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Why are your in business, why do your customers care #marketing #business

Why are you in business – why your customers care?

Too many new business owners focus on the what and the how of their business and do not ask themselves why they are in business. According to a 2012 study by Neilson, 92% of people, world-wide, buy based on personal recommendations. It is usually  easier to get personal recommendations from your clients if they know why you are in business.

In my work with people developing their marketing plans for their businesses I begin with the question why are they in business. I believe that this is a key determination of what will separate  them from their competition.

Since I am a business coach and not an author, I freely admit that I started doing this after reading the book “Start with Why“.  I am not an author, and just writing blogs is as much authoring that I want to do.  Perhaps it is because my grandfather told me “that those that can do, those that can’t teach“. I am a better coach than teacher because it is closer to the “doing” that is in my own DNA.  As a result of this belief,  I love using other books as additional references for my clients and I recommend Start with Why by Simon Sinek.

Begin with why

If I were to extract out the key takeaway from the book, it is that there are three things that businesses need to understand in order to be successful, the how, the what and the why.  The author refers to these as the “golden circle”.  The author believes that the why is the most important of these.  I do not agree that there are only three considerations, I believe the who of who we are selling to is almost as important as is your why.  But who you are selling to is next weeks blog.  I agree that starting with your why is a key and most important first step in differentiating yourself in your business venture.

What is your why?  What dreams, aspirations and passions are inside of you that are driving you and inspiring you to create you business?

An example works well as to how this can work in a standard “sales commercial” used in most referral marketing venues. A client of mine has given me permission to share this.

“Recently, Sam shared why he got involved in the auto repair and service business. Because of his motivation to help others be safe in their cars and other vehicles, we have formed deep long lasting relationships with our customers.

I want to tell you a short story about what that means to them. Last weekend we went to the ninetieth birthday party for one of our customers. Sam went, his dad who created the business went along with a long term mechanic and myself.  Our customers daughter who created the party told the crowed room that all of us had touched the lives of her father and she hoped the same was true for us.  I can tell you that for me it certainly was.

The why of how our business was created is the desire to help others and keep them safe.  We just happen to be in the auto repair business.

We are looking to grow our business and we need your help.  Who do you know that wants to buy someone who will not just service their cars as a one time transaction, but wants someone who has their back to take care of their kids as they drive off to school for the first time or keep their aging but beloved commuter car in safe and reliable condition?”

If you live in the North Hills of Pittsburgh, you might want to check out Glenshaw Auto if this resonates with you and you need a great mechanic or even just tires or a battery.

What about you?

How likely are you to trust an auto service company in which four people are invited to a birthday party? Do your customers know why you do what you do?  Will they invite you to their ninetieth birthday party because you have touched their lives?  If an auto repair shop does this, what does that mean for financial advisors, insurance agents, bankers, lawyers and health providers. How much easier should it be for you to touch the lives of your customers.

Why are you in business?

Who do you spend time with?

September is back to school season and as we prepare for the fall, it is a good time to reflect on what do we need to re-learn ourselves.  One of the things that I have found over the years is that we become like the people that we hang out with.  If we want to be happy, then we should hang out with happy people. In fact, if we find out that we are not happy, then perhaps we are hanging out with the wrong people. So who do you spend time with?

I was at a forming “Mastermind” group in Cranberry Township on Tuesday with other business owners when one of the potential members quoted Jim Rohn “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”  None of the potential members of the group was looking for referrals or networking, they were only looking for support – but what if you can get both in one place and what about your five top referral marketing partners – are the adding to your energy or detracting from it?

Finding support is often a difficult problem for small business owners.  I joined BNI as a strong contract referral network to help me grow my business by being in front of people that would likely be able to send me business as I would be able to send them business. I had no idea that what I bought into was a system designed to make me a better business owner.

What I found over the three years that I have been in a BNI chapter is that I have been exposed to a group of people that has the ability to give me ideas on how I can be better at my business because they are mostly people like me who are small business owners themselves.  And because BNI, like other category exclusive groups, prevents my competition from being in the room we can be more forthcoming about how we do business with one another.

The time we spend with one another is significant – because we meet outside of our ninety minute sales meeting each week to jointly plan how we can find business for one another.  If I am truthful with myself, I have to admit that if I was not doing that with other professionals, I would not do it myself.

When meeting with other people that are your virtual sales force there are a lot of things that you can ask of one another like:

  • How clear am I about what the benefit of working with me are?
  • What are people asking you about my services when you suggest that I might be able to help them with their business?
  • Who else should I be talking to about what I offer?
  • How understandable are my weekly sales presentations?

In our regular interactions we can also brainstorm common business problems like:

  • How do you handle customer complaints?
  • Where have you found sources of policies and procedures to use for your employee manuals?
  • What are you doing about 401k plans?
  • Who handles your social media?

By having one or two of these meetings each week we are able to be much better business owners. We get exposed to ideas that we never would have considered ourselves and our referral partners might have skills that we do not have ourselves.  In fact I find that it is useful for me to review my partners accomplishments, skills and outside interests when meet with them.  Once good thing to ask one another when you met, and it works at casual networking events is “what is the biggest challenge you are having with your business right now?”

If you are going to spend time with people like this on a regular basis then you better make sure that the people are positive and supportive.  When joining a strong contact group, make sure that the people in the room work with you to increase the energy that you have to perform well in your business not detract from it?

What about you? Who do you spend time with? Are they building you up – or are they tearing you down? If you are interested in visiting our BNI chapter and finding people that will build you up, please visit our Facebook page.

 

Multi Level Marketing

Multi-level Marketing as an onCOREventure

Lately, I have begun to work more closely with Multi-Level marketing (MLM) people through my membership in BNI. I have to admit, I have previously held a negative bias about MLM.  This perspective is rooted in an experience with one MLM in particular which directly affected a friendship. These friends unfortunately “drank the Kool Aide” and started pushing their conversion story to how they, and of course we by extension, could become wealthy beyond belief. At the time, I attributed this change in demeanor to the MLM scheme, but I’ve come to realize that it was my friend’s specific behavior to which I was reacting, not the MLM theory in general. Understanding this difference has removed the bad taste I once held for what can be a very profitable business tool.

For people in the second half of life, who are looking for an interesting way to spend their time and are passionate about something that could be woven into an MLM business, this type of structure is ideal. Many folks are often already set up for success in these types of ventures as they typically already have a network of friends and business associates from which to draw participation. Additionally, this network often shares similar core values and interests that play well with the MLM company marketing strategy for the products in which they are interested., If this sounds like you – then a company built around MLM is well worth considering.

Recently I watched a video in which the distributor of an MLM’s products discussed how people working for corporations are in fact working in a pyramid scheme. If that is true – why do so many people downplay the opportunities for success in the MLM world as nothing more than a pyramid scheme? I think the answer is simple. They have bought into the “American Dream” of working for forty hours a week for forty years in the hopes that this will allow them to retire comfortably at a reasonable age.  The unfortunate truth, which most of us who are well into the second half of life already know, is that the American Dream is really the American Nightmare. Retirement is simply no longer a safe bet for most people in their forties and fifties.

As indicated in my last blog, I have been working my way through a period of reflection and intense business delivery focus over the last six months, and now am operating in a more focused way on my original goals.  I strive to help people create the life that they were born to live, in the second half of life. My philosophy is counter-cultural to the American dream of retirement as being focused on recreation, travel, intrusion into adult children’s lives, and perhaps a part time retirement job befitting of the slow moving, overweight image of the typical American.

My view of retirement rather is one of moving away from the corporate world with its endless struggle to fit in to the mold of the company by keeping your head down and your mouth shut. I believe we need to “fit out” (be individuals-not drones) by keeping our heads up and truly listening to what other people need …and by trying to help them if we can.  I believe that our network of friends and family is the real measure of our net worth. We need the support of others, and the best way of getting to this is by investing in relationships before you need to cash them in.

So, if you are interested in promoting things like weight loss challenges and products that provide alternative paths to healing and beauty, such as natural cosmetics, or if you are drawn to nutrition products or handmade jewelry, etc., there are many MLM companies out there. If you are passionate about one, or more, of them, check them out. There is a list on Wikipedia that can get you started.

As a member in a BNI chapter and a professional coach, I work with many people in MLM. I’ve learned that there are different personas and core values that are very successful with the structure and processes for each company. If you wonder whether you have the core values and skills necessary to be successful in an MLM environment, we offer an assessment which will help you understand how you personally would do best in approaching a network marketing system in order to be successful. Check out your results here.

Leveraging these results, we will then have a short conversation which will give you either the confidence to go forward with a network marketing company, or perhaps the incentive to look at something else. I have found that the core energies you use to figure out if something is a good fit are often times the exact energies that stop you from implementing the processes that the MLM company wants you to pursue in order to be successful. This can be tricky to navigate and we are here to help you with this process.

Multi-Level Marketing is not for everyone, but many people earn thousands of dollars a month in this fashion. Many more, unfortunately, earn nothing. Understanding what you want, and at your core who you are, can make the all the difference.
How about you?  Are you interested in Multi-Level Marketing? Do you feel your interests, core values, and capabilities are in line with MLM principles? We’d love to hear your MLM story or work with you to take the next step in discovering your path to success in the second half of life.

Web Environment – your website

Last week, we talked about setting up email. Conventional wisdom in the Internet age is that you need a website to drive your business. What we have found is actually the contrary; a website can actually put a halt on your business’s growth. We’ve all Googled ourselves out of curiosity, but what about after you meet someone at a networking event, or exchange emails? You can guarantee your new acquaintance has Googled you as well. If you have no website, they will only find your LinkedIn profile and other references that you probably do not have any control over.

We work mostly with solopreuneurs in our practice, and most people that start businesses are in that category at least in the beginning. The first thing that solopreuneurs need to remember is that you are now “the brand” or “product”. Not what you sell, but you. When Tiger Woods turned pro, his father Earle told him that he was a product now, something that Tiger and folks like A-Rod have learned the hard way.  Keep that in mind when you are considering ranting on Facebook.

So before you even start to craft your website, it is useful to complete a personal branding exercise. We start our clients with this, and then follow that up with a core values index. Our image and our core values are both vital in setting our personal brand.

For example, green is a color that we have used initially for onCOREventures. Green is the color of the heart chakra, the fourth and most core of the chakras. It is the color of sustainability and the color of “start” or “go.” Thus, green is core to our business, because these items are core to us. We have used and will continue to use my photography as the promotion of our site, because vision is important to our clients, and my vision is often expressed in my imagery. I augment this however with viable stock photography that conveys the messages.

When I started my coaching practice, I did not have the name chosen so I simply set up frederickgeiger.com and put up a four-page site. Home, what I do, who I am, and a blog.  That way, anyone that looked for information about me would find that site.  I went into a 1:1 networking meeting only to find someone looking at my photography site at fredgeiger.com.

For my coaching practice, I had a colleague build a quick site in Dreamweaver, which was overkill, but I already had a hosting contract in place, and I knew how to setup a website myself. Since I already had set up a WordPress site for our church, adding the blog was trivial – for me.

If you have nothing of the sort in place, and if you already completed what we talked about last week, and used Google to set up your email, then it is a simple process to launch your website on Google as well..

From the sites section of Google, first choose “Create a Site.” You can then see that there are a variety of templates that can be used, and you can work on your site before it is published and made public. Once you are satisfied with it, you can then point your domain name to it. If that is your personal name, you can always redirect people to your new site, or not. Currently, I still have my old personal photography site active at fredgeiger.com, and I have redirected frederickgeiger.com to my current site.

There are many other ways of setting up a site, some very affordable and some very costly. But if you are hanging out your shingle and do not have a live website, do not be surprised if you are not always taken seriously.

You can also create other sites to experiment with different ideas – or use as a private intranet for your associates or contractors as you grow your company. Tools such as Google Drive make it easy to store files and access them online from any web browser.

The most difficult part of any process is setting yourself in motion. Do not let the fear of taking that first plunge stop you from having your own site. Setting up your own site that emits your core message to potential clients is a quick, very uncomplicated task. This also means that you don’t have to empty your wallet on creating a website for a business that does not have a definite direction yet. The one thing that I have learned in my many years of working with startups of all sizes is that the worst decision is actually the decision not made. Make decisions that complement your core values, and then take action. Ready, set, go.

Launching your web environment

I often find that many of my clients ask me for advice.  Coaching, in its purest sense, does not give advice; we are trained extensively NOT to give advice. In fact, in order to be accredited by the International Coaching Federation, we have to show through our coaching that we do not give advice. So what is the first thing all clients want? Advice, of course.

Since that is out of the question, we must take a different route. Instead, we become storytellers, narrating the success stories of others. But then, clients will want follow-up recaps. If you’re someone that is up late in the night, searching for the solutions to their most pestering thoughts, then I’m doing something for you: I am starting a weekly Tuesday blog series on tools, tips and techniques on how to authentically launch your onCOREventure. Once these are finished – all I need to do is send a link as a follow-up.

Most onCOREventures, whether they include the creation of a new business or just a new way of showing up in retirement activities, require web technology.  This usually starts with acquiring a domain name and setting up email and a website.  Setting up a domain name is very simple, and most people have no trouble taking this step.  Providers of web hosting and email services are usually more than happy to offer you low-cost domain name registration, which seems fantastic. But then, things take a turn. These providers then sell you a whole bunch of services that, for the average person just wanting to boost their web presence, are difficult to use and setup.

For our clients that are not tech-savvy and do not want to empty their wallets or spend all their time setting up their web environment, we usually suggest that they consider the use of Google Apps because of the great results that other clients have experienced. I say this owning stock in Microsoft and having wanted to use Microsoft Office365 for this, and I am still trying to get it to work.  But SkyDrive, SkyDrive Pro, Office, Office 365, Office for the Mac, Office 2010 for the PC, Office 2013 for the PC, the Hotmail to Outlook migration – seriously? – I have over thirty years of using Microsoft Office and operating systems and I am still struggling to get it to work using the cloud and my Mac-PC hybrid environment.

That being said, if you want the web to just work, use Google Apps.  Assuming that you have a Domain Name for your venture and simply a dream of it being done, you need to get a Google Apps account for your business.  You can get started here to find out more information.  If you are ready to get started right now, you can start out by paying five dollars a month for one user.

But, you can get started in less than an hour and kick the tires on the technology simply by going to this link.  You can set up your account free for thirty days without a credit card, and then direct your domain name for email to Google.  If you already use GMAIL for your email, you can add your own customer domain to your existing GMAIL account, and get all of your mail in one place.  Many people in corporate like to keep things separate, but I have found that in working with people embarking on their onCORE ventures, the line between business and pleasure dulls, and simplicity is key.

Here are some things to keep in mind when you plan your effort.  Let’s say that you are using onCORE.com for your domain name.  So far, all you have done is register your domain name with someone like Godaddy.com, or Network Solutions or Register.com.  You can set up an account for yourself with Google for Google Apps.  So in my case, I would setup a new Google apps account for frederick@oncore.co.  Once I did that I could then go to Godaddy, which is where I have registered oncore.co and change the MX records with them to point to Google.  About an hour or two later, I will be able to send and receive mail from frederick@oncore.com through my GMAIL user interface on my iPhone, iPad or through a web browser.  If you want to use your Mac Mail or Outlook client to get and send your mail, you can easily do that.  Because Google does a great job of proving wizards, videos, and documentation on how to set things up, I am not going to do that.  This is one of the reasons that I suggest to clients that consider this route because of its clarity and thoroughness.

Once you are done with this, and you want to set up a website with Google without paying someone to host it for you, you can use Google Sites. You can even play with the site and customize it to perfection before you put it on display for the public eye.  We will cover this use and other uses for the sites feature next Tuesday in our weekly blog series on how to take your onCOREventure to market.

 

Referral Marketing

When I first started networking for my new business I was clueless. Needless to say, this grated on my nerves as it clashes with my mask of being an expert. So, I set out to rectify the situation in short order.  I started talking to experts about establishing networks which would help promote my business. One said that I needed to have a variety of gimmicks to push my offering.  He suggested that I go to many different BNI chapters as a guest and recruit them into a mastermind group.  Anyone in or associated with BNI, the world’s largest referral marketing organization,  would cringe at this type of suggestion.  Others talked about going to meet-up groups and chamber meetings and collecting business cards as I practiced my elevator pitch about coaching to each of them.

These ideas and several others that I won’t waste space on here are utterly worthless in my mind.  I ended up hiring a coach who is expert in building referral marketing networks.  I did this because I wanted time compression and I trusted her approach.  Interestingly enough, she was speaking at a PCA (Pittsburgh Coaches Association) lunch meeting on networking. This, in effect, means she was doing exactly what my first example suggested in terms of allowing someone to kick the tires through my mastermind group. At least however she was not subverting the BNI meeting process to get clients.

Building a referral marketing network takes time and I believe it should be integrated into your social media and Internet marketing campaigns and work collaboratively with your overall strategy.  In my last two blog entries, I have talked about how those two activities can work.  They work really well with building a referral network.

In his book about building referral networks, Ivan Misner the founder of BNI, describes a copy written process for building a referral network.  As a member and leader in my BNI chapter, I encourage you to read the book and follow his advice. The key thing to consider is getting your core referral network to understand what your new business is all about. You must be able to describe it to others and to get those folks to “sell” you to others simply because they know, like and trust you.

I am sure that you, like me, have hundreds of people you are connected with on Facebook, Linked in, and other social media networks. Plus you have the ability to build pages to your company on Linked in and on Facebook, as I have done.  But the point here is twofold; these connections can be a good picture of your different type of networks (i.e. your information network, support network and referral network).  Knowing which of your hundreds of partners fit into your key stakeholder groups in each type of network is key.

For example, you can use Linked in to put together mailing lists of your different types of partners.  So, if you have twenty to thirty key referral partners and perhaps five or so core network partners who you work closely with (because their clients are also your target market), you can easily keep them informed of your new offerings, enabling them to better “sell you” to those clients.

Why would they help you by doing this? Very simply, because it gives them an excuse to talk more with their clients. This is an opportunity to discuss what is going on in that client’s life, what their concerns or frustrations are, and what they’ve been up to lately. This conversation oftentimes turns into a new business opportunity for your referral partners making it a win-win situation they will be happy to repeat.

The best referral relationships are the partners that are needed all of the time by your clients.  For example, I help people create new business ventures.  They all need to build referral networks, they all need Internet marketing, and they can benefit from social media, printing services, direct mail, and accounting or banking services. So, my referral network includes offerings that all of my clients will need as they grow their business.  And each of them provide something that either I can’t or don’t wish to provide myself. As such, they become natural extensions to my offering.

Some referral partners can be very aligned with what we do.  For example, let’s say that a potential client of mine is operating a business that she wants to get back onCORE to what she envisioned when starting the company.  We look at her financials over the last three years and build a model of where her business is going.  We look at seven key numbers for how her business is functioning and determine that she needs more leads coming into to remain viable.  As she works on strategies to improve her business, she will most likely benefit from the expertise of a marketing company. I work as her coach and advisor, but the marketing firm can help increase her leads. Taking this example one step further, I have several referral partners within my network that provide marketing services. My client has the option to choose one of those services that I can recommend or do the research on her own to make the most informed decision that is best for her business.

In another example, the same client might be working first with the marketing company who does not have the toolkit to do what I can do with her financials and her desire to get back onCORE with her beliefs. They are stuck in the sales process and not sure where to go next. The marketing company, as a referral partner of mine, might suggest that the client work with me to figure out how to pay for and track programs such as what they are offering to her business?

Business gets done by referral more often than not. If you are new to creating a business yourself and new to marketing it through referral networking, Dr. Misner’s 2012 book The worlds best known marketing secret (co-authored with Mike Macedonio, Julien Sharp and Jeff Morris) is a good first resource, particularly the section on building your referral network. If you’re ready to take the next step and need more information, contact us to learn more about how you can start building your social-business-referral network. If you are interested in an awesome coach who can help you build your referral network let me know and I will introduce you to her.

Search Engine Optimization

Say “What’s your SEO strategy?” to most new business owners and the invariable response is best likened to a deer caught in the path of an oncoming truck’s headlights. Many people think they can get away with a one-time SEO activity, when an on-going strategy is what is really required.

To set the stage for this topic, I wil describe my initial foray into the world of SEO.  Before you begin to even think about SEO, you need to be clear on several items. You must clearly define “who” your ideal customer is. This involves understanding their profile, what they do, their age, hobbies, likes and dislikes. Try to build personas for them. Have conversations with real people like them. Once you have a clear picture of your ideal client, figure out how much of that market is on Facebook. You can use the Facebook Ad tool to find out how many people are in a city, state, zip code, or country. This tool provides an instant updated view of the Facebook community and if you think that Facebook is only being used by kids…well then you have been sleeping for the last three years. Likewise if you think that Linked-in is where the real business gets done and not Facebook…think again.  I believe that people engage with Facebook and their “egos” engage with Linked In. Personally I would rather engage with as much of my clients or potential clients as possible and not just their “business self”.

Still asking why Facebook?  Because you can create a Facebook page for your business for free. No web-hosting and no web designer required. The process is free and only takes a few minutes to set (once you have your strategy defined that is). You can share the new page with your existing Facebook friends and you can leverage the site to find information to push to your target market using Twitter or Google Alerts. I will re-iterate…all of this is FREE. You can become the expert on what your target market is looking for and republish that information to them in just minutes each day.

What does this have to do with SEO you ask? Your free Facebook page is exposed to the Internet search engines, just like a website.  The words that you use to talk about the interesting things you find are picked up by Search Engines. This is why knowing what SEO words resonate with your target market is so important.

To figure out what keywords work for you, employ the Google Adword tool to find out what SEO terms are used by your target customer. Start using those words in your posts and reposts.  Remember to stay on brand, be authentic, and have some fun. Watch your weekly site stats to see how many people you are reaching.

It took six months of work to get my website to the point that it is now and it is still only a working prototype with almost no traffic.  I promoted my Facebook page one week ago and more people have interacted with it in the last week than have been to my website in the last thirty days.  My website traffic was tenfold higher the day I promoted the Facebook page thanks to traffic driven to the home page link on FaceBook.

Why is this the case? In my research on Encore Entrepreneurs using Adwords, I found that no one is looking for that information.   According to one survey, there are 12 million potential Encore Entrepreneurs out there; but if you search for the term in Adwords you get just 36 monthly searches for that term as opposed to 7.4 million searches for “small business”.  So, while people might intend to grow up to be an EE someday, they are not currently looking for that in their search engine.

More interestingly, I work with people to look at retirement in a revolutionary way. One would think that boomers would be all over that…NOT! Zero! Nada! However, “Retirement New” generated 135,000 monthly searches.  It is not about what we call something, it is what the market calls it that matters.  Back in the 90’s, in a product management role, I struggled with defining the market. Now it is at our fingertips, we simply have to use the tools we are given.  To play with Adwords just go to Google,  sign in with your ID and set up a free account, then get started.

So, before you hire someone to tell you what you need for SEO, do some research. Remember, the best thing about all of this is that the Google and Facebook tools are free.  It costs you nothing and there is no commitment. You can always hire someone later and armed with this knowledge, you’ll make better decision on who to hire and what to expect. This brief blog post is certainly not meant to be a complete description of what you need to do but it is designed to point you in the right direction. If you want more information, consider attending our upcoming seminar for much more details, tips, tricks and planning tools. If you take just one thing away today, let it be this: SEO is a process that must become part of your overall marketing toolkit. It is not a one-off project that can be completed and then forgotten. As a business owner it is critical for you to understand and be involved in the ongoing process.

We will be doing a seminar series on the three pillars of marketing for today’s star-ups including the topics of Internet Marketing, Social Media and Referral Networking monthly. To get on our newsletter list and stay informed about upcoming events, send an email request.  Next week we will talk about referral marketing for your start-up business.  If all this is old hat to you and you are still stuck drop me an email, I am networked to a number of SEO experts and Internet Marketing Mavens that will be happy to help you out.

Social Media, Internet Marketing, Referral Marketing – oh my….

I get email promotions every day about how to be successful in the launching of my new business.  Most of these communications seem designed to leverage fear, uncertainty and doubt.  They are particularly aimed at baby boomers, employing the concept that we are too out of touch with today’s reality (read: stupid) to be able to come up with our own social media and internet marketing strategies. And honestly, until recently the only thing that I could do with SEO (Search Engine Optimization, the major enabler for Internet Marketing other than newsletters) is spell it correctly (admittedly sometimes a feat unto itself) but all that has changed…

Most boomers were taught to read when they went to school. I realize that today many question if that is still the case.  We were also taught to do research in Libraries, using the Readers Guide to Periodical Literature and a Card Catalogue.  When it came time to turn in term papers, we used manual typewriters and white out.  If were able to figure all that out with very little help from adults who raised us without sharing that they loved us “just the way we are” but having no compunctions admonishing that “we must be seen and not heard”, then surely we can figure out Facebook, Search Engine Optimization and how it fits in with what we were raised on which was Referral Marketing.

Readers of this blog know that I am all about authentic “empirical learning”.  One thing that I have learned and both Presidential candidates are re-learning, is do not give off the cuff remarks to anyone. Someone will see them and forward it on, re-tweet it, re-blog it, post it…and in the process, distort the original intent beyond belief. We learned this concept via the game of “telephone tag” and with the advent and prolific use of the Internet, it just becomes that much easier.

An example is an earlier blog entry in which I talked about the death of a great aunt and named her. As a result, two of the relatives of the person who took her life came out of the woodwork to process their own budding awareness of the event which occurred so long ago. This was unexpected, possibly bad but probably actually good, and most definitely, unintended. Key lesson to be learned: when writing blog entries it is best to stay on track with your message.

In reviewing the statistics on my nascent web site and blog, I see very little traffic. However it has led to business and referrals. Why? Because the people that have  visited were looking at the site because I, or someone that knows me, sent them there based on a conversation. It has, therefore, fulfilled my desire to describe who I am to others.  This effort of just getting a domain name along with the process of beginning to craft and share a message has been valuable to the few who have seen it. Yet in looking at the site stats, I came to two conclusions: 1.) I need a more effective SEO strategy, and 2.) I need  a Social media strategy that gets people to my site from Facebook and other social media sites.

There are numerous consultants out there that will charge $500 or more to put up a Facebook page, or you can buy a Facebook Marketing for Dummies Book for about $25 and start to play with it yourself. As in anything else in life, it is either time or money, a day of your time and a few dollars or paying someone else for their “expertise.” The question you should be asking is what you are going to do to the site tomorrow.  The net – net, as a work colleague of mine once said, is consistency. Interesting content to your target audience pushed out on a relatively constant schedule. Many sites that I have reviewed that people paid good money to have built unfortunately had no consistency and were not very interesting.

So, in order to build consistency, you need content. Even the most prolific of us sometimes simply have nothing to say. In such times (as often as they may occur), leveraging existing content that is consistent with your websites theme is a useful tactic. Repurposing of content, adding your own insight and perspective, can help get the message out to a broader readership base and is one of the main principles behind the staggering effectiveness of communication via the Internet today.  How do you find something to re-post or post? I use two tools, Google alerts and Stumbleupon (an iPad app – also a website).  I use both tools for key-worded items like “Encore Entrepreneurs”, “Pittsburgh Technology”, etc. for my alerts. I use topics like “Business”, “Computers”, and “Spirituality” from Stumbleupon.  I spend less than thirty minutes a day reviewing these alert emails. If I miss a day, I delete the alerts and move on. However the e-mails in my corporate Gmail account remind me to review what I might otherwise dismiss or forget. This can be very beneficial on the days that “life” happens and things just seem to get away from you. Another helpful tip is to use a separate email address to subscribe to the alerts to keep my primary business address cleaner.

This is also an effective way to understand some of what is interesting to your target market. Try sending out the content and see where it goes. If something gets “likes” and is reposted, it must have resonated. If not, then either no one is seeing it or it was simply not very interesting.  When I taught executives how to use a personal commuter in the 1980’s they were afraid to touch it, my children however mastered it in days when it was introduced to our home.  To learn new techniques as adults, we have to become like little children and play. Don’t be afraid to try something new or look stupid. You will learn from the process and be able to share how much smarter you are for the journey.

Once you have created a Facebook Page for your business, and made it public, that page gets picked up by search engines.  Perhaps you found this blog entry from my onCOREventures Facebook page. We will go deeper into Facebook strategy creation in a later post. I will deal with next step, Search Engine Optimization, in my next blog entry.