Category Archives: Cool Tools

Ads Just For You

Online advertising, especially targeted ads, has evolved over the years. It all started with banner adverts. Websites with a lot of traffic were paid a good sum by advertisers based on the CPI model. This led to the creation of ad networks.

The ad networks started to face problems. Advertisers were clueless about the exact number of impressions they would get in a particular month, and some website publishers didn’t have enough impressions for an order to be completed. Some cases had publishers exceeding the number of impressions than the buyers were demanding.

The improvement in online advertising came when Yahoo introduced keyword advertising. The concept was that companies and advertisers would pay on a per click basis, and each click would redirect the visitor to their particular website/blog.

Advertisers could now pay according to the selected keywords. Google reinvented this concept later on. Google adsense was created. This ad network allowed advertisers to place the ads on their desired websites. They were allowed to pick the keywords, and Google displayed ads on pages that were relevant with the keyword. Adsense is still widely used by advertisers and publishers.

Gmail was introduced with similar online ad technology. However, it was dependent on emails to check the relevancy of the keywords to display relevant ads. Ads were also introduced on video sharing websites, with YouTube offering pay per click ads as well.

Today, more relevant ads are displayed to search engine users. Companies and entrepreneurs have managed to invent technologies that personalize the ads displayed based on the consumer experience. An example is Phorm technology.   Today, more relevant ads are displayed to search engine users. Companies and entrepreneurs have managed to invent technologies that personalize the ads displayed based on the consumer experience. An example is Phorm technology.Phorm is a leader in online marketing software in which ads can be targeted specifically to the online user. These programs provide users with custom advertisements instead of general sidebar links that really nobody clicks on.

 

Relevant ads have made online advertising much more effective. Advertisers are now able to reach their targeted customers, and spend according to the number of impressions they receive. Bidding (real-time) is also on the high. A report from IDC (International Data Corporation) suggests that 1/3 spaces will be bought for online adverts till 2015. .

The ads displayed today are able to grasp consumer’s attention. Large ad units which display rich creative graphics and content are growing quickly across the internet. Online ads are now also being displayed in large units on smartphones. Advertisers have also come a long way. They are now creating ads that engage the readers. Ads now include videos, polls and other engaging content that makes the visitor want to ‘check them out’. The way things are going, the relevancy will continue to increase in the future.

Using Google+ to Increase Visibility

In the world of online marketing, there are limitless options that you could pursue which can all help boost your reputation whether you are a small storefront operation or one of many logistics companies. One of the newest tools that businesses are now using is Google+ as it has greatly improved over the last year to aid with SEO – a feature other social media sites can fully offer. How can Google+ help you increase your online visibility and improve your search engine opposition?

Local Search

One way in which Google+ can significantly help your business is in local search. In the past, Google Places was the tool of choice for businesses to use when they want to be found through local search. Google Places recently converted over to Google+ Local with most of the same features.

With Google+ Local, you can be found when people search for phrases that are related to your niche. For example, if someone types in “pizza” Google could show some local results based on the searchers location. Google will look for any Google+ Local listings in the area for companies that specialize in logistics. This will then bump that company’s Google+ listing up in the rankings above some of the bigger world-wide companies.

Generating Social Signals

One of the nice things about the conversion from Google Places to Google+ is that it has a more social feel to it. Now, businesses can interact directly with the public through their listing, instead of just having a static listing up on the Web. This means that companies can share status updates, answer questions directly from customers, and do a lot of other things. Google and the other search engines look at social signals to help with search engine rankings. If a business profile or website generates a large number of social signals and people talking about it, it will only help in the long run.

Write Some Content

When you set up a Google+ profile for your business, you have the opportunity to write blog posts on your profile for others to see. When you do this, you can include keywords that are relevant to your niche in the blog posts. This will help your Google+ profile rank higher in Google, and it can also help your business website ranking in the long run.

Google+ may not be as popular as Facebook, but it does have some potential when it comes to boosting your site’s search engine results. Just make sure that you play around with the service a little bit before you get too involved with the process of creating your profile.

How to Use Postcards as a Marketing Strategy

This article is part of a series sponsored by PrintRunner.com

Over the last week or so, I’ve been handing out ideas for small business owners and marketers on how to creatively use a variety of printing products.  The first article talked about business cards; if you need them and what to put on them.  The second article talked about how to make your business card stand out.  The third article talked about how to use stickers to differentiate your brand.  Today, we’re going to talk about printed postcards and how to use them effectively as part of your marketing materials.

Direct Mail isn’t dead — it’s just difficult

There’s been a lot of conversation about the death of direct mail. I disagree.  It isn’t dead — it’s just more difficult to get your customers attention and get them to take action.  That means that most of your time, effort and energy has to be spent on the planning of your marketing campaign and not the implementation.

  1. Know your audience. The first thing that you’ll have to do before you launch a direct marketing campaign is to know your audience.  Specifically, who is your ideal customer and what’s important to them when they are buying what you’re selling.  The best way to get inside the head of your audience is to do a hands on exercise such as creating a collage of your ideal customer.  Just pick up a few magazines that your ideal customer might read and start cutting out pictures and phrases that resonate.
  2. Develop an irresistible offer.  Don’t just use 15% off or anything predictable like that — really take the time to use the work you did around knowing your audience and what’s important to them to craft an offer that they won’t be able to resist.  The way I do this is to get a stack of index cards.  Then on each card I write down one thing that’s important to my customer and then I write down the part of my offer that delivers on what’s important to them.
  3. Create a “meaningful” domain or URL .  The next thing you want to do is create a landing page where all your prospects will go to get more information about your wonderful offer.  Make sure that you use a name the mentions the benefit of your offer or your differentiating promise.  Let’s use the “virus” example from above: www.nomorevirus.com or www.virusfreecomputer.com  that is a meaningful domain or URL that your prospects will remember and be able to reach quickly and easily.  Don’t worry that it doesn’t have your company name on it — you can brand the page easily and have it be part of your normal company domain.
  4. Design an entire campaign that connects print postcards to computer.  The biggest mistake most small businesses make is not connecting their campaigns.  All of your marketing has to work together.  Think of it like building a house — you need a foundation (that is your offer) then you need walls and of course, you need steps and a door to let people in.  The printed components of your marketing campaign are like directions to your house, the web site, the phone number or your physical location are the doors.
  5. Create a series of mailing pieces.  Once you have a web page where you can capture all your leads, the next thing you want to do is drive all your ideal customers there.  Why not use a postcard?  Postcards (when done right) can be a very effective way to drive targeted traffic to your site.  In fact, the US Post Office has come out with a new postcard rate that makes postcards an even more viable option.  Now you can get crazy with targeting by profiling exactly the customer you want and then sending them a print postcard for only $.14 cents!   Don’t just create one mailing — create a program that runs for at least six months and mail regularly.
  6. Develop a message or theme.  Think of each postcard mailing as a conversation that you’re having with an individual.  Remember that YOU know that you’re mailing hundreds or thousands, but each recipient is getting a single message.  So write your message as if you were talking to a SINGLE person.  Make it fun and conversational. You’re probably stuck on developing ideas for your postcard mailings — don’t fret!  Get yourself a copy of Bill Glazer’s Outrageous Advertising that’s Outrageously Successful.  In this book, you’ll find a TON of examples and templates that you can use to develop a killer print postcard campaign.
Sitting there and wanting or hoping for your ideal customer to find you is futile — you have to do something.  Running a direct mail campaign using postcards and a landing page is a terrific way to start feeding your sales funnel with new customers.

 

 

 

5 Creative Ways to Use Stickers to Promote Your Brand

This post is sponsored by PrintRunner.com

In this series of posts we’ve been talking about how to update your business card on a budget and other creative ways to promote your brand.  One cost effective way to put your brand out there is to use stickers.

A well designed and well placed sticker can not only remind prospects and customers about your products and services, it’s a great way to give your brand a high-end textured look without spending a ton of money.

  1. Personalize a book.  One of my clients recently wrote a book with several colleagues.  We were looking for a way to make HIS profile stand out so we created a sticker in the shape of a stop sign that featured his name and his chapter. 
  2. Jazz up your folders.  If you’re in a business that has to deliver proposals or presentations to customers such as a landscaper, then one way to really kick your presentations up a notch is to purchase folders from an office supply store and add a beautiful sticker to the front.  Work with a designer to create a sticker that matches the folders you’ve chosen and place that sticker creatively on the folder.  Of course you can put it square on the front – but ask the designer to get creative.  When you put the sticker in an unexpected place — it creates a BIG impression.
  3. Turn your business card into a sticker.  If you can create a magnetic business card, why couldn’t you create your business card as a sticker?  Of course you can!  Since you’ve already got a design, have it printed as a sticker and place it on your product so that your customers can contact you in case they need something else.
  4. Create a frequent shoppers reward sticker.  If you’ve been to the local coffee shop, they might have given you a frequent shopper card where they punch a hole every you purchase something.  Why not turn the tables and create stickers or a sticker book for customers?  If you’re in a business where you get a lot of children that come with parents, this is a terrific way to engage the kids and keep them coming back for more.
  5. Seal the deal.  Nothing says high-end like a beautiful seal.  Use stickers with your logo or icon representing your logo to create a seal that you use on envelopes or to seal boxes.  It’s not only a great design element, but it increases the perceived value of your product

 

The biggest stumbling block you’re going to have are your assumptions about how to use stickers as part of your brand.  Take a moment to search phrases on Google such as “creative sticker ideas, stickers printing, stickers folder, etc” and see how you can adapt some of the ideas that you find to your business.

4 Easy Ways to Make Your Business Card Stand Out

This is a sponsored post by PrintRunner.com

The friendly folks over at PrintRunner.com asked me to write a few articles about marketing materials.  Yesterday I talked about the issue of whether or not you still need a business card (you do — but what you put on your business card has changed  - so check out that article for the details)

One truism about business cards is that they don’t hang around much anymore — unless you’re one of those people who collects them.  The standard life cycle of a business card may be the couple of hours that it sits in your wallet or suit jacket before it gets transferred into your contacts list.  It might not even be that long — if you use a tool like “CardMunch” where you snap a photo of your card and then have it transferred to your contacts or LinkedIn contacts.

This means that if you want your card to hang around (or if you want to increase your chances of winning at those business card lotteries where you stick your card in a fishboal — it needs to be distinctive and unique.  In this article, I’m going to give you a few ideas on how to make your business card stand out.

  1. Change the shape — One sure way to make your card stand out is to change the shape of the card.  You can round the corners, make it round, smaller or bigger.  In the past, when people used to save business cards inside of those plastic sheets, I used to gripe about cards that didn’t fit in the space provided.  But since my cards are digital now – size doesn’t matter.  So let your creativity shine.
  2. Play with typography –   There are way more fonts out there than Arial or Times New Roman – Typography is a wonderful design element that a lot of people forget about.  The only word of warning I would give is to be sure to use something that is READABLE and understandable.  After all, the point of the business card is to get people to call you.
  3. Color.  The obvious way to use color is to choose a bright one.  But you can also choose unusual colors or interesting color combinations.
  4. Paper.  Paper is another overlooked design element.  You’ll have to work with your printing services provider to see what options are available.  When considering which paper to choose, think about what you like to touch — do you like sleek and shiny or maybe you’re more of a raised letter or textured kind of person.

Business cards aren’t just for communicating contact information anymore.  They are a statement about you, your company and your brand.  Use your business cards as a complement to other marketing materials such as flyers or selling sheets.

Here are a few more examples that I found around the web:

 

 

 

After reading this, you may be feeling lost and lonely; wanting to change and improve your business card, but not knowing where to start.  There are lots of online printing services, such as PrintRunner.com  that offer design services and choices that will help your business card stand out.

Do I Still Need a Business Card?

This is a sponsored post by PrintRunner.com

Do you still carry a business card?  I’ve really gotten out of the habit.  After all, most of my correspondence is by email and I have all the standard business card information in the signature.  It doesn’t cost me anything and it’s easy for people who get my emails to simply cut and paste the contact info into their contact database.

But that doesn’t mean that business cards are obsolete!

No matter what your business, you’re going to need printed business cards — it’s just that the kind of information that you put on there may not be the traditional information you’re used to putting on there.

In this short post, I’m going to give you some options for business cards that you can use to update your business card for the way we connect today.

What to put on your business card

No matter what — you still need:

Your Name.  Here is something you may never have thought about when it comes to your name — your name is your brand — be CONSISTENT.  Make sure that the name on your business card matches the name on all your online profiles.  For example – if people know you as Jack or Ed — then make sure that the name on your business card is Jack or Ed and not John or Edward.  Then make sure that your LinkedIn profile uses Jack or Ed — and NOT John or Edward.  Remember that people will use your business card — to follow you online.  So make sure that the names all match.

Address.  WHICH addresses should you use?

  • If you run a virtual business (like I do) you’ll want to make sure that all your VIRTUAL addresses are on there.  This includes email, Twitter, LinkedIn, Web Sites, etc.
  • List BOTH your physical and shipping address since most packages won’t come to PO boxes.


Phone.

  • Be sure to put a CELL PHONE number on your card so that people can reach you.
  • Fax — If you are in a business that still takes faxes, list the fax number

Picture.

  • With social media being so prevalent, it’s a great idea to include a picture of yourself.  Have professional head shots taken and use them for your social media icons as well as on your business card.  This doesn’t have so much to do with “vanity”, rather, it’s a practicality issue.  People will take your business card and they will want to connect with you on LinkedIn and they will want to make sure they have the right person.

Does Design Matter?

The short answer to that is “yes” and “no”.  I wouldn’t go investing thousands of dollars in design.  But good design really DOES matter.  Your business card is what your business wears to make a first impression.  When people see a poorly designed business card, they are left with a mediocre impression of you and your business.

Don’t worry.  You don’t need to hire an expensive designer to get a good business card design.  There are some terrific, affordable business card printing services out there that can bring your ideas to life.

A new one I recently discovered is called PrintRunner.com.  If you have your own design, then you can easily upload it and have to printed.  And if you feel that you’re like me — in the design-challenged class, then use their design services.  You’ll get a professional looking card at an affordable price.

 

Putting Video On Your Business’s Site – And Then Reaping The SEO Benefits

a guest post by Jenna Smith

 

Video is an increasingly popular tool of businesses, bloggers, and advertisers these days. Thanks to its ease of use (bloggers can diversify their offerings and write less), its marketing advantages (viewers are more likely to notice video ads), and its SEO benefits (video is fifty times more likely than written content to appear on Google’s first page), the medium has quickly found favor among online users of all backgrounds and stripes. Gone are the days when online video reflected an entertainment outlet built around YouTube. Now, as more and more businesses get on board, the written word has suddenly lost some of its marketing luster.

How can your business utilize and take advantage of video? How can you incorporate the medium on your site and realize its SEO benefits? Here is a quick and simple X-step approach for accomplishing these objectives:

Step 1: Decide Your Video Content

Before putting video on your site, it is naturally necessary to determine what to make your video content about. There are a wide range of options here. You may want to give tutorials or demonstrations that show consumers how your product, service, or business operates. You might want to give insider looks at your company’s operations. Or you may simply opt for a standard digital advertisement approach.

Step 2: Place The Videos On Your Site

Once you’ve filmed a few videos, you can now post them online and begin reaping the SEO benefits. The first step towards doing this is insuring that your videos are embedded within your site. This can be done with videos uploaded on YouTube. If you use WordPress, however, downloading the VideoPress plugin is probably the easiest way to go. You can always take an online e learning class to get more specific instructions on video uploading.

Step 3: Add Tags, Titles, And An Archive

Now it’s time to maximize your videos so as to boost traffic and benefit SEO. There are a few simple tasks to keep in mind here. First, you should give titles and tags to your videos so that Google’s web-crawling bot can properly identify them. Second, make a dedicated section of your business’s site (i.e. a library or archive) where all your video posts are compiled. This can help increase click-throughs, lower bounce rates, and add greater site sophistication.

Step 4: Integrate With Social Media

Finally, while it’s great to have your site full of streaming videos that highlight your business and boost your SEO, the ultimate goal is to get consumers to actually watch what you’ve posted. Perhaps the best way to insure this is by integrating your videos with social media: every time a new video is posted, link to it from your Twitter feed and your Facebook page. Since consumers are always intrigued by videos, you can be sure that you’ll get some looks.

Following these four steps can help your business incorporate video onto its site in a beneficial way. While video is not right for every business, those that can create appropriate content can reap the rewards tremendously down the line.

Attention Newspaper Lovers — PressReader Takes it Digital

One of my favorite daily rituals is reading the paper over a cup of coffee.  And if I could read The New York Times or the Plain Dealer on demand, then nothing could be better.

I’ve been using FlipBoard on my iPad and iPhone daily.  I find that when information is laid out in a newspaper format, it’s just easier to read.

So if you’re a newspaper fan like me — but wold rather read your paper digitally, then you need to check out this interesting app I just heard about.  It’s called PressReader.  PressReader is NOT like FlipBoard.  PressReader is will only show you NEWSPAPERS.  Not only that — but it will show you a PICTURE of the newspaper — digitally.  It’s actually like seeing the paper on your ipad.  I know it’s hard to explain.  Just imagine that high-resolution digital photos were take of your favorite papers and brought to your iPad.  Then you open the photo, zoom in, zoom out and the best part is — you can flip through the pages just like you would a book or newspaper — only digitally.

Curious?  You’ll have to download it for yourself and see.www.pressreader.com

What I Liked

I liked the focus of the app on newspapers and newspapers from all over the world.

I also liked that you got to try 7 of them for free.  This is good because you really won’t know how much you’ll like or use the app until it’s installed.

Of course, you’ll have to subscribe to the papers to get the information – so there is a cost involved.  You can read paper by paper for $.99 per download or for $29/mo you can read anything and everything you like.

Who will enjoy PressReader?

If you’re like some of my friends and love to read actual papers from around the world — or you have to read papers from around the world, the subscription is worth it.  Or, if you’ve moved away from your favorite paper and still want to keep up with what’s happening in your hometown.  This is a great tool.

Strange stuff that crossed my mind

On the one hand, this tool increases the distribution for newspapers.  I can recall that our local Akron Beacon Journal had (or maybe still has) a digital version which is exactly like this — it’s a digital picture of the paper that you can flip through – and this actually has merit if you want to get a coupon or see something that isn’t readily available in the online version.

Another interesting thing is that the PressReader newspapers look like they had to be printed to exist in this format.  The pictures are extremely high-resolution and high quality, but they still look like pictures of papers that were printed. It’s just something you have to experience.

And I encourage you to give it a shot.  Download PressReader and try checking into the world from your iPad

QR Codes: Unlocking Hidden Information

I recently wrote an article on DIYMarketers about QR Codes and mobi tags – you know those black and white images you’ve seen in magazines and in stores, but didn’t know anything about.  Today, I’d like to feature a guest post that will give you a little more education on QR codes and how they will help your small business


These days it seems as if you can do almost anything from your phone – make a call, update your Facebook® status, send an email, watch a video – you name it. One of the latest forms of information sharing for smartphone users is the QR code – a barcode-type image that holds information uncovered when you scan it on your smartphone.

Perhaps you have seen a QR code; companies are using them in their print advertising in magazines and professionals are using them as virtual business cards. But how exactly do you use a QR code and why is it important?

What is a QR code anyhow?

QR stands for “quick response”, as it is intended to be read quickly from a cell phone. The codes have information stored inside, so when you scan the image you will receive the information digitally and at your fingertips. Information could be a website URL, contact information, geographic coordinates or text.

Why are QR codes important?

We live in a world that is increasingly digital – nearly everything is available instantaneously.  QR codes offer consumers another way to find information when they want it, wherever they are.

QR Code Marketing Campaigns

In July 2010, Calvin Klein Jeans jumped on the QR bandwagon by erecting giant QR code billboards in downtown Los Angeles and New York City. When you scanned the code, you were able to view an exclusive 40-second video, luring prospective customers to purchase their high-end apparel line.

Courtesy of: http://hypebeast.com/2010/07/calvin-klein-jeans-qr-code-billboard/

Personal Organization

Are you the type of person who has a rolodex full of old business cards? QR codes allow you to clear the clutter by downloading information directly to where you need it – your phone.

Courtesy of: http://idi.treelogic.com/ing/noticias/noticia10.html

Just think…You could download coupons for your favorite stores right to your phone. Or, you can register for an event while you are out and about, without having to worry about connecting your computer to a free Wi-Fi hotspot.

How do you use a QR code?

First, you will need to install a barcode scanner application to your smartphone. There are dozens from free barcode scanners out there, such as Red Laser for the iPhone® and Barcode Scanner for the Android™. Once you have the app installed on your phone, you are ready to check out the hidden message in the QR code.

Next, open up the application on your phone and scan the QR code; the code can be scanned off an email, computer monitor or printed material. After you scan the code, you will be shown the information embedded within.

If it is a link, you will be able to click it and go directly to the webpage. If it is contact information, you will be able to import it directly into your phone’s address book.

The future of commerce, and even our day-to-day leisure, lies in digital advancements. Becoming accustomed to the use of QR codes will help you stay ahead of the game!

Android is a trademark of Google Inc. Use of this trademark is subject to Google Permissions

Facebook is a registered trademark of Facebook, Inc., iPhone is a registered trademark of Apple, Inc.

About the Author: Dana R. DeLapi is the Social Marketing Manager for Rasmussen College, a college that offers an internet marketing specialization. Dana has worked in the fields of social media, interactive marketing, journalism and public relations for more than five years. Dana has a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of Central Florida. She also has her Social Media Master certification fromMarket Motive.

Small Business Social Media Tips Galore and a Great New Web Site Service

A few months ago I talked John Phillippe’s ear off of Zsalvo design — but he asked for it!  John contacted me to chat about social media strategies for small business and I handed out a TON of tips.

Here are just a few highlights:

  • Set your marketing objectives first! Use Scott Allen’s The Virtual Handshake as a guide.
  • Focus on just those social media sites that will help you achieve your objectives.
  • Automate using tools like TweetDeck and HootSuite.
  • Manage your time
  • and More.

Great to All-In-One Web and Social Media Offer – You Will DIE For

During that conversation, John had told me that he was launching a new kind of web service.  He was looking for ways to make it easy and affordable for small businesses to get in the online game.  And he has absolutely done it.  I’m telling you that this is an offer that will make any busy small business owner salivate!  Check this out!

Total Site Support for $250/mo!

Who will LOVE this offer: This is an ideal offer for the small business that KNOWS they need a cool site and wants to do social media but just doesn’t have the time.  If you are currently spending more than four hours a week messing around with your site and blog and web sites and blogs are NOT your business — then you need to see everything that’s offered.

What IS the offer?:

  • Custom website
  • Custom content
  • Blog articles
  • Search engine
  • Visitor feedback
  • Content changes
  • Mobile ready
  • Support

But wait — there’s more!  He’s also offering four more items to his offer that are hard to turn down.

  • email marketing
  • newsletters
  • social media
  • pay pal

It’s going to be hard not to sound like a hard pitch sales person on this offer.  That’s because I think it’s such a terrific, hard to resist offer.  Here’s how to decide if it’s for you.

  • How much are you spending on hosting?
  • How much are you spending on design?
  • How much time are you spending on blogging?
  • How much time are you spending on social media?
  • Have you done ANY SEO activities ?
  • Do you currently have an email marketing and nurturing campaign?

There are more questions I can ask.  But when you sum all those activities, their cost, their opportunity cost and the frustration that you might have over doing them — then this just might be something worth considering.

By the way – John isn’t going to try and sell you on this either.  Click over to Total Site Support and see if it’s interesting to you.  There is a one-time $149 set up fee and then $250 per month.

WARNING – Don’t be late on your bill

There is one BIG issue that I have with the site — and it may not be an issue for you – in fact, I’d be interested in hearing if what you think about it.

If you decide that you want to move the site from Total Site Support – you will lose all the content.  In their FAQ section it says that if you do NOT pay the monthly fee – your site will be taken down.  You own the domain name, but nothing else.  This may be a serious consideration for a small business.

I wish they had a buy-out option here.  Because this is such an irresistible offer to get started, but what if your business grows and you become tech savvy enough to run it yourself and you love it?  You’re not going to want to lose all the work and the traffic that you’ve started with Total Site Support are you?

But if you aren’t in the business of doing webs and blogs, maybe this isn’t that important — I want to know what you think.