Thursday, December 20, 2012

How To Make Your Website Work

Perfect match - The right action for the right reason.
If a business has an online presence – or not – determining the right course of action, needs to be done in an environment where all the issues are laid out and examined, as part of that decision making process. No matter whether that decision is: Yes to proceeding, or No.

Understanding the background issues and the facets that will have an impact on what comes after the decision, and is fundamental to getting great outcomes.

Example Case: Your Company Starting A Website
Take as an example, a company starting a website. The website needs to fulfill your expectations of what you want it to deliver.So it should follow the form that will allow it to successfully do the thing for which it was designed.

If the purpose of the exercise is to create an additional sales channel for the business, then it is going to need elements that satisfy different desires. It needs to satisfy the end user, the owner and the web developer, to the degree that they can produce a website with the functionality to do, that for which it has been produced.

Lets look at this as a project for a website for a business owner.
Just suppose...

The Company wants:

• To make sales through a new sales channel
• To generate prospects for ongoing sales
• Enhance reputation and positioning
• Ownership and functionality of the site so that changes can be made in-house, easily as needed.

This requires:

• The business to be found by search engines on the first page
• Promotion to attract the right kind of traffic to find it
• A means of capturing visitors who will be interested in receiving future offers and information
• Technical capacity to allow for the smooth transaction of sales
• An ongoing budget with funds to drive the marketing and promotions through this new sales channel
• Functionality that allows the owner of the site to manage the content in-house.

Customers - People searching for it want:

• To find what they are looking for
• Good information to inform them about the products
• To be able to buy what they are looking for easily
• To be able to find out how to get what they want from you
• How to contact you if they wish to
• How to resolve a problem if they have one
• Ease of fulfillment of their purchase
• To feel that you appreciate them choosing to purchase from you

This requires:

• Content that is relevant and of interest to those who would search for it
• A pleasing look and good navigation so people are encouraged to stay and look around
• Simple to find the thing the person is seeking
• A way to buy that is easy to find and easy to complete the sale
• Good system for delivery and problem solving if it becomes necessary
• Client nurturing systems to let customers know you value them and want them to come back
• Delivery systems that are simple and do what they promise

To Get This, Requires:

• Clear instructions to your web developer on what you want to achieve and what you don’t want.
• The web developer to be honest about their capacity to deliver as promised
• A process for delivery as scheduled on time and on budget
• Documentation to you showing how the website will deliver as promised
• Open communication at all stages
• Keeping to the scope of the project as you originally stated it
• Any variations to be documented to show how this will affect budget and delivery dates
• Evidence before commencing, that the developer has completed a project of similar complexity to this kind of project, on time and on budget (especially important if a complex site and not a simple ‘out of the box’ solution
• In many cases, ‘Out of the box’ solution may well be preferable over anything needing to be coded ‘from scratch’! (“There be Beasties here”)
• That there is a backup plan in case the developer is unable to finish as promised. “What If?” Are there others in the organisation capable of delivery of the project?
• Support after launch of the site to ensure that the website continues to function as per the original purpose and to tweak as required.

In this way, the project can progress, and deliver results in line with the objective.

What about SEO? 

Note that these issues will take some time to be fleshed out. Each project will have a set of conditions that may be unique to that business and the objectives, but by working through a process to pinpoint the objectives and the overall purpose, there is a chance that the project can actually be set up to do that thing that it was intended to do, and have the functionality it needs for that to happen, and the pieces in place to allow the business and the customers to be happy with the result.

birdsnest online store: case study

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Brian Solis in Australia

Brian Solis 

The Daily Telegraph brings us an article about a visit to Australia by online marketing expert Brian Solis. Here's a guy that really does know his stuff and doesn't sugarcoat the truth, nor sensationalise his topic.
"Brian Solis, principal at Altimeter Group, a research-based advisory firm in the US, is in Australia for the Telstra Digital Summit in Melbourne and said more businesses needed to sit up and pay attention to the rapid evolution of social networking or they'll be left behind.
"I still get into conversations where executives at organisations don't see the value of any of this technology because it's just a fad,'' he said.
"Consumers' expectations are changing simply because technology is empowering them to get information when they want it and how they want it.

"Businesses are going to have to pay attention to that.''
Mr Solis described Australia as a "hyper-connected society'' and said the nation had adapted quickly to new technologies, including social media platforms and their use of sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

"Australians do embrace technology faster than others,'' he said.

"You find ways to implement it in terms of personal relationships, productivity and connectivity faster than others.'' "

You can find the full article here

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Shopping Time In The 21st Century

Shopping Time In The Hunter

NBN TV presented a "news" piece on retail shopping, in the wake of the Click Frenzy technology problem.

They began with saying:

"In the wake of the last night’s Click Frenzy flop, retailers are reminding shoppers there’s plenty of pros when it comes to ‘face to face sales’.  While online may be the latest trend, there are those who say nothing can beat the full retail experience."

That the video accompanying this statement was less a news item than something that would earn a place on Media Watch, it is an interesting link. It shows that the traditional media, much as many local retailers, and even bigger players just still don't get this whole paradigm shift.

Online shopping isn't a case of internet Vs local business. Local businesses should be using the internet and making their merchandise available easily for those people who can't or prefer not to go to the store.

The move to online shopping isn't a fad. We aren't going to wake up next Monday and have bakers wearing aprons and corner stores in every neighbourhood or Mrs Smith running out to pick up the milk bottles from the front door.

The whole Click Frenzy thing struck me as highly odd - given that I hate crowds and shopping anyway, so translating the Christmas shopping madness to online is no thrilling idea to me, but it was also going to test the competencies of those running the show. As is not really surprising, they failed to provide adequate resources so that the technology was capable of doing the thing it was meant to do. That's not a failure of the concept of online shopping, it is a failure of humans to manage the business end. This is a good example of how business underestimates the spend required to resource this new sales channel, and the investment they need to make in understanding the online business sector.

There is a tendency it seems, for some to treat online experiences, including social media marketing, or as it really should be called (since it is) Inbound Marketing, as a fad or a game. It is neither. It is a business issue. Not a game issue.

Strangely, some might think, it is not even something new. It is the old chat in the pub, learning about stuff from friends and gossiping over the back fence coupled with social proof and peer influence.

If you're approaching business online as a game you'll fail. If you think getting your teen to set up a Facebook page is social marketing, you've missed the point.

If you want to be in the group of people whose businesses are growing then you'll be in the section where real attention and resources are going into developing this additional channel for additional sales and magnifying in store sales by means of online engagement and uplift.

Here's a blog that speaks to some of this issue, from Paul Wallbank on findings contained within "The Advantages of Digital Maturity", a paper recently released by researchers at the MIT Sloan School of Management, looked at how different businesses adopted technology and the effect this had on their profits.

Finding 'Gardo', the movie

What has happened to shopping in Newcastle over the past 30 years, why are big shopping centres offering 'experiences' in addition to staples such as bread, milk, socks and jocks, and what are the smaller town centres doing to adapt to this change?

Take a look back at how shopping has already changed in Newcastle. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Social Media Traps For Business

Many businesses are starting to head online with social media without a clear strategy, poor education about the platforms and very little thought given to what they will do when they are in the firing line for some feedback they were not expecting. 

Like the home builder whose Facebook page is swamped with complaints from customers. 

Or the lawyer posting competitions to Facebook that contravene the Terms of Service. 

Or the retailer, like Target recently, with their Facebook page taken over with a barrage of political comments over the style of the children's wear that the company was promoting. 

Your online presence is just like opening a shop on Main Street, except more easily visible to people other than the usual suspects who might visit. 

How well constructed is your social media strategy and what decisions have you made about how you will handle issues that may come up in the future? 

Here are some questions, the answers to which you should already know ... 

How well do you understand the Terms of Service of the platforms that you are using? 

What search terms are people using to find you online and are these the key terms for which you most want to be found?

Who makes the decisions about the topics that you will post about online? What's your criterion?

What are the boundaries between what you post and what you won't post about online?

How do you treat complaints that are made online?

How do you monitor the web for complaints or criticisms that are made online but not on your pages?

What exactly is the reason why you need a blog and what to do with it to make it useful in promoting your business?

What's your backup plan when your Facebook page is deleted without notice?

How do you make the most of Twitter to communicate with your customers and new prospects?

How will you measure the effectiveness of your employees who are in charge of your online marketing?

What's your process for ensuring good quality images to share online?

Why is it important to be using images effectively online?

What's the critical factor in maintaining your own website and blog, for your social marketing?

How well is your blog updated regularly enough and what purpose does it serve?

How have you made the most of the opportunities presented by Linkedin for you professionally and for your business?

What is your procedure to ensure that you are not spamming your contacts?

What steps you taking to educate yourself on the Anti-Spam regulations and to keep within the terms of service on the various social platforms?

What methods do you have in place to encourage new connections online, from your shop or business premises offline?

How did you go? 
Did you know all the answers? 
Importantly, do your employees in charge of maintaining your business presence on social media understand these too? 

Your inbound marketing efforts - and that's what social media is about, needs a formal strategy that covers all of these issues and more.  Social media is not about Facebook, or Twitter, it is about presenting your business and marketing effectively. It is a business issue, not a game. 

How's your strategy looking?

Lindy Asimus 
0403 365 855

Friday, November 2, 2012

Show Us Your Business

We customers want to see who we are dealing with. We'll buy online but you need to put your best face on so we can feel like we know you and predict what kind of service we'll get from you.

For a local business this means you need good photographs, a story to tell and online places to show off your business so people can see you. That's where social media marketing can help to connect customers, with your great business offers. That's Inbound Marketing and you should be all over that!

Like to know more on how you can do that? Give me a call.
Lindy Asimus 0403 365 855

Monday, October 29, 2012

Myths And Truths About Social Media

This is an interesting article as it speaks to some of the regular myths and silly nonsense that I see all the time. Often from those purporting to be "social media gurus".  So instead of me writing more of the same, here's someone else with the 'good oil'.

Starting with the first myth... which reminds us again what social media marketing is. In case you have not considered this - it is Inbound Marketing.

Here are the top 5 myths that your supervisor, manager, or CEO likely believes about social media, along with some strategies to enlighten them.

1.    Myth:  Social Media Is Free, Right?  

This is the most common fantasy about social media out there – that it is free, just because there is no cost to set up an account on social media.  This is a huge myth!  Establishing your business on one or more social media networks takes an investment of financial and human capital.

Truth:  It is true that social media marketing aka inbound marketing, costs less per lead than traditional outbound marketing.  According to Hubspot, social media costs an average of 60% less than traditional outbound marketing.  In order to leverage your efforts, make sure to connect your marketing strategies, traditional and social. Use your other marketing efforts to promote your social presence, and use your social presence to promote your traditional marketing efforts.

You can read the other myths here

What do you know about social media that turned out to be a myth? What do you think you know about social media that might still be a myth? And how do you separate the myths from the truth of social media? There is some great news and it is true. Find out the difference.

There are a great many benefits to using social media to keep your business relevant and visible where customers are looking for products and services.  If you'd like some help with that, give me a call on 0403 365 855 - Lindy

Related posts:
Many hands make lighter work of social media for local businesses
Here's how to save time and get good content for your business online
Inbound marketing the new old fashioned way to do business
Financial planners: Social Marketing the key to keeping business on the books
Business writing not just on the social media wall
What every business should know about social media

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Getting Started Guide To Social Media

I see such a lot of stuff posted online about social media, how to do it, why you should be doing it and all of that stuff. Mostly it is a lot of the same thing over and over and many times the articles are written for people who are already understand the basics of social media.

In reality many who are using social media tools don't know the basics. Yes they may have a Twitter or Facebook account but they don't necessarily understand the underlying principles of how social media fits with a website, what makes a good website and how to create a social media strategy that marries offline activities - that marketing that you do all the time offline, with social media.

So I've compiled some articles from my Actionbites blog into an ebook you can download and read at your leisure.


Download here

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Facebook Introduces Global Pages

changes to Facebook pages for international businesses banner

For those with an international business this will be good news. 

From Facebook:

"With this new structure, Facebook users will be directed to the best version of a Page based on the country those users are in, enabling them to see localized cover photos, profile photos, Page apps, milestones, "about" information, and news feed stories from Pages—all while remaining part of the global brand community. 
Each brand's Global Pages structure will include local Pages for specific markets (single- or multi-country regions) and a default Page for all other markets. More details on this new framework:
  • One global brand identity. Users from all countries will see the same Page name (translated into their local language), fan count, and People Talking About This (PTAT). 
  • One URL. Brands can promote a single URL in all off-Facebook campaigns, and users will be automatically directed to the best version of the Page for them. 
  • Global insights. Admins of the main Page will see insights for all global users in one easy-to-view dashboard."
Hubspot thought this was important:

"Okay -- so what's the difference between a global marketer just setting up and customizing different Facebook Pages? In one word: centralization.3 Key Benefits of Global Pages
  1. A Centralized Facebook Presence: No matter which version of the page a visitor gets routed to, all visitors will see the same page name (translated into their local language), fan count, and 'People Talking About This' counts.
  1. A Single URL: Rather than having to promote a different page URL for each localized page, global brands will be able to promote one single URL in all of their marketing efforts to promote their Facebook presence, since page visitors will be automatically be redirected to the appropriate version of the Page based on their goegraphic information.
  1. A Centralized Global Insights Dashboard: Rather than having to check the Facebook Insights for multiple pages, administrators of the main Global Page will be able to check Insights for all page variations in one centralized dashboard.

Read more:
Here's what Hubspot had to say

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Gary Vaynerchuk On The Thank You Economy

Gary Vaynerchuk is a wine merchant whose uptake of social media for marketing has been remarkable. Unlike so many, he is straight-up. no BS.

Here's what you need to really understand on how your business is going to be affected by this new economy. Get with it and learn how this works.

Online Content Can Be Used In Different Ways

Businesses need to be producing content - that's information - to use on the internet for your website, your blog, your social media networks and for other uses that are not online. Here are some ideas on re-purposing your content. Not sure about how to create content? Call me and let's chat. Lindy

View full image Content Repurposing Strategies

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Travel And The Internet

Tuscany Italy. 

So I'm just back from a trip to Italy and I'll have a few things to post about this in the days to come.   For now, let me say that planning a trip like this involves a lot of research and slog to get things just right, study the areas, the places to stay and work through a list of 'must-haves' that I wanted.  This turned out to be much less painful than I might have expected.

Contrast this with attempting to plan a similar trip to the Hunter Valley and the experience would have been very, very different.

We sit here in this wonderful part of the world and we are wasting the chance to let the world know about it.

Time this got fixed. Tourists need to be able to find out what's worth seeing in a location or they will never go there. They need to be able to get around, they need to have access to excellent broadband and they need to be able to find what they need and have service when they need it.

The world looks at places like Tuscany and with good reason just want to go there and see it. To eat the food, and to just soak up being there. What's it got that the Hunter doesn't have? An attitude. One that we could cultivate too, but will take more than just thinking "she'll be right, mate".

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Kinect To Email Empowers Stroke Sufferer

While some are still living in the past and denying that the world has changed, others are getting on with it and using the technology to empower and enable friends, family and others to do what was once impossible and is now a part of daily life. 

From Techcrunch

Hacker Uses A Kinect To Help His Mom Email After A Stroke

Chad Ruble’s mother suffers from aphasia due to a stroke. She hasn’t been able to use a keyboard for years because she is simply unable to recognize text. In order to help her, he built a Kinect-enabled interface that lets her move her hand around a series of simple icons – happy, sad, upset, etc. – and other icons that signify degree.
After swiping around the screen a bit, she was finally able to send an email using a few simple hand motions. 

If you don't open your mind to learn about new uses for technology and communication, someone close to you may be missing out on something that would change their world. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Social Media Statistics Australia 2012

Who is using social media in Australia? How much time are we spending on social media in Australia? What are we doing on social media in Australia? Here's the answer and more. 

Are you using social media well to get the most from all this online activity? 

Need help? 
Call me on 0403 365 855

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

New Technologies That Have Changed Business

What time is it for your business to adopt new ways? Now. 

Small business is feeling the stress from a market place that is not responding the way it once did. But putting a finger on what's different is not so easy.  In a recent blog on the subject David Markus gives us six examples of innovations that have been part of this change. These are innovations that have changed the way that business is conducted and we are never going to see the old ways back again. 

The six technologies are:
  1. Social media
  2. Cloud solutions that put corporate tools into our hands
  3. Mobile devices that let us work from anywhere
  4. Virtualisation of server infrastructure
  5. Online shopping
  6. Availability of broadband

While we can list these as items, in truth each of these has a lot involved and the application of each innovation can help business to sell more to make you money, streamline processes, make your business more efficient and save you money. 

Are you taking advantage of these innovations in your business? 

If you're not sure or not sure how you could add this kind of innovation to you local business, pick up the phone and let's chat. 

Lindy Asimus
0403 365 855

Read more:

Businesses increase local sales with internet presence 
Better sales with an online presence
What Newcastle or Hunter business has a great story to tell with social media?
Managing your online reputation

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Optimize G+ for Local Search

Here's a handy slideshow on G+ Local for hotels or pubs. Of course this is the case for other local businesses too.

 Claiming your G+ Local page is the first step. If you're a bit confused and need some help call Lindy Asimus  on 0403 365 855 for help.

Honest Reviews Important Online For Business
How Do I Start Blogging For Business?

Monday, August 13, 2012

ACCC Says Business Responsible For Truth Of Facebook Comments

New rulings from the ACCC mean businesses are responsible for comments made to their wall to be factual.

This means that you may be liable if you don't act on problem posts.  You need to act on them within a certain time frame - but importantly, you need to be monitoring your Facebook Page so that you know what's being put on your wall at any time so it can be dealt with in an appropriate manner. The ruling relates to big business but small business should follow this example too.

ACCC commissioner, Sarah Court, told SmartCompany "if there are misleading representations on the Facebook page which stay for a while then the business is responsible for the publication or promotion of those comments."

ACCC gives big business 24 hours to fix Facebook comments, but SMEs get more time

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Honest Reviews Important Online For Business

Online reviews are becoming even more important when people are making decisions about where to stay, where to eat or just where to purchase goods in an easy and safe way.

TripAdvisor has been called out for fake reviews and action taken against them by one B&B in Scotland. You can read about it here where they deny they are subject to Scottish law.

So how do you deal with reviews of your business? Are you even monitoring what is being said about your business? Do you know how to monitor your business mentions online?

In planning a trip overseas, I am very aware of the attraction of finding good quality reviews to use to support the decisions that I am making when choosing places to stay. But I am also conscious that there are so many people gaming the system and paying for fake reviews that it does make it hard to sort the real reviews from the fake ones.

Some ways to build credibility online:

  • Make your website, blog and Facebook consistent with your identity
  • Make it easy to contact you.
  • Have a physical address where possible 
  • Respond to enquiries quickly
  • Make it transparent when people are paying you money
  • Ensure your emails (and service) is always in a friendly tone
  •  Respond to negative comments and take the follow-up offline
  • Thank people who comment on your website or blog or social media page.
  • Use widgets on your website that show other local people who have Liked your page. This allows for "social proof" to work for you.
  • Make sure that you have updated your Google+ Local entry online.
  • Manage your reputation online at all times.
  • Ask happy customers to recommend you online and make it easy to do.
All in all the best strategy for business is to provide as many ways as possible for customers who don't know us to get good insight into who we are, our good reputation and our stability in terms of being around to sort out any problems, and put would-be customers at peace that we are legitimate and real people who can be found  and trusted to deliver what we promise.

Lindy Asimus
0403 365 855

Businesses increase local sales with internet presence 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Better Local Sales With Online Presence

New Australian statistics show that we DO

 Good news for local businesses wondering what the real deal is with using internet for generating local sales.

A recent Sensis report shows:
  •  small Aussie businesses do better with local buyers,
  • increased internet and social media use with +65's and 
  • jump in tablet devices, smartphone and wireless use
Report details here.

Of interest in the report:

Australian small and medium businesses (SMEs) are struggling to capitalise on the internet's global nature and are still far more likely to make an online sale to a customer located just around the corner than to someone interstate or overseas.

What this means for your local business
 Local businesses can be doing more to develop this additional sales channel to get more customers, more often,  buying from the business.  It must be understood by local business owners that the internet is not just for strangers we don't know who live overseas. It is also used every day by the people we know and our neighbours who live just down the street. These are also the people most likely to spend in your business. Or your competitor's business if you have not made the necessary effort for them to find you.

The report found most online sales by Australian small businesses were made to customers in the same city or town, and the likelihood of a sale diminished as the distance between a business and potential customers increased.

What this means for your local business

Your competition is not "overseas internet sites that don't have to pay GST". It is any business that sells what you sell and makes it easier to:

  1.  Find 
  2.  Have stock customers want and 
  3.  Make it easy to buy.

According to the annual Sensis e-Business Report released today, the opportunity to reach international markets with e-commerce is failing to translate to overseas sales for Australian small businesses

What this means for your local business
 If you are selling a product that you would like to sell to overseas clients too then you need a strategy to attract that business and handle the distribution issues that may exist or are perceived by overseas customers. 
Eighty-seven per cent of SMEs with an online presence successfully sold goods and services to local customers, a figure unchanged from the previous year. Two thirds (66 per cent) of businesses selling online said the bulk of their online sales came from local customers, an increase of 6 per cent on the previous year.

What this means for your local business
 Being online is essential for the success of a  business.  Note that the survey mentions "an online presence" - this could mean that the customer found the business online and engaged them as a result of that initial contact even though the site may not be one that has shopping cart or sells physical stock.

Although 62 per cent of SMEs have a website for their business, and 27 per cent use social media for business purposes, only 15 per cent have an actual digital business strategy, according to the report. This is despite 55 per cent of SMEs reporting that they had recovered their initial investment in e-commerce, with a further 17 per cent saying they expect to recover their investment in the next year.

There is nothing to be gained by having a poor or no online strategy. If you don't understand how your sales are coming from online visitors then you need to find out and pronto!

Lindy Asimus
0403 365 855

Hunter Social Media Marketing
Business Coaching
Personal or Life Coaching.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Add An Online Marketing Channel For Business Growth

Some interesting news on new statistics out for local business showing the value of having your business online and developing the internet as an additional channel.

In an article by Michelle Hammond over on Startupsmart

Early eCommerce adopters see results while others stumble: Report

New research commissioned by PayPal shows business growth increased by an average of 5% in the last year for those who sell online, while those who don’t sell online saw business decline.

The study, conducted by Roy Morgan, shows that in the last year, business growth increased by an average of 5% for those have sold online for at least 12 months.

However, business fell by 4% for those who don’t sell online or haven’t sold online for at least a year.
Jeff Clementz, managing director of PayPal Australia, says local retailers are “an important fixture” in Australia’s communities, but they must engage and embrace technology.

 Russell Zimmerman, executive director of the Australian Retailers Association, says the results confirm the transition to online retail has been a “significant challenge” for local businesses.  Zimmerman says establishing an internet presence is a “critical first step” for any business to take.
“[The internet] at the very least provides a significant opportunity to supplement [your] business with an additional sales and marketing channel,” he says.

The news comes on the back of the NAB Online Retail Sales Index for June, which shows Australia’s total online spending was around $11.5 billion in the year ended June 2012.

According to NAB, this level is equivalent to 5.3% of traditional bricks and mortar retail spending – excluding caf├ęs, restaurants and takeaway food – for the year ended May 2012.

Read the article here

The numbers show the value for bricks and mortar businesses to add online sales to their operations. There is a lot to learn about working in this space and this is not even including the additional sales to a business that can be gained from social media marketing which can be building in-store sales too.

Lindy Asimus
0403 365 855

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Promote Any Product Online With Social Media Even A Frankfurt

This is a great example straight off Facebook on how social media can work for business.

What do you notice about this?

It is not an advertisement.
It is a real moment with real people engaging with people they know.
It has a picture and a good description.
It has raised interest in someone from their network.
They have asked for more information,
They have had a fast response.
They have all the information they need, with a recommendation from someone they trust and are now able to go and get some too.
They can get it because the business will  have it delivered to them.
Anyone seeing this can buy this too, no matter where in Australia they live.

This is commerce in 2012. This is how the marketplace works.

Make sure it can work for your business.

Lindy Asimus
0403 365 855

Related social media marketing articles by Lindy Asimus

Honest Reviews Important Online For Business

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Which Hunter Business Tells The Best Story?

Over on my Actionbites blog I posted a great video of a 220 year old flour company that has a great story to tell about their business.

It got me thinking about how well our local businesses are telling their story.  Honestly I can't think of any recent media that I've seen that really showcases a business and shares their story but perhaps you can.

Meanwhile here's an old commercial that really did have a story to it from way back. I am sure anyone who ever saw this will remember it. And that's a key. It goes into our consciousness and we never forget it.

If you have a favourite story from a local business do share it and I'll add them to a post to showcase them.
Lindy Asimus
0403 365 855

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Your Reputation Online. Watch It

You Want A Bright Shiny Reputation Online (and Offline)
Whether you're using social media, want to use social media in your business, or believe you can ignore social media in your business.  Social media questions are becoming more and more the topic that emerges in my discussions with clients and business owners. The amount of bad information out there, on TV on radio in the newspapers and still many business owners who are either oblivious or misinformed about online matters and how to make good decisions about what to do online.

It still remains that many small business owners think that they don't need to be online, or that their lack of interest in computers in some way is significant to their customers!  Nope. Whether you use a computer for anything more than checking the weather, other people (people with money who are and who could be customers for your business) are using their computers for many, many things. Notably, for researching future purchase options, for one example.

Yes you need to be online.
No it doesn't need to cost a fortune.

Just because someone offers you a "deal" - if you don't understand what you are getting for your money and how to determine if this is value - or a rort - then find out before you start.

A Cost of Doing Business
Yes it will cost something.
Getting a website is the beginning - not the end.
Guess what - online people are offline too! Bring them together.
Get to know people who understand social media, the internet and business.

Professional Resume - Linkedin
 Now  don't tell me - someone has invited you to Linkedin but you're not sure if you have a profile on Linkedin or if you do, you don't know what it says or how to connect with anyone. Or even what to do with that invitation.

Is it important to complete your Linkedin profile? Yes it is. This is where you can establish your credentials online and people who are looking you up on Google can see if you have roots to the community (not a fly-by-night type). And yes people look you up on Google to check you out. You should Google yourself. No information is no better than bad information.

Reputation Management. 
Go through and clean up any items that you would rather not show online and set about getting good quality information on the record about you and your business.

Learn how to monitor and manage your online reputation this is crucial  whether you are young and looking for a first job, experienced in the workforce, or manage or own your own business.

Honest reviews online important for business

Monday, July 30, 2012

Augmented Reality Looks Like This

One of the areas that is opening up with technology and will be a game changer for retail and tourism going forward is the use of mobile technology including augmented reality. What is that? Take a look at this video to see.

Destination NSW invites you to get away and meet the locals of regional NSW Australia. In an Australian Tourism first, head to participating Westfield shopping centres and interact with Regional NSW wildlife virtually through augmented reality!

You can pat a kangaroo, feed a Pelican, swim with dolphins or even splash around with a Humpback whale!

 "What’s the future of retail, and how far away is it? Turns out that in the next couple of years, customers will be able to try on clothes and products at home with no shipping required. Technology will allow shoppers to virtually wear garments — smelling, hearing and feeling the fabric as if it were real.
Sound crazy? It’s not, when you look deeply into the world of augmented reality (AR). Augmented reality technology typically overlays the virtual world on top of the real-world environment through a device, such as a mobile phone or a tablet. But certain companies are redefining the bounds of virtual reality experiences by home-growing their own unique AR technologies and platforms."

See more on how augmented reality is changing what is possible in retail in this article from Mashable. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Google Secrets Revealed

 A new index status feature has been added to Google's Webmaster Tools.

What does this mean? The Googlebot travels the web and collects the new data as it is posted online. This is the critical element that sniffs out and finds your information (you hope!) and makes it possible for your site to come up when there is a search for what you want to be found on. 

This from the site:

 Since Googlebot was born, webmasters around the world have been asking one question: Google, oh, Google, are my pages in the index? Now is the time to answer that question using the new Index Status feature in Webmaster Tools. Whether one or one million, Index Status will show you how many pages from your site have been included in Google’s index.

Index Status is under the Health menu. After clicking on it you’ll see a graph like the following:

There are many free tools that are available to use for webmasters and site owners so make sure you are using everything you can to give you the critical information you need to track  your performance  online and make the most of the opportunity to get your business found online. 

Read the full release here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Accounting Firms and Social Media

"Accounting firms have no business being on social media" 

So ran the advice in this article in the Financial Review  No doubt this was meant to be provocative though it is possible that this is just another article by someone happy to offer an opinion without any knowledge of the subject.

The article does go on to say

"LinkedIn is emerging as another exception. It lets people harness the power of connections." 

In fact Linkedin has been doing this for years. It isn't emerging, it has been doing this for a long time, the only emergence, is that more people are coming out of the dark and  beginning to twig that the invitation to connect on Linkedin that they accepted and then never bothered to complete their profile or learn to use, is now pretty important.

Better late than never, perhaps.

 Another opinion in the article "You need something interesting and relevant to say, and there are only so many tweets on international financial reporting standards you can make interesting." shows clearly that the writer has fallen into the trap of thinking of Twitter and social media generally as being "all about me" and broadcasting a narrow range of self promotional pieces. The test for relevance is not about what is your core product it is about what the community that you are building online will find of interest.

Now it could be that the writer equates "Accountant" with big corporate firms. Yet most businesses will be using a suburban accountant who is a part of the local community and engaged in different ways with the people in their locale. This is where accountants have scope to do more for clients than just pass the work to junior staff and gouge clients with extortionate fees for a so-so service.

So how can an accounting firm or a single accountant use social media in a way that is effective?

Like any business it begins with understanding what purpose you want the social media to perform. Let me suggest that at the outset, by far the biggest advantage of this is to assist the accountant to be more visible, more credible and more aware of the world in which their clients operate too.

We are in a time of incredible change. Reports are on the news daily of more businesses closing and there has never been more need for business owners to be able to be flexible and adapt to compete in the new marketplace. Those who can are doing well, even now. Those who can't will fail. The evidence that there are skills they need to learn to adapt and change are often observed  by the accountant in the first instance.  That is, the accountant is in the prime position to see that, but they need to be paying attention and have the client's interests in mind. Business owners, rightly or wrongly, look to the accountant as the person who will give them a sign if there is something they need to know.  To remain in the dark about the changes that are happening across the marketplace that relate to social media and extend into changes in consumer spending habits, purchasing decisions, operational and customer service issues and more , is no service to your clients.

No Time

Now it may be true to say that many (probably most) accountants, just like their customers, are time poor and not tuned in to the new technology, and like many things that don't get done, if you don't know how to do it, it can be easier to just pretend that it isn't important. Marketing is something else that is often treated this way. Doing nothing is not going to make things go back the way they were. The marketplace has changed and this is the environment that now exists. Getting in touch with that and understanding it is crucial.
What strategy you adopt to deal with it, is another matter and one that needs to be considered after being fully informed and gaining some real understanding of the issues, the opportunities and the traps.

Get Active

How do you tell if your client is deep in need of help in this area? They are sending out newsletters by .pdf ... that's one simple but great indicator!

So let me say this another way. Accountants have no business being on social media without knowing what they are doing.

And you can learn. More easily than you might have thought.

 Lindy Asimus
0403 365 855

See also 
Part One: Your Business Blog
Part Three: Blogging For Business: Ideas
Part Two: How Do I Start Blogging For Business?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sydney And Google Maps Deal

News out that Sydney, Australia joins London and other major cities in getting with it as Google Maps adds Sydney public transport to their offering. According to Lifehacker Australia 

"Search for directions between two Sydney addresses and you’ll also be offered public transport directions where available, including the times of relevant services. The system will default to choosing the fastest trip, but you can click the ‘More options’ link and specify if you want train, bus, ferry or light rail. The search isn’t rock-solid — it didn’t always spot ferry trips in my early tests — but even in an imperfect form, this is a long-overdue addition. (Sydney has had directions for the light rail since 2009, but that’s only a tiny part of the system.)

Sydney joins Adelaide (which has had the option since 2008), Perth (ditto), Canberra (2009) and Cairns (also 2009) in offering full public transport directions via Google Maps."

Over on  Smarthouse  they had this to say...

"The NSW Government has cut a deal with Google that allows commuters on public transport to get access to information via Google Maps.
Minister for Transport Gladys Berejiklian said during a visit to Google headquarters that commuters searching for directions on Google Maps traditionally have the choice to drive, walk or cycle, but from today users in NSW will see another option providing a comprehensive summary of convenient public transport journeys to their destinations.

The service  means that Sydney now joins global cities including London, New York and Hong Kong that also have public transport on Google Maps, Ms Berejiklian said.

"We are listening to customers, and more people are turning to the internet and mobile phones to help them plan journeys, and it doesn't get much easier than using Google Maps," she said.

""We also see this as an opportunity to attract new customers as it's estimated Google receives nearly one million location related searches in NSW each day. So we expect the tool to encourage people who don't normally use public transport to give it a try."

Now when do we get Newcastle 'on the map'?

Perhaps IT Wire have it right with their comment "Most other places in Australia only have one bus, so it's probably not that important (joking!)." - They must mean @The100Bus ;-)

Of course a recent expedition to a local winery in Rothbury had me following directions from Google Maps that sent me to the worst possible route. Now why is there no element on Google Maps that accounts for weather and road conditions? May be that's something to look at in future iterations.

 See - technology is not going away. Expect more convenience and new ways of doing old stuff.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Wine Industry Blogging

The international wine industry is getting behind wineries and opening the competition for best wine blog.

Now this is interesting because it reveals that somebody in this industry is taking notice of the importance of getting your wine online and producing not just great wine but fantastic entertaining and informative content on the web about the wineries and the wines they produce and all the stories that relate to the industry.

Kudos to the wine industry for recognizing this important aspect of social marketing, and the people who are making an effort to do it well.

You can find their list of wine blogs here 
Wolf Blas has made the finalist list I understand.
Here are the categories:
  • Best Original Photography or Video on a Wine Blog
  • Best Single Subject Wine Blog
  • Best Industry/Business Wine Blog
  • Best Wine Reviews on a Wine Blog
  •  Best Writing On a Wine Blog
  •  Best New Wine Blog
  •  Best Overall Wine Blog
So why might you blog?

Here is a comment from the site that might give you some insight..

"I am a 59 yr old married female living in So. CA. who believe it or not is new to the wine scene. I decided to visit my local wine store with the idea to try a new wine each week. It didn"t take long to realize that I was in over my head. Going home empty handed, I knew that I needed to go on line for help. While surfing different sites and blogs I came across a most delightful and informative blog, At first I was drawn to the photos and Courtney's quirky sence of humor. After following her blog for months I realized she takes wine seriously and really knows her stuff. I am never dissappointed when buying the various wines she suggests in her blog..."

What's your favourite Australian - and Hunter Valley wine blog?

Maybe you will write it. 

 The wine industry is just one example of blogging for your business. Look at your industry and think how you could be doing this too.

When will you start sharing your stories on your blog?

Need help? Call me.

Lindy Asimus
0403 365 855


Part 1 Your Business Blog
Part Two: How To Start Blogging For Business
Part 3 Blogging For Business: Ideas