Sunday, December 18, 2011

Shout out to Seth - my marketing guru

Seth Godin is THE MAN.

There is something DAILY in his blog that has me nodding so vigorously in agreement that I'm in danger of neck strain. I keep telling people to read it. He's very smart. He's insightful in just a few words. I'm glad some people do - I just had an email from a friends thanking me for putting her onto him, he's inspiring her daily.

From today's:
"Want a bigger brand? Make bigger promises. And keep them."

The day before:
"Unfair or not, one Catch-22 truism remains: popular is often a prerequisite for being popular."

The day before that"
"Copy edit less, invent more
Give more speeches
Ignore unsolicited advice"

Thanks Seth for your daily dose of inspiration.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

What you should understand before building a website

I had one of those frustrating conversations last night, that reminded me that people still don't understand this web truism:


Now by "how it works" I mean both critical aspects:

The build - the mechanics that drive it and affect how easy (or impossible) it is to update, how well it can be indexed by Google, etc.

The sales - does it get your prospects / customers / members to do what you want them to do. Do they buy, or comment, or sign up.

If your site won't - or can't - deliver you a result, who CARES how pretty it is.

This is not to say there's no role for design. But if the world's most successful ecommerce sites are Amazon and eBay, you should have got the hint that looks aren't worth much!

I've been in online marketing since 2000. 12 years. I've worked with ALL sorts of sites, in all sorts of business. What I've seen is that websites built on CUSTOM systems are never a good idea in the long run, unless you're prepared to spend a lot of money.

By custom systems, I mean that every web company (and their dog) have built a CMS (content management system) over time. Or they've had a graphic designer "design" a pretty site and then coded it to suit.

If you are on a limited budget do NOT go this route (and even if you have a good budget, you may find that using a back end system almost no-one else uses will limit you within 2-3 years).

What should you do?

Use a cloud based computing solution like Wordpress or an open source system like Joomla or Drupal. If you want an ecommerce store, use MagentoGo or Shopify or Big Commerce.

Don't start from scratch unless you've got millions of dollars (or hours) to waste OR your website actually DOES something unique that needs unique systems and programing. Most don't. Most are online brochures or online stores.

It is not cutting corners to use these systems.

It's SMART. It's a good use of your funds. It's still a "proper" website. You wont be locked into one developer. Millions of people are using these, so you're not paying for the upgrades. It's not a short cut. It's not doing it poorly. Build your success on the learning of millions of businesses before you. That's what a smart zero budget marketer does when they can.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

The art of letter writing in business and fundraising

Copywriting is growing in importance daily, thanks to the proliferation of "online". One area that's been relying on copywriting for much longer than the age of the Internet is fundraising. A good appeal letter can make or break a charity fundraising drive. So there's lots to learn from the space.

I just received one of the best THANK YOU letters (well, an email) I've ever received for a donation. Online made it simple to send, thanks to automation, but the content is what's great.

The first line is brilliant. It subtly recognises that much of "giving" is really about making the GIVER feel good.

It then goes to to give you a little bit of knowledge, followed by a big deal of inspiration.

So it made me smile. And feel like I'm a good person. And that's I'm part of something.

When was the last time you got all that for $20?

Great letter.

Dear Kimberly,

You are amazing, thank you so much for donating to the Wikimedia Foundation!

This is how we pay our bills -- it's people like you, giving five dollars, twenty dollars, a hundred dollars. My favourite donation last year was five pounds from a little girl in England, who had persuaded her parents to let her donate her allowance. It's people like you, joining with that girl, who make it possible for Wikipedia to continue providing free, easy access to unbiased information, for everyone around the world. For everyone who helps pay for it, and for those who can't afford to help. Thank you so much.

I know it's easy to ignore our appeals, and I'm glad that you didn't. From me, and from the tens of thousands of volunteers who write Wikipedia: thank you for helping us make the world a better place. We will use your money carefully, and I thank you for your trust in us.


Sue Gardner
Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director