Old News is Bad News – Is The “Latest News” On Your Website Ancient?

Have you ever heard this from a web developer?

  1. “You need a news page so you can keep your content fresh.  Google and users love fresh content!”
  2. “You need a blog, because Google loves blogs and you’ll look professional to users too!”
  3. “You need to get on Twitter, Facebook and Linked-In, because social media is hot right now!”

Think twice before you give your web developer the green light to build these modules for you.

Because they can make you look bad, and damage your brand

Why having a news page, blog, and Twitter/Facebook/Linked-In profiles can make you look bad:

  1. You’ll never get around to updating them, because you’re too busy running your business
  2. The older your latest news/blog post gets, the more it looks like your website has been abandoned
  3. The older your latest Twitter message or Facebook update or Linked-In update gets, the more it looks like you don’t care
  4. If you look careless with your news, visitors will suspect that your other content is equally out of date

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. When I see the 2007 date I immediately lose confidence in the brand.  Is it the same for you?

Ready, Fire, Aim by Michael Masterson

My Notes on “Ready, Fire, Aim” by Michael Masterson:41XjfgOsASL._SX317_BO1,204,203,200_

When Launching A New Business, What Should Consume Your Time?

  • In launching new businesses, many entrepreneurs do the opposite of spending 80% of their time of their time on selling.
  • They spend most of their time, attention, energy and capital on things such as setting up an office, designing logos, printing business cards, filing forms, writing contracts, and refining the product.

  • They have the impression that they are doing things in a logical order – getting everything just right before they open their doors.
  • In fact, they are wasting valuable resources on secondary and tertiary endeavours.
  • It is enough to have the product and customer service just okay at the outset. Perfecting them can be done a little later, after you have gotten feedback from your customers.
  • Sell as soon as you can – if possible before you have spent a lot of time and money making it perfect.

Continue reading “Ready, Fire, Aim by Michael Masterson”

If The Business Model Works, Clone It

The single most visited webpage on this blog is my article about “One Day Sale” Websites.

It gets 700 unique visitors a day (growing by 5% every week) and is #2 on Google.co.nz for the search for “one day deal“.

Why is the webpage so popular? For 3 reasons:

  1. Because people are getting tired of the market leader: 1-day.co.nz and are looking for alternatives
  2. Because my webpage lists all the alternatives
  3. Because the 1 day deal business model works so well, so clones are popping up all the time to try and cash-in, so the list of alternatives grows every month

I have just been exposed to what I believe will be the next business model to be cloned. It’s called “BidRivals“.

A $2800 digital camera sells for $331.85

Here’s how Bid Rivals works:

  • It costs $1 to place a bid. The price increases by 2c each time someone bids
  • If no-one else makes a bid within 14 seconds, the auction is over. If someone does make a bid the auction extends for another 14 seconds
  • If a $2000 digital camera sells for $300, BidRivals gets $15,000 for the bids ($300 / 0.02 x $1), and $300 for the camera!!
    • I just watched this happen. Screenshot on right
  • And the lucky last bidder gets a $2000 camera for $300 (+ $1 for every bid they placed)

Bid Rivals only loses money if the item sells for less than 1/50th of it’s RRP.

In this example, the $2800 camera would have to sell for $56 ($2800 / 50) for Bid Rivals to break even.

There are 3 barriers to this business model going mainstream and being cloned extensively:

  1. It hasn’t got a name.
  2. It is difficult to explain how it works.
  3. People who try it and burn through $20 making 20 bids and get nothing to show for it, will leave and never come back

Have you tried it? Did you snag a bargain?

Let us know in the comments below.

Essential Steps for Building a Website That Generates Business For You

8 Essential Steps:

  1. Define the most important action that you want the audience to take. Is it filling in an enquiry form? Call your toll free number? Download an information pack?
  2. Make it dead easy for them to take that action. 1 click or 2 clicks. Not 5 clicks
  3. Make your forms super short. Ask for essential information only. Not their age, not their gender, not even their address (if you aren’t posting them something, don’t ask for it). And it doesn’t matter if some of your form field aren’t compulsory, if it looks too long it will turn people away
  4. Ensure your code is search engine friendly:
    • Clean urls like “this-is-a-page-about-how-to-do-stuff.html” rather than “index.php?ss=2&s=abc”
    • Clean html code, eg use H1, H2, H3 tags instead of heavily formatted paragraph tags
  5. A stripped down CMS for commonly updated content (like blog entries, articles, products). Lock down other pages so you’re not tempted to wreck them with crazy fonts and colours
  6. Write for the web” by formatting all your content with headings, sub-headings, short paragraphs (none more than 3 sentences), bullet points, numbered lists, and internal hyperlinks
  7. Follow usability guidelines, such as:
    • Hyperlinks that look link hyperlinks. Buttons that look like buttons
    • Breadcrumbs so when the users deep-link they can quickly figure out where they are
    • Disable the hyperlink in the navigation if the user is already on that page
    • And just about everything else website usability guru Jacob Nielsen recommends
  8. Choose a web site developer who knows about all this stuff

Other Important Things

  1. Ensure all your navigation is in one place (preferably displayed vertically on the left so it can scale as your website grows)
  2. Don’t have any animation or moving images at all. It distracts the user from completing their task

How To Write For The Web

Writing for the web is pretty simple on the surface, but the switch from writing for print to writing for the web is a difficult one for many people.

Here are some writing-for-the-web techniques to get you started:

1. Use long descriptive headlines, sub headings and sub-sub headings

  • People commonly skim read web content very quickly, and they are attracted to headlines to get the gist of the pages content

2. Use bullet points and numbered lists

  • Short, punchy bullet points are easy to digest, and divides content into easily managed chunks
  • There is nothing more boring to a user than a long paragraph of text, it screams “I’m too long to read!”

3. Use very short paragraphs

  • 1 sentence paragraphs on the web are fine (they are frowned upon in print)
  • 2 sentence, and 3 sentence paragraphs are good
  • 4 or more sentences in a paragraph is no good

4. Use internal hyperlinks

  • If you have another webpage that explains a phrase or idea in more detail, link to it
  • It’s good for the user because they know where they can go next, and its good for search engines

5. Use occasional bolding and italics to emphasise

  • But don’t over do it!

“Everyone is Clueless” – Article by Seth Godin

Particularly enjoyed this blog article by Seth Godin entitled “Everyone is clueless“:

The problem with “everyone” is that in order to reach everyone or teach everyone or sell to everyone, you need to so water down what you’ve got you end up with almost nothing.

Everyone doesn’t go to the chiropractor, everyone doesn’t give to charity, everyone has never been to Starbucks. Everyone, in fact, lives a decade behind the times and needs hundreds of impressions and lots of direct experience before they realize something is going on.

You don’t want everyone. You want the right someone.

Someone who cares about what you do. Someone who will make a contribution that matters. Someone who will spread the word.

As soon as you start focusing on finding the right someone, things get better, fast. That’s because you can ignore everyone and settle in and focus on the people you actually want.

Here’s a video that David sent over. I am thrilled at how much this guy loves his job, and I’m inspired by his story of how he turned down Pepsi as a vendor. He turned them down. But everyone wants Pepsi! Exactly. Once he decided he wanted someone, not everyone, his life got a lot better.

How I Almost Got Fired Because My Direct Mail Worked Too Well

The Story

A recruitment company I was working for wanted to reach out to Human Resources managers to tell them about their online recruitment solution.

We had purchased a list of 560 HR manager names and addresses from Veda Advantage, and needed a letter that would “cut through the clutter”, because this would be the first time that any of these people would have been exposed to our brand.

We were also conscious that this group of people are very busy, and probably suffering from information overload, so anything that wasn’t personalised or interesting would be thrown in the trash immediately.

The Objective

  • To write a letter to “cut through the clutter” and gets to the decision makers desk

The Solution

I wrote a 2 page document (660 words) with the following features:

  1. Attention grabing headline: “Internal Memo: Re: Congratulations to <<recipients first name>> who just got a huge payrise!”
  2. Highly personalised: 39 instances of personalisation including their first name mentioned 21 times!
  3. Easy and fast for admin to stuff envelopes: Name and Address positioned to fit a pre-paid window envelope so no cheap-and-nasty looking self-adhesive address labels were required
  4. Designed for low-cost in-house printing: Using simple colours and classic letter design
  5. Content that told an interesting story (it was all about the recipient after all!)

The Result:

3 phone calls from some very angry executives. They complained that their secretaries had passed these letters directly to them to read because they hadn’t realised it was advertising.

(Secretaries are well trained to ensure promotional material of this type doesn’t make it to their bosses in-tray, so it is no surprise that the executives were very annoyed that their system had failed on this occassion, and were blaming us for being too clever.)

1 stated that they had “black listed” us and would never use our services. And another threatened to get their lawyers involved! (Thankfully, they didn’t carry out their threat).

Wow…

My boss wasn’t very happy, and had to make several apologies to these companies.

And I thought I was in danger of getting fired for a while.

But at the end of the day, the campaign achieved its objective: Get the attention of these time-starved professionals, and give our product a chance.

So I thought it was a huge success!

If your product or service doesn’t get noticed at all, you’ve got no chance. After all, as Oscar Wilde said: “There is only one thing worse than being talked about and that is NOT being talked about.”

And for the record, we did get lots of positive feedback saying from other HR pro’s, saying that they appreciated the cleverness of the campaign (and yeah, it generated new business for us too).