Friday, December 5, 2008

Two Posts Worth Your Time

The 12 Most Dangerous Words in Business
Check out this post - it's funny and a warning to all of us

Time Off for Good Behavior
You all know how I feel about companies letting employees volunteer, but here's more support for making it a policy at your company

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Cool New Tool

Barry Schwartz writes a column about Googles new search-based keyword tool that gives a good overview of a very useful tool. If you are looking for some help with keywords for your site, give the column (and the Google tool) a try.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Online Ad Design for Radio & TV Advertisers

The partnership between 2AdPro and MediaSpan was announced* today - (*Full client disclosure is due here: I worked on this announcement, but that isn't the only reason why I like this partnership.)

2AdPro and MediaSpan Enable Radio and Television Stations to Create Custom Online Display Advertising for Local Advertisers

It's good news for small business and here's why:


  1. It's a benefit to local advertisers to have as many ways as possible to get an online presence.
  2. Not every small business wants to go the route of self-service search advertising, but hiring a designer is costly.
  3. This has left a lot of small advertisers scrambling to find low-cost online display ad creations.
  4. The ability to work with the local radio or tv station (with whom many small advertisers have an existing relationship) opens up a lot of opportunities.
Anything that opens up online advertising - inexpensively and professionally - is a good thing.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Customer Surveys

I love 'em for the most part, but have seen mega-abuse among marketing consultants who recommend surveys to small business clients. Problem is, most people don't really understand the number of ways that results can be skewed.

Here's a post, The Art of Customer Surveys, from Guy Kawasake that pretty much says why customer surveys s*ck, and the one question that can summarize everything you need to know when you do s survey. This is one blog post I'm going to recommend every client reads before (s)he consents to a survey.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Local Media a Hit for Web Advertising

Like many local business owners, you're probably confused as to where to advertise on the web...you get all this advice, and it all sounds like a lot of time, money, experimentation, and work.

OK, so it's true -- a lot of opportunity is out there. But here's a report that provides good data to review: Titled, "Local Online Media: From Advertising to Action"

It's the overview of a study conducted by the Online Publishers Association with Jupiter Research and released this month. And it turns out that what those online newspaper reps have been telling you is true. Here are some of the key findings:
  • Visitors to local media sites –online newspapers, TV and magazines -are more likely than visitors to other sites to take action after seeing local ads: from making purchases to visiting sites and stores
    •Local media sites attract valuable audiences who spend more money online than visitors to other local sites
    •Local newspaper and TV sites lead all others in advertising trust
    •Local content sites attract a high number of influencers –the first person others come to for local recommendations

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Lovin' the Intuit Jingle Generator


Thank you Intuit Quickbooks!

You have come up with a number of rockin' promotions for small businesses in the past, and your new Jingle Generator for small businesses - featuring Tommy Silk helping businesses create a song that uses the business name and information - is very fun. (well, it is just the smallest amount annoying - it would be better if the jingle and the spiel before creating it was just a bit shorter)

Ok, so a business may not buy TV time to feature it, but I say it's a viral idea that will get some play as businesses put the jingle up on blogs and web pages.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

SEO and Local Newspapers

Andrew Shotland, one of the SEO gurus I greatly admire, has two posts I especially enjoyed today - one had to do with local newspapers, and one -- fanciful and fun -- was a call to his readers to help him rank higher in Google when someone searches for "Andrew."

Seriously, he's always worth reading anyway, so check out Local SEO Guide

How Well Do You REALLY Know The Newspaper Industry?

How Well Do You REALLY Know The Newspaper Industry?

Editor & Publisher reprints economist Robert Picard's test about the economics of the newspaper industry- and since everyone who has a stake in local marketing has some interest in newspapers, I wanted to pass it on here.

Think you know what to expect? Here are 3 of the 10 questions.

1. The average newspaper circulation is about(a) 150,000(b) 110,000(c) 85,000(d) 50,000(e) 35,000.

2. Newspaper penetration per population(a) Has remained relatively stable(b) Dropped suddenly in after 2000(c) Dropped suddenly in the mid 1990s(d) Began declining steadily beginning in 1980s (e) Has declined at a steady pace for 50 years

3. Newspaper advertising income reached an all time high of $49.3 billion in(a) 2006(b) 1999(c) 1993(d) 1989(e) 1984

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Dell Giving Away $10,000 Office Makeover

Dell small business is giving away office products - including a $10,000 Dell Office Makeover - so check out the tongue in cheek promotion that pokes gentle fun at those clich├ęs everyone throws around but no one really knows what they mean — Dell’s Synergistic Mission Critical Out-of-the-Box Sweepstakes.

I've been using Dell products since, ummm, around 1995 and though customer service has grown irksome over the years, I keep buying Dells - in my mind they are great small business products. Really, these computers just seem to fit the balance of reasonably priced, good value, dependable machines.

(Now if I could just figure out why the keyboard on my current Vostro keeps getting jammed...)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Community Coverage Up - What's It Mean for Local Businesses?

Today there's a story in the NYTimes, As Papers Struggle, News is Cut and Focus Turns Local, primarily reporting on a newly released study from Pew Research, The Changing Newsroom: Gains and Losses in Today's Papers.

Among other interesting tidbits, the study shows that 62% of a cross-section of American newspapers have increased community coverage.

One of Pew's key conclusions is, "Papers both large and small have reduced the space, resources and commitment devoted to a range of topics. At the top of that list, nearly two thirds of papers surveyed have cut back on foreign news, over half have trimmed national news and more than a third have reduced business coverage. In effect, America's newspapers are narrowing their reach and their ambitions and becoming niche reads."

So how does that play out as an ad vehicle for local businesses? Sadly, it doesn't much matter.

While newspapers fumble with content and formulas and business models, they are still locked in the past so far as an ad vehicle. The old model is, "We have lots of interesting content, which brings readers, which means any ad you put alongside that content will get eyeballs."

Well - the eyeballs are diminishing, the page size is shrinking, the content is not compelling, but the ads are still smished together on page after page.

Is any newspaper saying, "What can we do to so advertisers get better visibility? Are we tracking results our advertisers get and working on helping them get better results? Are we helping readers find ads that are of interest to them? Are we using all our media together to be sure that an ad buy with us becomes valuable content to our community? Is our content and our advertising working together to provide a valuable product?"

As far as I know, it's not happening.

I get the whole separation of advertising and journalists. Honest. But the whole model of how advertising fits into the changing face of the newsroom is one that demands exploration.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Best of Local

The folks at Local.com have taken an age-old tactic used by newspapers and created a "Best of" promotion.

Given that Yelp.com (a Local.com partner) is big enough that folks are beginning to look at it with a little more skepticism, the timing is good and I like this recent promotion even though the prizes for the business are a little chintzy (publicity, enhanced SEO listing). Seems the company could have arranged a co-promotion with Staples for $100 gift certificate. Anyway...I stray. This is an example of a promotion that works:

Local.com Corporation (NASDAQ: LOCM), a leading local search site and network, announced the launch of the company’s “Best of Local” awards program.

The annual “Best of Local” program will feature the best businesses as rated by consumers in 15 cities and 20 categories across the U.S. Businesses will be ranked based on the quantity and quality of the reviews that have been submitted about their business by visitors to Local.com. “Best of Local” winners will be selected and announced on December 1, 2008.

For more information about the “Best of Local” program please visit: www.local.com/bestoflocal.

To help kick-start this new program, the company also launched a “Best of Local” weekly drawing for a $500 American Express® gift card. Visitors who write a valid review on a local business at Local.com will be automatically entered to win. To register and enter to win please visit: www.local.com/bestoflocaldrawing.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Better Dead than Read?

From Goldman Sachs analyst Peter Appert, in a Wired blog entry titled, Media Death Watch, Newspaper Analysts Dwindle:

"If I covered only the newspaper industry, first of all I would have been fired a long time ago; secondly, I would have had to kill myself."

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Farmers Market Gets It Right

This week I got a call informing me that I was the "Santana Row Farmers Market Customer of the Week." Doesn't that sound grand? I love it.

A bit of background: Every summer weekend I do a trip to one of the many farmers markets in the area -- at least a half a dozen within a 10 mile radius supply me with ample fresh fruit and vegetables (and honey, olive oil, bread) grown within 50 miles of my house.

Last week I went to one that I hadn't frequented yet this year, and filled out a form to get on the mailing list. Three days later I got a call, informing me I was the "Santana Row Farmers Market Customer of the Week."

For this honor, I won a basket of veggies from the participating farmers. (To which I say, "HOOORAY - count on finding a big pot of vegetable soup on the stove next week.")

They could have just called and said, "We're happy to inform you you won last week's drawing." But I much prefer that they dubbed it an honor, and named me "Customer of the Week." If there were such a thing as a Resume of Daily Life, this sounds worthy of being listed as one of the honors bestowed upon me.

It's a thank you for shopping here, an honor implying I'm somehow worthy, and a recognition of good luck all wrapped up in one phrase.

The marketing person got it perfect...kudos to you, and thanks for allowing me to have this brief queen-for-a-day moment.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Small Business Press Release Tools

Duct Tape Marketing has a helpful entry with ideas for small biz press releases titled The Press Release Triple Threat.

It lists these three free tools that a local business can use to help get some things in the works that will send traffic to your site:
  • Instant Press Release - use this tool as a guided template for creating and formatting your press release properly
  • Press Release Grader - Take your written press release here and run it through a process that can help tell you how to make it even better.
  • PRLog - with a strong release written, you can come here and to get your release distributed to thousands of news sites and feeds.
Generally I'm opposed to junky PR methods, including sending out reasonably unimportant news. But this is a search engine kind of thing - and these tools look simple and just right for the kind of announcements a local business might have: a new employee, an upcoming sale, a change in hours, or even spotlight on a specific item in stock. Note that none of these are tools you'd use if you are making a signficant announcement or are trying seriously to reach the media.

Check out the above, and check out Duct Tape Marketing - let me know if you try any of these tools and if they work.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

You Need a Great About Us Page

Most of you have heard my rant about the importance of the About Us page - way, way, way too many sites have a lousy About Us page. (Like those diseases advertised as 'silent killers,' a bad About Us page costs you money & customers that you never even know you lost).

Anyway, Marketing Sherpa has provided some back up data about why it is important to have a good About Us page. (Company information becomes crucial to people who want to buy from you or do business with you -- not at first, but at the crucial negotiation phase).

The story is only open to non-subscribers until early July, so I'd suggest you visit it now, and glean the good information which includes WHY it is so important, as well as some ideas on WHAT should be included: 1. Up-to-date material 2. Customers - (Who else do you work with?) 3. History 4. Location(s) - 5. Boards of directors/advisors 6. Media coverage 7. Blogs/thought leadership

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Web users say "no thanks" to the home page

BBC News reports the latest annual data on web habits and it's bad news for folks who hope to monetize site visitors by getting them to browse the site.

A growing majority of people go directly to what they want on a web site, complete a task, and leave. According to the report, efforts to make them stay just try the user's patience.

In 2004, about 40% of people visited a homepage and then drilled down to where they wanted to go ... In 2008 only 25% of people travel via a homepage. The other 75% come into a site via a link or search result directly at the desired information. Most of those people do not visit the rest of the site.

"Basically search engines rule the web," Dr. Jakob Nielsen, a usability expert, concluded.

While marketers have always SAID that people demanded functionality, the truth is, many web sites (maybe MOST non-ecommerce sites ) count on moving traffic around the site once a visitor arrives. Marketers haven't caught on that the search engines are training people to go directly to the content and that users won't put up with sites that try to force a corporate mission ahead of a user's convenience.

For the life of your site - it's time to rethink your design.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Dull, Boring Web Sites are - uh - Dull and Dumb

Debra Mastaler has a rocking, awesome post titled, "Dull, Boring And Cheap Means No Links For You" on Search Engine Guide.

Her point is simple -

"No matter how I spin it, when I tell someone "Dude, your site is boring and lacks credibility... No one will link to it unless you make some changes..." it doesn't go over well... It's easier when you have something tangible to point to..."

Way too many companies - and many of them tech-based start ups - pay little or no attention to creating good content on their web sites. I get it...content is time consuming and takes effort, thought, and work. And yet - I'll go one better than Debra and remind you that dull boring content says that is pretty much the way you see your business. One advantage you have as a small or local business is that you are not some nameless, faceless company -- so I say, STRUT YOUR STUFF.

If you can't do it yourself, there are always folks (a commercial for myself should go here, yes?) who are writers and will take the ongoing task of creating your copy.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Great Post for SEO Folks

Thanks to Rae Hoffman, whose post in Search Engine Land, "Link Development Tool Shortcuts for Firefox" is great stuff for anyone interested in linking building or SEO shortcuts.

There are a couple of links in the post to pages of SEO shortcuts, and also some great highlights about the information, such as:

  • MSN Link from Domain Search: Shows you a listing of sites that a specific URL is linking to.
  • Google News Site Search: Allows you to quickly identify if a publication is listed within Google News as a source of news content. Hoffman notes this is one potential signal of the quality of and value in obtaining a link from a specific site
  • Yahoo Search to See if a Site Is Linking to You: Does a quick search to see if a specific domain is linking to your website.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Of Offers and Opportunities

Just some misc notes that have been in my 'blog it sometime' stack...

Tech help -- Small businesses need help with tech stuff according to the non-profit California Small Business Education Foundation, and for sure, they are correct. So the group started a web site with info and links to free resources. The site isn't everything it should be, or needs to be, but it's new, and no community is born fully functional, so take a gander.

The 48 hour day -- It bugs me a little that when Macy's has a "One Day Sale" it's always a two day sale. The day before is thrown in as a "preview" but the full promotion is in effect, so what the heck. I'm sure their smart market-driven we-measure-everything people can show that the words "One Day Sale" provides urgency. But it always bugs me.

The fiber-filled promotion -- I like oatmeal as much as the next boomer-who-suddenly-knows-what-fiber-is, but I was surprised to find a door hanger on my mail box promoting the opening of Mustard Cafe a few blocks from me. The franchise surely knows what pulls best, and I'm sure they work with their owners, but the offer was "Join us for a complimentary bowl of hot oatmeal on Monday, Wednesday or Friday between 7-11 a.m." Aside from the fact it's spring, (not exactly oatmeal season), I wondered why restrict it to three days. My best guess is that it is meant to give the appearance of a special offer but really not provide one...sort of a way to get the attention without giving anything. My impression: Get Real!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

20 (Rare) Questions for Google Search Guru Udi Manber

Popular Mechanics has a great interview with Google's Udi Manber that gives a peak into that powerful entity we call "search" and speaks to the current trends, the future of search, etc.

I heard Manber speak at a Kelsey Conference a few years back - he was in charge of Amazon's A9 search product when it was trying to change the search universe -- and he was a great speaker. Well, no surprise, he's a great interview too. I'm working on that talk for the SNA newspapers about basics of search engine optimization, so my mind is full of search engine stuff these days, and I like that Manber lifted my vision above the mundane with quotes such as this, when asked how search has changed:

"I like to say that it’s almost science fiction every five years. When the first search engine appeared in ‘94, compared with when I came out of academia in ‘99, compared with the way it was in 2003, compared with the way it is today—every five years there have been just incredible advances. What we do now, we couldn’t have foreseen 10 years ago. Today we’re finding a lot more information, and the questions are getting a lot harder."

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Hunting for SEO Success Stories

I'm busy getting together a presentation for the SNA / E&P Interactive Media Conference (that's Suburban Newspaper Association and Editor & Publisher for those who don't know).Topic is "Big Ideas in SEM/SEO for Small Papers "- and I'm hunting for some case studies and big ideas. I've received ideas from two of the smartest folks I know in this area: Greg Sterling and Andrew Shotland. Also got some interesting ideas from Tami Damiano who is with ABC Search, an ad network working with smaller sites.If you can recommend any tips or tactics, or can recommend people who have had success with optimizing search for the local market, I'd appreciate a heads up. Thanks! And if you are planning on being at the conference in May, let me know.

Scott Hepburn Gives Us Some Great Small Biz Website Tips

Note: Scott Hepburn - Marketing. Simplified. has experience (and if you read his PRStore blog he also has a lot of wit) in working with small businesses - he kindly contributed some tips for setting up a web site

1) Remember Your Audience
The #1 mistake of amateur Web site builders is forgetting the audience. While it's tempting to write a Web site about how amazing YOU are, focus instead on your customer and the benefits you offer to them. Don't stick to your typical lines, either. Ask yourself, "Is this information my customer wants to hear, or is it just information that I want them to hear?"

2) Contact Us Form
A contact form lets your customers contact you with a question or comment. It's also a great way to gather their contact information so you can follow up with a personal e-mail, phone call, or direct mail. A personalized response goes a long way.

3) FAQs
Frequently Asked Questions give you a chance to provide context and clarity to your customers. Remember, they may still be at the beginning of the buying cycle, so it doesn't hurt to educate them about their choices. It's all part of building trust, which leads to sales

4) Headlines Matter
Studies show that Web readers have even shorter attention spans than offline readers. Headlines should express in very clear wording how you'll improve your customer's life. Attracting attention is a good start, but you have to hold their attention, too.

5) Special Offers
You use special offers to attract customers offline...why wouldn't you do it online? It's one more way to guide Web site visitors down the path to becoming customers.

These are just a few ideas to get you started. I'm here to help if anyone has questions!


Posted by Scott Hepburn - Marketing. Simplified. to Get Real Marketing: For and About Local Marketing at April 8, 2008 6:33 AM

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Big Idea for Small Blog - how web to print increased readership and revenue

Interesting post in Read/WriteWeb byJosh Catone, Who Says Print is Dead? Local Blog Finds Success Offline.

It's a brief case study of The Flying Pickle, a hyperlocal blog in New Zealand that organized its best posts each week into a print edition that it delivered via post directly to the homes of local residents.

This is one of those smart but simple ideas, a 'bootstrap' marketing tactic that could work for small online sites, local community papers, and neighborhood blogs. Check it out.

edit: Here's the link to the original case study published by Zeta Prints

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Trying Out Zemanta

As most of you know I am enamored with new gadgets, and I'm trying out Zemanta, a new Firefox plugin.

Zamanta is supposed to add all sorts of new capabilities to my blogging by suggesting links and photos and tags. You can judge for yourself how well Zemanta works.

First, I'm preparing to give a talk at the Suburban Newspaper Association Interactive Media Conference. The topic is "Big Ideas in SEM/SEO for Small Newspapers," and I'm on the hunt for some big ideas.

My idea was to invite smart people who really understand SEM to contribute ideas for the newspapers - so please send me your suggestions for smart people. Naturally, I'm not trying to steal their ideas - I'll give them full credit, and also list them as resources.

I'm also totally enjoying spring time, though I haven't put my tomatoes in yet and I'm behind schedule for that. Last year I planted an heirloom tomato that was incredibly yummy, but naturally I forget what kind it was. This weekend I'll haunt the nursery.

Speaking of tomatoes, I'm reading a book, The $64 Tomato, by William Alexander. The writing is a little weak, but the topic strikes home with me...I'm forever discovering how high a price a simple garden can command in time, money, energy and physic grief. I love Alexander's descriptions of his gardening fantasies verses the reality of gardening.

Zemanta is suggesting WordPress as a tag - I have no idea why since this is on Blogger. It also offered me some very pretty pictures of tomatoes to add, but when I tried, the picture keeps going up by the SEM portion. It didn't provide a link to the site (www.64dollartomato.com) about the book mentioned above. Nor did it supply a link to the Suburban Newspaper Association (www.suburban-news.org). All the tags shown for this post were suggested by Zemanta, so I left them as a way to show off the program (tho it is easy enough to remove them).

Well, this is about as much experimenting I'm inclined to do at 8 pm after a long day at the computer but I think this little plug in is worth watching. What's your vote?


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Small Business Summit - Looks Good

Just a quick post to give a heads up - the Microsoft Small Business Summit is being broadcast live March 24-27, 2008 (12pm EDT/9am PDT)...and it's free.

It's the kind of agenda for which you'd normally pay a hefty conference fee, plus get stuck eating hotel food. Though the best part of any conference is networking with others and I don't know how Microsoft will handle that. Anyway, it's about marketing and sales, productivity, technology, financial management, information on starting up, etc etc so check it out.

If you're thinking, "Someday soon I want to start a business," or even, "What should I be doing better" it looks like time well spent.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Small Business Web Site

Yesterday I wrote that doing a web site for a small business was no easy feat. Crucial. But time consuming.

Today, as luck would have it, I had lunch at Search Marketing Expo West and sat at a table with Ellie Burns-Brookens, owner of European Discovery, a travel agency that specializes in small groups and individuals.

Ellie left her career in high tech to pursue a dream - a true entrepreneur - and though she was ready to market via several channels, found that most of her business came via the web. She set about making her site more friendly for search engines.

But even though she knew the ins-and-outs of the web and could port her analytics over to an Excel spread sheet, Burns-Brookens found that for a small shop, web upkeep was hardly something that could be done with a lick-and-a-promise.

Any small business owner will tell you that taking three days out of a busy schedule to attend a conference is tough (and costly). Still, she dubbed the conference well worth the time. She's now looking at the best ways to incorporate video she's shot, how to get more bang from key words and tags, what to do with images. She's asking questions about what visitors do once they come to her site. And what content she should add on a regular basis.

In short, she's trying to balance on a small-biz budget what agencies charge a couple grand a month to do.

I'm not trying to frighten anyone away from a web site...eMarketer projects that this year there will be 193.9 million US Internet users—about two-thirds of the population...so, it's folly to ignore it. But the web still isn't at the stage where a web site is as easy as a tri-fold brochure. Consider it an expense and budget both time and money accordingly.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Your local businss on the web

Research guru Tim Stehle sent me a copy of the All Business Newsletter, bringing my atention to an article titled, Is your business findable on the Web?

The author's point is that no business is so small that it can afford not to have a web presence, and that even if an owner doesn't have the time/money/expertise to do a complete web site, there is always a blog.

Her conclusion is, "It's up to you to build a strong Internet presence as part of your marketing plan. You can do it with minimal costs and a little investment of time."

The part about an Internet presence is spot on. But the part about minimal costs and a little investment of time...well, I don't want to nit-pick here, but a strong web presence pretty much takes more than "minimal costs" and "a little investment of time."


Anyone who has ever tackled a blog will tell you it takes a lot of energy, thought and time to write two or three times a week. Week in and week out. And it needs to be designed so that crucial information about your business is easy to find. And a website? Keeping it fresh, relevant, and "above the fold" in web searches takes a lot of work.

I don't mean to deter any local business from a web presence. It IS crucial. But a small business owner needs to understand that like any advertising or marketing effort, a web presence is not a one-time investment. It's an ongoing expense in today's world, and factoring in that time and cost is as important as any other element in a business plan.

SBA Online Tools Use Tops 125,000

Sure, it's straight from a press release (dated Feb 25) but still...if you are thinking you are ready for your own biz give it a try.

More than 125,000 entrepreneurs ...have used the U. S. Small Business Administration's newest online assessment resource ... two online assessment tools, the "Small Business Readiness" and the 8(a) Business Development assessment tools....


The Small Business Readiness assessment tool helps prospective entrepreneurs determine their level of preparedness...evaluate their skills, characteristics, and experience as they relate to
starting a business.

Based on their scores, entrepreneurs are directed to the SBA training
resources that support the identified needs to improve business
preparedness. The Small Business Readiness assessment tool is available on
the SBA's Web site at http://www.sba.gov/assessmenttool/index.html or by
clicking the "Assessment Tool" icon under the spotlight heading on the SBA
home page.

The 8(a) Business Development assessment tool was launched in October
to help small business owners decide whether they are suitable and eligible
for the SBA's 8(a) Business Development Program. The program helps small
disadvantaged businesses compete in the U.S. economy through business
development. Like the small business readiness assessment, the customized
8(a) Business Development assessment tool directs entrepreneurs to targeted
training and resources online. It too is available online at
http://training.sba.gov:8000/assessment.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

SMX West - blogs from the conference

I'm over at Search Marketing Expo this week - listening to what's going on in the world of search and covering the event for Classified Intelligence. If you're interested in the field, here are a couple of blog posts where you can catch up on the action ...

The Online Marketing Blog has coverage of some of the sessions in a crisp, concise style. The coverage includes Danny Sullivan's Keynote, and some cool tips from the session on blended search that blogger Jolina Pettice titles Google's 5 Tips to Succeed in Universal Search -
1. Publish high quality, well captioned images
2. Create a Google video sitemap
3. Update business listings in local business center
4. Submit your feed to Google product search
5. Create a high-quality company blog

The Search Engine Roundtable has a bunch of bloggers there - here's a link to their site. I've also included a link to their post about today's keynote and their more in-depth coverage of the Blended Search Revolution. You can read about most of the sessions at Search Engine Roundtable.

UPDATE: Here's a page that lists most of the blogs covering the SMX Conference, courtesy of Search Engine Land.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Are You Entrepreneur of the Year

Yes, you could win glory, fame, and great bragging rights as Entrepreneur of the Year - sponsored by Entrepreneur Magazine and presented by The UPS Store. Entry form and links to rules etc are here.

To qualify, you must have fewer than 100 employees, have at least $500,000 in annual sales in 2007 and own at least 51 percent of your business.

Winners will be chosen in two categories: Entrepreneur of the Year and Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year. Entries must be received by June 30, 2008. Winners get a trip to the awards ceremony at an all-day conference for entrepreneurs in Long Beach, California on December 9, 2008.

Prizes, aside from the award ceremony, include a $500 gift certificate for products and services at any of The UPS Store franchised locations, a selection of Entrepreneur Press books (a $300 value), and a three year subscription to Entrepreneur® magazine (a $60 value)...plus they will be profiled and promoted in a special section of the December 2008 issues of Entrepreneur magazine and in a follow-up article in the December 2009 issue.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Future of Small Business Report

The third segment of the "Intuit Future of Small Business Report" was released this week (originally due Q4 2007). Titled "The New Entrepreneurial Economy" this segment reveals trends helping small businesses thrive in the coming 10 years.

The report is sponsored by Intuit Inc. (Nasdaq: INTU) and authored by the Institute for the Future. Like the first two segments of the report, it's a great read. This portion focuses on three issues beneficial to small business:
  • Brain Meets Brawn to Create Opportunities for Small Business - The emergence of barbell-like economic structures [a few giant corporations on one end, a relatively small number of mid-sized firms in the middle, and a large group of small businesses balancing the other end] will drive new business collaborations, creating greater opportunity and profitability for small business.
  • Barriers Down, Small Business Opportunities Up - Access to big business infrastructure will expand, making their sophisticated technologies available to small and personal businesses, at lower risk, with a variable cost structure.
  • The Next Wave of Globalization Will be Driven by Small Business - Muted trade barriers, improved technology, and professional and social networks across borders will facilitate small business access to new markets.

If you recall, the first installment of the report revealed the changing face of small business. The second installment examined technology trends and their impact on small business formation and operation.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Bye-bye brick and mortar?

Kudos to the Center for Media Research without which I would have missed the interesting report by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), entitled “Channel Integration and Benchmarks in the Retail Industry.”

Boring title - interesting info:
  • The absence of a brick-and-mortar store is becoming prevalent among retailers — 41 percent of survey respondents don’t have a physical store. [my note: survey was 101 retailers surveyed in November 2007]
  • The website is the most consistently used direct marketing channel, followed by email and direct mail.
  • Mobile is the direct marketing channel retailers are least likely to use.
  • Among the survey respondents, 66 percent gather customer information from direct mail, and 65 percent gather it from the Internet.
  • Discounts remain the most popular loyalty program, with 80 percent of respondents using them.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Trends that will impact your business

The WAN (World Association of Newspapers) asked leading newspapers executives to identify the current trends they believe will have an impact on the future of their businesses. The list of 66 trends will serve as the centrepiece for "scenario planning"workshop being held in France January 29-30.

Though designed by newspaper execs, these trends ring very true for the local business under assault by the many changes in today's marketplace. Here are just a few:
  • Availability is increasingly important - People are not always buying what they like, but instead what is at hand. 24/7 is becoming the norm.
  • Infinite choices are making it hard to decide what product/service to buy.
  • Increased life complexity calls for measures to simplify life.
    A new breed of "professional customers" -- well-educated customers with extensive knowledge of competing products/services and pricing.
  • 50-70 percent of buying decisions are made in the store means more focus on design.
You can dowload the whole list here

Small Biz Contest - $50K and lots of glory


If you have 100 employees or less and have used technology to develop a competitive advantage in delivering superior customer value and experience....here's a contest for you.

To seek out and reward innovative small businesses for their smart use of technology, Dell and the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) - founded the Dell/NFIB Small Business Excellence Award program in 2004. Applications for this year's contest are due by Feb 29.

U.S. finalists will be announced in May 2008. Questions about the Small Business Excellence Award can be sent to SB_Award [at] Dell.com

OK, the $50,000 is in Dell products and services, but still, it's a nice opportunity and a very good playing field for the local business.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Small Biz Owners Always Working

Small biz owners are ALWAYS working. Yep. We knew that.

Thanks to Fox Business for alerting me to a new survey from Staples about small businesses - these stats will have folks who own local businesses nodding their heads:

"Small Business Managers Reveal Startling Work Hours and Habits

"Almost half of U.S. small business managers work during time meant for family and admit to making business calls and checking e-mail while driving, according to a national survey ...[exploring] the balance between work and personal time for 300 leaders of companies with fewer than 20 employees, a group representing nearly 90 percent of all U.S. businesses..."

Here are some of the other tidbits you'll pick up if you click through to the press release:
  • nearly one in five managers admit to reading work-related e-mail and documents while in the bathroom and nearly half work while driving
  • nearly two-thirds (62 percent) work well beyond a 40-hour week, and one in five work a double week, logging an extra 40 or more on-the-job hours.
  • one in five work while eating dinner at least 4–5 times per week
  • more than a third could not readily remember their last vacation.