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At Least Read the Spam You’re Sending

Received in the Info address in-box of a CPA this morning:

From: Robert Howland
Sent: Tuesday, June 28, 2011 7:30:51 AM
To: info
Subject: new client

Dear  ,

We have a few prospects in your zip code  that seek financial assistance. Would you be able to help them?
If you have the capacity to take on new clients, would you phone me?


Robert Howland
[company name]
nnnn Willow Pass Road #164
Concord, Ca 94520

Robert, Seriously?  You’re sending email to Dear [blank] and teasing them with prospects who need financial assistance?

By |2011-06-28T08:23:12-07:00June 28th, 2011|Marketing|0 Comments

Feature the Customers You Want to Have

Last week one clients talked to me about changes in her business-to-business industry.  Instead of relying primarily on one type of client, say cat owners, she has determined that in the future the real money will be spent by clients in a different category, dog owners.

My client has done some work with dogs, but most of her web pages picture cat toys and catnip because traditionally her money has come from cat owners.  She has more experience with cat owners, and has a long list of happy cat projects. Still, she knows that in this economy cat owners are foregoing services like hers while dog owners are increasingly leveraging her work to improve their competitiveness.

She asked me about updating her web site to attract dog owners.

Puppy and Poppies

When you're selling to dog owners, your site has to be all about puppies.

Great!  Her site should appeal to the clients she’s determined will be most profitable.

When she spoke with me, she said that the wanted to show up in dog owner’s Google searches.  She suggested that we mention dogs a couple times on her site. She said she didn’t expect pages about dogs on her site, because she knew that historically she had served cats and she didn’t want to mislead future customers about her work.


When we update her site, we are not going to just mention dogs.  We’re going to put dogs on the home page and create at least one new dog page. The site is going to howl!

Visitors want to see themselves on the web pages of businesses they are reviewing.  They want to know that the organization is focused on people like them.  They don’t care about history, they care about current services.

To attract the people we want as clients, we need to picture in words and graphics customers just like the ones we want to have.

  • When a church wants to increase the number of families with children, its web site needs to show children playing.  If the only images on the pages are of elderly people in the pews, young parents are going to click away.
  • When a community group wants to increase the ethnic diversity of its members, it needs to show people of all colors participating.  If the only images on the pages are of white people talking together, black and brown people are going to click away.
  • When your company wants to sell more to dog owners, you web site needs to show puppies frolicking.  If the only images on the pages are of cats, dog owners are going to click away.

Your prospective clients want to feel comfortable with the companies they do business with.  They want a connection.

Show them that they belong with you.


By |2011-06-27T11:54:58-07:00June 27th, 2011|Marketing, Web Design|0 Comments

Sleazy Foxy Marketing Tricks to Watch For

Last week I had sleazy sales experience with a representative from a big-name media powerhouse who was trying to get my client to advertise with them.

It’s been a long time since I’ve encountered a classic, fast-talking salesman who runs though the shock and awe sales pitch with such speed and vigor that all you’re supposed to be able to do is say, “Yes, sign me up.”

But, KNEW’s male salesrep provided me with that retro, Madmen-on-steroids call last week.  The spiel went something like:

With your permission, during our post Easter station breaks your company will be mentioned as sponsoring our anti drunk-driving campaign.  Let me read you the copy…

It was a brief, good-doing, innocuous statement that I could live with. But, I had a few questions.  Like, how much for how many mentions over what period of time?  And, more importantly, who was KNEW and why hadn’t I heard of them?

KNEW logoMy attempted interruptions for those questions didn’t yield too much information.  The cost was cheap, a couple hundred dollars a day.  But for how many mentions? When during the day? These details that never surfaced before the big issue was tackled, who is KNEW?

I was told the KNEW was a news talk station in San Francisco.

Really?  I listen to the radio a lot, and wind up listening to news (KCBS) and the #1 talk station (KGO) most of the time, with a few hours a week from my local school district’s public station.  I know that KGO has a conservative talk sister station, KSFO, but KNEW?  It didn’t ring a bell.

So, I asked what KNEW programmed and got unresponsive mumbo-jumbo from Mr. Motormouth.  I persisted, and got more sales speech and no better information.

But, as Mr. Sales was going on about the goodness of anti-DUI messages, or something, I went to the keyboard and Googled KNEW.

Oh. They’re the Fox affiliate in San Francisco, and their home page showed Glen Beck smiling out on his public.

Fox!  That’s what my fast-talking monologist was trying to keep me from knowing.  He wanted to sign me up to advertise on Fox radio without ever telling me it was Fox radio.  Wow!

Now, I imagine that San Francisco is not the easiest sales market for far-right Fox radio. But, to have the station’s programming masked from a potential, questioning advertiser just is wrong.  Stand up for your product, Mr. Salesrep.  Maybe I share Fox’s views, or maybe I just want exposure to its listeners.  Find out. Maybe take your lumps, maybe make your sale.  But, don’t play coy.  Besides, do many businesses really sign up without knowing that they are supporting with their advertising dollars the super-right line up of Fox?

But, back to my conversation.  After I dug up the apparently awful truth about KNEW, I said, “Oh you’re Fox. Oh, no, no, no!”  in a surprised or horrified, not angry, tone.  In response, the ace sales rep hung up.  No goodbye, no nothing.

Apparently the Stand Up for America Fox network tries to slink in the back door of potential advertisers and runs when exposed to the light of day.  Kind of ironic. Kind of disappointing.

By |2011-03-22T08:05:16-07:00March 22nd, 2011|Marketing|0 Comments

How to Spend Lots of Money on Google Ads and Get No Clients

Google AdWords and the advertising programs of other search engines can be immediately effective tools to drive potential customers to your web site. (If you’re not familiar with AdWords, it is Google’s program that lets web site owners put ads next to the results Google displays in response to searches. You bid for your ad to appear when searches are made for specific keywords. The higher you bid, the higher up on the page your ad will appear… more or less. You pay only when people click on your ad and visit your web site, an approach called Pay Per Click, or PPC. More information is on Google, and other search engines have similar programs.)

AdWords should be a low-risk venture:

  • You’d think it’d be difficult to waste a lot of money on Pay-Per-Click ads since, well…, you’re paying Google (or Bing or whomever) only when someone clicks on your ad and visits your website.
  • You’d think that people who see your ad would only click if they thought that your product or service would be valuable to them.
  • Therefore, you’d pay Google only when a genuine potential client clicked to your site after seeing your ad.

But, I recently fixed the AdWords campaign that had been racking up hundreds of dollars a month, getting visitors, and no clients.

How did my client waste his money?

  • He did not limit where his ads appeared
  • He bid on keywords without including his location in the phrase.
  • His ad text didn’t give his location.

Let’s say he was a San Francisco accountant (the profession and the keyword have been changed for this example!)  He bid on terms like “income tax preparation”.  His ad text was “Tax Preparation by Professional Accountants.”

Because there was no geographic limitation, Google users throughout the United States and Canada were seeing his ad, clicking on it, and visiting his site.  We could tell where people were coming from by the hit tracking report we used.  Very few came from within 100 miles of his business.  Some visitors had actually searched for terms like “Income tax preparation in Corpus Christi”.  My client’s ads had come up offering tax help, the the poor user in Texas was taken to the site of a San Francisco accountant.  And, my client was paying over a dollar for each of these misdirected souls.

What to do?

  1. AdWords Map

    Google AdWords Map Limiting Where the Ads will Appear to the Area in Blue

    Allow your ads to be displayed only by users who are browsing from specific geographic areas. Google lets you specify countries, geographic areas (San Francisco – San Jose Bay Area), and even lets you draw the boundaries for your ads on a map.

    Limit all your general keyword ads to the area you serve.

  2. Start a second campaign that you allow to run country- or world-wide.  Use the same keywords you use for the geographically targeted ads above, but include the geography as part of the keyword you bid on.  In the example case, you’d bid on “income tax preparation San Francisco”.

    By specifying that a user has to include your location in his search, you can get business from people who may not be in your area now but who specifically want service in that area.  In the case of the CPA, maybe a businessperson is on trip to Boston and they want to find an accountant back home in San Francisco to set up an appointment next week.

Specifying a location for your ads works.

My client is now able to bid more per click, and is showing up higher on the ad lists.  His ads are truly being clicked on by potential clients. And, he seen results walk in his door.

By |2011-02-22T12:52:11-08:00February 22nd, 2011|Google, Marketing|0 Comments

Forget About the Customer… or, How to Market Like Microsoft

This morning I went to a big-hotel San Francisco area roll-out of Microsoft Dynamics CRM2011 software and services.  Microsoft pulled out all of the big corporation stops and filled the elegant meeting room — which came complete with truly tasty buffet food — with their software partners and potential clients.  It felt like a Big Deal.

My client and I walked out at the first break.

Perhaps it was a good thing we attended this event and discovered that Microsoft is targeting large enterprises and not small- and medium-sized businesses.  But, even so, the product would have been so much more tempting if Microsoft hadn’t executed its presentation with the subtlety of a phone-company-like monopoly.

Solve Your Prospect’s Problem

The tag-team parade of opening keynoters at the presentation all lead — and dwelled on — how big and important Microsoft was.  How much effort Microsoft had spent in developing this product.  How big sales had gotten.  How many countries the product was now sold in.

What problem of my client’s that Microsoft Dynamics CRM2011 would solve was secondary. What Microsoft Dynamics CRM2011 would do for the basic work of my client was not clearly described.  I found that even the brief demo was gimmicky, talking about Tweets and coffee shops near client businesses.  I think I could pull up a Bing map of Starbuck’s near a prospect’s office, but I am not sure I could display a Bing map showing where all of my prospects were in any given ZIP code, for example.

Talk in English, Not Jargon

Outlook windows on your computer are now called “Outlook Experiences” apparently.  One demonstrator kept talking about what was going on in his Outlook experience.  I must have been under a rock when it was decided that you ALT-TABbed among program experiences on your computer.

Long, elegant, and meaningless marketing phrases were woven in a grand tapestry of fluff in the handouts and speaker narratives.

“Productivity. Microsoft Dynamics CRM helps increase productivity and create a connected organization that is equipped to please your customers.  The result is a compelling and engaging experience for customers that sets your business part.”

Delicious. And low in calories, too.

Maybe CRM software and services are sold primarily to marketing types who go through their day talking in hyperbolic babble.  But, to me, it was over-the-top and tone-deaf selling.

I readily believe that the complex CRM 2011 software that Microsoft has developed is wonderful for high-powered international organizations.  I don’t mind discovering that I (or my client) is too small to be a target.  I deduced the scoping issue from the references to sales forces talking to marketing forces who talked to customer service forces.  Okay.  A 15-person firm doesn’t need this much power.

But, still, I wouldn’t let my clients talk to their prospects as Microsoft talked to us.

By |2011-02-03T12:56:07-08:00February 3rd, 2011|Marketing|0 Comments
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