Wednesday
Apr142010

FLC at Pubcon

I've been at Pubcon South 2010/ Dallas today, and will be here again tomorrow, learning cool new ninja tricks to help my clients' businesses.  Pubcon is an amazing conference with emphasis on SEO, social media and a bunch of other dorky stuff.

I wanted to share some cool advice that I've received thus far today, because I'm filled to brim and about to burst with great ideas.

From Ted Ulle with Converseon, an awesome point was made.  He said that too often, companies design their websites like applications.  There's a difference between websites and applications.  Application users are willing to LEARN about an application because they purchased it.  Your website users are NOT willing to take time to learn how to use your website.  It's ridiculous to think that a user would spend more than 5-10 seconds looking for information when they could very easily go to your competitor's site and have a much better experience. 

Additionally, you should never design a website for YOUR use.  Rather, design your site for your user.  Bring in a few random folks, treat them to a cup of coffee and ask questions.  "If you were trying to find a widget, where would you look on my site for information about said widget?"  "Oh really?  You'd look under 'Products' instead of 'Services'?"  Once you figure out how someone completely unrelated to your business would use your site, you'll have a much better idea of how your site information architecture should flow.

Another really good thought was from Scott Stratten of Un-Marketing.  His point was that you should not have a presence within the social media conversation if you don't want to or intend to be present.  That is to say that you should NOT have a Twitter account, or a Facebook page or a blog, if you do not use them.  Nothing looks worse than someone happening upon or finding your blog and discovering a single three line post from 2 years ago.  This is the equivalent of you shrugging your shoulders and saying "Eehhh.  I really don't care that much to communicate with this potential customer."

Looking forward to sharing more about what I learn here!  To follow my ongoing tweets about what's happening here at Pubcon, check out the Fresh Look Creative tweet feed here.

Monday
Apr122010

Sacrificing for Social Media Glory

We design logos.  Did you know that?  We're a marketing company, so maybe you just assumed that we offered this service.  Well, you assumed correct!  We've done our share of brand creation, but this is not a blog post about OUR brand creation services, so read on...

We've started doing some work for a client who's number one goal is to get his company's site to the top of Google for a certain keyphrase.  This is a marathon, not a sprint, and we continue to look for ways to edge closer and closer to this goal.  One of our first initiatives was to integrate social media for this client.  Google now indexes Facebook and Twitter postings, so it was important for our client to be found in these places.

About a month ago, I discovered an opportunity for a client that made me both jump for joy and swallow my pride.  You may have heard of the innovative company I Wear Your Shirt (I actually blogged about these guys many months ago...)  Very simply, you send them your shirt, and they wear it.  Well, maybe not that simply: you pay them to wear it.  And then they blog about it, Tweet about it, create video posts about it, etc.  As I've told you before, I love good ideas.  And this was a great one.  In March, I Wear Your Shirt partnered with two designers and launched I Design Your Logo.  Aside from the fact that I wished I'd thought of the idea, I was ecstatic. 

We'd just started working with For Sale By Owner Homes, a flat fee MLS listing company, and this was a great way to increase their social media impact AND get a new logo designed for them.  Also incredibly intriguing is the pricing structure used by both I Wear Your Shirt and I Design Your Logo.  You would pay $2 on the first fiscal day, and the price increases by $2 each day.  So, we paid $86 for today, April 12 (I Design Your Shirt's fiscal year started on March 1.)

Since uploading the new For Sale By Owner Homes logo to the web about an hour ago, they've written a blog post about the new look, tweeted about the logo to their 511 followers and posted a link on Facebook to their 224 (and growing) fan base.

Aside from getting backlinks in new, highly-ranked places, by client will also get exposure to hundreds of new potential customers.

Search for unique ways to get out your message, and opportunities to piggyback on the hype or good ideas of someone else.  Even though I didn't think of this cool company idea, my client will benefit greatly from it.  And, if you don't mind, head on over to I Design Your Logo, and let everyone know what you think of our client's new logo.

Friday
Apr022010

Customers Always Right?

Hopefully, you see the irony in this video.  In these real life customer service situations, some of the shenanigans that clients try to pull on us every day seem quite ridiculous.  The video store, restaurant and hair salon are all businesses as well, but most people would never dream about trying to contest the price of a menu item.  You ordered the steak, knowing what it would cost, and you pay for it before you leave.

So why, in other business situations, are these client behaviors considered acceptable?  We may not like it when a client behaves in this way, but most of the time, we grin and bear it.

Recently, a client asked me to write a media kit for him.  Prior to beginning the project, I gave him a quote of the project cost and he agreed.  Upon receiving the first draft, he reviewed the text, made a few revisions and we were done.  When it came time for him to pay the invoice, he fought and argued, saying my work wasn't worth what he had agreed to pay.  Thinking he wasn't pleased with what we did, I asked him what he meant.

"I like what you did, but it didn't take as many revisions as I thought it would.  So shouldn't your quote be reduced?," he asked.

While not all marketers work on a per project basis, we do.  He wasn't paying me by the hour, but for the finished project, no matter how long it took.  When I reminded him of this, he continued to push, convinced I should lower the price.

In a world of heavy competition and in a struggling economy, maybe we should always have the attitude that the customer is always right.  I would bring up a different point, however.  I believe that our businesses will suffer if we don't stick to our guns.  I've traveled that slippery slope before with a client - she asks for an inch, and then takes a mile, and expects similar concessions with every project in the future.

The simplest, and really the only solution, is to work with your clients diligently, managing their expectations from the beginning of your relationship together.  And politely stick to your guns.  If you agreed to a certain price, do yourself a favor, and stick to it.  Only make concessions if they're necessary- as in, you screwed something up.

You will loose a client or two along the way.  That's not fun, but ultimately, you will end up having happier client relationships with people who do respect what you do, and are willing to pay you a fair price for your services.

Thursday
Mar182010

YouTube the New Google?

It was announced last week that YouTube is the #2 most searched site, second only to Google.  What does this mean for you, as an entrepreneur?  Well, it means that a LOT of people are going to YouTube to search for answers/ content.  More so than Yahoo or Bing, or any other search engine for that matter. 

So, it's high time you introduced some video content for your business.  Actually not as hard as it might have once been, video content is a high priority for those businesses who desire to be found online.  There are a number of video production companies out there who specialize in video for web, or you can delve into online do-it-yourself.  If you search on YouTube, you'll find quite a lot of crap.  So, you just have to make a relevant, content-rich, less crappy video. 

Once this information came out about YouTube being so highly searched, I was charged with the task of getting one of my clients on YouTube.  For Sale by Owner Homes already had videos on their site, as a lot of folks do, so we just had the team that created the videos combine several of the short clips into six informative YouTube-ready videos.

Take a look at one of their videos:

This is a great example of offering relevant, informative information while still promoting your business.  Not a straight up commercial, but you'll find the company's contact information subtly on the screen. 

Adding videos to YouTube is quite easy- don't forget to add a title, description and tags for your video to make it easily found.  These will affect your video's ranking on YouTube initially, but your ranking will ultimately be driven by incoming links, number of comments, subscribers to your YouTube channel, views of your video and number (and quality) of sites that host your video outside of YouTube.

Wednesday
Mar102010

My Title is Cooler than YOUR Title

Okay, not really.  This is somewhere that I could actually use a little work.  So, because I'm enjoying learning quite a bit about search engine optimization (or SEO) these days, I thought I'd share a little insight on how you can continue to improve your business's crawl towards to top of Google's rankings.

Today's topic: Title Tags

Title tags are just that- a title for your web page. 

I pulled a screen shot of my website home page to show you exactly what I'm talking about- the part circled in red in your title tag.  What's important for you to know is that title tags are really important when it comes to SEO.  As in, it's one of the first things that Google sees, and should tell them exactly what a user will find when they visit this page.

So, what I'm saying, is that using "Home" for your title tag isn't the best option.  Really, instead of using "Home" I should tell Google a little more about what can be found on this page.  Some options would be:

"Fresh Look Creative - Boutique Creative Services Marketing Shop"

OR

"Creative Services Marketing Shop - Fresh Look Creative - Plano, TX"

Or something to that effect...  Being as descriptive as possible (in a very short amount of characters) is the goal, and trying to ensure that you're using highly-searched terminology is important too.  That's why 'boutique' may not be the best term for me to use- even though that's a pretty commonly used term for us marketing folks, clients more than likely won't be using that as a search term.

Also, your title for each page within your site should be different.  So, whatever I decide to use for my home page title, I should use something different for my 'About' page.

So, how do you change your title tags?  Well, for me, I've got a content management system (or CMS) that allows me to just fill in a little blank.  If you don't have a CMS built into your site, you will have to alter your title tags within your HTML.  (Get with your webmaster if you have any questions about this.) 

My hope is that little tips here and there will help you consistently improve your SEO.  But, it is a full time job, as there are ALWAYS little (and big!) things that you can be doing to move your site up in the ranks.  If you have any questions, let me know!  Good luck!