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August 2008

Village Marketing

Charing 8 years ago me and my partner ended up in a lovely Kent village and we're still here (living and working). It's a medium-sized village, very conveniently located on the A20, 6 miles away from the largest town. Not a commuters village, a real 'villagy village' as one of my friends always remarks upon. The High Street (which slopes up the 'hill' so rightly named 'high') has a number of shops, offices and utilities used by most villagers (and others from further afield). Off the High Street and around the village even more businesses (small and large) are located. A thriving village!

But apparently according to a sign in the Butcher's shop-window our village is dying! (Above the window is an even larger sign: free-hold business for sale).

The sign (hand written in various colours and in capital letters) lists four other businesses/shops that have disappeared from the village over the years and now we're about to lose one of our butchers (yes, we have two butchers in our 'small' village!), followed by the 'call to action': USE US OR LOSE US.

Now that doesn't sound right, does it? It made me rather cross.

I remember, not so long ago when the old proprietor was still running this butcher-shop, frequently on Saturdays clients had to queue outside his shop. They - the queues - have gone.

Over the years other businesses - our own among them - have come to our village, working hard to supply good products and quality service. Other almost failing businesses have changed hands and consequently the business concept and marketing method have changed for the better. Our local hotel-restaurant-pub and our Health Club come to mind, rescued from the brink of 'extinction' by innovating entrepreneurs. Or the haute-cuisine restaurant which changed itself into a bistro and gained more clients and turnover. Or the Post-Office who keeps adding products you can't get anywhere else on the High Street to the assortment, like stationery and light-bulbs (where a little sign tells you that other seize light-bulbs will be sourced for you when you ask for it).

The new window sign and especially that call for action reminded me of another sign I saw before in the village. Yes indeed, some other businesses have gone, the news-agent among them. We have two convenient shops on the High Street - one at the beginning - at the bottom, so locally known as the 'bottom-shop' and one higher up - locally known as the 'top-shop'. When the news-agent closed, the top-shop had already made known they would be selling newspapers and magazines once their refurbishment was finished. Two whole weeks this shop was closed then re-opened (bright and filled with an even greater variety in products). The bottom-shop had sold many newspapers and magazines during those two weeks, then the hefty sudden increase of 'shoppers' dried up again. I passed the shop a week later and noticed a 'complaint' in the window about this drop. Why had everyone left them again?

Sounds familiar? The top-shop, closed for two weeks had offered the elderly villagers a home-delivery service during that time. The bottom-shop, although providing an 'outlet' for newspapers and magazines offered nothing more, hadn't added other items to their product range, hadn't increased their service-level or hadn't thought things through IMHO - just expected that once a client was won he/she would frequent them for ever.

Business doesn't work like that, it's the other way around: you keep supplying quality products and quality service - then we, the clients, will keep supplying you with our custom.

No Mr Butcher, this village isn't dying. There have never been more businesses (small and large) in and around our village than there are now and by supplying good quality,good service and changing tactics when needed they will survive.

So Mr Butcher, why blame your "clients-to-be" for not turning into real clients as your 'down-fall'? That's too easy.
The 'call for action' should have been another one, directed to yourself.

From Teaching Sells to Shrink Wrap Your Brain: The Making of....

Blogging is really about telling stories I found. Taking it even further: marketing is in fact exactly the same: telling a story (a good, constructive and positive one no doubt).
So let me tell you the story of "The Making of the UPAG" - my latest project.

Once upon a time.... no, let's not go there.

Last year, roughly around the same time, Lesley Perk (the IT-Girl) and I started with our blog-workshops and created a whole new 'workshop-blog' for our 'students' to practice on: The Blog-Studio. In total we organised 4 Introduction to Blogging workshops and 'educated' 12 local businesses on blogging for business. After the 'group-sessions' the 1-2-1 sessions were introduced and rather successful. But, all for local businesses and we started to think 'further afield' - couldn't we create some kind of method to reach/teach outside our local area?

At the same time Liz Strauss reported on "Teaching Sells" a new, innovative way to profitable educate your targeted 'students' online, a system created by Brian Clark and Tony D. Clark. I 'enlisted' to the program straight away. And although the concept was very interesting I soon discovered it wasn't really 'my method' of learning. (Now I must be fair: the early enlistees knew the whole system/method would be adapted/improved/edited/added along the way, but it just wasn't my 'style'.)
So back to the drawing-board - because we still felt it would be feasible to launch workshops online.

Then - as life does so often - two things happened at the same time:

  1. Richard C had introduced me to AWeber earlier - and I loved/love it! So more and more 1-2-1 advanced 'blog-workshops' centered around this Ultimate Permission Marketing Tool
  2. Ed Rivis gifted me his online home-study program "Shrink Wrap Your Brain!" (aff) - how to turn your own knowledge/expertise into a product. His program was much more my style of learning.

So, slowly the idea of Wrapping our Blogging experience into an online workshop turned into the idea of Wrapping my growing experience in everything AWeber into a product. Ed Rivis was also responsible for directing me to some other great software tools that helped me with the creation of the Ultimate Practical AWeber Guide (UPAG for short): like the ScreenSteps I use for the accompanying Manuals, DarkRoom to write my narration for the video-recordings (Camtasia was already in place since my 'encounter' with Teaching Sells).

Looking back it was definitely one of those steep learning curves you experience once in a while, but which you enjoy enormously at the same time (having learner and maximizer as 'top strengths' makes that no surprise really).
Take for instance the narration of the screen recordings. First I thought I could do that easily ad-hoc - I work with AWeber almost every day, have taught it to others and think I know it inside-out. Big mistake! I hadn't counted on my 'always active/thinking two steps ahead' mind: when going through certain steps in the program and talking about/explaining the reasons behind the sequence in the microphone, my mind would already be focusing two/three steps ahead of things and 'telling me' not to forget this and to do that next. Now, I tell you: that is confusing to say the least!

So I binned the 'ad-hoc' method, wrote down the complete narration (in DarkRoom) and just read it out - as naturally as possible and improvising where needed. I'm sure over time I will get much better in this, specially now I've found (make that Ed Rivis found) a so-called podcast prompter which thanks to my new extra wide-screen will be a true asset for further videos.

After all the screen-recording, the editing of the recordings etc was done I got to grips with Camtasia Theater. Anyone using Camtasia for (online) presentations or (online) courses: make that extra effort to turn your creation into a 'theater' - your viewer/client will thank you for it.

Writing the 'landing-page' was an event on its own. Until in some strange co-incidence with a new session of the copy-writing-gang three headlines were effectively dropped in my lap!
(Three headlines yes - split-testing is another essential item in creating a profitable product and the test is running on full throttle.) Those familiar with the Copywriting Gangster will no doubt notice the influence of these great sessions in the whole set-up. And I still think there is room for improvement (feedback, feedback please!).

Anyway, to cut a long story (3 months in now) short: Part 1 of the UPAG is finished and based on the "Ready Fire Aim" principle I took the decision to launch it. The other parts - going deeper into the features and combinations AWeber can give you - will follow shortly (don't forget I have to work on my 'day-job' too: selling wooden flooring - and there also is AWeber a great 'sales' assistant in).
I've learned a lot again, made a lot of mistakes, made a lot of corrections, made good progress sometimes, had to retrace my steps more than ones and had a really good time doing so. Who said working can't be fun?

The Ultimate Practical AWeber Guide to hyperdrive every email marketing campaign

The blog-workshop online product idea isn't binned though: behind the 'scenes' - and on the new 1 plus 1 makes 3 dynamic website (aka blog) - it's being worked on, one step/lesson at the time.

Inside Knowledge?

Read this morning in the Saturday Times and made me chuckle:

"It's just like my investments. I'll try to buy shares in
companies that are so wonderful, an idiot could run them.
And sooner or later one will.

Our country is a bit like that."

Warren Buffet - on I.O.U.S.A

Is the U.K. next?

The Quest for 'Glote Gliebels'

I'm sure you do it too. Whenever you have a discussion and you can't find the exact answer, the correct memory or link to the past nowadays your reactions/solutions is: oh, we just google on it, shall we?

Everything is 'on google', a million websites, a trillion words and key-phrases. You can find everything online nowadays to the tiniest part of the longest tail. Every search you do on one of the search-engines will bring you at least 5 to xx million relevant hits: pages, articles, PDF-files, forum-topics, blog-posts. We live in the online information age, the old encyclopedias are gathering dust in attics all over the world.  Everything is online nowadays.

At least, that's what we've come to expect: oh, we just google on it will bring us the answer: every single time.
So, imagine my surprise yesterday when, after both my partner and I had racked our brains for hours to remember who in the 70's or 80's always uttered the words: "Glote Gliebels" (Dutch/Chinese translation by a popular Dutch actor portraying a typical Chinese character: pointed hat, long black moustache, hand folded in wide sleeves of his 'kimono' and unable to pronounce the letter R) First we couldn't think of the name of the actor, until my partner's memory kicked in: Ton van Duinhoven (or Duynhoven). I tend to agree with this by lack of a better memory of it. The funny thing is, I can see this character doing its 'thing' Glote Gliebels in my head.

What we both couldn't remember was in which popular television program our 'Chinese' had a regular appearance. (Yeah, we both passed the 45 mark ;-)). So, we just google on it, not?

No such luck: not one mentioning of Glote Gliebels (google did threw up two links: both to a PDF-file of the script for an amateur play), but nothing else. Search results on the name Ton van Duynhoven (Duinhoven) brought a very limited list - including two YouTube broadcasts. But nowhere can we find/check if we are right: were the words 'Glote Gliebels' uttered by this actor/singer and in which Dutch television program?

So, the quest is on: anyone?

Funny, not? How we come to rely on the search-engines and therefore the internet to bring us every piece of information we 'need,. Or as Ann Michael of Manage to Change just wrote: In Google we trust. (And missed a lunch-appointment).

I'm sure you have the same: I can't stand not finding out ;-)

How do marketing companies market?

I'm confused (.com) ;-)

Just had a visit from a marketing company marketing their glossy magazine. He said we - as wooden flooring retailer - were an ideal business to market our company and products in this glossy house & garden magazine. (Trust me, we've tried glossy magazines before, not our 'public' - not even with tried and tested ads that do work in non-glossy monthly village directories).
Before this marketing 'expert' dropped by another marketing company had just emailed me:


XXX (name of company) is a small and pro-active advertising and marketing agency seeking new business.

We provide our clients with carefully planned solutions that compliment their marketing needs.  As well as providing the nuts and bolts of our industry - design, print, advertising, websites, etc - we add a great deal of value and service.

But what is really important for us is that we can deliver without increasing your spend on advertising and marketing.

I would be happy to discuss with you your marketing needs - please feel free to call me on: 000 000 000

I look forward to the possibility of doing business with you in the near future.


Now, don't take me wrong but "what's in it for me" when I would say yes to these marketing companies? I mean, all marketing companies promise the same. Why would one of these two deliver better? How would I benefit from one of the two, or from both? Why would I choose either of them - give me one good reason why one of them would be an excellent partner to improve our marketing efforts and attract more qualified leads, convert more leads into prospects and then into clients?
Why would one of these two stand out?

And that is exactly what is missing in both marketing messages from these marketing companies - neither of them has given me an undeniable reason for buying into their expertise. Neither have told me why their company stands out way above the others.
So how can they make me 'stand out'?

Dreams don't count when you're 90!

This morning a tiny article in the Saturday's Times caught my eye:

A care home apologised after a woman of 90 was given her wish of being served fish and chips by a man wearing a thong and see-through apron.

Woodland House in St. Austell, Cornwall, said staff had overstepped the mark.

I wonder if they mean the staff should have served a more healthier meal?

UPAG update

Over at dynamic website (aka blog) number 7 the 1 plus 1 makes 3 people (me, myself and I) are about to launch part 1 of the
Upagfront_3 Ultimate Practical AWeber Guide (UPAG for short). Part 1 on how to set up any new AWeber campaign as effective and efficient possible will be available soon, followed by Part 2 to 5 on a later (but in the near future) date to make it one ultimate practical guide to hyper-drive your email marketing at warp-speed.

In suspense!

"Now, I'm not one to put high value on rankings - ahem, what about that feedburner counter then, I hear you ask - but I do put high value on consistency."

99readers_2 That's what I wrote end of last month, but at the moment the suspense is rather high: when will it reach that milestone 100 for the first time? Today, tomorrow, next week?

Edited two hours later:

100readers_2 Well, that didn't take long!
(And I'm sure the Stumble from Richard McLauglin helped - a bit ;-))

Meta tags: for google ranking or for prospects?

A good friend of mine - who's website I transferred to a typepad (blog) platform (aff) so he can manage it for himself without having to wait until his original webdesigner finds time to make additions, change offers, add AWeber forms etc - asked me this week what he was supposed to do with a list of meta tags (meta name) he apparently was entitled of when he purchased a listing on a business directory.  "Meta tag insertion for your website" it was called.

Now, meta tags are rather standard issues for any website and can be a great help in listing your website on the search results of any search engine. But....
There are various types of meta tags: title, keywords and the description the main ones. And there IMHO was were things went wrong with this so-called professional service in trying to help my friend get a better and higher listing on the search results. All suggested meta tags were filed with keywords and a very long list with that.
Very nice for Google spiders, but for your prospects? The ones you are trying so hard to pursued to click on the link of your website when it does end up high in the search results.

Meta name keywords should indeed contain the most appropriate key words your prospect is searching for, in his case water softeners, water dispensers, Ashford water softners etc. These do 'trigger' the search engines in a good way.

Meta name title however are the words that show up in bold and linked as the first line of your listing on the search results. Your 'headline' so to say.
This was the 'title' the professionals suggested:
Water Softeners Ashford UK-Water Dispenser Ashford UK-Water Purifiers Ashford UK-Water Filters Ashford UK-Water Filter Cartridges Ashford UK

Very inviting? Or would you be more attracted to this title (or headline):
Better Water Solutions: How to Stop Hard Water damage in your home

Then the meta name description. When in doubt Google and other search engines list the description underneath the title in their search results. In fact, it should be an immediate first marketing message for your prospect.
Like on my friend's site:
Now you can make Genuine Cash Savings on:
Energy - Water heating costs - Plumbing repairs - Cleaning Chemicals, Soap and Detergents and Shampoo.
Enjoy the benefits and pure luxury of beautifully soft water in your own home now with Betterwatersolutions Kent

No, according to the professionals it should read (and entice your prospect to visit your site over someone else's website):
Water Softeners Ashford UK, Water Dispenser Ashford UK, Water Purifiers Ashford UK, Water Filters Ashford UK, Water Filter Cartridges Ashford UK, etc etc etc - the whole list contains 20 'random' items

Hmm, I rather be an amateur who knows that ranking and high listing is one thing, enticing a searcher to enter your site (and then start browsing there, contacting you for information, buying from you etc because your whole website content is a streamlined proper customer based marketing exercise) is another and far more important thing.

Where does your marketing start? Only on your website or already on the search results?