Monday, December 2, 2013

Levels At Which Business Can Be Online

"Are you online with your business?" I have often asked.

"Oh yes." Is the reply.

Or sometimes the reply is more a rundown of excuses why not.

"Oh no, this is just a local business and everybody knows us." They say.

There is no real way to tell someone like this that every business in the local area is a local business and being local is no reason not to use the internet for your business.  Indeed, it is for the benefit of your local customers who know you that your website can be used in many ways that will be useful for them, and for your business.

But I have realised that my question is too broad and not concise enough. How could I make it more concise? That's when it hit me - I needed a scale for people to use to identify where they are in their online business efforts, for their answer to be useful.

So I devised a Levels of Online Business metric - here's a detailed article on how you can use these levels, that I wrote for a UK website to which I contribute weekly. Local Business Steps of Being Online

Here's the thing. If you want your business to make use of the internet to develop visibility online, open up the facility for it to make sales for your business and give you good placement as the Go To business in your industry, you need to be aiming for levels 4 and 5.  Can you do that in your little business? Yes, you can. Can you do it without investing in your online business presence? No. You can't do it with no money and no effort.

And you can't do it at all even with those things if you don't know how.

But it is well within your reach if you just approach it with good information, good research and good help.

Need help? Call Lindy Asimus on 0403 365 855 to explore your social marketing or coaching needs.

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

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Connected Business In The Digital Economy

Deloitte released their report on how Australian small businesses are responding to the digital economy. You can find the report here.

The report shows the value but also the limited uptake by small business in Australia, of the very things that could be generating new and additional sales for the businesses. 

They identified 4 levels of engagement online. I think there are 5. 
Those businesses at the top two levels will be competitive in the new economy.

You can read about my steps to making the internet work for your local business  

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Todd Sampson on Social Media For Business

“If you do not have a digital footprint as a business or individual, I instantly don’t trust you. 
I instantly think you’re hiding something,” 

 - Todd Sampson

From the #digitalsummit in Melbourne 31 October 2013

"Brands that don't embrace mobile "will be totally irrelevant," says Todd Sampson and a panel of digital experts in Sydney

Sixty-six million years ago, a meteorite hit the Earth and it killed nearly all of the dinosaurs,” said Todd Sampson, well-known CEO of Leo Burnett Australia and the host of ABC programme Redesign Your Brain during a panel session at the event on 31 October.

“Technically, the dinosaurs were dead when the meteorite had hit, but they didn’t know and they lived on for a period of time before they eventually died. You could argue that digital meteorite has already hit the majority of businesses in our country and around the world, and most of them are actually dead - they just don't know it yet."
The new generation is obsessed with mobile, Sampson continued. “If you as a business are not in that space, you will be totally irrelevant. You will not even be remotely considered for anything.”
See the full article here 
Are you ready to get your business prepared for the digital age? 
Let's chat.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Newcastle Pilots SPOKE News App From ABC

Newcastle and Launceston have been selected to trial this new app from our own ABC that lets you access latest news that's local to you and select the categories that coincide with your interests and by postcode.

You can check it out for yourself at

Here's how the ABC puts it...

27 August 2013

Newcastle and Launceston residents to pilot new ABC project

ABC Innovation is inviting Newcastle and Launceston locals to trial a ground-breaking pilot project that channels news and information from a variety of sources to their mobile phones.

Launched today, Spoke provides a mobile phone site for aggregated news, entertainment and other information relevant to people in specific communities. News and information will be combined from ABC news outlets, Fairfax local publications and direct from city councils, festivals and event organisers, sports clubs and community groups.

Newcastle and Launceston residents can test the product by logging on to the m-site and entering their location. The m-site can then be personalised to give viewers only the news and information that they want to see. Sport, for example, can be made a priority or turned off completely for those not interested.

Feedback from residents will be used to improve the Spoke experience and will feed into further beta trials. The research findings are also being shared with content participants and with the public on the Spoke blog

Director of ABC Innovation, Angela Clark, said further Spoke trials would be based on community reaction and engagement.

“We conducted research in Launceston, Mt Gambier, Geelong, Canberra and Newcastle to better understand what role a person’s location plays in their content needs,” she said. “Spoke came out of this research, as it showed that people in smaller cities and towns were struggling to find the right mix of relevant news in an easy-to-use mobile format.”

“The first Newcastle and Launceston pilots will hopefully give us a sense of what people want and to determine if Spoke is on the right track. We have already learnt that people don’t want only local news but would prefer a mix that includes local, national and international.

“We thought Newcastle and Launceston would be good places to test this tool as they are cities with strong local identities and of regional significance. Newcastle is also emerging as a hub for digital incubation and both cities have vibrant arts communities and a passion for local sport.

“With the vast changes in the media landscape, we are hoping to create a tool that offers support across the sector. By providing people with links to a range of media sources, we achieve two goals: sending more traffic to different sites while wrapping information up in one single source to make it easier for readers. Collaborative ventures like this will benefit local media and the communities they serve.”

The ABC plans to extend Spoke to Mt Gambier and Townsville later this year.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

How To Have Impact Online - Google

Launching and Amplifying your Impact Across Social Channels

Welcome to the new marketing world.. The world where your big claims are doubted and customers believe not what you say - but what others say about you.

"The digital and social revolution has empowered consumers with technology, which has given them access to all the information in the world. Consumers now have a powerful voice: what matters most today isn't what you say about your brand--it's what consumers say about it. Brands can influence that conversation, but they can't control it. This is the New Normal. 

To succeed in the New Normal, brands must use social and digital to transform their businesses. Their challenge is to create new interactive brand experiences that consumers connect with and want to share. That is the key to ROI, and what we'll be discussing in this live webinar.

This webinar is presented by Maya Grinberg, Chief Evangelist, Social Media Manager at Wildfire by Google."

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

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Aussie Retailers Given The Drum About Online Sales

Stunning attack on the big retailers from Emma Aberici of the ABC The Business on their seeming lack of judgment about the market and what customers want. Is it poor judgment or something else?

Emma Alberici makes all kinds of important points in this article. How many can you spot?

That the large retailers have bungled their trade online - or perhaps more to the point, completely failed to understand the relationship that changing consumer habits have on sales, is telling.

The same also goes for small retailers who have continued to pretend that things the internet is not a game changer and calls for a complete revision of how business serves customers in this age.  But the opportunity for smaller retailers is huge. They are not stuck with corporate bosses who are slow to react and more remote from their customers. Local retailers have the ability to be selling online as an additional sales channel and making sales to customers who they would once have had no chance at all of serving.

The only thing holding back sales ... is the business owner who continues to refuse to come to terms with this new way that customers expect to be able to buy. And buy they will.

Australian retailers are losing the online race By ABC's Emma Alberici Jun 17, 2013

Dear Bernie Brookes (Myer CEO) and Paul Zahra (David Jones CEO),
When are you going to admit that you misread the market?
According to Roy Morgan Research's State of the Nation report, after a decade of consistent year-on-year growth, internet shopping finally reached mainstream status in the first quarter of 2013. According to the report:
For the first time, Australians who don't buy something online in an average three month period are in the minority.

"If you continue with your false assumptions about what consumers want, shareholders might begin asking difficult questions: Are you luddites or do you honestly believe that e-commerce is a fad?

Mr Brookes, why did you say online shopping would only account for 10 per cent of retail sales at department stores in the UK and the US over the next five years when John Lewis is already selling 25 per cent of its goods through the internet and is actively pursuing a strategy that will push that figure to 40 per cent by 2020?
Of Mr Zahra, one might query what on earth he was thinking when he recently trumpeted the introduction of free wi-fi in his stores. Do you really want people visiting DJs online right now when the children's section is promoting Christmas themed clothing in June? And Mr Zahra, there is no point encouraging people online only to disappoint them when they arrive. While the world's biggest department stores are luring people with web exclusives, their Australian counterparts are turning customers away when they venture into cyberspace with alerts warning that certain stock is only available at the shop. Remarkably, DJs advises people to pick up the telephone and inquire about that product’s availability, fit and style instead. Mr Zahra, do you not recognise the fury such a message is likely to illicit from someone who has presumably logged on to your site to speed up the whole shopping experience?
Unlike their international counterparts, Myer and David Jones have never taken online shopping seriously. In Australia, where we have enjoyed the highest economic growth in the developed world, low unemployment and record low interest rates, the major department stores have been blaming the "worst trading environment in 30 years" for their poor sales.
In the US and the UK where recession has brought double digit unemployment, the big department stores that have embraced the virtual world are going gangbusters. Macy's (which counts the upmarket department store Bloomingdale's in its stable) recently reported a 20 per cent surge in profits. The company revealed that 89 per cent of its growth came from online sales. Their website is tipped to become such a big component of the business that Macy's has been investing heavily in its technology and other strategies that make them able to respond to customer needs fast.
Management is aiming to have the highest possible number of suburban stores capable of fulfilling online orders. In 2011, it trialled 23 "online fulfilment centres". By the end of 2013, Macy's will have 500 such outlets well equipped to process and dispatch orders.
Celebrated John Lewis CEO Andy Street understands that getting products to people and returned as promptly as possible will make them more loyal to the brand. Click and collect is a vital part of his business too. John Lewis online purchases can now be picked up at any John Lewis site plus any of the UK's Waitrose stores (the supermarket chain sits under the same corporate umbrella).
At Myer in Australia, you can have your purchases delivered within four to seven working days unless you live in Western Australia in which case you will wait 10 days (never mind this is the state where people have the highest disposable income in the country). Click and collect is only available at four specific Myer stores in the entire country (sorry Hobart, Adelaide, Darwin and Canberra). Did I mention that John Lewis will soon offer a freight service that delivers straight to the customer's closest petrol station?
Mr Bookes, Mr Zahra, I'm surprised that you continue to blame the "trading environment", "consumer sentiment", and the fact that Australians are saving more and spending less. Perhaps a little more introspection is required.
Pardon my impertinence Bernie Brookes but how did you manage to negotiate a 4.4 per cent pay rise last year after your sales fell 1.3 per cent? Do you, Mr Zahra, honestly expect the public to believe that much of your companies' woes can be attributed to your predecessor, Mark McInnes? You have been in charge for three years now and before that you were group general manager of stores and operations at DJs. Didn't you notice what was happening in international retailing in your 12 years at DJs before you became CEO? When you were at Myer and Officeworks before that, weren't you trained to keep an eye on trends overseas?
Mr Brookes, Mr Zahra, I find your claim about the impact of the high Australian dollar the most outrageous of all. It presupposes that shoppers are motivated almost entirely by price and it exposes just how out of touch you are.
When I logged in just now I found the DJs front page emblazoned with a 50 per cent off banner. Myer is currently advertising its "biggest" stocktake sale. It seems like the country's two biggest department stores are engaged in a cycle of continuous heavy discounting.
But there is no point chasing the volume game when what you really want is value. Price is important but it's not the reason shoppers are drawn to the internet for the latest fashions.
Mr Brookes, Mr Zahra, I want to let you in on an open secret; the women whose wallets you covet no longer have the luxury of time to spend aimlessly walking around your multi-level department stores. In the time it takes to reach level two, they can click a mouse or touch a screen and buy something from every one of your departments.
Your traditional customers (mostly women) now have jobs and if they don't also have families then they certainly have a lot more other demands on their time than they once did. Technology also means they are much more aware of their entertainment options and shopping is falling further down the list.
Shopping has become the thing women do at night, with a glass of wine, after the kids are in bed or at work during a meal break. Couples have less time to spend with each other than they ever have and it shouldn't come as a surprise that men aren't enamoured with the department store "experience".
John Lewis CEO Andy Street last month told The Times in London that the John Lewis champagne bar at Bluewater is now the busiest part of the foodhall. "People want a day out and they want to be sociable. And that's part of what we're providing: a meeting place."
Far from putting up the white flag, Australia's biggest retailers are getting together to fight back ... not with a clever strategy to win back customers that are shopping with their international rivals, rather, they want politicians on both sides to intervene. Frustrated by their own lack of ideas and innovation, they want Canberra to tax imported goods under $1,000. Remember, Australians are currently paying up to $50 for the luxury of having things shipped to them from overseas. That cost is often not too far off what they might have paid if the GST applied. If Australia's shopkeepers took a global approach, they too could benefit by selling their wares to the world GST free. People want something new, something other people don't have. Couldn't an Australian retailer offer shoppers in the US, the UK something different?
Both the online and the in-store experience have to change for our big department stores to stay competitive. If foreign retailers like Macy's and John Lewis (not to mention the hundreds of smaller department stores and stand-alone outlets) can manage to distribute to Australia and express prices in Australian dollars online, why can't DJs and Myer send Australian brands overseas?
Surely they could be effective aggregators and yet their websites don’t even countenance the possibility that someone sitting in a living room in London or New York might want to purchase Sass & Bide jeans or Bonds underwear? Neither store’s site contains any information whatsoever about international delivery. John Lewis boasts international shipping to 30 countries. The first time I logged in to Macy's they let me know I could have any of their products shipped to Australia. Mr Brookes, Mr Zahra, please explain why you can't imagine doing what your competitors have been doing for years.
When "pure play" e-tailers entered the market, John Lewis recognised that it had the advantage of retail incumbency. Shoppers recognised and respected the brand. All John Lewis had to do was freshen it up and convince people it was nimble enough to respond to its customers' needs and desires.
Clever marketing went a long way to inspiring loyalty. In 2010, the "She's Always a Woman" advertising campaign went viral on YouTube with more than 850,000 hits. The clip traversed the various stages of a woman's life from birth to pension age and prompted the Daily Mail to claim the department store had touched the nation's hearts and reduced even the most hardened television viewers to tears. The Fyfe Dangerfield cover of the Billy Joel song commissioned especially for the ad became a hit, rocketing up the British charts. As it continued to "keep pushing at the boundaries" John Lewis this year introduced Johnny Harrington - a former kitchen fitter with a ginger beard and unkempt mane who became the unlikely new "hobo chic" face of John Lewis menswear. Sales jumped. The John Lewis YouTube channel boasts dozens of videos, featuring everything from fashion bloggers talking about designer headphones to a guide to troubleshooting your washing machine.
While Myer has now exited the business of selling whitegoods, John Lewis has made a name for itself by introducing retro fridges. David Jones is struggling to make money out of its technology division; meanwhile, sales of technology, iPads in particular, have been a huge driver of growth at JL.
DJs and Myer need to innovate and reinvent themselves but their CEOs appear reluctant to change. They moved online only grudgingly and are now promising shareholders cost-cutting as a solution to its problems. There has been a lot of talk of improving the online offering but it's yet to materialise in any meaningful way. Macy's and John Lewis online flash up their feedback form on a regular basis. Both stores are desperate to know why people visit their site and what they could do better (Macy's formally asks "what can we do better"). Bernie Brookes and Paul Zahra, prominently ask your customers what they want. It might surprise you.
Australian retailers are going the way of the newspapers that realised too late that the banks of the rivers of gold had broken and the money had spilled into the pockets of the online "pure plays". It was the classifieds that once made Fairfax one of Australia's most profitable businesses. That all changed when became more popular than
Mr Zahra, Mr Brookes you need to match the investments of your overseas counterparts if you're going to survive this Triassic-like period you've decided to keep Myer and DJs in. Mr Zahra, you are celebrating DJs 175th anniversary but this is no time for hubris. You recently boasted that DJs is still standing after two world wars and the Great Depression and it will "stand the test of time".
This is not a "test of time". It is a test of nerves. People have deserted your stores and unless you act decisively and aggressively to make them come back, you'll be wishing you had a time machine to take you back to the 1930s. I note that Myer expects online sales will reach $50 million in 12 months which is less than 2 per cent of overall sales.
DJs is coming from a lower base so both will need more people to use their feet not their fingers to do the walking. Unfortunately gentlemen, Australians have come to expect shopping to be fun, fast, full of choice and open 24/7. They don't mind paying a little bit extra for international shipping if it ticks all their other boxes. At the moment, when it comes to ignoring what customers want, there is no other store like David Jones. As for "Myer, My store" - Whose store?
Emma Alberici is a host for ABC's Lateline program. View her full profile here.
In summary:

Australian retailers have wasted a good decade in adapting to online purchasing as a channel for acquiring new business and growth in sales.

Overseas retailers are planning for online sales to attract up to 40% of their sales

Excuses about the high dollar, GST on overseas internet sales are simply that and not at all credible reason for why customers are not buying more from Australian retailers.

Retailers working together to promote these excuses are failing customers once again, because they are not looking for ways to help consumers.

One effect of this recalcitrance is that retailers have ignored the opportunities available to access the sales they could be making from overseas customers and domestic customers who don't live proximate to stores, as well as existing customers who don't have the time or interest in visiting the store every time they want to buy.

Retailers have failed to provide the choice that consumers are craving and using outdated thinking to promote their goods in ways that are not valued by customers.

Old methods of pushing seasonal purchasing in out of season times means that customers can see clearly that the retailer has no interest in what's important to them, and renders the retailer irrelevant.

Innovation and being attuned to a more sophisticated buyer is what retailers need to pursue.

The 'old days' are not coming back. Time for retailers to wake up to what is happening and develop a plan to really understand the new market and respond accordingly.

Are there challenges for retailers? Of course. Strategies to move forward are vitally important for a successful transition. We are in a time of massive change and retailers large and small need to equip themselves for this changed environment.

What can you do for your local business?

  • Start with a review of your own business. 
  • Start researching the market and your position within that space. 
  • Like the old days, you then need to put into place a well constructed, well thought-out plan to go forward. 
  • Be willing to adapt. 
  • Make steps to continually review, reflect and revise what you do.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Social Media In Plain English

Sometimes we need to go back to some basics. Here's a way to look at social media for local business to use to get their message out and engage with customers.

This information is easy to understand and valuable.

Can you imagine having information about your product as easy to understand? Your online content - stories - are very important to getting the right message out to your customers.

Is it time to review your online communications?

Call me if you need some help.

Lindy Asimus
0403 365 855

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Understanding Customer Ways

The ideal combination for business is to have: More customers, buying more often and spending more money.

To do that Businesses need to be attuned to and ready to respond to what customers expect and want.  But what happens when those expectations change? 

Since Port Stephens is built around tourist businesses I thought I would talk today about how customers – especially travellers – go about planning for their trip to a new location.

But you know  travellers don't have to always come from a long way away. Even people from Newcastle or Lake Macquarie could be looking for services in the area – or could be encouraged to visit the area if they knew about more of what Port Stephens has to offer.

There are some things that are a given, for any business that customers rightly expect. They expect we will
Do what you promise to do
Provide what the customer thinks they are buying.
Fix anything that isn’t working when problems happen, as they often do.

A travel survey last year revealed this interesting statistic: 
Roughly half of discretionary travellers in developed markets and two-thirds in emerging markets do not have a specific destination in mind when they start their trip planning process. 

Yet, it is not easy to browse destinations on most travel websites today.   Especially for inexperienced there is a need for better more condensed snapshots of information such as seasonal temperature/weather and price ranges. Freshness and accuracy of destination information is also an issue, particularly for emerging markets.

Now I was thinking about this recently since I was in Italy at the end of last year and spent a lot of time researching where I was going to stay, things we might like to do there and visit and ways to get around. Also what the specialty of the areas might be, attractions to look out for and any customs that would be important to know – like that fact that the shops are closed on Mondays and close through the week between say 1 pm and 3 pm.
If you are out and about in a strange town that has a different language - that’s good to know! 

So I am a tourist from another country coming to Australia what would I be looking for here? 
Now it happens, that Italy has many, many wonderful websites with fantastic information available. Each region promotes their patch very well.  Some information is from businesses, some from blogs written by travellers who had experienced visiting these places for the first time, and also reviews on places like Trip Advisor.

But when I came to plan a trip to Australia the job is much harder. Lots of links to the same old places, hotels and big corporate websites and a squillion pictures of beaches... but that’s not the kind of holiday I want. If I go somewhere new I want to learn about the place. 

But see I am not your average tourist. I want to stay somewhere that is not a commercial hotel, and I want to know what facilities are there, and easy it will be for me to take care of my shopping needs while I am there. 

If I don’t drive, I want to know how I can get there, 
when I can get there and 
what I need to know to get tickets and all that.

While I may not be your average tourist, there are a lot of tourists like me. And a lot of people who would think about travelling more often and staying longer if they could travel this way. 

There are many niches now for types of travellers and each have their own wants - and opportunities for business to service them.

So we have a problem locally – well across Australia really – because we are not good at showcasing the different things that we have to do that are not so highly publicised. We have lots of vineyards – but not so much in classes for wine and cooking for tourists to take while they are here. We have lots of B&Bs but many of them don’t have a presence online and don’t show their business in a way that makes the most of what they have to offer.

An example
If I am going to visit an area, I am going to look for somewhere not a hotel as my first preference. I might look for a self cater house, or apartment. One with cooking facilities but close to conveniences and places I might eat out. 

Now as I look for places of this kind, how they look, is important. How clean they look and how comfortable the furnishings – this tells me a lot about how important the comfort of guests is to the owners.  If they seem to care about how nice it is for me to stay there, then that’s something that is important to me. It conveys a sense of them being somewhat like me and that they would understand my needs and what will make the stay more pleasant.

Looks aside, the number one thing that I will be looking for – all else being equal – is how fast and reliable and easy to access is high speed internet. And I don’t expect to pay more for that. 

This is one buying criterion that has changed in recent years. Nowadays it is considered a basic facility for internet to be available for visitors. Anyone who is interested in keeping their vacation rentals booked - and receive great reviews cannot afford to overlook the importance of this to visitors. 

Customers also want ease. They want it to be simple to learn what they want to know. Easy to make it happen and confident because they get a fast confirmation and don't have to wonder about arrangements.  Certainty makes for peace of mind. 

There are many other ways that customers shop now and their expectations about what a business provides and how they provide their services have changed dramatically in the last 5 years.  Many businesses have not adapted to suit this way of buying and so they are missing out on sales that they could be making from their websites – and even using payment over the phone in some cases. 

Mobile devices are becoming the primary medium for accessing the Internet – and its related services – across all age groups.  So naturally Websites need to be readable on mobile devices since so many people are doing their shopping and travel planning this way.  And access to broadband wifi is a big factor for travellers who will be seeking information on the local area before they arrive – and when they get here. 

As a region, the whole Hunter and Port Stephens and Lake Macquarie areas combine to make a fantastic central tourist spot for visitors to spend an extended time here to look around the many things we have to offer – but if they can’t find out about how easy that is and what a fun time it will be – and affordable – not just for the rich travellers – they will pass us by. 

So there are some things for you to consider in your businesses.
Research other locations and see what they do that’s different. 
Discover what has changed for your customers in the past few years in how they shop for your services or products.
If your customers are travellers
Look at your local area and business as though you are new to the area and seeking to find services. Do some search on Google and see how what you can find easily and make not of what you would want to know but can’t find.  Your own business can use this as a start on improving your online information and when multiplied across the region, suddenly the whole area will explode online with fantastic content for travellers – even local travellers – to use. 

These are all ways to help push growth in sales, encourage repeat sales and increase the dollar value of sales.   Meeting expectations is the start point. Exceeding them is where the magic is. 

More sales, more often, for more money - that’s the only way to grow exponential profit

If you need help with any of this give me a call. 

Lindy Asimus

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Local Businesses Online: Articles

Some interesting articles this week that are useful for owners of local businesses to understand some new trends. These articles just in are great examples of the changing ways that businesses do business and the importance of to any business in keeping up with the changes. 

These changes are not just in marketing, they are reflected all across the business and the way that businesses must learn to operate in this age using technology and responding to the requirements of those customers they want to have spend money with them. 

1  Promoting Yourself In The Digital Age - Sydney Morning Herald
"Young's top five tips for building your personal brand:
1. "LinkedIn is ‘Facebook for suits’ and it has four million Australian members. If you’re in business, you really should have a presence on Linkedin. Depending on what industry you’re in, you might want to be more active on the network, but as a minimum make sure your profile does you justice – include your photo and tell your story but not in a CV kind of way, write it with a bit of verve and personality."

2. Open an account on Twitter and get active. From his own experience, Young says: "Twitter has been incredible in building my network and opening my eyes to other people’s ideas. It helps you connect and build relationships with people who in all likelihood you would not get to meet in day-to-day real life."

3. Start a blog. Young believes that, in many instances, it should form the cornerstone of your online marketing efforts. "I’ve seen many examples where a blog has contributed to the success of a company through heightened profile and increased opportunities."

4. Consider becoming your own media channel. Young is referring to producing your own content and distribute it across the social web. This means blog posts, but also perhaps an e-book or whitepaper, videos or a podcast. "A lot will depend on your business and your area of expertise obviously, but the fact that today you can become your own media channel and share your ideas with the world for next to nothing dollar-wise, is an amazing opportunity."

5. For those in professional services, Young suggests checking out Slideshare. "Contribute a presentation or two that you can then embed on your blog and/or LinkedIn profile. Slideshare is a "quiet giant" of the social media world that is steadily building its community and growing in influence".  Promoting Yourself In The Digital Age

2  Online Pennies Start To Drop - Smartcompany 
"They are also getting insights into how cost-effective, flexible, measurable and convenient websites and online marketing are compared to their comparatively pricey and cumbersome traditional counterparts.

Better still, the costs of experimenting with these new online techniques is miniscule compared to similar experimentation with traditional media." Online pennies start to drop for Australian SMEs

Survey finds SMEs failing to put mobile on the menu - Smartcompany

"SMEs have been warned not to overlook the growing number of customers who use mobiles to access business' websites, following a new poll that found that less than 10% of restaurant owners have mobile-optimised websites..

The Melbourne-based business has released the findings of its latest Restaurant Website Visitor Report, which reviews all of the information from its customers' websites.
Data from March 2013 was compared with data from May 2012.
The report shows 29% of all traffic to restaurant websites comes from mobile devices, while Safari is the most popular browser – it makes up 50% of all browsers, up from 37%.
But according to the report, less than one in 10 businesses actually have a mobile-optimised site"  Survey finds SMEs failing to put mobile on the menu

Are You Keeping Up?

These are just a few of the dozens of articles and posts that I review every week. How will you keep on top of new developments you need to know?  One thing that is constant and that is that change is with us forever. Those businesses that will do well are those whose owners ensure that they have access to quality and targeted information that is useful to them and their business. We are past the point where finding information is the main use of the internet. Analyzing that information is critical. Knowing which information matters is useful and which is not is key. 
Keep following our articles and check out Like my Facebook page at to stay informed. And if you have any questions, give me a call on 0403 365 855. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Goodbye Yellow Pages Hello New Media

Businesses have stopped paying for big ads on Yellow Pages - but are not applying that money to new media.

There is a bunch of money they could be getting value from promoting their business online and offline in a way that is more active than they ever had with YP - and already finding in their budget. 

Bare minimum that business needs to do is:

1) monitoring reputation - what is being said about them online
2) cleaning up their websites so the look good and are on track for good (free/organic) search results and have fresh content since that is what impresses Google
3) their websites are usable on mobile devices
4) have claimed their free listings and built these out with useful information.

Has Your Business Been Hijacked?

Recently a local accountant was telling me of a client whose listing was claimed by a competitor and the number diverted to their own phone. 

Imagine that. 

Beyond these basic needs, there are many, many ways to enhance conversions and manage the business end of the marketing using technology and new ways of operating. 

What Else Is Important To Do To Generate Sales In This New Marketplace?

Some that come to mind - 

Radio ads for getting your message out to people when they are not sitting in front of a computer - and would never have thought to look for you anyway!  Radio just clicks with online marketing tools.

Ways to measure and track your inbound responses so you know where the sales are coming from

Visual improvements to your online and offline presentation - including good photographs, good styling of your product in the photographs and good styling and presentation of packaging, shop layout and presentation and image that does your products and service proud. (This is very rare to see!)

Copywriting to promote your business story and bring it to life and help with search results on Google. 

A strategy for using social media platforms like Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter, YouTube etc for engaging in the social space. This is where people who know people who know you get to know your business, like your business and then trust your business. 

That's so valuable. And you can't buy that. 

Need help? Give me a call. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Social Media For Business Makes For Growth

Even the ABC TV program The Business is bringing us stories on the growth of business due to the internet.

Time to do something about yours?

With big cyber dividends, small business can't afford not to go digital

Updated Mon Apr 15, 2013 10:34pm AEST
A new report found a third of enterprises have virtually no digital engagement, but those that do are twice as likely to be growing and profitable.
TICKY FULLERTON, PRESENTER: Log on to the digital world and reap the rewards - that's the message to small business missing out on the cyber revolution.
A new report found a third of enterprises have virtually no digital engagement, but those that do are twice as likely to be growing and profitable.
Tracey Kirkland reports.
TRACEY KIRKLAND, REPORTER: Michael Tattersfield has been a printer for more than a decade, but this has been his best year yet. He puts his company's rapid growth down to the internet
MICHAEL TATTERSFIELD, BUSINESS OWNER, APPAREL ART: So initially I was using things like mail drops, leaflets and sending out letters to businesses to try and get some interest. And then that was successful on a very patchy scale. And then I started reading about web marketing.
TRACEY KIRKLAND: Two years ago, he consulted an IT professional and together they built a website. Now he uses social media, posts web videos and constantly updates his site. He's also doubled his bottom line.
MICHAEL TATTERSFIELD: We might have had half a dozen inquiries a week. Now I'm getting 20, 30, 40, 50.

See video and full transcript here

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Good News And Bad News For Accountants

Some interesting results in a survey released by Business Review Weekly has some good news and bad news for accountants and financial services in Australia. 

Why SMEs still trust accountants over financial planners

Published 12 April 2013 11:23, Updated 12 April 2013 13:15

Two points from the article ...

Point One:
SMEs have identified accountants as their trusted external adviser, but they may not appreciate that their accountant is there to help design a sound business plan and avoid the pitfalls that can bring down a business,” he says. “This is especially so in the critical period 12 to 24 months after starting.”
The survey also shed light on the type of advice SMEs are turning to for professionals. It found 63 per cent of the advisers time was spent handling transactional or administrative functions for SME clients, and only 37 per cent gave strategic business advice."

My experience would suggest that accountants are poorly equipped to help with business planning beyond the 'get funded type of business plan' that is a fiction created for banks, and not a blueprint for how to drive the business forward. Indeed, few have one that guides the direction of their own business. 

Let's be clear. 

Marketing is not an accounting skill.
Communication is not an accounting skill. 
Technology is not an accounting skill.
Social media marketing is not an accounting skill.
Customer service is not an accounting skill.
Content creation for the web is not an accounting skill.

And sadly, being an advocate for a business is 
not an accounting skill. 

A financial planner too, has a range of skills and not all financial planners are equal. Sadly, the legislation around the industry lumps them all together but while some are merely providing a sales front for selling managed funds, some actually will work through with you on your life ambitions and help you create a plan that is in your interests - not their financial reward. 

So how do you tell them apart? 

That's a good question. And a good strategy for that is worth developing for selecting (and reviewing the performance) of your accountant and other advisors and suppliers and sometimes customers.

Trusting, or not trusting a 'class' of professionals is a bad idea. 
Having a good process to assess competency, is a good idea.

Point Two:

The survey also points out... 
Cloud-less accountants may be ditched
"Most SME owners said they would replace their accountant if they failed to make the transition to cloud-based computing software.
The survey showed only 23 per cent of accountants servicing SMEs have moved to cloud-based software to manage their clients’ accounts. But of the 77 per cent surveyed who are yet to make the move, 60 per cent said they expect to do so within three years."

The cloud, if you don't know, is where instead of buying your copy of MYOB, you use an internet based  service that you pay only for a monthly subscription, is updated automatically (in the cloud) and is available for you and your employees or accountant with permission, to access as required.  Bank details are updated automatically and you can get your current figures at any time with the press of a button.

This is a real time saver and eliminates so many hassles with keeping the books straight. And should reduce your bookkeeping and accounting costs.

Yet many accountants are still set in the old ways and are not updating their knowledge to participate actively in the way business can be done in this century. 

That can be costing you money.

And holding your business back from reaching out and becoming more profitable and using technology to do more with less in your business. 

We are in a new era and it is critical for business owners to understand that the internet for business is not just playing around on Facebook. Your online strategy needs to be thought out and to do that you need to be able to get quality information that is always up to the minute so you are not left falling behind your competitors who more now than ever could be stealing your business even from outside your local area.

But let me mention a third point the article makes. Many business owners rely on 'instinct' when determining trust. Instinct without a good checking process is a bad idea as the article explains.

So who should you trust?

  • Advisors who are competent at their profession but also 
  • always current in their knowledge of new business information and 
  • who make sure that you are kept up-to-date.  You should look for advisors who 
  • put your interests ahead of what they can gouge you for in fees and hidden commissions.

Oh... and don't look for advice from your accountant or your financial planner on issues that relate to marketing and technology.

Go where that knowledge is demonstrated.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Google Solution To Social Accounts When You Die

It's a sad time when someone who is a friend dies and their Facebook page or other social media account can't post the update, but it can be shown from time to time in your contacts. There has really been no protocol for accounts on social media platforms to reflect the new status when someone passes on.

Google has introduced what it calls an Inactive Account Manager to help with thisThis lets you set up a very straightforward procedure for what should happen to your data after your account becomes inactive “for any reason.”

Here's what Google had to say about it...

Plan your digital afterlife with Inactive Account Manager

Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 12:05 PM ET

Posted by Andreas Tuerk, Product Manager

Not many of us like thinking about death — especially our own. But making plans for what happens after you’re gone is really important for the people you leave behind. So today, we’re launching a new feature that makes it easy to tell Google what you want done with your digital assets when you die or can no longer use your account.

The feature is called Inactive Account Manager — not a great name, we know — and you’ll find it on your Google Account settings page. You can tell us what to do with your Gmail messages and data from several other Google services if your account becomes inactive for any reason.

For example, you can choose to have your data deleted — after three, six, nine or 12 months of inactivity. Or you can select trusted contacts to receive data from some or all of the following services: +1s; Blogger; Contacts and Circles; Drive; Gmail; Google+ Profiles, Pages and Streams; Picasa Web Albums; Google Voice and YouTube. Before our systems take any action, we’ll first warn you by sending a text message to your cellphone and email to the secondary address you’ve provided.

We hope that this new feature will enable you to plan your digital afterlife — in a way that protects your privacy and security — and make life easier for your loved ones after you’re gone.

Giving some thought to what happens when you die is wise at all levels. What some have not considered is that often it can happen that on the death of a person, the secrets that have been contained within their emails and online activities can scrutinised very closely by the partner of that person. It happens quite often that what the partner finds in their perusal, can reveal elements about the partner now gone that is a surprise - or a shock.

There is no comeback to recriminations at that point.

Taking care of our digital estate planning is a good move from Google that will give us some measure of privacy and determination over our digital footprint after we're gone.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

75 Percent Of Small Businesses Missing Out

"Nearly three quarters of small and medium businesses in Australia are failing to use social media as a marketing tool, research conducted by Telstra shows.
The report reveals only 24 per cent of the 1000 small and medium businesses surveyed have embraced social media.
A further 12 per cent also believed social media actually dampened business success.
Telstra Business group managing director Will Irving said with 62 per cent of adults worldwide now using social media, businesses ignoring this powerful tool were missing out.
"In a digital age where smartphones and tablets are used on a daily basis, we know customers expect a company to have a social media presence," he said." reported today in  Business Spectator article
Your business needs you to be out there where the customers are not just relying on those who somehow stumble upon your business during the hours it is open.

Starting Point
  1. Kick your website into gear. Make sure it is optimised for people and for search engines. 
  2. Dedicate a budget to your marketing online. 
  3. Get your story straight on what it is that you're good at and why customers will be glad they bought from you.
  4. Get active with a well planned but flexible strategy for making your presence visible online using your website and social media platforms that are a fit,  such as Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, YouTube and more. 
 The platform that will work best for your product line will depend on many variables, not the least of which is the amount of personal effort you are committed to spend on it - or delegate to someone with experience in business use of social media.

This is bare minimum stuff. Part of that 'cost of doing business'

Ready to join the businesses who are making the online world an additional sales channel?

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

Like some help with your social media marketing?