Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Search Engine Optimization

Many designers and webmasters think that "content is king." The truth is that the way to get better rankings for your website is to make sure that the coding of the site is properly utilized.

Here's a surprising fact: Many search engines will not read pages if the URL contains a question mark. This symbol may indicate that the site's content might be generated automatically which is a no-no with search engine technology.

Page linking and coding are also extremely important aspects to think about BEFORE you design a site. Make sure you code your menus dynamically because of changes to CSS properties and only use hyperlinks that are standard HTML < A > tags.

The bottom-line is that "coders" and designers are many times trying to accomplish two very different goals. Unfortunately, coders are brought in too late, after thousands of dollars have been squandered on an eye-catching website, but one that the search engines can't find.

Remember, website functionality (and better search engine optimization) is always more important than pretty colors, video snippets, and spinning logos.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Target Marketing

Do you consider yourself a specialist? If I looked at your client or customer list, is there a segment of that list that tends to favor a certain demographic? For example, if you own a rental equipment company, do you find that most of your customers rent scissor lifts? If your business is catering, do most of your customers ask for seafood? If you have an auto body shop, do people come to you because you do the best work on foreign cars? Do you see any pattern?

Some of the most successful businesses are those that specialize in a specific industry or market. "Oh, you just have to go see (insert your name here) because (he/she) is the best with (insert your product or service name here)," is the ultimate advertising anyone can get.

So take an hour this weekend and focus your efforts on some of your key customers and profile them the best you can. Try to develop your next marketing campaign based on how this group would buy, i.e., time of year, quantity, most popular item, etc.

Develop a laser focus and target your market.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Two Very Important E-Mail Tips

While e-mail is the most popular way for business-to-business (b-2-b) correspondence these days, there are many ways for you to improve its impact.

I think two of the most vital requirements for most e-mails are the subject line and attachments (don't e-mail me back stating some of these tips can't always be accomplished - I understand it's not always possible).

First - think very carefully about the subject line. Never, ever use the word "hi" or "hello". Because of the early days of spam and spam filters, those two little words are notoriously bad. Try to stay away from ALL CAPS TOO. CAPS ARE LOUD AND ANNOYING. Your best bet is to include the first name of your recipient with the basic premise of your body copy/message. If you are having a special, say it. If you are introducing a new product, announce it. Don't beat around the bush. Remain focused and stick with the facts.

Second - If you have the option, do not include attachments. The big ISP companies and corporate e-mail filtering programs can and will block your message from ever being seen. If you need to send an attachment, send a "heads up" e-mail to your recipient. Let them know it's coming. They'll appreciate it and their IT guys will have less virus checking work to do.

So there you have it, two e-mail tips that will make you more productive and will increase your odds of your e-mail ever making it into the hands (or should I say "into the eyes") of the person you're trying to reach.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Are You Right?

Advertising and marketing works best when you reach the right person, at the right time, with the right message, in the right context.

If your business can hone in on these nuances better each time a campaign is initiated then your success rate will incrementally improve.

The right person - Have you looked at your current database lately? Has your customer profile changed from its original intent?

The right time - Are your customers in the middle of their "season"? Will your message be pushed aside since they're so busy now? Do you know when they put together their advertising budgets?

The right message - What do your customers value the most - price, quality, speed, service, etc.? Are you still pushing old technology, inefficient processes, or lackluster services?

The right context - Are you too pushy? Should you be educating the customer before the hard sell? Can a referral make the sale better than you could yourself?

Take a little bit of time this weekend to mull over the above questions. As Billy Joel once said, "You may be right, I maybe crazy."

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Weekend Is Just Another Monday

How often do you close up shop and head out the door on a Friday afternoon thinking "I'll start again on Monday?" Shame on you. You need to treat the weekends as a great opportunity to sell your product or service.

Why not try sending an e-mail blast on a Sunday morning? Did you ever update your blog on a Saturday afternoon and track click-throughs? What about offering a time-sensitive sale only good at midnight?

I'd say give all of them a try. You might be surprised at the results. Customers are searching at all hours of the day and night. Many are now checking their e-mails as they are traveling, walking, and shopping. I've known my daughter to inform me of a sale at a local clothing store while surfing the net, while playing the Wii, while texting her girlfriend, while listening to the iPod. You get the point. We are a wired culture, so get your message in front of the consumer any way you can.

Good luck.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Digital Media is a Must

All reports crossing my desk these days indicate that businesses must embrace digital media. Digital media is defined as those marketing tools that utilize the latest in technology such as e-mail, static web banners, pop-up banner ads, search engine optimization, and online video. Read and study about these five technologies as much as you can!

I'll comment on each medium in future blogs but want to stress the following statistics - close to 76% of marketers are using more e-mail, about 61% are using more online video, and 62% are jumping on the search engine optimization bandwagon (these stats are based on today's usage versus three years ago). The bottom-line is, if you're not part of the tech wave you better get going... and fast.

Next time... how an e-mail blast can triple your productivity at the push of a button.

PS. Don't discount print advertising as it still has an important role in generating awareness for your online presence.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Get Testimonials from Your Customers

When you are looking for a new restaurant to try what do you do? Many will ask family and friends for a recommendation. Do you look in the Yellow Pages when trying to find a physician for that medical procedure you need next month? Of course not, you ask someone who may have had or know of someone who has already had the procedure done. When traveling, don't you ask someone for a referral for a hotel that has "the cleanest rooms?" I know you did.

With your business it's imperative your sales brochures and website contain glowing testimonials from your satisfied customers and clients. These comments approve your product or service and give you a "third party" endorsement. It's like hiring the Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie as spokesperson for your specific industry.

How do you get the testimonial? Ask for it. If they say no, ask why. You'll get either one of two responses. The first being is that they're embarrassed or "not good at writing." If this is the case, ask them if you can write the recommendation for them. Nine times out of ten they'll enthusiastically agree. The other response is that they are not happy with your work. When this happens it's your chance to make good and learn from the transaction so that the problem won't happen again. Can you say "cheap market research?"

I recall a restaurateur who regularly invited the media to dine at his establishment to review the food. Many times the critiques were glowing. There were a few times, unfortunately, when the menu was not up to par. What did he did next was brilliant. He invited those who didn't write good reviews to dine on the same meal they disdained. But this time he corrected the exact shortcomings brought to light. If the veal was too salty, he used less salt. If the crab cakes were too greasy, you can be assured that they were fried less and set to drain before being plated. The result was tens of thousands of dollars in free publicity and a string of glowing reviews and testimonials that lasted for months.

So work on getting your customers talking positively about your company. If they aren't doing it already, it's time to put words in their mouths.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Check Your Business Writing

Spelling and grammar are so important in business writing that I'm surprised that many people don't take the extra time to proofread their own copy. I'm not talking about running the copy through the computer's spell-check program but read the copy with their own eyes starting at the first word and ending with the last.

I can remember many years ago being handed a brochure from a potential client. They were very proud of their latest sales piece and attempted to use it as a way of saying "we already have beautiful collateral material and don't need your services at this time." Quickly scanning the brochure it seemed as though my eye went directly to the word "accommodations." Call it divine intervention, call it proofreader's perception, whatever it is, I saw the mistake.

What the prospect meant to say was that their staff received many commendations (awards). Unfortunately, the 5,000 copies of the brochure stated their staff received accommodations, or hotel rooms. Ouch!

The spell-check did its job. Both accommodations and commendations were spelled correctly, but the improper use and lack of proofreading cost that company major dollars.

My suggestion to you... run all your documents through the computer's spelling and grammar check. Listen to the recommendations, sometimes they are warranted, sometimes not. Next, proofread your copy, and if you have the luxury, run the copy by another set of eyes. I can't tell you how many times that I couldn't pick up my own mistakes during a first reading. Check and check again.

If I can write, proofread, and come back the next day and proofread again then I'm usually in good shape. Find out what works best for you. But please, whatever you do, read what you write.

Friday, July 11, 2008

There's Not Enough Time to Run My Business

If there was ever one main reason why entrepreneurs fail it's because they try to to everything themselves. I feel sorry for the sole proprietor who attempts to be their own accountant, secretary, sales manager, webmaster, and shipping clerk. It just can't be done, and sooner, rather than later, frustration, disappointment, and desperation set in.

Technology can help with many of the daily grinds that entrepreneurs encounter - there's QuickBooks for accounting, Microsoft Office for secretarial duties and sales, and programs such as Dreamweaver for website design. But the learning curve can be challenging for most, especially in the website design category. That's why I get so excited about our website and design services at Check it out. Created with the entrepreneur in mind, it's a low-cost way to jump-start your business.

This weekend, peruse the site and call our office on Monday. A real, live person will actually answer the phone. If we don't it means we're helping a fellow entrepreneur on another line. But be assured that we will call you back.

Next week... why returning messages quickly results in more business.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Google Alerts

If I asked you "How many keywords pertain to your business?" I'm sure you could rattle off at least a half a dozen.

Google Alerts is a valuable tool for any small business. Google alerts are an e-mail update sent to you based on your choice or keyword query. For example, if I were a painter in New Jersey I would include "my company name", painters, painting contractors, New Jersey painting contractors, and New Jersey painters as my keywords. Be careful to put put parenthesis around specific words and phrases, i.e., if you don't put them around "New Jersey painters" you would get searches for the word "New" and "Jersey" and "painters" - imagine what your in-box would look like! While you're at it, also tag your competition, it's always important to keep tabs on them to see if they're offering any products or services that you could add to your repertoire.

Google Alerts is like having your own private investigator on staff and a great way to be a leader in your profession.

Get to work immediately. Go to And while you're there, don't forget to add an alert for us - "BizPizzazz" - so you can get important small business tips as soon as we add them to our blog.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Please Pick Up

So too often we think e-mail is communication. It's not. Communication as defined in the dictionary means "the imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs." The keyword is "interchange." E-mail is not an interchange, or more precisely defined, an "exchange." It's a one-way dialog. If your e-mail is never opened, what purpose did it serve. And what if it is opened but a response is never sent back? Get the point?

Think of all the time wasted as you are waiting for a reply to an e-mail when a simple phone call will do the trick. I'm not saying that e-mail doesn't have a purpose. It does work well in particular business situations, i.e., if you want "proof" that a customer changed their order from 10 widgets to 100 widgets. But nine times out of ten a call will suffice.

Today I want you to be more productive by picking up the phone rather than sending that lengthy e-mail. FYI... most people speak over 160 words per minute, but type less than 40 words a minute.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Timing Is Everything, Even With Postcards

In sales, timing is everything. When do you send a product catalog? How many times do you try to reach a prospect? Should you keep calling a potential client to set up a meeting? When do you mail a postcard?

The answer is not simple, but then again it is. Keep trying until you get a response. If you get a "yes", congratulations. If you get a "no", bow out gracefully but try again at a later date and start the process all over again.

One of the most simple and least intrusive marketing campaigns are postcards. The reason? 1.) Your "benefits" message can be seen without any effort of the prospect. 2.) They usually get in front of the recipient. 3.) They're inexpensive. 4.) If you mail them on a regular basis sooner or later they'll reach the prospect at the exact time they need your product or service.

Try postcards in conjunction with your next marketing and advertising campaign and reap the power of such a simple and time-tested concept.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Put Words In My Mouth

In an effort to keep clients moving forward on a path to productivity and profitability it's imperative that we (advertising agencies) do as much as possible for them as we can. For example, I have a client who needs a few quotes from eight of its tenants for inclusion on their website. Sounds pretty simple. The client said that she would 1.) Contact the tenants and inform them that I would be calling to do the interviews 2. E-mail or call me with the names and phone numbers of the people to interview and 3.) Write her own quote for the website. Whew!

Just think of the logistics to accomplish all of this. Do you think she'll get the tenants on her first phone call? Will she be able to write her own quote amidst all of her other daily duties? When I finally get the tenants' phone numbers will I be able to reach everyone quickly? What if the tenants can't articulate their feelings? What if I get seven of the eight tenants and the last one is on vacation for the next week? This straightforward activity could take weeks to accomplish.

The solution... Many times we know as much about out clients' business as they do. Therefore, put words in their mouths. Put them in what I call "edit mode". It makes business move much faster.

In this particular case study - What do you think the tenants' would say? What would you say if you were a tenant? It's not rocket science.

It took me an hour our so to write and edit less than 350 words. The quotes were glowing and positive. I e-mailed them to the client this morning and will let you know how I made out in another BizPizzaz update.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Video + Blog = Vlog

So you have your company's website up and running. Great.
You've added pictures. Good.
You've initiated a blog utilizing or Nice.
You've uploaded a vlog. A what!?!?

A vlog is the latest technological advance that businesses are using to capture audience share on the Internet. "Vlog" is an acronym of the two words "video" and "blog", a.k.a. online video.

Although around since 2003, vlogs have not become mainstream because Internet speeds were too slow to allow people to 1.) download them quickly and 2.) to view them without skipping or freezing mid-frame. But with the proliferation of broadband connections, "vlogging" is the cutting-edge tool to use on your website. According to industry reports, the Top 5 online video websites are,,,, and Check them out... you'll be amazed.

So what does this all mean? Your customers expect to see your product in action - "How does it work?" - "Can I use (insert your product's name) for my particular application?" - "How do I put (insert your product's name again) together?"

Just like the fax machine, sooner or later everyone has one. With vlogging, you better get used to it sooner rather than later because it's a technology that's going to be around for a very long time.

Here's a great example...

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

"They Said" Publicity

I have a relative who is engaging, spirited, and always “in the know” about every topic imaginable. She can rattle off the best travel destinations this month, how many International Units of Vitamin D you need to take daily, and even the make and model of the Japanese automobile with the best gas mileage.

When asked about her uncanny knowledge her response is always “That’s what they said.”

But who are “they?” For my relative it’s the newspaper, People Magazine, Entertainment Tonight, Better Homes and Gardens, the six o’clock news, and even the Regis and Kelly television show. She loves these magazines, reads newspapers from cover to cover, listens intently to the handsome newscaster at 6pm, and idolizes Regis Philbin (“he’s so cute for an older man”).

What she doesn’t know is that many of these media outlets are assisted by people like us – press agents, publicity counselors, marketing professionals, and advertising agencies. Many times we are submitting stories, sending press releases, generating story ideas, and “working the room” to get our client’s message to the masses.

Look in your local newspaper right now and if you see a byline that reads “From Staff Reports” I can almost guarantee the information came from an “outside” source (a.k.a. me).

The bottom-line is to start generating publicity and news for your business. Did you attend a seminar? That’s news. Did your company celebrate an anniversary? That’s news. Buy a new machine? News. Develop an innovative way to do something faster or cheaper? News. You get the picture.

Major Point: If your business is specialized you must develop targeted lists to receive your information - you don’t want to send a press release on how your thermoplastic pressure regulator has a redesigned rolling diaphragm seal to the editor of Soap Opera Digest – far-fetched, but I think you understand.

“They” say publicity is a powerful, income-producing tool for business, why not start making some money with it.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Restaurant Marketing

Here's a money-making tip for all restaurateurs - collect the email addresses of your guests. And how do you do that? It's simple... just ask.

A postcard on the table or a quick request from your server at the end of a meal should suffice - "If you provide us with your email address you'll be the first to know about special discounts and other money-saving coupons you can use on future visits."

Many times guests will be more than happy to give their email address. A brief disclaimer at the bottom of the postcard should contain the following privacy policy that will increase your request rate even more - "We will never sell or rent to third parties any of the personal information our guests provide to us."

Did you know marketers spend $5.6 billion in coupons annually? And with the rise in gas and food prices, we believe more and more people will be utilizing coupons than ever before.

Our agency has had great success with restaurant e-mail coupon campaigns. Not only do restaurateurs see an immediate increase in business from an e-mail blast, but imagine the delight from a guest who receives a personalized e-mail coupon from 1.) a restaurant 2.) located in their favorite vacation town 3.) where they will be visiting next month. Sweet!

Cena รจ pronta,
(Dinner is ready)

PS. Don't settle for just an e-mail address. Try to capture a name, mailing address, phone number, birthday, anniversary date, and their reason for dining out. If you can't get the information at the time of their visit, attempt to get it in a future e-mail, i.e., "To better serve you, please answer the following questions..."