T-Mobile Could Use Some Email Marketing Help

Filed under: Information,promotion — Tags: ,

I’m back to work today after a great visit to see my nephew graduate from Navy boot camp at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station. It was a fun time even though we didn’t get to see him for long as he had to fly out to his new school in Virginia.

I was catching up on my work and not thinking about this blog yet when I got an email from T-Mobile. You may know that I have had a G1 Android phone since the beginning. I have written about how much I like the phone, but since it’s the very first one there have been some upgrades and I’ve been thinking about getting newer features, more memory, better battery life, that kind of thing.

Today’s email said “Buy the MOTOROLA CLIQ™ with MOTOBLUR™ for $199.99* and a free car charger is yours.” I checked out the * and thought, WOW this might be a good time to upgrade. It had surprised me that they would give me the discount to upgrade, since I still had almost a year left on my agreement (from the G1 buy), but it didn’t mention that either way in the fine print. I had researched the Cliq, and liked what I saw, even thought some people had warned me to avoid Motorola. I was willing to add the extra two years (mentioned in the fine print) to my contract to the one that I had left.

I was very disappointed, but not surprised to get to the T-Mobile site and see that my cost for the Cliq would actually be $369.98. So instead of going right back to work, I wasted some time investigating new Android phones. What I found was that Acer is bringing out what looks to be an even cooler model, The Liquid. The previews all sound like this phone may provide me with even more of what I want than the Cliq.

I’ll wait to see the actual reviews once it’s available and there is not a set price for this phone yet. I imagine it will be more than the Cliq, especially since I won’t be buying it from T-Mobile, but I also won’t be extending my contract.

I’m not sure that I’ll buy the Liquid, but I know that I wouldn’t even have gone looking for it if T-Mobile had sent me an email today with the actual price I would have to pay for a Cliq instead of a generic ($199*) ad.

FTC Guidelines And My New Disclaimer

Filed under: Information,web design — Tags: ,

I’m sure by now you’ve probably seen that the FTC has set new guidelines for bloggers. I’ve been reading comments on both the pro and con side of the issue. Some folks argue that this is long overdue. Without specific rules people will take payments to promote products and services whether they actually like them of not.

The other side says that this is not needed and is probably weakening the First Amendment to our Constitution. The government has no business infringing on our freedom of speech. Our right to lie, so to speak. Personally I’m on this side a bit more than the other, but I can see good arguments for both sides.

What I’ve decided is that it probably won’t make a bit of difference either way. Bloggers (or anyone else) who are willing to lie about a product or service will soon lose their credibility. It doesn’t matter if there’s payment or not or what they disclose. The biggest problem with rule in my mind is that while the FTC says that you have to disclose the relationship between you and your sponsor, they don’t mention how it must be done. So while many people are writing about how they think it should be done, they’re just guessing. It seems that it can be done in many ways. Here’s mine…

Disclaimer – There may be some people or companies out there crazy enough to pay me money or give me merchandise for my opinion or review of their product and/or service. If they do I’m going to take it.

I’m not a lawyer, but from reading this rule I believe this small blurb or something like it may be actually enough to satisfy the rule. It doesn’t even say that it has to be on the same page as the endorsement.

While my statement may not actually be enough disclosure, the rule is gray enough that you could argue it is. I don’t expect that anyone will actually offer me anything for my public opinion and I would like to  think that I wouldn’t give a positive review to something that I really don’t like, but I did write a post on this topic a couple of years ago called I Probably Can Be Bought.

Some people will continue to ignore this rule and if I were a big enough celebrity that was worth more than the $11,000 fine I might consider risking it. In addition if by some fluke I was caught and publicly fined, the resulting publicity would probably be worth much more than that anyway, so the company might even cover it.

Read more on this topic on Search Engine Watch Site

FTC Sets New Guidelines for Blogger Endorsements and Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Social Networking Takes Work

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It’s been my experience that the companies that are doing well these days with social media are the ones that let their people speak freely online and that alone can provide them with an organization for their people to brag about. Of course, if they aren’t willing to publicly address complaints it won’t work anyway.

So many companies these days are paralyzed by the fear of someone saying something bad about them on their own site that they won’t allow anything, but “official” communication. Rather than letting their people do the social marketing they try to manufacture viral campaigns.

I find that viral marketing is very hard to manufacture and even harder to maintain. Even if you do manufacture a good campaign unless there is also something that reminds the audience of your name it’s not worth much.

Here’s a good article on MediaPost that offers help with social video.

Read Cadbury: Viral Video Done Right

Good Tips For New Webmasters

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I was reading a blog called Internet Marketing for the Newbie and one of their posts called Website Marketing For New Webmasters

They offered some pretty good advice for any webmaster, not just the new ones. One of my favorite tips was that you should write your site thinking about what your human visitors are interested in, not the search engines. That is so true, as I’ve written before What Good Are 1,000,000 Visitors If They Don’t Like Your Content?

I do recommend that you have a look at this post and feel free to post you comments here.

Read Website Marketing For New Webmasters

Pittsburgh Is The Best City In The World

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Eyeflow Internet Marketing is attempting to rank Pittsburgh #1 for “best city in the world.” Pittsburgh is my hometown and I really like living here so I thought I would help out.

The way to do this is by getting high ranking sites to link to your site, in this case the City of Pittsburgh’s site, preferably using the term Best City In The World. While my site isn’t that high ranking, every little link helps so I’m adding mine below. There are also some things that I can do to help boost my link.

  • I want the link to be a text link to the Pittsburgh site
  • I want to have the actual words (that I want to help the rank of) in the link
  • For a little extra emphasis I want to have the link in a headline, in this case <h3> tags

Visit Pittsburgh The Best City In The World

How To Use Craigslist To Find New CLients

I recently got in touch with a high school classmate of mine. Barb Girson is an International Direct Selling expert, trainer and coach who recently set sail with her own business called mysalestactics.com. We had a few emails back and forth and an interesting conversation about where we have been and what works in promoting out businesses.

I mentioned to her that Craigslist has been one of the best tools that I use to find new customers. Barb asked me about how I get it to work for me and also asked me an interesting question, “Would you consider this a networking strategy?”

My first thought that no it was not, but after pondering the question for a while I have decided that it is. I’ve met new people through the use of it and have used my networking rule of trying to offer something of value (free information) without expecting anything in return, so I guess it could be called networking.

Her next request was for me to describe the process that I used for this. I decided to write this post about it because I believe what Scott Ginsberg says “Writing is the key to all wealth“.

There are two methods that I use to promote my business on Craigslist:

First, I have written a series of advertisements that I rotate through several cities in my region in the “computer services” section. It is important to follow Craiglist’s rules by not posting too often and only posting these ads in the appropriate section.

I have seen many ads for different services posted in the “web design jobs” or “computer gigs” sections. Since these sections are for people looking to buy web services these ads usually get flagged and removed pretty quickly, but more importantly they are not read by the people who are actually in the market for their services. I know that personally I would never hire someone who didn’t understand or care that this was not the correct section to post their ads.

Second,  the “web design jobs” and “computer gigs” sections are the ones that I need to be reading to find people advertising jobs that I can do. To read those I use RSS. Every Craigslist page has it’s own RSS feed and I can subscribe to those just like any blog and get these ads almost as soon as they appear in my feedreader. For that I use Thunderbird another great free Open Source tool. Not only do I get my email, Thunderbird brings all of my RSS feeds into it as well and I can read them just like my regular email.

Even though there is quite a bit of Spam on Craigslist using Thunderbird I can still monitor many Craigslist cities, have all the post sent to one folder and go through 30 or 40 posts in a couple of minutes. I currently subscribe to two feeds in well over 30 Craigslist cities and still only spend about ten to fifteen minutes a day working on it. I probably actually answer five to six ads a day and I have a general outline that I use for this. I try to personalize each reply to the individual city and request, but here’s the basic outline:

My name is Jim Lillicotch and I am replying to your Craigslist ad.
I live in Pittsburgh PA and have customers in (local city) and many other areas that are very satisfied.

For information about my business, I invite you to tour my blog:

Feel free to comment on any posts that strike your interest and contact me with any questions

Thank you for your consideration.

Jim Lillicotch

I have found that people posting these jobs on Craigslist tend to be bombarded with responses to their ads, but if I get a reply I try to find out exactly what their job entails and offer to be as helpful as I can. I have foud several customers this way and also a few good friends.

How To Get Inbound Links For SEO

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One of the best ways to move your site up the search engine results page for your keywords is to have incoming links from outside websites. The higher ranking and more authoritative these sites are the better it is for you.

The problem that people and companies with new sites run into is how to get these popular sites to link to them.  Unless you are already a household name there are few authoritative sites that will easily share their “link juice” with an unknown, right?

That’s not necessarily true. I was reading a post today by Dana Larson on the Online Marketing Blog called 5 Link Building Tips for New Websites. It offers some great ideas on where a new site owner can get links from authoritative sites that will help you get started.

The post and commenters had some good ideas that you should check out, but it also made me think of some more. For example

  • If you have an account on a social networking site like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. you can easily get a link to your site from there. While it’s true that most of their content is locked up behind your password and Google can’t read it, if you have a link to your site on your profile page and select “make it available to everyone”, you have a link to your website from some of the highest ranking sites there are today.
  • If you belong to a group like a networking group, or a professional group many of them will give you a link as well.

For more tips read 5 Link Building Tips for New Websites

Marketing Messages For Today

Filed under: promotion — Tags:

I was watching TV and it seems lately that all the ads were things like “save money”, “lose your job and return the car”, “0% interest” or “good as new”.

My wife said to me that these are things that should have been done long before.

That got me thinking. It may be a good idea for now, but not too long ago not enough people were tuned in the the recession/depression, lose your job, lose your savings mentality to make a message like that take hold. Even if it is a good idea or something that should be done.

Marketing messages are always changing. If no one is listening, it doesn’t matter how great what you are saying is. Right now, people are not in the mood to hear about anything except saving them money. Sometimes just changing the way you present your product or service can change whether it’s noticed or not, even if what you have to offer is still the same.

I discovered a post at MediaPost Publications with some good ideas for today’s marketing messages whether it’s email or some other media.

‘Save Now’ Is the New ‘Buy Now” — And 6 More Recession-Messaging Ideas

Another Made Up Holiday – Open That Bottle Night

Filed under: web design — Tags:

I just answered a question the other day on LinkedIn that asked “What Is Your #1 Favorite Shoestring Marketing Strategy?”

I answered that one of my favorite strategies is to invent a new holiday or align with one that is not very popular. I have been celebrating Talk Like A Pirate Day for a couple of years now and every September the article that I wrote about it gets quite a bit of traffic to my website.

Yesterday I heard about another one, “Open That Bottle Night” another made up holiday that was thought up by Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher of the Wall St. Journal ten years ago. It seems that the number one question they were asked was “When is the right time to open that special bottle I’ve been saving?”

They would always answer Saturday Night, but it seemed that was not specific enough for their readers so they invented this special “Holiday”.

If my business revolved around wine or another beverage I would try my best to get myself affiliated with this holiday while it’s still young and claim part of it as my own. You don’t always have to make up your own holiday, if you do it well you can attach yourself to someone else’s day.

Celebrate Open That Bottle Night

Think Before You Email

I was speaking with a customer the other day about ways that he could use email marketing to promote his business. He was belt tightening like most businesses today and he finally realized the possible value and low cost of this kind of promotion.

When I first built his site he asked for and I installed a free open source email newsletter management system called PHPList. There have been several visitors sign up and other than the initial welcome email there hasn’t been anything else sent. I explained that since it may have been several months since some of his visitors had signed up, his first email should be an explanation of why he had not written sooner. It’s possible some of his subscribers may have forgotten that they actually signed up and accuse him of spamming them.

My next chore was to talk him out of buying or renting a list of names to send to. It’s always a great temptation to collect a zillion names any way that you can and start sending email “Blasts”. I even hate the term “email blast”. While this method may have once worked very well for any business (and probably still does for some spammers), for most legitimate businesses the costs in terms of loss of your reputation and bad will from your recipients far outweigh any benefit. I have written before of the value of using your own list of names and email addresses.

Finally I mentioned that before he sent anything out that I would like to have a look at it. What I got was just a giant picture that only promoted his business. No text just pictures and nothing that I would call an special offer.

The first thing that I mentioned was that many email clients (Yahoo, Google, etc.) now block images by default, so those folks won’t see anything but a blank page. I also told him that he needed to send something that his recipients would consider valuable. An unadvertised special or a special tip (a trick of the trade) that would benefit his readers. I advised him to look at his email from his customers point of view and ask himself this question if he wanted to grow his subscriber list and business. Is this email something that I would consider passing on to one of my friends or family?

Here’s an interesting follow up article by Loren McDonald on the email Insider called

Are Your Emails ‘Shareworthy’?

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