. Take a few minutes and reflect on what changes have happened to your business. What are you doing that is new, that might be of interest to your customers...then make an adjustment to your wording;
  • Non-Static - The most important thing to remember is that your website should not be a "static brochure". You have the power to adjust images, wording and more. If you don't KNOW how to do that just schedule the changes with your Web Developer. Static is bad...change is...good.

Hope that is helpful. Even we need to be reminded from time to time.  

Thanks for reading!

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It's About Relationships

Not long ago, on my daily business news broadcast, we had a story about how the Internet has  Car Sale Promotion
changed the way many buy their vehicle. It's not only that you can buy "on-line" but, more importantly, the consumer now has the same, or more, information about the vehicle than the car dealership.

That fact changes the dynamic greatly. Now, the purchase isn't so much about "best price" or "availability" but how the salesperson at the dealership builds a relationship with you the customer.  

No longer "hard data" it's now all about "soft skills".

This shift has happened across the business landscape. The power of knowledge is in the hands of the consumer in most instances. Now the focus, for salespeople everywhere, is about building long and lasting relationships. And, given the availability of social media, it is easier than ever to engage your existing and potential customers.  

Oh, and that hand-written note that's put in the mail with a real stamp...bet your customer will smile and keep it long after that shout out on Facebook.

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Ad Blocking Technolgy

We know you LOVE it when your surfing the net and up pop ads, music and Stop Figuremore. Now that there is AdBlock many consumers (about 300 million) have opted to block the advertising that has become so pervasive. And, recently, AdBlock announced that it will also offer a blocking application for mobile. And, yes, it works on ads for social media sites like Facebook and Twitter as well.

What does all of this mean?

In simple terms it means that your digital advertising plans just took a hit and that it is more important than ever to grow your marketing organically. 

How do you do that?  We think you'll have to turn to creating content that matches the interest of your target market rather than relying on automation to shout at people. However, and I've shared this many times before, that takes WORK on your part. It takes effort to think through your marketing plan.  It takes work to create thoughtful and helpful blogs. It takes work to build a podcast network. It takes work to understand and engage by using Twitter.

Television and radio broadcasters have had to deal with these issues for years as consumer turn to alternative outlets for viewing and music. However if your content and your message is solid the listeners, viewers and your target market consumer will be there.

But...it takes work!

A huge Hat-Tip to our friend Katie Moen who is an intern at the Kreamer Law Firm of West Des Moines for the thought starter!  Well done Katie!

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Trust = Value

I've been a LinkedIn user for several years and grateful to have many, Linked In Image
many people with whom I've made the decision to link with.  I also do a daily business broadcast and one of the stocks that has made news over the past week is LinkedIn. 

On April 30 LinkedIn stock was going for $252.13 a share. Today the price has plunged to $198.20. Why? The company shared user data which indicates a growing trend in users year over year however the professional networking company reported lower than expected guidance for the next quarter, leading to a significant drop in its stock price. Still falling as of today.

LinkedIn says it is the strong dollar that is giving it troubles.  However, we're wondering if the shine might be gone because many active users, me included, wonder if we can trust the information LinkedIn provides.

Take for example their newer method of helping you keep in touch with your LinkedIn connections. You've all seen the box that gives you tips on who has a new photo, a new job or a promotion. Trouble is many times that information is not correct or it's simply confusing.

Rather than clicking "Congrats" and moving on.  I like to click on the members profile when I'm told they have a new job only to learn they have been on the same job for years and only recently updated some information.  Yet there is a string of "Congrats!" in the member profile.

Value can often be linked to trust.  If I can't trust the information LinkedIn is giving me how much value can I place on the product?

So, what's your LinkedIn experience like.  I'd be interested. Perhaps I've got this all wrong.

Thanks for reading!

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Who OWNS Your Website?

Our firm has been working to help a non-profit re-claim their website. Huh? Own It Words Yep. We've now run into this a couple of times and it's something you should know.

You may "think" you own your existing website but, not so fast! Sometimes the web-developer continues to hold the magic keys and when there are "issues" that can't be resolved they "own" it and can take it down.

Because your website is, most always, the first point of contact with consumers you need to make sure you hold the keys.  Here are some quick tips:

  • Ask the Question - When you're in development make sure you ask, "When we're done with this project do we have control over the site from updates to hosting?"  And, get the answer in writing;
  • Non-Profit Boards - I've been on hundreds and because they are made up of volunteers who have "real lives" often the record keeping is pretty bad. Make sure the "contract" or "agreement" is on-file and everybody has a copy;
  • Cheap is Not Always Good - Non-profits (and many small businesses) don't have a pile of cash to invest into their website. However, cheap is still cheap and not always the best of solutions. Get some professional help. Your job is to run the non-profit mission or business not become a marketing professional;
  • Document Unresolved Issues - If you already have a website and you've been experiencing slow updates, a developer who is always busy and doesn't have time to help make sure you document the interaction between your board and the developer.  It keeps everybody in the loop and, if legal issues follow, you've got a record;
  • Stay Professional - It can be frustrating to work with unresponsive firms but stuff gets "passed around" try, hard, to stay professional in your email conversations.

Each non-profit board member has a "friend in the business" and the member really wants to help.  That's great but when it comes to business (and make no mistake your non-profit is a business) don't short-cut the decisions.  It could all come back to bite you.

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The Folly of Digital Start Ups?

I am about to peek behind the curtain.  You know, that old bit from The Jack Matthews March 2015Wizard of Oz, "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!"  This is not intended to cast doubt or to discourage our digital start-up community. It is intended to point out that the goal of business is to produce a profit. Making money, we would think, beats out the latest "wowza web-based, app infused techno company".  Stay with me on this.

Over the past several years I've asked dozens, if not hundreds, of "digital dreamers" if they are making money.  I get answers like, "Not yet but soon." or "I'm doing this for the love of creation." or "We're building it to sell and that will come."  Meanwhile they compete for angel investors, first round financing and the attention consumers with an ever growing array of tech choices.  The work, the dedication and the dream are all celebrated...but who is making money?  

Meanwhile, Jack Mathews, the close to 80 year-old newspaper guy who retired two decades ago, gets bored. He sees opportunity with a hyper-local news site.  Our Grinnell launches in 2007...long before folks knew what "hyper-local" meant.

Last year Jack went back to publishing a newspaper (yep...a NEWSPAPER!) that shares the back story of economic development. The Grinnell Business Journal started as a quarterly, now is published every two months.  The goal, says Jack, "Is to make this a weekly business news publication."

One other thing, Jack is turning a profit.  And he's doing it with an old school media piece called a "newspaper".

Just like my friends that are in digital design he has passion.  He has, just like they do, talent and knowledge of the business.  He also has a product that is tangible, familiar, usable and adds value in a space that is not currently covered.

We just think it's a great story and something for business to think about. How can you add value to a niche of consumers that are under-served?

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Oh Those Banner Ads

We're not fans of banner ads mostly because the actual click through rate is lousy and, for the most part, banner ads are major distractions.  And, now Error 404 that some outlets are focusing on "pop-up" banner ads it's really distracting.

However, they are revenue.  And, for folks who create, sell, and push banner advertising we understand.

Our recommendation is that unless the media company is GIVING you the banner ad to make the sale.  Forget about it.  Here's why:

There are better ways to getting consumers to notice your product or service:

  • Engagement - Advertising/Marketing takes work. Simply buying an ad (any ad) can be a waste of time and money if you don't have the engagement behind the advertising.  Talk to your customers...more;
  • Video - When we look at click through rates (CTR) for banner ads it comes in at about 0.11 %. However when you look at the CTR for mobile video a staggering 11.8 %.
  • Native Advertising - This is organic marketing that simply engages the consumer and feels "natural" in the digital stream. We like a bunch and when combined with video...it rocks.

Basic to all of this is that you must know to whom you are marketing. If you know your consumer you can drive more in that direction.  And, in this case if you are selling a specific into a specific market perhaps banner ads will work.  Know thy customer!

Here's a link to the Click Through Rates in Digital Advertising.

Thanks for reading!

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Mobile Doesn't Matter?

Being able to connect your message with your target consumer has never My Emma Opens Desk vs Mobile been easier or more complicated.  We've got all sorts of tools from email campaigns, traditional media, social media and so much more. That's why these latest statistics are so important.

We've been telling our clients, and anybody else who might listen, that having the ability for your message to be seen and understood by mobile devices is so critical. And, I've got proof (I know, you like the proof part.)

We do a weekly newsletter that highlights our guest list for the daily business broadcast, Insight on Business the News Hour.  The percentage of people who open the email is pretty good, averaging about 34%.  How they are getting the email is even more astounding:  About 36% of the folks who open the newsletter do so on...wait for it...mobile.

Mobile is responsible for over a third of our readers.

So, how about you?  Can your message be seen by your target market? Can your website be used by your target market?

Or...not?

Mobile Matters...

Need some help getting there?  Ask your local advertising agency or give us a call...love to chat about the opportunity! 

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The Numbers...Just Stop It!

This is severely going to fly in the face of those of you who slice and dice Stop figureyour engagement metrics.  I know some business people who pour over the analytics, spending hours comparing last month to this month, how long a person lingered on their website, how many page views, what they looked at last before they were gone.

Stop it...

Go check the deposit tickets.

Did your marketing efforts result in more (wait for it...) sales?  If the answer is "yes" wonderful keep rolling forward.  If the answer is "no" let's start to pay attention to your message.  In other words does your marketing message match the needs of your target market?  Are you using the correct channels to reach your target audience? 

Don't get me wrong.  Your metrics can yield some valuable information but, from our seat, you might better spend your time with a focus on the message and the channel.  

But, hey, we're "old school" about those sales things.

Thanks for reading!

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Spending Some Tech Time with Marco

One of the things we love to do is bring in other media types to the News Hour and have a Marco Santana 10 April 2014 discussion on their speciality. Here is Marco Santana from the Des Moines Register talking up technology in Iowa...and the economic impact it brings the state.  

We continue our "All Tech Thursday" discussion with Marco Santana. We visit about the "Tri-Techta" that went on this week from the Technology Association of Iowa: The Prometheus Awards, Pitch & Grow and I2Iowa and more.  And, yes, we did lots and lots of "name dropping"!  Here is that conversation:

 
Insight on Business the News Hour with Michael Libbie is heard Monday - Friday from 5PM to 6PM on 1350-KRNT, Des Moines.  Connect with us on Twitter @IoB_NewsHour and, for more fun, here is our Facebook Page.