Google Maps: 4 Ways To Increase Your New Business Enquiries From Google Maps

Does your business already appear on Google Maps?

If not, it’s easy to do. Here’s how to add your business to Google Maps.

If so, great start, but you’re not finished yet!

As a general rule, the more quality content you can provide Google with (in the form of text, images and videos), the more traffic Google will send you. More so if those platforms are also owned by Google (for example, Google loves to send Google searchers to Google+ instead of Facebook).

So here’s your 4 point checklist to ensure you’re making the most of your Google Maps listing: Continue reading “Google Maps: 4 Ways To Increase Your New Business Enquiries From Google Maps”

Email Newsletters: 6 Tips To Get Your Email Newsletters Opened, Read, And Acted On

Having a list of email address of people who want to hear from you is gold.

The secret to effective email newsletters is to mimic a one-to-one email conversation as closely as possible.

Any elements that make the recipient suspect that your message is one-to-many will reduce the impact of your message.

There are 6 questions you can ask yourself.

1. Is your “from” address a real person?

You probably have a full email box right now, right?

How do you prioritise what to read first?

Does the following order look familiar?

  1. Email from people you know
  2. Email from people you don’t know yet
  3. Email newsletters
  4. Spam

Almost all email newsletters sit at priority #3 and so they never get read.

The secret is to move your newsletter into priority #1.

The first step to doing that is to ensure your “from” address for your email newsletters is a real person.

  • Not “office@xyzcompany.co.nz”
  • Not “admin@”
  • Not “info@”
  • And definitely never “noreply@” (that is the worst of all)

Make it a real person.

Preferably you.

2. Will your Subject Line attract a click?

Have you ever received an email newsletters with the subject line “November 2014 Update from xyz company”.

Did you feel the pressure to open it up immediately?

No, of course you didn’t.

A subject line like that just screams non-urgent. It can be safely archived or delayed until later (or never opened).

Pick one item from the things you want to say and use the benefits of that item in your subject line.

Just like the headline for this post: “Email Newsletters: 6 Tips To Get Your Automated Emails Opened, Read, And Acted On” you know what you’re going to get before you click on it, and your curiosity is peaqued.

Much better than “November 2014 Newsletter” don’t you think?

3. Which is better: designed or plain text?

Commonly, email newsletters are designed with these elements:

  • A colour scheme
  • A graphic header with your logo
  • 1 or 2 columns of content
  • Imagery/photos etc

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Using these elements screams “this is not urgent, read it later!”.

To move your newsletters into priority #1 in your recipients inbox you need to mimic a one-to-one email conversation and that means you need to use plain text.

So stick to one item of news per email, or if you must say more, use sub-headings and numbered lists and bullet points to make it easy to skim read.

Personalise the emails too with the persons first name (my record is 7 times in one email).

All email clients like MailChimp, Aweber, iContact let you personalise the body in this way.

4. What action do you want them to take?

If you can’t answer this question, don’t even bother starting to write your next newsletter.

The action you choose has a huge impact on what you write.

For example, if you want old clients to call you with new business, then end your email with a question like “What do you think Jim? Shall we sit down next week to figure it out together?”

Then, if you know that’s your goal, you know your challenge is to write content that is persuasive and valuable and keeps them reading right until the end.

If you approach it from the angle “what do I have to say?” then you’re bound to go in the wrong direction.

Sometimes a softer approach is better than a hard-sell. I often use “what do you think?” as my last sentence.  In that case, the action I want is for them to click “reply” and write a few sentences back to me answering a question I’ve posed.

5. Does your email signature make it easy?

Your regular emails have an email signature, so your newsletters should to.

Include all your phone numbers and details so it’s easy for them to contact you.

They can hit “reply” and email you straight back, or pick up the phone and call, or walk down the road and visit you.

Make yourself seem approachable.

6. Can they unsubscribe easily?

Ensure you make the unsubscribe link easy to find.

If you make it hard for them to unsubscribe:

  • They will resent you for sending information to them they don’t get value from
  • They will mark your messages as SPAM to get them out of their way (which ruins your email deliverability over time)
  • You will waste money sending your messages to people who don’t want them
  • You will falsely inflate the number of subscribers you have (A lower number motivates you to increase it. A higher number makes you lazy)

Video Of These Email Tips

I presented this list of email tips at a seminar recently. Here’s the video of that session.

What do you think?

Have your say in the comments below.

Google Calendar: How To Duplicate An Appointment

I’ve been using Google Calendar for many years, but I only recently found this function, and now I couldn’t live without it.

How to duplicate an appointment in Google Calendar

  1. Go into the details of the appointment you want to copy
  2. Along the top buttons there is a dropdown labelled “More Actions”
  3. Choose “Duplicate Event” from this list

Here’s a screenshot:

duplicate

This function is especially handy when you need to repeat an appointment with a large number of invited guests.

Useful?

A surprise to you?

Let me know in the comments below.

Google Calendar: How To Silently Rip An Appointment From An Invited Guests Calendar

I’m a huge fan of Google Calendar.

I even switched my reluctant wife over to it rather than her diary book, and now she loves it too.

If you use Google Calendar and you use it to invite people to appointments and events, you need to occasionally cancel appointments, right?

Well, you’ll know that you get two options when you hit the delete button:

  1. Delete and Notify guests
  2. Delete but do not notify guests

And my question was, “if I do not notify guests, does the calendar appointment get sneakily removed from their calendar without them knowing?”.

And after an experiment today, I can confirm this is true.

Steps in the Google Calendar experiment:

  1. I invited a friend to an appointment next week
  2. He accepted the invitation which added the appointment to his calendar
  3. I deleted the appointment and selected “do not notify guests”
  4. He did not receive any messages at all, but when he checked that time slot, the appointment had magically disappeared!

I wouldn’t use this technique for one-off appointments because it’s good to give guests a heads-up, but this could be useful in a series of re-occurring appointments when you need to cherry pick certain ones to cancel well ahead of time.

Imagine you have a series of weekly appointments and you need to cancel appointment number 10. If you choose to notify them of the cancellation, they receive the cancellation email, and they assume it is the very next appointment that is being cancelled (i.e. appointment number 1), which causes a lot of confusion.

That’s happened to me several times, has that happened to you?

Well now we both know how to handle it. 🙂

Useful?

Interesting?

Let me know in the comments below.

Email Marketing: 7 Reasons Why It’s Cool, 3 Reasons It Sucks, 7 Tips To Make It Work

Why are you attracted to the idea of “email marketing”?

7 Reasons Why Email Marketing Seems Cool

  1. Because sending emails is cheap (or free). It’s a cheap way to keep in contact with your customers
  2. It’s scalable – if you double or triple the number of customers on your email database there is no extra effort for you
  3. Because it reminds your customers about what you can do for them – it keeps your brand in their minds, it builds familiarity, relationship, trust
  4. Because you could sell something directly
  5. Because it’s fast. You can get your first response within minutes
  6. Because it’s measurable. You can test various headlines and offers
  7. Because it’s easy. You can do it yourself

3 Reasons Why Email Marketing Actually Sucks

  1. Because most email software is actually hard to use (despite what they claim!)
  2. Because it’s hard coming up with ideas for new content every week/month (exhausting!)
  3. Because building up your list of subscribers is slow (and why do people keep unsubscribing anyway? Annoying!)

7 Components to Make Your Email Marketing Work For You

My philosophy with email marketing is very simple:

  1. Make it obvious why someone should subscribe
    • Don’t expect sign-ups just because your email newsletter exists!
    • Provide at least 3 reasons why they should subscribe. If you can’t think of 3 good reasons, pack up and go home, email marketing is not for you
  2. Make your emails really plain
    • Which types of emails do spend most attention to: Ones with fancy graphics and big logos, or ones that are plain text? Plain text! You always read those first and leave the fancy newsletters for last, if you have time
    • No header graphics. No logo. You have your “from” address and your email signature to remind them of your brand. That’s enough. (Remember, this email is about them, not about you!)
  3. Make your emails really personal
    • Make the email a 1 on 1 conversation between you and your customer/client
    • Use the recipients first name at least 5 times. Not just “Hi Bob” at the beginning!
  4. Make your emails as long as they need to be
    • State your point in the subject line, expand on the point in the body, close with a call to action
    • Tell a story that can be read from start to finish
    • Use subheadings and bullet points so readers can scan for things that interest them
    • Include a photo or 2 if you can. Even better, a short 30 second video summarising your message
  5. Make it really easy to subscribe. Make it even easier to unsubscribe
    • Create links to your sign-up form everywhere: on your website, in your email signature etc
    • Put your unsubscribe link clearly at the bottom, or even better, as the very first sentence of your email – you only want people who are really interested in what you have to say so let the others go
  6. Brainstorm 12 months worth of content ideas before you send your first email
    • Get your friends, family and existing customers to help you generate a huge list of ideas
  7. Make your emails really cheap
    • My favourite email marketing software is MailChimp. It’s not super-easy to use but it is super cheap: completely free up to 1000 subscribers and 6000 emails per month

Your Thoughts?

So have you tried email marketing yet? If not, why not?

If so, are you getting the results you want?

What do you think of these tips?

Share your thoughts below.

New Features From FeedMyInbox – More Than Just Converting RSS (News Feeds) Into Emails

Do any of the following apply to you?

  1. Have you heard about RSS but can’t really be bothered with it?
  2. Do you have a few favourite blogs or news sites, but it’s up to you to remember to check them for new content?
  3. Do you have a News Feed (RSS) Reader like Google Reader but it’s a pain keeping up with it?
  4. Are there newsletters you’d like to sign up for but you don’t like giving away your email address?

If you answered “YES!” to either of those, then I have good news.

First, a quick definition of RSS:  It stands for “Real Simple Syndication”, and it just converts blog articles and news articles into a file format (XML) that can be understood and distributed using any RSS reader.

4 Reasons Why I Use The FeedMyInbox Method For Converting RSS Into Email

  1. I can keep up to date with the latest content of 50+ blogs effortlessly
  2. If I’m one of the first to comment on these blogs, hundreds of people will read my comment and that is good branding for me (and they have a link back to my website in my comment)
  3. I can avoid getting distracted by filtering these messages automatically into a folder that I can look in when I’ve finished with the task at hand
  4. If I get sick of a blog, I can unsubscribe with one click. Simple. Clean. Efficient. (And I never have to email the author “please take me off your list”!)

A few months ago I wrote about www.FeedMyInbox.com: How to receive News Feeds (RSS) via email

Well, they have just added more features.

How FeedMyInbox Worked Last Year

Last year you could simply:

  1. Paste in the feed url of the website you want to subscribe to
  2. Type in your email address

And you would start recieving those feeds as emails.

Easy.

New Features Added To FeedMyInbox This Year

With an account, now you can:

  1. Customise the subject line of incoming emails (really handy, because most bloggers don’t name their blogs very well)
  2. Opt to receive those feeds in real-time, or choose another time of day you’d like to receive them (I like to have them in real time so the freshest are always on top)
  3. Opt to receive the entire article in the feed as an email, or just the title and a hyperlink
  4. Download a “Bookmarklet” to your web browser, so subscribing to a new feed is only 1 click away

They are offering a free trial of up to 5 feeds (I’d like to see them extend this to 10 so people get a chance to get addicted).

Give it a try yourself, see the “Get Notified By Email About New Articles” widget on the right of this page? Just add your email address there and you’ll get notification about new articles on this blog.

Is PayPal The Easiest, Cheapest Way For Your Non-NZ Customers To Pay You Into Your New Zealand Bank Account?

I’m hoping that this article will save you the 45 minutes of research I just had to do.

  • Do you have clients or customers based outside of New Zealand?
  • Do you want to know the easiest, cheapest way for those non-NZ customers to pay you into your New Zealand bank account?

That’s exactly what I wanted to find out.

I found many options, most of which I’d never heard of.  But one brand kept coming up again and again: PayPal.

I found lots of criticisms, but it is probably the #1 payment service in the world, so let’s just go with that.

But I’m worried my profit will be whittled away with fees.

My next mission was to find out what fees will I be charged:

  1. For the transaction?
  2. For currency conversion from US dollars to NZ dollars?
  3. For withdrawing the funds from my PayPal account into my New Zealand bank account?
  4. For receiving the funds into my New Zealand bank account? Will my NZ bank charge me?

You’d think I’d easily find the answers to these questions on PayPal’s website. Sadly, no, that is not the case.

1. What fees will I be charged for the transaction?

  • 3.4% + $0.30 USD

Source: PayPal Website

2. What fees will I be charged for currency conversion from US dollars to NZ dollars?

  • 2.5%

Source: PayPal Website

3. What fees will I be charged for withdrawing the funds from my PayPal account into my New Zealand bank account?

  • $1.00 for amounts below NZ$150
  • Free for amounts above NZ$150

Source: Helium.com

4. What fees will my bank charge me for receiving the funds into my New Zealand bank account?

  • Zero. (I’m guessing. If I’m wrong, please correct me in the comments below)
  • But it can take 6 – 8 days to arrive

Example #1: US$100 transaction

  1. Transaction Fee: 3.4% x US$100 = US$3.40 + US$0.30
  2. Currency Conversion: 2.5 % x US$100 = US$2.50
  3. Withdrawal Fee: US$1.00 because US$100 = NZ$135 which is below the NZ$150 threshold
  4. Total PayPal Fees: US$7.20 = NZ$9.80 (which is a whopping 10% of the clients invoice!)

Example #2: US$200 transaction

  1. Transaction Fee: 3.4% x US$200 = US$6.80 + US$0.30
  2. Currency Conversion: 2.5 % x US$200 = US$5.00
  3. Withdrawal Fee: Free because US$200 = NZ$270 which is over the NZ$150 threshold
  4. Total PayPal Fees: US$12.10 = NZ$16.47 (which is 8.2% of the clients invoice)

Here’s a cool world currency calculator if you want to do your own calculations.

Recommendations:

  • Wait until you have more than NZ$150 in your PayPal account before you withdraw the funds into your New Zealand bank account

Meet Your Local Cybersquatter: Dave Burghardt Who Owns TaurangaAirport.co.nz and Tauranga-Airport.co.nz

Screenshot of the abomination that is TaurangaAirport.co.nz

I was looking for flights from Tauranga to Dunedin yesterday, I searched for “Tauranga Airport” and came across www.TaurangaAirport.co.nz.

It is a hideous 1 page website that talked about car rental. Not what I was expecting at all!

I was suspicious so dug a little deeper using a “whois lookup” to find out who the owner was.

Sure enough, it’s not owned by the Tauranga Airport, but by a guy called Dave Burghardt:

REGISTRANT
Name      : dave burghardt
Address   : PO Box 2397
City      : Tauranga
Post code : 3015
Country   : NZ (NEW ZEALAND)
Phone     : +64 7 5784210
E-mail    : burghardt@xtra.co.nz

(If you are ever curious about who owns a domain name, use a whois lookup such as: www.dnc.org.nz)

I dug deeper still and found a complaint made by Auckland Airport against this guy in 2008 for owning Auckland-Airport.co.nz (note the dash: “-“) which pointed to yet another car rental business owned by Dave Burghardt. Oddly, the complaint fell through which means that the Domain Name Commissioner of New Zealand did not order that the ownership of the domain be transfered to Auckland International Airport Ltd.

Today, the domain name Auckland-Airport.co.nz is owned by Auckland International Airport Ltd therefore it looks like that Dave got the big bucks when they bought it from him.

So it got me thinking, “I wonder if Dave owned AucklandAirport.co.nz too?” (without the dash)

Using the “WayBack Machine“, I found the answer to my question, here’s what AucklandAirport.co.nz looked like in February 2008:

screenshot-of-aucklandairport.co.nz

Look familiar?

Yep, that’s Dave’s handiwork alright.

So it looks like Dave got paid the big bucks for selling Auckland-Airport.co.nz and AucklandAirport.co.nz to Auckland International Airport Limited!

I bet Dave is hoping for a repeat of that outcome by selling TaurangaAirport.co.nz and Tauranga-Airport.co.nz to Tauranga Airport Ltd, which is owned by the Tauranga City Council.

Half of me congratulates the guy for his entrepreneurial spirit, the other half of me curses him for being a dirty squatter who confuses people (because people are searching for information about Tauranga Airport and find his hideous website instead).

What do you think?

Another issue is – why are New Zealand airport’s so slow to get into the 21st century and get a website for themselves?

I still can’t find an official website for Tauranga Airport.

Dear Universe: Thank You For All The Free Software I Use Daily

It is time I thanked the universe for all the software I use everyday for free.

I make money out of using these tools (because they help me do my job) and it doesn’t cost me anything.

So here’s a list of my top 6 (in order of “most thankful”):

1. Gmail

What is it? Email/Webmail

Who made it? Google

What am I thankful for?

  • That it’s free
  • Cutting edge spam filtering
  • Accessing my 6 email accounts in a single place (POP3, SMTP, IMAP)
  • 7GB of online storage space so I never have to delete an email or get stupid “your email account is full” and having to save stupid Outlook archive files to my computer
  • Email search that is just as clever and easy to use as Google Web Search
  • Filters that keep my inbox clean and tidy
  • Labels instead of folders (so a single email can be in more than one place at once)

2. WordPress

What is it? Blogging & Website Content Management System

Who made it? Matt and the world (open source, collaborative)

What am I thankful for?

  • That it’s free
  • Powerful CMS software that means I can build super-cool websites for clients (all it costs me is time)
  • Powerful plugins that extend the capabilities and functions of my clients websites
  • A community of theme developers that make it easy to make the website look great with just a click

3. Apache / PHP / MySQL

What is it? The 3 components you need for a website server. Apache: the software that runs on the web server.  PHP: the programming language. MySQL: the database software

Who made it? Nerds.

What am I thankful for?

  • That it’s free (for web hosting companies)
  • And super-cheap for me because the web hosting companies have low costs
  • Since it’s open source, it’s super popular, so there is thousands of people contributing to forums which makes any question easy to answer, every technical difficulty easy to solve

4. Picasa

What is it? Photo organising software

Who made it? Originally by IdeaLab, now by Google

What am I thankful for?

  • That it’s free
  • An easy way to store and access all my digital photos and videos
  • Easy upload and sharing to Picasa Web Albums (1GB of storage free)
  • One-click email (resizes on the fly, interfaces with Gmail)
  • One click back-up to DVD for peace of mind (and next time it remembers which files have already been backed up)

5. Skype

What is it? Instant Messaging/Web Chat, Phone Calling, Video Calling, Screen Sharing

Who made it? A bunch of Sweedish/Estonian entrepreneurs

What am I thankful for?

  • That it’s free
  • Free international phone calls
  • Free video calls with my dad to show him his grandson

6. AVG

What is it? Anti-virus software

Who made it? AVG Technologies (formerly known as Grisoft)

What am I thankful for?

  • That it’s free
  • It just does its job and doesn’t get in my way
  • So I don’t have to pay Norton

More Free Software That I Am Thankful For:

  1. Firefox (My window to the world, with truck loads of useful plugins available)
  2. Google Analytics (Website statistics)
  3. Open Office (Just as good as Microsoft Office, and completely free)
  4. Google Calendar (Keeps me organised)
  5. Google Docs (Online document storage, excellent for collaborating on documents with others)
  6. LimeSurvey (Powerful survey software, and completely free)

I’d be completely rooted if these companies started to charge (especially Google).

More Free Software That My Twitter Friends Are Thankful For:

  1. Gimp (Photo editor similar to Photoshop) @AudaciousGloop
  2. Zoho CRM (Customer Relationship Management) @AudaciousGloop
  3. Seesmic Desktop (Desktop client) @ShotByRobins
  4. Faststone Screen Capture @ShotByRobins
  5. uTorrent (Torrent client) @ShotByRobins
  6. Copernic (Desktop Search) @ShotByRobins
  7. VNC (Virtual Network Computing) @ShotByRobins
  8. Hootsuite (Twitter client) @WebSam
  9. Sylpheed (Email client) @WebSam
  10. Thunderbird (Email client) @DeepWebDesign
  11. Tweetdeck (Twitter client) @DeepWebDesign
  12. Oolite (Addictive online game) @DeepWebDesign
  13. Faststone Image Resizer @DeepWebDesign

What Software Are You Thankful For?

Add your thoughts to the comments below.

Viral Video – How Do You Create a Viral Video For Your Business?

Have you wondered how to create a YouTube video that “goes viral” and creates a torrent of new clients for your business?

Here are 3 essential components for a viral video that can generate business for you:

  1. It must be entertaining/hilarious/amazing
  2. It must have a business objective, a reason for being
  3. A mechanism so that people can connect with you and become a customer

Here are 2 videos that have fulfilled those 3 requirements:

1. “Mattress Dominoes World Record Attempt” (Bensons for Beds, UK)

What we can learn from this video

  1. You don’t have to push your agenda/brand (interested people will seek you out), put the focus on the entertainment value – in this case a World Record Attempt
  2. Leave clues to who you are
    • Sign up for a new YouTube account using your brand name
    • Be very subtle with your branding – in this case, the door of the truck had everything prospective clients needed

2. “Printing’s Alive” (Pazazz Printing, USA)

What we can learn from this video

  1. Be passionate about who you are and what you do. It’s infectious. People are envious of passionate people, because their own lives are mostly dull
  2. Tell a story

What other examples of corporate viral videos have you seen? Provide links to them in the comments below.

May I help you work on some viral video ideas for your business?

Talk to me, by email, or phone (07) 575 8799.

Cheers,

Sheldon Nesdale.

Is Honesty Really The Best Policy? Honest Marketing Even When The Truth Hurts – A Case Study

I just helped put together a “customer satisfaction survey” for a client.

(P.S. I used Open Source survey software – Lime Survey.  I use open source, free software whenever I can to save money for my clients.  But I don’t put up with crap. If it’s free and good quality, then I’ll use it. If it’s free and crap quality, I won’t. It’s that simple)

Here are the 4 challenges I faced, and how I overcame them:

  • Challenge #1: Generate A High Response Rate
  • Challenge #2: Rewrite The Questions In A Way That Motivated The Respondents To Answer Them
  • Challenge #3: Generate High Quality Responses That We Can Do Something With
  • Challenge #4: Decide How To Publish The Results That Serves Our Goals For Both Current Students And Prospective Students

Challenge #1: Generate A High Response Rate

Don’t you hate it when you put blood sweat and tears into a customer survey (or any other marketing campaign at all for that matter), only to get a few responses back?

I sure do. What a waste of time.

For this customer satisfaction survey, we sent out 280 invitations and got 179 responses. That’s a response rate of  63.8%.

Do you think that’s good? I sure do.

Part of the reason for such great results might be because this group of people is particularly willing to help improve the programme.

But here are 3 more ways I helped boost that response rate:

Radio Buttons Example

The survey was easy, fast and short:

  • Easy: Only a couple of closely related questions on each page. Every question was optional so there were no annoying pop-up boxes of errors when they tried to go to the next page.
  • Fast: I used radio buttons wherever I could, so the respondents could have their say with just a click.   And for the free-text fields, the size of the text-box indicated how short or long we wanted their answers to be
  • Short: A progress bar at the top let them know how much long the survey was. I kept the questions to a minimum. We didn’t really need their contact details “just in case” so we didn’t burden them by asking for that information.

    progress-bar

Plus, I used my word-smithing skills to ensure the respondents that their responses weren’t going to end up in a report that gets glanced at once and then ends up on a shelf somewhere to gather dust (subtle techniques that I won’t describe here).

Challenge #2: Rewrite The Questions In A Way That Motivated The Respondents To Answer Them

Seems obvious doesn’t it?

But have you ever been suckered into participating in a survey that doesn’t seem to care about your motivation?

Have you quit half way through in disgust (because of the time you’d wasted up to that point), or blundered through (paying little attention to the quality of your answers) simply because you didn’t want the entire session to be a complete waste?

I bet you have.

Here’s an example of how I rewrote a question to motivate the respondents to answer it:

Old Question: “Rate the following out of five: ‘The programme has helped me develop my knowledge, skills and attitudes’  1 2 3 4 5”

New Question: “Apart from learning about Management, how else has the programme helped you? (Eg confidence, knowledge). What have you done since joining the programme that you would not have considered before? (Eg applying for that Management role). Tell us your story.”

You might be thinking “that question is huge, no one will bother to read it, let alone answer it!”.

Well, if you thought that, you’re dead wrong.

143 responded to that question (a whopping 79.9% of the respondents).  The average response was 42 words (6000 words in total).

And we got a huge amount of very quotable responses and an invaluable insight into why people choose the programme.

Challenge #3: Generate High Quality Responses That We Can Do Something With

Why spend so much time and effort conducting a customer satisfaction survey and then let the responses get dusty on a shelf somewhere?

This was our opportunity to ask our customers what changes we should make to the way we operate. But first, we had to ask questions in such a way that management would know exactly what needed to be done when those results came in.

We met that challenge by providing an appropriate combination of quick response questions and long answer questions and stimulated thinking and a high level of response.

Interestingly, in previous paper based versions of this survey, the responses to the long answer questions were short.  In this online version, responses were much bigger and of much higher quality.  Many were 300 words+ for a single answer (that would be over a page if it was hand-written).

It was a lot for us to read, but full of very useful information.

Challenge #4: Decide How To Publish The Results That Serves Our Goals For Both Current Students And Prospective Students

How did we serve both our current students and prospective students?

We published many of the results online so that when current students come accross them, they can see that we listen carefully to what they have to say.  And for prospective students, they see unedited testimonials regarding the quality of the programme.

Is Honesty Really The Best Policy?

The first few paragraphs of the webpage for the survey results is shown in the screenshot below:

survey-results

As you can see, we started with the bad news “what our students have told us to work on” which talked about spelling mistakes, poor grammer, punctuation and formatting in the course materials.

Why did we do this? 3 Reasons:

  1. This level of honesty is rare. It get’s peoples attention. Normally, when survey results as released to the public, they are edited and the unpleasant bits are either removed or watered down.
  2. It provides contrast to the rest of the page which is a list of 230 positive comments that students made about the programme
  3. It has positive effects on both target groups. Current students know that we listen to them.  Prospective students see that we listen to current students and they trust us because we don’t hide the truth, and therefore they are more likely to join us as students

May I help you put together a satisfaction survey or market research project like this?

Talk to me, by email, or phone (07) 575 8799.

Cheers,

Sheldon Nesdale.

What? You’re Still Not Text Message Marketing To Your Customers? No Excuse, Because Now It’s Free From Vodafone’s Website

In a moment I’ll tell you how to start Mobile Marketing (with txt msg’s) to your customers from Vodafone for free, but first…

In my opinion, not enough businesses use Text Messaging (SMS or Txt Msg) to communicate with their customers.

  • Do you get txt reminders from your mechanic when your WOF or your next car service is due?
  • Do you get txt reminders from your dentist or hairdresser or physio reminding you of your appointment?
  • Do you get txt notification when your library books are due the next day?

Sure, there are email notifications, but nothing gets your attention like a text message alert.

And sure, some of these business are set up with SMS systems, but not all of them. Why not?

Q: “Is an SMS system expensive?”

A: No.

Vodafone offers the ability to send SMS from the vodafone website (they call it Web2Txt). You just pay 20c for your text messages (no monthly fees, no other fees).  The only catch is that you can’t use txt bundles such as “200 free txt’s a month”.  There are no special deals, it’s just 20c per message.

(There is also a free way, that I will tell you about very soon)

More about Vodafones Web 2 Txt Service for Personal and Business Use

Q: “Is an SMS system easier to use than punching the message into my phone?”

A: Yes.

It takes me ages to punch a message into my phone using the keypad and one thumb, but I can type at 90 words a minute so Web2Txt lets me use my computer keyboard to write messages (and use copy and paste for sending multiple messages).

Q: “Is it true that my text messages will get piped directly into my customer’s brain?”

A: Yes.  Here’s 5 reasons why:

  1. It’s easy to mute the TV during the ads.
  2. It’s easy to switch radio stations during the ads.
  3. It’s easy to delete an email newsletter before you read it.
  4. It’s easy to throw the junk mail into the bin before you read it.
  5. But you cannot ignore a txt message beeping and vibrating in your pocket. It will get read. It gives you a chance.

Q: “Can I use Web2Txt for FREE?”

A: Yes.

You can send up to 20 Web2Txt messages a day – FOR FREE.

Go to www.vodafone.co.nz/free2txt/ to find out how.

There are 3 catches:

  1. It’s only free if the person you are sending to is on Vodafone too
  2. Vodafone will add a short advertisement to the end of your message (at the moment it’s about the Vodafone warriors)
  3. This is the 8th month of the Beta version of this Free2Txt system, so there maybe a few bugs

Because of the advertisement on the end of the message, it is not advisable to use this service to txt your customers if you are a business. You’ll look like a cheap-ass.

Q: “What should I do next?”

A: If you haven’t already, start collecting mobile phone numbers of your customers.

  1. Ask them for permission to send the occasional special offer
  2. When you have something special to say to them, for 20c each you can send your marketing messages directly into their brains.
  3. Don’t SPAM them. Only tell them things that they will find very interesting or very useful (like the examples at the top of the page). Because it is hard to unsubscribe for txt msg’s, you can get into real trouble if you’re annoying.

Need more help with your Mobile Marketing? (Or any other type of marketing for that matter)

Talk to me, by email, or phone (07) 575 8799

(Or txt me on 021 128 5046!)

What’s Your Excuse For Having a Crap Website Or Not Having One At All?

There is no excuse.

If you spend anytime on the internet (and if you’re reading this, you do), then you will come across hideous websites all the time.

Here are 2 I came across in the last 10 minutes:

all-about-sports-screenshot1. www.AllAboutSports.co.nz

3 Reasons why this website sucks:

  1. Broken/lost images
  2. It was built with Microsoft Word (which is NOT for website building!)
  3. Most of the links go to mht files which spew unreadable text onto the page

3 Reasons to make this website cool:

  1. It has a pretty cool domain name
  2. It’s a Cambridge based, community website that isn’t trying to sell anything, it’s just providing a service to the community
  3. It’s easy to make a cool website for free using WordPress, so there is no excuse

celsius-screenshot2. www.Celsius-Ltd.com

4 Reasons why this website sucks:

  1. It is a .com instead of a .nz, so if a prospect ever sees it in search engine results they will think it’s American
  2. It uses frames which forces the user to scroll in small windows
  3. The text is light grey on red. Very hard on the eyes
  4. “Celsius” is too hard to spell

3 Reasons to make this website cool:

  1. It’s offering a cool sounding service – thermal photography (thermography). Cool!
  2. The owner, James Doyle, is a decent, hard working kiwi bloke in Hamilton, NZ (probably. I don’t know him actually)
  3. It’s easy to make a cool website for free using WordPress, so there is no excuse

How to use WordPress to make a cool website for free, in 7 easy steps:

  1. Download the latest version from WordPress.org
  2. Upzip the files and upload to your webhost via ftp (eg I use Ramsu for $15/month)
  3. Login to your webhost control panel and create a new SQL Database
  4. Add these new settings to the wp-config.php file, and upload that file by ftp
  5. Go to yourwebsite.co.nz/wp-admin/install.php and click on install
  6. Login to your WordPress control panel for the first time and start building your website
  7. Choose from hundreds of sexy themes, and hundreds of action-packed, feature-rich plugins (all free of course!)

Too lazy? Need me to do it for you?

I dunno, I’m pretty busy… but ok, I spose I can do it for you, I’ll charge you at least $600+gst though, so if that’s acceptable email me, or call me on (07) 575 8799 (Tauranga, NZ).

wp-admin/install.php

How to receive News Feeds (RSS) via email

In one of my all time favourite books – Tim Ferris, The 4 Hour Workweek (in fact I quit my day job because of this book), he talks about productivity (you certainly have to be very productive to only work for 4 hours a week).

One way to increase productivity is to limit distractions.

But at the same time I don’t want to miss out on stuff that is going on.

So I have subscribed to a few News Feeds (RSS) for my favourite blogs.  But news feed readers suck!  I don’t want to install software, and I don’t want to get interrupted all the time when I am focused on a project.  So I set up these news feeds on my igoogle dashboard.  But the problem is, they are buried at the bottom of the dashboard so I don’t even notice them.

I have to consciously make an effort to look in that area to scan the headlines. It feels like too much work.

And often, they are interesting so was a bit gutted that reading the headlines wasn’t easier.

Anyway, I use my email inbox (Gmail) for my workflow. I automatically filter much of what comes in (like newsletters and automated alerts), and deal with messages from real people before doing anything else.

The bottom line is, what I really want is to be able to receive these News Feed headlines into my email inbox for 3 reasons:

  1. So receiving these messages doesn’t interrupt my workflow
  2. So I get a chance to take a closer look in a timely manner if they are interesting
  3. So I can still apply my automatic filter so they bypass my inbox so I can look at them when I have spare time

feed-my-inboxI have found the solution: www.FeedMyInbox.com.

You don’t need an account, you just type in the url and your email address and you are done. Easy.

Cool service. But it makes you think – how the heck do they make money?

Why do so many online companies give away awesome services for free?

Do they just hope that huge companies will find them and pay the founders millions to buy their ideas? Perhaps.

Are Unhappy Customers Damaging Your Brand Online? What Can You Do About It?

Anybody can write anything, at anytime about your brand online.

Sometimes they will have good things to say and you benefit from positive word-of-mouth. Yay! 🙂

Sometimes they will have bad things to say, and these comments can damage your brand. Boooo! 🙁

What can you do to minimise the damage to your brand?

There are 2 simple steps:

  1. Get notified whenever comments are made about your brand online
  2. Write an official response using a method that turns a negative comment into a positive that is 10 times more powerful

Two ways to get notified whenever comments are made about your brand online

  • Sign up to Google Alerts so you are emailed whenever your brand is talked about online.
  • Sign up for Twitter.
    1. Search Twitter for your brand name eg “Coca Cola” or “Vodafone
    2. Copy the url into Feed My Inbox.  You will get emailed up to once a day whenever someone mentions your brand name
    3. Respond promptly to both negative and positive comments

How to write an official response using a method that turns a negative comment into a positive that is 10 times more powerful

  1. Your first reaction will to make an excuse “That only happened because blah blah blah”. They don’t want to hear your excuses. Fight the urge to make excuses, because making excuses is starting a fight. It tells the customer that you’re not listening and that you don’t care. Getting into a fight with a customer either online or face to face is a really bad idea, so don’t make excuses.
  2. Realise that they are just upset because they were expecting to have a good time, but something went wrong and now they are lashing out in frustration, and, unfortunately, you are the easiest target. Don’t take it personally. They’re just having a bad day, give them some slack.
  3. They really want just 3 things from you. And if you give them these 3 things they will love you for it. They will love you because most of the time they complain, no-one listens to them. So here are the 3 things they want from you: A) Acknowledgment, B) Apology, C) A promise of Action.
    1. So first, acknowledge them; “thank you for your feedback Joe Bloggs”. Easy.
    2. Next, apologise for their negative experience. But it wasn’t your fault was it? It doesn’t matter whose fault it was, apologise anyway. You can say “I’m sorry you had such a disappointing experience when xyz happened”.
    3. Next, address their issue or concern and describe the changes you are going to make (or even better “have made”) so it won’t happen again. Like this “We are making changes this week to ensure this doesn’t happen again to you or anyone else”

Trust me, if you do these 3 things you will blow their minds.

They will think “Wow, they really cared about what I had to say!”, “They are true professionals!”, “I helped make that place better!” and they feel a warm glow.

But the real magic happens afterwards: Hundreds of other people will read their complaint and then read your professional response.

They will think “Wow, look at the way the team responded to that whinger, they really listen and care! I’m going there!”

Download a pdf version of this method (13Kb .pdf)

Do you need help to monitor your brand online?

Contact us today or book a free 45min consultation now