Fred Creutzer, one of the top financial advisors in the US, is now working with us. We are also creating a speaker series for Fred and a series of motivational audio books. Fred has an amazing story to share, and he is one of the most dynamic speakers you will ever see. I would say one that could hang with Tony Robbins! That's powerful! He is also a regular financial expert on Channel 11 Baltimore News.
We are excited to launch the new brand design for Mid Atlantic Business Finance Company. They are the areas largest and oldest Small Business Administration (SBA) lender. The company focus has been on their clients and the lending process and technology and branding has taken a back seat in recent years. We are in the beginning stages of the re-brand process with the launch of their new responsive website.
Stay tuned for the next phase in their re-branding process.
Content is often considered an online business owner's primary resource. It drives traffic. It helps make a sale. It provides authority, credibility and liking – all buying triggers. It also helps you market your business.
Unfortunately, many business owners write their content without any direction or purpose in mind. They may write fantastic content. Yet if it’s missing a purpose, it’s missing an opportunity. So what do you want your content to accomplish? It does not matter if it’s short like a blog post or an article. It does not matter if it’s a larger content piece like a report or e-book. It needs a purpose.
Potential Content Purposes
* To drive traffic to a web page
* To increase SEO
* To drive traffic to a sales page
* To generate affiliate income
* To boost credibility and authority
* To motivate a response/comments/links
* Collect opt-ins
You may find that occasionally your content has more than one purpose. For example, a report may be designed to collect opt-ins. In addition to the opt-ins you may also include affiliate links within the body of the report to generate income. Or you may link back to a sales page on your website to promote your products or services.
On the other hand, if your content is missing a purpose then you’re missing out on a valuable opportunity.
Making the Decision
The best time to determine the purpose for your content is when you create a content plan. Different people take different approaches. You may plan your content for the coming week. Or you may plan it for the entire quarter. (If you don’t plan your content at all, consider starting a new practice. Planning your content helps you make the most of your efforts.)
When you plan your content you’ll likely determine the keywords and the topic. You’ll also decide when you’re going to publish it and where. It makes sense to integrate your content into your traffic generation, SEO, sales and marketing strategies. This means assigning your content a purpose.
For example, you may know that in three months you’re going to launch a new service. Your content during that month leading up to the launch will ideally support the launch. It’ll generate interest and excitement. The purpose of the content therefore will be to drive traffic to your opt-in page. People can sign up ahead of time and receive notification when you launch. They may also receive special pricing. Your content can also generate awareness for the need of your new service. Or it can send traffic to your sales page once you launch.
How to Include Your Purpose in Your Content
Every piece of content needs to have some sort of call to action. For example, if you want to motivate comments and feedback at the end of a blog post, you have to ask for it. That’s your call to action. If you want to send people to a sales page, you need some sort of “Visit LINK to learn more.” Your purpose will be integrated into your call to action.
Take a look at the content you have planned for the next week or month. Does each piece have a purpose? Do you have a call to action? Is your content part of your overall business growth strategy? If not, make some quick changes and start reaping the rewards.
As an online business owner, you know that content is one of the best tools you have. It drives traffic. It provides your audience with the value and information they seek. It also helps you market your business, products or services. Content is essential for online marketing success. You can achieve greater success if you take the time to plan your content.
What Is Content Planning?
Content planning is simply the process of taking a look at your calendar and deciding what to write and where to publish it. Content planning involves a few primary criteria:
* When will you publish the content?
* Where will you publish it?
* What will you write about?
* What’s the purpose of the content?
* What are your keywords?
* How can you repurpose the content?
You’ll also want to consider how far ahead you want to plan your content for. Many online business owners take a tiered approach. They plan large content projects for the entire year. For example, they may publish a report each month. They also take a look at their content on a quarterly or monthly level.
If you don’t plan your content or are struggling to plan it effectively, consider the following tips:
* Use a calendar that gives you a big picture and you can write on. A paper desk calendar is a great planning tool. You can write your content ideas in pencil for easy modifications. Then, if you prefer electronic organization, you can transfer the paper plan to your Outlook or e-calendar.
* Plan how you’ll integrate your content into your marketing strategy. For example, you could decide that in March you’re going to publish ten articles on article directories. You’ll also want to make sure this content ties into any season or holiday.
You’ll also want to ensure it supports any new products or services. You want to make sure your content has a purpose. It may be simply to drive traffic to your website. Or it may be to drive traffic to a sales page or increase your opt-ins.
* Leave room for change. The best content plans leave room for inspiration. The greatest ideas often come out of the blue. If you’re a stickler for your plan and don’t allow room to add your content inspiration into the mix, then you’re missing out.
* Finally, don’t forget to take a look at how you can repurpose your content. It’s not only a great way to get the most return on investment, it can help fill content gaps.
When you plan your content, make sure you’re looking at both the macro and micro picture. Make sure you look ahead and take the entire year into consideration. At the same time, plan your content right down to the keywords and topics.
Planning your content for the entire year may take a day or two to accomplish but it’ll save you tons of time down the road. Instead of wondering what you’re going to write on, you’ll have the answers all worked out. Best of all, your content will fit with your other marketing efforts to create a comprehensive business growth plan.
As a website owner you want to make sure your visitors are happy. Happy visitors stay on your website longer. They come back for repeat visits. And of course they buy from your website. When it comes to a website’s structure, there are two elements that can make or break your user experience.
#1 Quick load times
There’s nothing that squashes a visitor’s happiness faster than not being able to load a website page. If the page doesn’t come up quickly, your visitor is gone. We’ve grown accustomed to instant gratification online. If your web page takes longer than a few seconds to load, you may miss out on valuable prospects and visitors. They won’t be happy while they’re waiting for your pages to load.
So what can you do to ensure quick load times?
* Reduce and minimize your graphics. Make sure a graphic takes up no more than 10k on any given page.
* Don’t use flash. Many website designers still turn to flash to add interest. Don’t do it. It takes too long to load. If you do use it, make sure you give your visitors the opportunity to click through and skip the show.
* Use plug-ins sparingly. There are a number of really useful plug-ins. However, they’re bulky and can slow down your load time. They can also distract from your web page’s purpose and make it look cluttered. If you’re going to use a plug-in, make sure it supports your goals for that page. And make sure it enhances the visitor experience.
#2 Easy navigation
The other thing that makes visitors happy is a website that’s easy to navigate. Straightforward and intuitive website navigation can be difficult to accomplish. The following tips can help you get the job done.
* Eliminate clutter - Many times a web page has so much going on that the visitor isn’t sure what the page’s purpose is. Are they supposed to look at ads? Fill out a form? Read an article? Make sure your web pages have a purpose. Then make sure that page is designed to support that purpose. Everything from the formatting to the add-ons can add or detract from your page’s purpose.
* Intuitive buttons - The buttons on your page are there to guide your reader deeper into your website. Therefore they must make sense to the visitor. One of the best ways to ensure your buttons are easy to understand is to make them keywords. Keywords are likely what drew your visitor to your website. They’re what the person is using to search for and find information. Create categories and subcategories with your keywords. That way your user is able to easily find the information they’re looking for.
When your visitors are able to navigate your website with ease, they’ll stay longer. If they’re able to find the information they’re looking for without struggle and frustration, they’ll return again and again.
When you combine a straightforward layout with quick loading times, you’re well on your way to giving visitors a very pleasant experience. Happy visitors turn into happy customers. Take a look at your website today. Does it make visitors happy?
Twitter - Not Just for Socializing
Twitter is a great way to socialize. It's like a big coffee house or gathering where people can share information. It's a good way to stay in touch with friends with whom you don't have time for a long phone conversation or visit. And as the world grows smaller, people who live in different cities, states, and even countries can hold conversations on Twitter as if they are in the same room.
But Twitter is not just the latest thing in personal communication - it's also causing something of a revolution for business owners and consumers.
Not too many years ago, posting ads, garnering contact information via mailing lists, and so forth was the "latest thing" in online business promotion. But Twitter is beginning to make things like pay-per-click advertising look old fashioned. Tweets occur in real time, making it an up-to-the minute medium.
For example, if you are the owner of a sandwich shop, you can tweet your customers when you have a new sandwich or ingredient available (maybe a special deli meat or something else your customers have been waiting for). You can tweet this information a few minutes before noon, when business people are thinking of where to go to lunch. Since Twitter is in real time, you can attract your business right away.
That's just one example. The business aspect of Twitter is diverse and growing. Here are some other aspects of Twitter as seen through a business perspective.
1. Market research
This is something that can be laborious, but Twitter makes it faster and easier. You can research your potential market or audience and see what they are tweeting about.
One of the things that the social and business aspects of Twitter share is the personal contact. Tweets are like conversations. You use conversational language that conveys information in a few words. Your face or familiar image will show on your avatar when you tweet. It gives the personal contact that business consumers appreciate.
The trend now is away from conformity and toward individuality - your own quirks and personality can make you stand out in the business world, and Twitter is a good way to promote that individuality.
Starting out as a follower is a good way to get in with the Twitter crowd. This is true with socializing, but it's also true from a business perspective. Follow fellow users who have interests similar to yours. Start conversationally, not necessarily in a promotional way - you want to chit-chat before attempting any marketing or promotion of your business. It's something like mingling at a party and networking - you want to be easy to talk to and friendly first.
Twitter users are growing by leaps and bounds, and it can be a great way to promote your business. Some may think of Twitter as a big time waster, but anything that truly grows your business is not a waste of time.
Of course, Twitter can be a time waster if you don't use it in a focused way. So here are some tips on how you can use Twitter to grow your business. But first, let's look at why Twitter can be a boost to your business.
What Makes Twitter So Great?
Twitter is a way for you to get your ideas across to a large number of people quickly. It's also an excellent way of receiving new ideas from other people. Prospective and existing customers appreciate the personal contact that Twitter provides. Twitter gets your business name out there and generates traffic to your website. And it's free!
Here are some tips on taking full advantage of Twitter's benefits for your business.
1. Get your name out
Most business owners do not like cold calls, and most prospective clients do not like them, either. But Twitter is a way to "cold call" people and introduce them to your business in an easy manner. People will hear about your business who might otherwise never know about it.
2. It's all connected
The thing about Twitter is that all users are connected. If one person likes a link you send around, that Twitter user may become a follower, and he or she may then send your link around to his or her followers, and so forth. (It's called "retweeting" when someone tweets something you tweeted.) The number of people who see the link then increases exponentially.
3. Helping others
You can gain a reputation as an honest person if you contribute to your fellow business owners. Retweet other's links that you agree with and like, and do for other tweeters what you would like to have done for you. This builds a good reputation and boosts your business - people are drawn to honest and helpful business owners.
4. Consider TweetDeck
TweetDeck is said to make the Twitter experience more manageable and understandable. It is an application (also free) that shortens URLs, helps you search for particular tweets, and also helps you read tweets.
5. Learn about your market
Twitter is a good way to discover trends and stay in touch with the latest happenings in your business market. Use Twitter to find out what's going on in your market's realm.