A crash course in digital newsletter publishing

You have probably heard from all the top Internet marketing specialists that you should have an online newsletter.  But do you need one and how do you go about creating one? And do the same rules apply as with a print newsletter?

An online newsletter is just an “Electronic Magazine.” Newsletters, magazines, and other publications that are distributed via email are often called newsletters.  A newsletter is a powerful marketing tool. Statistics show that an newsletter published consistently and coherently increases recognition, improves customer relationships, and generates strong response rates. More than 80% of newsletter readers say newsletters are useful, 90% get an idea from each issue, 75% save issues, and 32% pass along articles to colleagues. No other promotional method gives you the same value at such a low cost and has such short lead times from concept to distribution. 

When thinking about whether you really need an newsletter ask yourself these questions, Why do you want to start an newsletter? What is the purpose of the newsletter? Who do you want to read your newsletter? You must be able to answer these questions before launching into developing an newsletter.  Like any project you must have clearly articulated goals and objectives to be successful.

There are a couple of other key decisions that you need to make as well:

What do you write about in your newsletters

It helps to subscribe to every newsletter you can get your hands on, especially competitor’s newsletters.  Read at least three issues of each and decide which ones are in your own personal top ten.  You will quickly develop a sense about what you want to include in your own newsletter.  As a general guide write “how to” articles, tips, answer common questions and concerns, include newsworthy events, and other related topics.

A word of advice, try to find a path less travelled so that you can differentiate yourself from your competitors. Don’t write about the same things as everyone else, brainstorm some ideas and come up with topics that other people are not writing about. As an expert in your field, there are multiple tasks that you perform daily, just write about the things you do and the knowledge you have attained.

What response do you hope to elicit from your readers?

The ultimate goal is to sell more products or services.  This can be achieved by driving readers to your website to learn more about your products and services and/or by increasing the exposure of your company to new prospects.  This is achieved by getting new subscribers.  If you have a useful newsletter, about 30% of newsletter subscribers will pass-along your newsletter to family and friends. In other words, good newsletters spread like wild fire. Additionally, an newsletter that is passed onto you by someone you trust is more likely to be viewed as a valuable source of information.

The whole point of an newsletter is to get targeted readers to respond—to do something or to think in a certain way. Whether they respond, or not, depends on four main factors:

• their willingness to read the newsletter;

• their ability to read it;

• their willingness to do what we ask of them in the newsletter; and

• their ability to do what we ask of them.

How often do you need to publish to reach your objectives and goals?

This all depends on how often you can find the time to write the newsletter or whether you can afford to outsource to someone to write it for you.. It is better to send an newsletter infrequently then to send it weekly full of sub standard material.. Once you get more subscribers, you can increase the rate at which you send them out. Try to send out your newsletter at the same time each month or week. Subscribers will appreciate your professionalism and will look forward to receiving it

How long should my newsletter be?

This is a question many people labour over.  The key is that if it is interesting, useful and personal, people will enjoy reading it no matter how long or short it is. Like a good article, a newsletter should be as long as it needs to be.

If you want to include several articles, use a table of contents at the top of the newsletter. An example follows:

1.         Welcome

2.         What’s new

3. Feature Article

5.         Contact Information

If any of your articles are really long, abbreviate the article and link to a web page where the rest of your newsletter resides. This is also a great technique to drive readers to your website.

The only question that now remains is how do you promote it to build subscriber numbers.  With the strict privacy laws in Australia newsletters must be “opt-in”, where prospective customers give you their names to add to the subscriber list.  They must also have the ability to “opt-out” and have their details removed from your database.

There are a number of things you can do to get the word to about your new newsletter:

  • Distribute the first newsletter to former and current customers but it must have an opt-out option
  • Distribute to prospects with an opt-out option
  • Put softcopy current and back issues on the website
  • Add “Subscribe to our free newsletter” on all auto signatures
  • Send to all personal advocates and ask them to email to at least 10 contacts recommending subscription
  • Alter meta tags to include “Free newsletter” and other relevant terms
  • Add to all promotional pieces eg capability docs, editorial, press releases
  • Make sure every new contact is subscribed to the newsletter by asking “Would you like me to subscribe you?” – do it for them – make it easy.
  • Make the newsletter easy to subscribe to AND unsubscribe from on your website

One final tip, before sending out your newsletter, do make sure you are complying with Australian Privacy and Anti-Spam laws, they are very strict and you can learn more here

So there you have a crash course in newsletter publishing.  Like any communication piece they are best used as part of an integrated communications strategy so that all elements can work together to achieve your business objectives.

Turning Website Visitors Into Business or How To Avoid The “Click and Flick

Everyone talks about getting visitors to your website, but what then? How do you turn visitors into customers?  The key is that most users of the Internet are seeking detailed, up to date information.  Deny them this and you will get what I call the “click and flick”.

On the Internet, limited or out of date information is worse than putting telephone callers on hold.  With so many competing websites available your potential customers will click and flick straight to the next site.

You can tell if you are getting the click and flick – your site visitor statistics will show very short session times and a low number of pages viewed per session.  (If your website provider can’t supply this information, seriously consider giving them the flick in favour of someone who can.)  So how do you avoid this phenomenon and keep visitors on your website long enough to turn them into customers

First you need to ensure that your website has sufficiently detailed information for a customer to decide to do business with you.  The most common oversight, amazingly enough, is pricing information.  Internet users want hard information and they want it now – a call, emailed quote, or price list tomorrow will often not be acceptable.  Even when not purchasing online, visitors interested in specific price comparison will be unimpressed by non-specific information on value.  Adding offline e-commerce to your site can have a benefit far exceeding the direct sales volume by providing a structured source of detailed product specification and price information.

The next most common problem is lack of detail.  While summary information and glossy images may be adequate for your brochures, your website needs all the background detail your most experienced salesperson gives when dealing with customers in person. Think detailed dimensions, plans, layouts, colour charts.  Think performance data, explanations of design principles and rich information on the background.  Think of background information about the technology that makes your product unique, preferably with hyperlinks to pages that give even more detail.  If you’re in the service sector, think detailed examples of services you’ve provided successfully.  Visitors who have their thirst for information quenched will leave with a good impression of your business and are more likely to become paying customers.

It’s no good hiding the information several layers into your website.  If the path to detailed information is not clear, don’t expect visitors to persist until they find it.  I recall a website in which the link to price information was so obscure I could only find it using the search facility.  Having said that, a search function is a great asset – it shows you are serious about helping your visitors to find information.  Properly set up, a site search gives your visitors a powerful way of homing in on the information they need.

But the most insidious and difficult to rectify cause of click and flick is out of date information.  Failing to keep your website up to date is like letting cobwebs multiply on your shopfront.  No one would expect a customer to buy from a shop where only last year’s model was on display.  But that’s just what many websites amount to. While they were up to the minute when built they have been slowly going out of date ever since.

Another really important reason to keep content is current is to ensure your place in search engines.  Search engines put a high priority on the date of your HTML file, some even compare the current HTML file to the last version they looked at.  This explains why when you first register a website, you have great placement in the engines, only to find that within months you have slipped to the bottom of the pile.  Web readers want the newest, latest information, and the search engines are designed to accommodate this appetite.

Even if your core information does not change often, prominently posting recent news will inspire confidence.  You should aim to give visitors a reason to return to your site.  Product news releases or newsletters are good, but only if you put up at least one a month.  Another good idea is a monthly Internet-only discount – this encourages use of your website at the same time as clearly signalling that the website is up to date.  Just remember the golden rule – no recent information  is better than a six-month-old newsletter.  So if you do not have the means to easily update the content do not put time sensitive or dated material on your website.

With so many websites so grossly obsolete, many of your visitors will be overly sensitive to any hints of being out of date.  Make sure your website looks up to date – an old appearance or layout visually links your website with the enormous number of abandoned web pages and makes the click and flick more likely.

So now you’re all fired up to post detailed information and keep it up to date, how do you do it?  Broadly there are four options.  The first is to employ or train an in-house Webmaster; this may be the best option for a large company with a very substantial Internet presence but is probably overkill for most small and medium sized businesses.

The second option is to pay your website designer to post changes for you.  This works well if you have a responsive designer, although it can become costly as the scale of your website increases.

The third option is to engage a specialist content provider who will also assist you to present the information effectively, often as part of a broader marketing consultancy.  The improved quality of your content can justify the extra expense.

Finally, you can invest in a database driven website.  These enable you to add and modify content through an easy to use web interface.  As you or your staff can easily control all information on the site and update it with a single click, this is the simplest way of keeping your information up to date. This solution is also best in terms of providing detail, as your staff are invariably more knowledgeable about your products and services than any third party you may employ.

Irrespective of how you keep your content up to date, as long as you maintain a professional appearance and avoid technical errors you will be well ahead of the majority of your competitors.  And by avoiding the dreaded “click and flick” you will dramatically increase the value you gain from your Internet investment.

Brand Attention Disorder or What’s My Line?

The first question you will have is “what the hell does this have to do with a couple of little words I want to whack on my website and business cards?” My answer? This is a situation where the means is more important then the end. The process that you go through to develop your brand will provide you with the reasons why people will and should buy from you. If you do not know this, and more importantly, if you do not get this right then you cannot market your company successfully. (And that includes writing that sexy elevator pitch or strapline!)

It is easy to conclude that only a big company needs a brand. But this is not true. Every company has a brand under which it conducts its business, and thus, existing brand values and competencies. These assets can be leveraged to build brand equity, steal share from bigger players, prevent the encroachment of new entrants, and achieve marketplace success.

But brand has two strings to its bow. In just about every branding article I write, I reiterate the difference between brand development and branding. In order to develop that elevator pitch or strapline we need to understand both.

Branding can generally be defined as the constant and consistent use of colour, graphics, and type. In other words, branding is making sure the logo is always in the same place; the typeface is always the same, that the correct corporate colours are used.

Your branding consists of:
• Your name
• Company colours
• Logo
• Strapline (optional)
• Visual appearance of all online and offline material
• The way you and your staff behave and treat customers and clients

What I really want to talk about is what comes first and that’s Brand Development.

Brand development is the discovery of a brand’s distinction and the development of a communication of that distinction. Both branding and brand development are mutually exclusive functions, branding being tactical and brand development more strategic. But both are essential in professional communications. The definition of a brand is, “A claim of distinction” or “a name, symbol, design or some combination that identifies the product of a particular organisation as having a substantial differentiated advantage .” Without distinction or differentiation, your brand is generic, or in the worst-case scenario, a mere commodity. Without a point of distinction in your marketing, the message will more than likely be reduced to features and benefits. When this occurs, you are no longer communicating effectively with your target market.

Now let me connect the dots. A formal brand discovery process will uncover a brand’s true distinction, or what we call a “strategic positioning statement” — those unique selling points that no other brand in the category has. After that discovery, the next step could be to create a communication of that differentiation. Many times the outcome is a strapline like, “Nike – Just do it”, “Apple – think different” “BMW – The ultimate driving machine” “UPS – Moving at the speed of business” (Aha the strapline!)

So the first thing we need to do is develop the strategic positioning statement. Questions to ask yourself could be:

• What are your company values?
• What are the key characteristics of your products and services?
• Who’s your target audience?
• What is it that makes you unique? What are your special strengths?
• Define how you are unique – make a long list and then pare them down to a few truly unique and strong qualities
• What benefits will people associate with your products and services?
• What emotional reasons will lead people to buy your products or services?
• What do you want people to think when they hear your name
• What personality do you want your brand to portray?

Now you are ready to write down your strategic positioning statement! Before you do that here is a little checklist that will make it as easy as ABC:

Who is your Audience?
What is the Benefit?
What is the Compelling reason why?

Here is an example: For “audience”, XYZ company provide “benefit” that’s because “compelling reason why”

In practice it works like this: “For parents with young children, Michelin is the safest tyre you can buy to protect the lives of your young ones. That’s because duel-walled Michelin tyres perform exceptionally well in all weather conditions, gripping the road so you won’t have accidents.”

Michelin has a specific target, a clear benefit, and a compelling, believable reason why.

Strapline? Tagline? What’s my line?
With the strategic positioning statement in place you can now move onto the strapline. People use the terms strapline, tagline, and slogan interchangeably (let’s stick to “strapline”). A strapline is a translation of your positioning statement into a short, one-line marketing phrase, which helps differentiate your company or product. (Aha, it all goes back to that brand development stuff!).
• The strapline is a secondary sentence, attached to the logo to clarify the service and/or company position.
• The strapline needs to communicate to people who don’t know you who you are and what you do.
• The strapline must be short, probably around seven words or so.
• The meaning must be clear to everyone, not just us who know what you do
• And, it should be written from the customers or client’s perspective.
In the case of Michelin above there resulting strapline was “Because you have a lot riding on us”

Caution: Not all businesses have them, and not all businesses need them. If you think your name is self-explanatory, your logo is strong and all your other communications elements are in place – then you may not need one.

So what’s all the Hype about the Elevator Pitch?
Definition: An ‘elevator pitch’ is a term taken from the early days of the dot-com explosion when web development companies needed venture capital. Finance firms were swamped with applications for money and the companies that won the cash were often those that had a simple pitch. The best were those that could explain a business proposition to the occupants of an elevator in the time it took them to ride to their floor. In other words, an elevator pitch that worked was able to describe and sell a business idea in 60 seconds or less. Nowadays an ‘elevator pitch’ is a concise, carefully planned, and well-practiced description about your company that your mother should be able to understand in the time it would take to ride up an elevator.

Think of it this way, have you ever had someone introduce themselves, using their title, and then you tuned out the rest of their introduction? Have you ever introduced yourself to someone and watched an invisible wall come up between the two of you? Have you ever sat in a meeting bored listening to a 60-second pitch? When we tell people “what we are” instead of how our services can benefit them or “who” we are, walls often pop up. So how can you get and possibly keep someone’s attention? It all goes back to knowing who your audience is, telling them about your unique benefits and giving them a compelling reason to believe (have I said this before somewhere?)

What your “Elevator Pitch” must contain:

1. Put a tag on it.
Start with a strapline (aha there it is again!) — a wordplay to pique interest in your pitch. For example, GE “brings good things to light,” Archer Daniels Midland is “the supermarket to the world,” and the New York Times publishes “all the news that’s fit to print.” A tag line must encapsulate your business’s core purpose or product, but, more important, it must grab your audience’s attention — you’ll fill in the rest a few sentences later.

2. About 150-225 words
Your pitch should go no longer than 60 seconds!

3. Solve a problem.
Avoid sounding like a solution in search of a problem. Right after your tag line, launch into an explanation of the need you meet. If you aren’t solving a problem or filling a need, you’re in for a tough sell.

4. Passion
You need energy and enthusiasm if you are going to hold their attention. A good pitch changes the pulse rate of both people!

5. Make it tangible.
Throughout your pitch, talk in tangibles, not abstractions. Frame the problem, your unique solution, and the benefits your company will bring to the average person. Keeping it tangible means killing MBA- and tech-speak. Eg Robert Gareb might say “Utilizing the 20-48 Diffie-Helman key exchange of 160-bit Triple DES we can…” Or he could say “We safeguard your communications.”

6. Conclude with a call to action.
Always end your pitch with a call to action. Different audiences prompt different requests. Ask friends and acquaintances if they know anyone who would be interested, who’s working on something similar, or who’s got the same customers as you (in a non-competitive situation). Ask potential clients if they’d take your call, or if they’d be willing to set up a meeting. If you’re really in an elevator, offer to walk straight back to the office to talk more.

So there it is the strapline and the elevator pitch, they evolve from you intimately knowing who your audience is, what is unique about you and why people should believe you.

Top 10 Marketing Mistakes

Most marketing efforts fail NOT because of what we don’t have, but because of what we do with the opportunities we DO have. Here’s my review of the most common failed opportunities and marketing mistakes.

1. Not having a Marketing Plan
The most common marketing mistake is not having a plan.

The plan doesn’t have to be complex. In fact, sometimes something short and to the point is better.

Your plan must describe who your customers are and what you can do to make them buy your product or service. This means thinking about how you can contact and communicate with them.

2. Not having a Marketing Budget
You GOTTA have one – it doesn’t matter how large or small it is. You WILL need to spend SOME money (and time) to get people to know about your business.

3. Not understanding the value of a Repeat Customer
Too many business people concentrate on making sales and NOT on building customer relationships. You spend time and effort to convince every single new customer to buy your product or service. So think about it: is it better to have five customers that come back ten times a year or fifty new customers every year who buy once and never come back?

4. Not having a Customer Database
Get your names and contact details in a database so you can communicate readily with your customers. A phone call or an email to a trusted customer is cheaper than running a new bunch of ads.

5. Not having Sales Back-up
When your customer walks out the door, is that the last you’ll see of them? If they walked out happy, they will probably be happy to buy from you again. And if they walked out dissatisfied, wouldn’t you want to know why – and then try to fix the apparent problem?

6. Not tracking your Sales
In order to have a low-cost, high-impact marketing strategy, you MUST track every sale. There are several things you must find out:

Where/how did your customer hear about you?
Who referred them to you?
How much money did the customer spend?
How many items did they buy?
Are they a repeat customer?
Be an aggressive tracker: it will save you valuable dollars. You can do this with a simple survey form or just a friendly chat as you close the sale. Reward the people who gave the referrals. Rerun the successful ads. Reward frequent buyers.

7. Failing to Upsell
You should try and upsell every customer. Offer additional merchandise at the point of sale or, if you’re selling a service, offer more services or longer term contracts.

Sell products or services that complement you core business items.

Do pizza joints just sell pizza or do they offer coke and garlic bread as well?

Often the mark-up on these items can be a major source of profits.

8. Failing to ask for Referrals
A simple, but way too often overlooked strategy. Suggest that customers refer their friends and family to you, or if you’re more aggressive, ask them for names and contact details. You can even throw in a commission or discount for every successful referral.

9. Failing to get commendations or testimonials
Do you like to be the guinea pig for a new product or service? How do you know whether it’s good or not? If you feel nervous when trying something new, it’s the same your customers! Reassure them with real letters and testimonials from satisfied customers.

10. Failing to study Marketing
Marketing is not an exact science, but it has a rich history of successes and failures. Learn from them. What did others do right or wrong?

Talk to others in business. Talk to people within your industry. One guarantee for failure is being too arrogant to follow other’s hard-learned advice.

Read those books. Follow those examples.

Evaluate everything you see and hear and read and work out how it may apply to your business.

Marketing Campaigns that Failed to Translate

Don’t make these mistakes – they are all true!

1. The Dairy Association’s huge success with the campaign “Got Milk?” prompted them to expand advertising to Mexico. It was soon brought to their attention the Spanish translation read “Are you lactating?”

2. Coors put its slogan, “Turn It Loose,” into Spanish, where it was read as “Suffer From Diarrhea.”

3. Scandinavian vacuum manufacturer Electrolux used the following in an American campaign: “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux.”

4. Clairol introduced the “Mist Stick,” a curling iron, into Germany only to find out that “mist” is slang for manure. Not too many people had use for the “Manure Stick.”

5. When Gerber started selling baby food in Africa, they used the same packaging as in the US, with the smiling baby on the label. Later they learned that in Africa, companies routinely put pictures on the labels of what’s inside, since many people can’t read.

6. Colgate introduced a toothpaste in France called Cue, the name of a notorious porno magazine.

7. An American T-shirt maker in Miami printed shirts for the Spanish market which promoted the Pope’s visit. Instead of “I saw the Pope” (el Papa), the shirts read “I Saw the Potato” (la papa).

8. Pepsi’s “Come Alive With the Pepsi Generation” translated into “Pepsi Brings Your Ancestors Back From the Grave” in Chinese.

9. The Coca-Cola name in China was first read as “Kekoukela”, meaning “Bite the wax tadpole” or “female horse stuffed with wax”, depending on the dialect. Coke then researched 40,000 characters to find a phonetic equivalent “kokou kole”, translating into “happiness in the mouth.”

10. Frank Perdue’s chicken slogan, “It takes a strong man to make a tender chicken” was translated into Spanish as “it takes an aroused man to make chicken affectionate.”

11. When Parker Pen marketed a ball-point pen in Mexico, its ads were supposed to have read, “It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you.” The company thought that the word “embarazar” (to impregnate) meant to embarrass, so the ad read: “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant!”

12. When American Airlines wanted to advertise its new leather first class seats in the Mexican market, it translated its “Fly In Leather” campaign literally, which meant “Fly Naked” (vuela en cuero) in Spanish.

Six simple steps to running a successful seminar

Event management should be as simple or complex as the event dictates. You do not have to deliver a Hollywood production to achieve your objectives. Here are six simple things to consider the next time you organise an event or have an event managed for you.

Step 1: Planning

Start Early
The most successful seminars are those where the event planner has begun planning and working towards the seminar early. Ideally, preparation should begin three months in advance. Make sure you check other event calendars to ensure a competitor or a major drawcard event does not conflict with your date. Once a date, time and location are fixed then all efforts should be focused on achieving a successful outcome.

The Venue
Selecting the correct venue is an important part of running a successful seminar, as it is a reflection of you and your business.

Above all, it should be appropriate to the audience and the topic, and should represent you and your topic in a professional way. Before booking a venue consider the following things.

•  Don’t sabotage the presentation by holding the seminar in a room with bad lighting. Having the room either too light or too dark is not good. Find a room with lighting that can be adjusted.
•  Consider the visibility of those sitting in the audience. Make sure they can see the screen and don’t have to bend their necks around pillars or posts.
•  Is a power outlet available and close to where the projector will sit? As a precaution, it’s worth making sure that the venue has a long power extension cord available.
•  External noises will distract your audience. There are lots of venues that look great but are inappropriate because of the lack of soundproofing. Consider outside noises like local traffic or the noise from other functions that may be on at the same time as yours. If your audience has made the effort to come and listen, give them the courtesy of being able to hear the speaker clearly.
•  Is it easily accessible to your target market and is transportation readily available.

In summary, find a venue that is appropriate to your audience and then check it out for lighting, visibility, power, accessibility and noise levels.

What Time?
Selecting the right time for a seminar will have an impact on the number of acceptances you receive. The best time for a seminar will depend entirely on the type of people you are inviting.

For example, accountants, solicitors and other professional people generally prefer breakfast meetings commencing at 7:30 am. Make sure you have everyone on his or her way by 9:00 am.

Evening seminars also work well but you have to decide whether to target your guests before or after they go home from work. For example, you could consider holding a seminar at 5:30 pm and concluding by 7:00 pm so people can go home for dinner or alternatively begin at 7:00 p.m. after people have had a chance to go home. Either way, consider the types of guests you are hoping to attract and the time of day that would best suit them.

Step 2: Invitations

Timing
Make sure you give at least four weeks advance notice of your event and ensure that you make it easy for people to RSVP. That means clear instructions how and when to RSVP as well as a variety of methods eg fax, phone and email.

Offer
There must be a compelling reason for them to attend your seminar, the competition is not the enemy, time is. No one has enough time to do all the things we want to do so make sure that you provide a good reason why they should choose your event over something else they could be doing.

Step 3: Confirmations

Confirm attendance
The day before, or even the morning before an evening seminar, attendance should be confirmed, ideally by telephone. Make sure you reinforce the benefits of attending and you’ll get a higher proportion of acceptances attending on the day.

Step 4: Seminar

The role of the Event Organiser
Make sure someone is designated to greet people as they arrive, give them any handouts/reading material and make them generally feel welcome and at ease.

Open the seminar by thanking people for attending and then set the agenda (i.e. Today we’re here to talk about… it will last for an hour).

At the end of the presentation thank the speakers, and ensure someone acts as a moderator for question time.

Nametags and handouts
Nametags and handouts provide an opportunity to chat with attendees and you can also mark attendees off a master list as they arrive so it makes following up that bit easier.

Attendees should be given a handout. Ideally they should be given a copy of the presentation, a marketing document and your business card. You may also like to provide a notepad and pen. It does not matter whether they receive their handout before or after the seminar.

Call to Action
There must be a “call to action” at the end of the seminar. Saying, “if you’re interested, call me” just doesn’t work and undermines all of the hard work that has gone into the seminar. The best two ways of handling the closing are to either:

1. Have customers complete and return an evaluation which asks would they like a free, no obligation meeting with you to discuss…or
2. Tell them that you will give them a courtesy call in the next 2 days to answer any queries or make appointments for them to see you.

To help increase the number of evaluation forms that get completed, you can make use of “lucky door” draws. Why not give away a bottle of wine to the lucky winner who is drawn from a box of returned evaluation forms?

Ideally, you should also bring your diary with you to make appointments with customers on the night. Tip: Remember to write the appointment on the back of your business card so customers don’t forget!

Refreshments
Are compulsory but don’t have to be “over the top”. The purpose is to encourage people to stay, mix and ask questions. This is when you have the chance to talk to a lot of the people who have attended the seminar in a relaxed atmosphere. Breakfast presentations work well with busy people. Have guests enjoy a continental breakfast of cereals, toast and fruit, which can be laid out on tables when guests arrive. This way, late arrivals don’t disrupt the timing of your seminar. Begin with breakfast at 7:30 a.m. and have the speaker start at 8:00 a.m. As with all seminars it is very important to be on time!

Lunch presentations also work well but again don’t run overtime! Also, avoid a hot lunch because of the logistical problems of late arrivals. A sandwich lunch is normally appropriate and generally people appreciate eating before the presentation. Invite people for a sandwich lunch at 12:30 p.m. and have the speaker begin at 1:00 p.m.

Evening seminars are a bit more difficult depending on what time you expect to start. 6:00 pm or 7:00 pm seem to be the most popular times. Generally, people enjoy some sort of drink to begin with. Avoid serving too much alcohol, if any, before the seminar. You don’t want people falling asleep!

Drinks and nibbles after the seminar are very important and provide a good opportunity to mix and answer questions in a less formal environment. There are many people who don’t feel comfortable asking questions in front of an audience of strangers.

Step 5: Follow Ups

After all the hard work and planning, the follow up stage is when you get the chance to see if you can be of service to the client.

No later than 2 days after the seminar, each attendee should be given a courtesy telephone call by you, or the person who invited them, to either answer any questions they may have and/or make an appointment for the customer to see you.

Don’t forget to call any customers who weren’t able to attend. They may also like to meet to collect handouts and hear what the speaker had to say, or find out the timing of the next seminar.

Step 6: Review

The final stage in the seminar process is to review your results. It’s important to quantify what has been achieved and to understand what you can do better next time. There are two parts:

1. Immediately
Review the success of the event immediately afterwards with your colleagues who assisted. What percentage of people attended versus accepted? Were you happy with the presentations? Were many appointments made? How did the event “feel”? What aspects would you do differently next time?

2. A month down the track
Review the amount of sales you have received from those attending the Seminar. It may take a few weeks and perhaps even months to complete all the business generated by the seminar. The time frame will depend on your products and services. However, after a month you should be in a position to quantify the number and amount of new leads as a result of the seminar.

Whilst this is a very simple guide to running a successful event it touches upon all the elements that work together in creating an image for your company that people will remember. By planning ahead and paying attention to detail you can ensure they remember the positive things about you and not dwell the negatives.

Marketing Your Business on the Internet

Web marketing is one of the most cost-effective tools in today’s communications suite. It can be used for “one-to-one” or “one-to-many” communication. In effect, it combines a number of communication mechanisms into one, and therefore differs significantly from other forms of “fixed” media. To top it off, it is global and instantaneous.

Web sites enable your customers, prospects and the media to easily find out more about your company. However, the web is a pull-to, not a push-through media. You must drive people to your site and make sure that the information they expected to see is easy to find and current.

The Up Side
The web is open for business 24×7 and is an extremely cost-effective way to offer round-the-clock service. This means you can efficiently serve any part of the global marketplace.

Websites have more room to tell your story than other communication medium, and are therefore able to assist in taking prospects from awareness, interest and desire to action (AIDA model) to purchase your product or service.

Web marketing can be used interactively to engage your customers, prospects and the media. You can build ongoing relationships using a combination of web tools such as chat rooms, e-mail and e-zines. Communication on a regular basis, and in a personal manner, is made easy.

The Down Side
On the flip side, the web attracts a limited market, and the demographics of web users are changing every day. Figures show that in November last year, more than half of Australian adults had regular access to the Internet. Some of that access was work-based and the number of households with an Internet connection was about 37 per cent.

Therefore your entire target market is unlikely to be on the web, so web marketing cannot be used in isolation and must be integrated with your other communications mediums.

Security, or the lack of security, is a major issue on the web for the online buying and selling of goods and services. Unfortunately, many people don’t yet trust the web, which means that you need to go that extra mile in providing security, guarantees and money-back offers to your customers to prove that you have a genuine offer.

And remember promotion of your site only makes up about 20% of your Internet Strategy, development costs are often 40-50% of the total costs and maintenance can be 40% of your web costs. So make sure you are spending your money in the right places.

Web Do’s and Don’ts

• Be realistic about your site needs. Don’t try and create the web site of all web sites.
• Ensure you have a domain name that is relevant to your business, memorable, and hard to misspell, eg www.yourcompany.com.au
• Don’t leave web site design to the technical department. Your web site is a marketing tool.
• Have someone responsible for managing your site, and ensure they are empowered to answer questions. Visitors expect quick responses to all communication on the web.
• Think about site structure from your visitor’s point of view. Remove funky page names that make it difficult to guess the content.
• Check your entire web site for spelling errors. Nothing turns prospective customers off faster than incorrect spelling and grammar.
• Refresh your pages on a regular basis. Don’t carry outdated information on your site.
• Use graphics selectively. Visitors are more concerned with content then needless flashing images or icons, unless they serve a true purpose.
• Check for broken links on your site. These can be very frustrating for users, especially if it is an e-mail link to you.
• Your web site is global. Ensure your full international contact details are shown, and steer clear of local jargon or slang.
• If you offer products for sale over the web, ensure that you offer secure ordering.
• Advertise your web site address, not only in search engines but offline as well: on your business cards and stationery at the very least.

5 Fatal Marketing Clichés to Avoid

Marketing is abounding with spectacular creative work, powerful messages and innovative campaigns. But with less than a quarter of consumers saying that they trust ads, it becomes very important not to fall into the trap of monotony, and to that end, cliché.

These days much more effective than a catchy tagline, is the interaction or conversation sparked between a company’s customers and consumers. As social and digital marketing continue to rise to the top of the food chain, it becomes clearer that the channels in which taglines worked best are no longer perceived as the most reliable ones.

Reliable, popular brands are sparking conversation, and a key to sparking conversation is saying something different. This means it is almost as important to differentiate your brand from your direct competitors as it is to differentiate it from other marketing tactics across other industries.

Here are some of the most cliché tag lines or promises that ads make, and that your brand should avoid using any iteration of if it wants to stay in the game:

Our company does ______ so you don’t have to. Popular in an age where new apps and technologies consistently aim to streamline our lives, this is one of the oldest clichés in the marketing book. Just playing around with syntax and punctuation can help you to frame your value proposition more creatively.

World-class. Claiming that your product is the best of the best is very direct… and very transparent. It falls into the trap of putting brand before the customer. Visit our Challenger Marketing Center to learn more about crafting a message that conveys true commercial insight.

One million people can’t be wrong. First of all, of course they can. Second, be more specific. What are those million people doing? Why are they doing it? What do they have in common? This cliché suffers from not digging deep enough.

One-stop shop. Marketers probably hear this one from their ad agencies as much as they put it back out into the world. It’s an oldie, but it has regained popularity as the Internet expands—Lots of technology aims to do more things with less space, so it’s no wonder we hear this everywhere.

Take X to the next level. What is the next level and why do we need to get there? Again, it’s important to think about what exactly your product offering is before you can sell it. If you switched the logo on this ad to one of your competitors’, would it still be true? Work from there!

Have you seen any of these clichés tweaked so that they work well? How have your brands re-purposed them for multi-channel marketing?

One Billion websites and counting. How does your website measure up?

I just can’t help myself, as soon as someone says they have a website I offer to take a quick look at it and see if I can improve it for them. I am almost on a mission to make every website more attractive and profitable. With 2015 set to be year that we reach the milestone of one Billion websites again (last time it was September 2014) your website just has to stand out. So here is my quick rundown on the things I look at and maybe it will help you out as well.

1] First impressions count
Your visitor will make a judgement of you and your business almost the moment your site loads. You need to display a professional appearance. Anything that looks like an amateur put it together will shadow your credibility. Your visitor’s first impression is critical.

2] Home Page – The Biggie
The first thing that greets your visitor needs to make an impact. This is your billboard. Tell your visitor exactly what they want to know about you and do it in the first couple of lines. Unless this information virtually smacks then in the face, they may leave quickly and never return. The dreaded “bounce”

3] The Message
This gives the visitor a reason to stay. Can your visitor see who the message is being directed at and can they see why your site is better than all the others that are offering much the same thing? This must answer their question: WIIFM – “What’s In It For Me?”

4] Load Time
How fast does the page load? Run it thru www.pingdom.com continue to make changes until you have the speed of loading your site down as far as you can. If graphics are a big part of your page, and quite often will be, optimize them as far as you can without losing their impact. It is imperative that the home page especially loads in less than 15 seconds. Most visitors will never stay around. Eliminate music, applets, heavy graphics or whatever it takes to optimize the load time.

5] Graphics
How pertinent to what you are trying to convey are the graphics that you are using? A picture says a thousand words, it’s true. And it’s difficult to show your product or service and to excite the senses without the use of graphics. In addition to optimizing them by reducing the number of colours, also reduce the dimensions and once again eliminate all that are not necessary to convey your point.

6] Fonts – Readability
Use basic fonts that are easy to read and keep their size where they can be easily read by all visitors at all screen sizes and resolutions. Make sure there is plenty of white space and that text is blocked into small sections. People do not usually read web pages word for word. They skim and pick and choose what catches their eye. Encouraging them to read more of what you have to say is easily accomplished by grouping the text into smaller bits that are easier to assimilate.

7] Skimming
Even when your reader skims the page, how easy do you make the task. Use a lot of short headings and small bits of text. Highlight special items, use colour changes, or use centering or dividers. Draw your reader’s eye to important information that you want to convey.

8] Quality of Text
Your visitor does not like to read a lot. As they skims thru your text, is your copy direct and to the point? Or does the reader have to swim thru a lot of words to find out what you are trying to say? Don’t “fluff up” a page just to meet a certain word-count requirement for SEO. The questions to ask yourself are: Have I said everything I could? Have I overcome all objections? Have I showcased the product or service? Does the copy encourage the next conversion step? Have I connected with my reader?

9] Navigation
How easy is it for your visitor to find their way around your site. Do you make them have to use the back button on their browser to get back to your home page or any other page on your site? Provide a link back to your home page on every page on your site. Do not allow your visitor to ever be lost or you might lose them as a customer.

10] Forms
People do not like filling out forms. When you use forms keep them as brief as possible. Use check boxes whenever possible. If you gather email addresses, be sure to let your visitor know how they will be used. Spam is very prevalent on the Internet and your visitor does not want to receive any unsolicited mail. You will increase your integrity by letting them know exactly how you intend to use any information that you ask them to supply.

11] Testimonials & Reviews
Your honesty and integrity is of utmost importance on the Internet. Your visitor wants to know that others are happy with your products and/or services. Provide testimonials that you receive from customers that have used your services/products. This is one of the most important things you can do to insure your credibility to new visitors and Google loves them

12] Errors
Check and recheck your site. Nothing will turn a visitor away quicker than a lot of spelling mistakes, broken links or missing graphics. Try http://www.brokenlinkcheck.com to test for broken links.

13] Mobile Friendly Website
Last but not least, make sure your website can be viewed on a mobile device. Have you ever tapped on a Google Search result on your mobile phone, only to find yourself looking at a page where the text was too small, the links were tiny, and you had to scroll sideways to see all the content? This usually happens when the website has not been optimized to be viewed on a mobile phone. To check whether your website is mobile friendly try the Mobile Friendly Test https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

That’s a quick spring clean for any website and here’s to the next one billion websites!