Chris Johnson is a colleauge of mine at HubSpot.
Here's a rough transcript of a recent call:
CJ: Hello Mr. X. You recently did a search at Google for "The Best Search Engine Marketing Program Available 2008". It looks like you found us. Are you trying to optimize something?
Prospect: blah blah blah.
Two things that made this blogworthy, atleast in my opinion.
- That's Long Tail. We certainly didn't set out to rank for that "search phrase". It happened, though. I'd imagine that noone will ever type that phrase again. But, when we add up all of the 1 time relevant phrases that people type, it starts to add up to a lot of visitors and leads.
- Google Delivers "the Best". It's interesting how people ask Google, a computer that crunches our links to determine quality, for the "best" solutions. During Mark Roberge's presentation on SEO yesterday at the WBJ Sales Summit (his slides), he used the example of searching for "best plumber". Sam Wildt raised his hand and made the point that the person that ranks at the top isn't necessarily the "best". Mark agreed and explained that Google makes their best estimation. The crazy apart about it... is that many people start their search with "best" in front of their search term. They must believe that Google brings back "the best" or atleast some approximation of it that helps them start their buying process.
How recursive is this?
As this gets published, I'm speaking on a panel at the WBJ Sales Summit w/ Mark Roberge and Dave Hurlbrink. Mark is speaking about SEO. Dave is speaking about sales workstyle management. Together, we're doing our best to spell out important pieces of an inbound marketing strategy that will help the attendees improve online lead generation and lead nurturing activities within their organizations.
Here's my presentation on why blogging is an important component of that.
I'll also be referencing a few links during the presentation.
Blogging as SEO Machine.
Check the results on google for "a search for Central New England Sales Summit". Also, take a look at how well my article about blogging and sales ranks for a keyword search of "improve your sales process".
Blogging as the Host of the Conversation
Take a look at Dave Kurlan's article where he asked people what their best sales advice is. Take a look at this article and how my clients endorse us in public in our comments, where our prospects read it. Noel Huelsenbeck:
"John is right on one account when he says "learn how to market
your business on the web yourself" I would add, and do it using a
proven methodology and experts, then add the hard work. Why John is out
searching the web trying to find the short cuts and getting "free" info
I've already designed my site, ranked my keywords, gotten leads, made
sales and taken my $250 investment and made thousands."
Blogging as Networking Central
This blog post about the best internet marketing blogs led to many new relationships for me and HubSpot. I also make a habit of answering questions on LinkedIn where I can leave links to relevant blog posts. After the sale, I also frequently highlight my clients as I've done in this series of posts where I asked individual clients to share their internet marketing advice.
Blogging as Lead Nurturer and Lead Capture Tool
I'll be referencing this quote from Rick Roberge's blog (who's speaking now in the other room, btw):
I've had conversations with peers about whether salespeople should generate their own leads.
I've even gone so far as to say that the stronger your lead generation program(s), the weaker you are encouraging your salespeople to be and vice versa. The weaker your lead generation is, the stronger your salespeople need to be.
I'm constantly getting pushback. Salespeople want fancy websites, big advertising, more mailings, marketing support, yada, yada, yada. Anything for more leads so they don't have to work so hard.
In summary, blogging is an extension of what I do as a salesperson. It helps me generate leads, nurture prospects and sometimes it's the thing that seals the deal.
I've been talking to Alex West from RR Donnelly recently. She sent me examples of lenticular printing so I could see what she does.
See the animiated gif above. Lenticular printing actually makes that happen on paper. It requires 3D Photography to make it happen.
I'm more of an internet marketing guy. I don't usually blog about this kind of stuff. I've had slight departures - talking about trade show marketing and direct mail. However, I'm fairly immune to being "marketed to". I usually find what I need and discover new stuff online.
But, this was a little too cool not to share. (My 20 something coworkers were fighting over the martini glass print.) If I received something like this in the mail, I'd probably actually read it. Apparently, based on Alex's lenticular printing marketing case studies, I'm not the only one.
Fabrice Grinda, founder of classifieds site, OLX, answered my business advice interview questions. There's some great advice for any business owner, especially if you're an internet marketing startup or trying to figure out internet marketing for any type of business.
When & why did you start your current business?
I left the last company I had created in November 2005. Once again, I went back to 9 business selection criteria and started looking for new opportunities.
It struck me that there were 5 big trends in the world:
- 1. There is a transition from offline media consumption to online media consumption
- 2. There is a transition from offline advertising, especially print advertising, to online advertising
- 3. There is a transition online from paid business models to free advertising business models
- 4. There is emerging market growth with GDP per capita and Internet usage growing faster in the emerging markets than in the developed world
- 5. There is a massive transition underway in the $100 billion a year classifieds market from paid print classifieds to online print classifieds. This transition is already well underway in the US and Western Europe, but is only in its infancy in the developing world where newspapers continue to dominate classifieds online and offline.
Given those trends, I created OLX free classifieds in March of 2006 with the objective of building the largest free classifieds site in the world. OLX is essentially Craigslist 2.0 for the world!
What is your unique selling proposition?
OLX is the next generation of free online classifieds.
OLX provides a simple solution to the complications involved in selling, buying, trading, discussing, organizing, and meeting people near you, wherever you may reside.
First and foremost, while Craigslist is essentially in English all around the world and only covering the main cities in each country, OLX is in the local language with all the major cities of the country covered. OLX is already in 25 languages. We aim to end the year in over 40 languages!
The second fundamental difference is with regards to the business model. Almost all classified sites charge for jobs and real estate and are only temporarily free with the objective of eventually charging to post a classified. OLX intends to remain free to post forever. We use an advertising business model which we will supplement with featured listings in the future.
The product is very different as well. OLX has taken all of the major Web 2.0 elements and brought them to classifieds:
- We have a fantastic mobile classifieds version of our site that lets you do anything you can do on the web on your mobile phone!
- You can easily design rich colorful listings with pictures and videos
- You can display your listings on your social networking profile (Facebook, MySpace, ...)
What do you like most about internet marketing?
Over the years, I have tried all forms of advertising: TV ads, radio ads, print ads, flyers, banner ads, etc. When promoting online products, search advertising is by far the most cost effective marketing method other than SEO and viral marketing (if your site lends itself to those).
The users are already online so you don't lose a large percentage of the audience. Moreover, search users are looking for something hence any click is likely to lead to a high conversion rate. Best of all, you can track everything the search users do and can optimize your campaigns to meet your ROI goals.
We use a fantastic SEM shop called Keyade for all of our keyword buying globally in all languages on all search engines (including Baidu in China).
A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with Jen from The Ladders. We share a common investor, so we were just trading notes. She brought up the fact that our lead intelligence was pretty cool.
I pointed her to my post on HubSpot called "How to Use Your Blog as a Sales Tool" which talks about our lead intelligence tool and how I use it.
Then, I had a random thought that most company's inside sales teams are untapped internet marketing workforces. If trained in internet marketing, they could be very powerful forces for a company in the social mediasphere and blogosphere.
Sales professionals should use the web to:
- Attract traffic to their company's website. Generate their own referrals online.
- Assist in lead capture by sending people directly to register for marketing webinars and white papers.
- Nurture prospects that need more education by guiding them towards website-accessible information - helping influencers to get the attention of decision makers. (The phone and figuring out what is important is critical here too.)
But, imagine your 5, 50, 500, 5000 salespeople fully trained in internet marketing best practices, driving traffic to your website from linkedin, the blogosphere, Twitter, etc. Imagine them asssiting with SEO, link building and lead capture. And imagine them using the web to educate engaged prospects.
That's a lot of untapped potential.
Do you know any organizations that are this forward thinking?
Leave a story about how you, as a salesperson, have used social media to engage or nurture a prospect. I might use your story when I talk at the Central New England Sales Summit. Share your story over here if you're interested in potentially attending for free.
The other day, I posted a guest article to my blog about why small businesses need to take control over their online presence, because if they don't someone else will. It was written by Malcolm Shepperd from Gill Media, a smart guy who knows his stuff.
Shortly after the article was published, I received three comments from the same person. The first one said, "Does any mailer out there track the opens when they deploy". Not only does the sentence lack punctuation, it is irrelevant to the article. I clicked the person's name to go check out their website and I saw a press announcement about how they just launched an email marketing tool. If that wasn't enough, she posted the question twice and then left a third comment that said "Great Post. Very Informative" with a link to her website in the text of comment.
Malcolm's whole post was about protecting your online reputation from other people who might try to sully your company's reputation online. I didn't think I'd have to advise people to avoid being idiots in order to protect their own brand online.
So, I called and her and told her that link building by leaving comments is not that effective and that I'd send her an email with a link to article about why leaving comments does not usually support search engine optimization if a site uses no-follow. I asked her to stop doing it on my website. She said, "no problem". I told her I'd be happy to talk to her if she wanted to talk about proper ways to build links for her company and her clients. Yes, her company provides internet marketing services, believe it or not.
I also told her that leaving comments is a good idea. But, they shouldn't be covert attempts at promoting her own business; that they should add to the conversation with an insightful question or comment that is relevant to the article; and that she shouldn't include URLs in the body of the text. Here's good advice:
Why not worry about No Follows? Because ALL humans ignore No Follow. If you participate in a blog comment discussion and link to your site, chances are readers of that blog will follow the link ... building to your site's traffic. The more popular the blog, the more traffic you can build.
But do not place a signature link in the comment body itself except for critical circumstances. Linking to your own site in the comment body is not only spammy in nature, but can also get your name, site, email and IP flagged by 'social' blog spam software like SpamKarma, and get your comments automatically deleted from dozens of blogs which use the application.
Using blatant Anchor Text instead of a handle or name in the Name field of blog comments can have the same result, so don't do it!
The conversation reminded me of all of the comments we had on the HubSpot blog about link building, leaving comments and SEO. We got a pretty good chuckle out of that comment thread, where many of our commenters refused to believe that leaving comments on blogs that employ no follow didn't help their search rankings.
There was one very valid point that several commenters made, though, and it's best summed up by an article on Search Engine Journal:
I've always been an advocate for active blog commenting playing an important role in the online marketing mix for a massive amount of reasons, even beyond SEO.
By taking the time to comment on blogs, even one or two comments per day can lead to extremely positive results such as reputation building, expert positioning...
While SEO Consultants will debate whether No Follow links from blog comments help out with SEO or not, marketers should leave comments on other blogs as a way to generate direct traffic and to network and meet people with common interests.
Marshall Kirkpatrick on the early success of Flickr:
Customer Service is The New Marketing
One of the most important elements of Flickr's early success was its incredible engagement with its users. Flickr management spent what might have seemed like a totally unreasonable amount of time welcoming new users to the site, participating actively and promptly in forums and highlighting the best photos uploaded.
That kind of engagement can turn passing early adopters into ongoing community stakeholders and advocates. It's something that any startup could benefit from emulating and a role we're seeing formalized in an increasing number of companies hiring community liaisons.
I recently wrote a guest post on Aaron's ColdCalling2.0 blog talking about how happy and successful customers are the best inbound sales lead generation strategy:
Referrals & Brand Searches - Your best marketing is happy customers. In my previous company, after a few years of working at it, 100% of my business came from referrals. Customers have the ability to sell your services for you because they have little to no selfish interest in you bringing on new clients. So, when they recommend your product or service to a peer, they're not only establishing that you're credible, but trustworthy. The trust implicit in their relationship with the prospect they're referring is transferred to you.
There's an old saying that says it's hard to predict referrals. It's also expensive to build a brand (although fairly easy to measure brand awareness). However, I'd argue that if you're doing the right things for your clients and you're truly a stand for their success, it will happen. On the web, you can accelerate the pace by entering the conversation, setting the precedent for receiving referrals by giving them and by generally making yourself available to speak with new people whether there's an immediate direct connection between their need and your service or not. Practically speaking, I recommend starting a blog and reading these tips on using a blog to improve your sales process and how to use LinkedIn to drive traffic to your website.
What are you doing to:
- ensure your clients' success?
- refer business to your clients?
- facilitate connections between your clients who'd benefit from knowing each other?
- give your clients the tools to talk about you to their contacts online?
- ensure that your clients are referring people to you online and these referrals are receiving vip treatment?
- acknowledge the customers that refer you business?
Is this stuff part of your customer on-boarding process? Are you rewarding your account managers who excel at fostering mutually beneficial interaction swith and among clients and generating referral business?
I had a conversation with someone the other day who was interested in HubSpot. They were referred by a client. I asked him how I could help him. He hadn't really bothered to understand what we do.
I positioned us a few times (ie We help small business owners who are frustrated with not getting
enough leads from their website and online marketing activities.) He didn't bite. He kept insisting he was doing pretty well with his internet marketing. Unfortunately, he wasn't. Then, he proceeded to pitch me on the idea of trading advertising on his site for HubSpot services.
I told him that we have no need to advertise on his site. We have more leads than we can handle and we know what we need to do to get more, if we need it.
I used to trade services. But, it never worked for a variety of reasons.
Here's my rules taught to my be Rick Roberge:
- I'll buy your service if I have a need and it helps me fill that need.
- Feel free to buy my service if you have a need and you're convinced that it fills the need.
I think the people that try and trade their way to success just don't know how to discover needs and align their product to the needs of the customer. This is going to result in no sales, which is going to result in no cash flow, which is going to make it difficult for them to invest in anything to make their business better, including their online marketing.
Which is a shame because there are a lot of entrepreneurs and small business owners out there with great ideas and great passion.
Trading is often used by entrepreneurs as a sales shortcut because they do not have the ability to sell. Before they're going to see their business succeed by closing new business, they need to
learn how to identify problems, establish urgency and to present approprate
solutions when the time is right.
Unfortunately, they probably also don't have the willingness to make the changes in their business (and themselves) in order to learn these skills.
I found this article, "Why SEO Industry Needs Small Business
", written by Matt McGee of Marchex
Here are the reasons why he thinks the SEO Industry needs SMBs, according to the article:
- Your big clients will eventually disappear. (Meaning they will have in-house SEO talent.)
- Small businesses are/will be increasingly interested in search marketing.
- Finding accurate information about SEO and search marketing is tough.
I agree with all of his points.
Unfortunately, Matt is looking at this from the angle.
Small businesses need Search Engine Optimization. They are now educated enough to know they need it.
Unfortunately, large SEO firms will never serve small businesses.
What IS happening is that most small businesses rely on local web design and development firms to do SEO for them.
This isn't good either because most of these firms aren't that good. Or the good ones are too expensive. And worse, most do it in isolation without their clients involvement and treat SEO like a one time activity.
That's fakin bacon. Not SEO.
SEO should be done by the people that invent, make and sell the products at the company. They will need to learn the basics and manage the process internally. After they learn the basics and have the right SEO tools and systems in place to track leads and sales generated from their activities, they should should hire a full time blogger and social media marketing coordinator who is responsible for teaching the entire organization how to leverage the web to generate interest, website traffic, leads and sales. Outsourcing this task is like outsourcing your face to face networking or all of your customer service. It's core to the business.
The most time consuming task required - in order to do SEO successfully - is content creation. Should you really fully outsource the voice of your company? If you're going to outsource it, shouldn't it be to a writer or a messaging person?
Further, in the very near future, even GOOD SEO skills will ultimately be like html writing skills. Many more people know how to write html now than in the 90s. Now, you wouldn't pay someone $150/hour to write html like people did in the 90s. In a few years, we'll look back at the $150-$300/hour pay that good SEO firms receive and think that was pretty silly too.
Business advice from design build remodeler coach, Mark Paskell:
- What is your unique selling proposition? The Contractor Coaching Partnership coaches and mentors residential contractors, using litmus tested, proven, best practices specific to the residential construction industry, and combines them with a powerful self improvement program.
- When & why did you start your current business? When? I started my business in February of 2008. Why? To have my own business and go after my dreams.
- What was the smartest business decision you've made in your current business? To build my business through referrals and personal introductions.
- What do you like most about internet marketing? I like the fact that you can reach many economically.
- If you had one piece of internet marketing advice for another business owner, what would it be? Do not waste your money on unproven website and IT services or people.
And before you say, "Ooh. Ooh. I want one." Hold your horses. They'll be released to the wider public shortly.
Mike Volpe interviewed my HubSpot Client, Betsy Davison, Founder of ArtID, the artist marketing community website
If part of your job involves initiating conversations with prospects, you need to read this email chain that Dave Kurlan has shared between him and a prospect:
Lesson - Even if you fail to get a response or you get a negative response, keep at it! The key is to get a response - to something - to get a dialog started.
Dave's example is about contacting a referral. However, the same principles apply for following up on web generated leads. Do what you need to do to just start "any" conversation.
With referrals, I usually keep at it until I figure out whether I can help the prospect. However, with leads, it is two strikes and their out. Dave's example makes me think that I'm not doing enough before I abandon that lead. The main reason I don't is because I'm looking for low hanging fruit in a humungous orchard. In plain english, I have more leads than time.
Anyone have this problem? How do you make sure you do the things necessary to get people into conversation with you?
I was invited to speak at the Central New England Sales Summit alongside my sales mentors.
will be speaking on a panel about how the internet is aiding the sales
and lead generation process. For a sneak peak of some of the things
I'll be talking about, read "13 ways to use your blog to improve your sales process", "sales lead generation through online business networking" and "how to generate a steady flow of leads".
Also, we're giving away 3 passes to the event to the people with the best answer to the question, "How has the internet changed your sales process?". Leave your answer in the comments on the HubSpot blog.
They're also looking for nominations for Central New England Sales All Stars. (More from Dave.)
Business advice from CPR recertification expert, Darcy Cook:
- What was the smartest business decision you've made in your current business? We purchased a subscription to salesforce.com and transferred all of our client information into a client and sales management system.
- What person has had the most impact on the success of your business? My brother, Joe. He is the behind the scenes, "make it all happen", unsung hero of my company. I don't make a decision on growth unless I have his support. I create it and he makes it happen. He allows me to manage the business while he works hard to operate the business.
- If you had one piece of internet marketing advice for another business owner, what would it be? Do it right the first time. Moving toward the "latest and greatest" technology is inevitable. So, spend the time and research all of the options out there. Learn about how to maximize your website, SEO, Blog, Social Media, Video, webinars, etc..... Find someone who is already doing and using all of the tools, buy them a cup of coffee and listen.
If you're in central MA, I recommend you beg Darcy [or Joe] to buy her lunch (not just coffee) and ask her to tell you how they've become Central MA's latest internet marketing success story.
Register for the short webinar and online speed networking event.
Here's a quick introduction/explanation of the material to be covered:
Small business internet marketing advice from Gabe Amey:
- What's your unique selling proposition?: HawaiiVALoans.com is an informational website provided by VA approved lender, HomeLoan Financial. Our main goals are to provide Veterans the facts about the VA Guaranteed Home Loan Program so that they are aware of this great benefit. As a lender who specializes in VA Loans, HomeLoan Financial has the people, tools and resources to streamline the home buying process and help Hawaii's military personnel and Veterans enjoy the benefits of Homeownership.
- When & why did you start your current business?: HawaiiVALoans.com was Launched in December 2007. Through my years in the mortgage industry it was apparent that VA eligible home buyers were not properly informed about their benefits and many of these home buyers chose to acquire mortgage financing through subprime sources that had high interest rates that were not locked in - rather than doing a VA loan. I knew I had to educate these buyers to help them understand that utilizing their VA loan benefits would provide a better long-term financial situation for them instead of doing a subprime or Alt-A mortgage.
- What was the smartest business decision you've made in your current business?: Building the website HawaiiVALoans.com.
- What person has had the most impact on the success of your business?: Frank Schilling - Domain Investor (http://www.SevenMile.com).
- What do you like most about internet marketing?: Internet Marketing is still in it's infancy. First participants in this marketing channel have an advantage over their competition for the specific keywords they are targeting. Also, internet marketing is easier to measure and track than traditional marketing methods.
- If you had one piece of internet marketing advice for another business owner, what would it be?: There are many levels of internet marketing, and the methodology behind internet marketing is always evolving and changing. You constantly need to be reading, learning and testing new strategies to stay current with the most effective methods of internet marketing - or you will be left behind. "If you are not growing, you're dying".
Business advice from Daniel Elliott:
- What's your unique selling proposition? As is evident in our Big Canoe real estate blog, we love the community where we sell real estate. We have intimate knowledge of the community and our passion shows through in our blogging and the way we serve our real estate clients.
- When & why did you start your current business? We started IBA Mountain Homes in August 2005. Selling real estate in the North Georgia mountains, and more specifically Big Canoe, is a great way to make a living. We have no commute and get to enjoy the natural beauty of the Appalachian mountains.
- What was the smartest business decision you've made in your current business? Using the internet to advertise. Originally, our internet advertising campaign was completely PPC driven. Since we've started blogging, our natural rankings have soared, and we no longer have to rely on PPC.
- What person has had the most impact on the success of your business? My wife Karin. How could there possibly be any other correct answer? :)
- What do you like most about internet marketing? I think the best part of internet marketing is the freedom to engage our blog visitors in a friendly and conversational way. Writing about our mountain community here in Big Canoe isn't a sales pitch to buy real estate. It's an honest testimonial to what a great community Big Canoe is.
- If you had one piece of internet marketing advice for another business owner, what would it be? We started our real estate blog in December of 2007 for our Big Canoe homes for sale site. We wrote blog after blog, and we often wondered if anyone was reading a single word. Nobody ever commented on our blogs which was discouraging. Nobody ever contacted us regarding our blog. Sometimes, I felt a little like the village idiot of North Georgia talking to myself and writing notes that nobody would ever read. Then things started to change. Even if nobody was reading, we were creating a larger footprint / presence on the web. In late February, the New York Times contacted us to be included in a tiny article in their travel section. They would not have found us if it wasn't for our blog. This resulted in several leads for us. In April, we started to have the occasional visitor leave a comment. In May and June, the comments increased more, and ALL the leads we have received in the past 2 months have resulted from our blog articles. We also have found that often our leads come from blog articles that aren't specifically discussing real estate. These people felt they made a connection with us for another reason. Recently, we had our community paper contact us (and link back!) about a local event we had blogged about. So while some people may think I am still the village idiot, at least I know that they are reading what I write. :) Simply put, my advice is to be persistent and try not to get discouraged. Blogging will produce quality leads.
For the record, based on my interaction with Daniel in the HubSpot client only forums, Daniel is certainly not a village idiot. I'd consider him a very clued-in internet marketer and I'm sure he's equally sharp when it comes to real estate.
Business advice from internet marketing expert, Kara Brook:
- When & why did you start your business? I started my business to get through college (I was self supportive from a very young age), on the day that I graduated I figured that not all 12 clients would fire me on the same day. I stuck with it for the last 20 or so years, reinventing it every five years or so out of necessity to keep up with the times.
- What was the smartest decision you made in your current business? Focusing and specializing purely on the web, rather than trying to do everything (print, broadcast, etc.)
- If you had one piece of internet marketing advice to give to another business owner, what would it be? Start your web projects with a keyword strategy. Don't go right to design without first considering how people will find you using your most important keywords.
I have never spoken with someone who has been happy with their experience buying SEO services from Network Solutions. I have not hired them myself. So, I have no first hand experience. And I welcome them to defend themselves in my comments. However, I've had a handful of clients who had negative experiences with them.
This is from a colleague:
They hired Network Solutions to do some SEO work and it did not yield more traffic and leads.
This is from a client:
"Network Solutions and [my business] were not a good match. Their communications were not timely and their reports were not user friendly."
The interesting part is that I am sure Network Solutions knows what they're doing. Here's a video with an exec at Network Solutions. She knows SEO and has good advice:
Here's the problems I have with Network Solutions:
- SEO is rarely successful, where success is defined by a measurable marketing ROI, if it is a one time outsourced task. Network Solutions sells it as a one time outsourced task. SEO requires a collaborative effort between an SEO expert and the subject matter expert who is creating compelling content. In house subject matter experts can be trained to do the basics and be successful if they're blogging and doing keyword research. But, if you're going to outsource SEO, you need a long term partner. It's not like buying advertising. It's more like hiring a salesperson who focusses on lead generation/lead qualification.
- It is extremely difficult to guarantee results. I've helped 50+ clients rank for their keywords and I rarely ever guarantee a ranking for a specific keyword. In other words, I know what it takes, but I don't make specific guarantees. My guarantee is that if you do what we tell you, you will generate more traffic and leads within a few months. Network Solutions guarantees top 10 results in one of a few top search engines. This is sneaky and doesn't necessarily translate into results. Surprisingly, or not, many small business owners fall for the guarantee. I'm reminded of the scene from Tommy Boy when he suggests crapping in a box and putting a guarantee on it - in order to battle a sales objection. I might start using that line.
I'm fine with Network Solutions selling SEO services. They just need to start doing it right. There are enough fly-by-night operations selling SEO shams, that make it harder for the good guys doing the right things for their clients.
Not only do they have a reputation to protect of their own. They shouldn't be doing the internet marketing industry a disservice.
Network Solutions should be taking the high road. They should be selling SEO results and delivering an iterative SEO process. Not selling a few promises and a few hours of "SEO work".
from MA bankruptcy attorney
, Dave Lima
- When & why did you start your current business? I worked as in-house counsel for a real estate developer in Concord, MA. He did projects in New Mexico, Florida, the United States Virgin Islands and Martha's Vineyard. In addition to doing his legal work I acted as his office manager. In 1992 he told me he planned to retire in 2 years and I should plan for that. I decided to open my own practice with a law school room mate. He did workers comp and personal injury. I did real estate, bankruptcy, and family law.
- What was the smartest business decision you've made in your current business? Using the Hubspot marketing software. It's already produced 3 new bankruptcy clients and 1 divorce client since May. Much more than the yellow pages EVER did.
- If you had one piece of internet marketing advice for another business owner, what would it be? Put the time in and follow a plan. Create the content. Then optimize for key words. Then build links. Most importantly blog, blog, blog!
from Dr. Edward Kwak
- What is your unique selling proposition? Our business is one of the few practices that specializes in Asian Cosmetic Facial Surgery.
- What was the smartest business decision you've made in your current business? First and foremost was incorporating an effective and targeted internet marketing strategy.
- What do you like most about internet marketing? What I find most rewarding is the immediate and direct changes you can make on your business plans. If done right, the impact can be significant and immediate.
Trish Bertuzzi has published the results of a inside sales training benchmark survey of 63 technology companies regarding their inside sales practices.
You should read the full report. But, it shows some interesting results:
- Most inside sales training is focussed on product knowledge instead of sales skills.
- Most training is delivered by in-house resources.
- Most firms are unhappy with their sale training process.
- Most firms are not willing to invest more than $2k/year in training an individual inside sales rep.
What's wrong with this picture? I can imagine it's difficult to examine your own sales operations critically. I imagine most sales organizations just focus on seeing what they do right and doing more of that.
But, it's pretty glaringly obvious to me that most organizations are satisfied with mediocre.
I'm not sure what the average tech inside sales person makes, but I'd imagine it hovers between $80-200k. And organizations aren't willing to invest more than $2K to help someone improve?
Business advice from Sanjib Sarkar
- What is your company's unique selling proposition? We sell homeopathic medicine products online. Our company also sells other natural products to consumers such as Poison Ivy Lotion, Poison Ivy Pills, Natural Pet Meds, Sun Block and other products.
- When & why did you start your current business/take your current position? Our website started in March 2001. I basically saw a need to provide homeopathic medicine on the Internet. We were the first company to offer this type of service. Now many other companies are started to offer similar services. I have been president of Hmedicine.com since 2001.
- What was the smartest business decision you've made in your current business/current position? Drop shipping products. We carry quite a bit of products so our company is not a 100% drop ship company. However, we specialize in selling hard to find homeopathic medicine. These are great items to drop ship because consumers have a difficult time finding them. Also, they make poor items to stock because a few select people are looking for these homeopathic medicines. We were able to create a niche market because of this.
- What person has had the most impact on the success of your business/career? It has been a host of partners and people helping with the business. I could not name just one. It really takes a team effort to be successful.
- What do you like most about internet marketing? The challenge of dealing with Google. Your site can be ranked in the top 10 one day and you may be in the top 100 the next day. This makes Internet marketing very challenging but at the same time very interesting.
- If you had one piece of internet marketing advice for another business owner, what would it be? Patiently create great content. The website rankings will take care of themselves if you create the great content. You need to have some patience because it may take search engines and people longer than 6 months to start responding and sending you traffic and sales.
I'm starting a business advice interview series, mostly small and mid sized business owners, who are willing to share some advice with my readers.
Business Advice from Dave Kurlan:
- When & why did you start your current business? Sales development was a calling - destiny - what I simply must do in this lifetime.
- What was the smartest business decision you've made in your current business? A 1992 decision to have PENTA Communications handle marketing and public relations. By 1994 I was playing to national audiences.
- What do you like most about internet marketing? Internet marketing includes writing, blogging, emailing, connecting and reading... activities that I enjoy but don't have any time for during regular business hours when the greatest impact I can have on my business takes the forms of selling, managing, coaching or training. That forces me to perform internet marketing either at night or early in the morning, where it doesn't interfere with the more profitable activities. I don't have time to conduct traditional marketing activities during the day and they can't be performed outside of regular business hours so the intersection of after hours availability and internet marketing make a nice couple.
Betsy Davison has a great article on the benefits of using a community site to market art online. ArtId (a client) has a nice set of capabilities for artists.
As I mentioned before, I'm intrigued by the value of vertically focussed online marketing platforms. There are nice network effects that kick in that help both the community and the platform provider - as the network grows.
I wrote a guest post over on Aaron Ross's blog titled, How to Generate a Steady Flow of Inbound Sales Leads.
I summarized a few points on the HubSpot blog and there are a few relevant comments over there too.