Why a Website Can Make or Break Your Marketing Plan

Pop the following query into Google, “Marketing definition”, and you’ll get this:

mar·ket·ing

(noun)

the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.

Other sites also include steps such as “identification, selection, and development of a product”. While technically correct, at this point, the latter items are about as germane to you as a guide on raising horses when your thoroughbred is already being led to the starting gate.

You already have a product. And now, you need to skillfully present and promote it, while gathering the necessary information to further target your prospective consumers and really kick in the metaphorical afterburners.

You must sense how critical a great website is to your marketing plan, or you wouldn’t have landed on a website that promotes… well, website services. What you may not fully understand (yet) is how and how much your site can help your sales realize their full potential.

  • Over 80% of folks begin their search for a product with a trip to a search engine (much as you just did). The general consensus is that the number is even higher when it comes to service searches. The lack of a website immediately places your product at a 4-to-1 disadvantage to your competitors who feature one. By the same token, having a killer site places you head and shoulders above your siteless competition (and at least a head above those who let a well meaning, but talentless nephew create one for them).
  • A top-tier site ensures that you will always create a great first impression (a tie-in to the title, cool, eh?). One click of a search result and there you are, instantly communicating a sense of credibility, trust, as well as the impression that (to quote Rick in Casablanca), “…this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship”. The right layout: clean, fresh, and inviting, will hold your visitors attention. A great logo, font, and colors will reinforce the impression that your company is worthy of further exploration. And positive reviews will go miles towards furthering the perception of credibility.
  • With the best possible version of your marketing message placed near the top of your front page, you can reinforce the prospect’s sense that they’re in the right place. Then with photos, dynamic videos, and a drop-down highlighting employees, you can establish a sense of familiarity before you get to person-to-person contact.
  • Any marketing plan of today pretty much has to include social media. Having said that, social media by itself is a lost child. That might seem a bit harsh, but have you ever done a web search, clicked a link, and then been directed to a static Facebook page? You probably received a pic of the front of the business, 2-3 snapshots of something product related, and maybe a few comments: “One of the best high colonics I’ve ever received!” DON’T be that business. Solid social media exists to bring the customer to your website. In turn your site can refer folks (“like us on Facebook!”) who are already familiar with your company to a fun place to engage with others around your principal message.
  • If marketing is about promoting and selling your products and services, then your website traffic is a veritable goldmine of insight and research data. Solid web analytics keep you grounded in reality so you can fine tune your message and narrow your target focus. How long does a typical visitor stay on a your landing page? Which additional pages receive the most attention? Are there particular parts of your site which prompt contact better than others? Your site’s lead generating email forms, won’t just provide you with contact information, but a list of folks who are so motivated that they will actually fill out the damned things!
  • No matter how dedicated you and your employees are, everyone needs to sleep. Sick days happen and an occasional vacation is nice. Having stated the obvious, with an online presence, your best foot is forward 24/7/365, maintaining that positive exposure that is so crucial to your business plan.

Business promotion, brand awareness, lead generating, and research…all perfectly addressed by a well-made website. Ready to create one? Let’s chat.

10 Best Business Books I’ve Read This Year

I’ve read a lot this year. Maybe…too much. (gasp!)

With so much good information out there, it’s easy to get caught up in trying to consume it all. But just like with food, wolfing it all down as fast as possible doesn’t make for good digestion.

What really matters is what we do with what we read.

So here’s a short summary (in no particular order) of the 10 best business books I’ve read recently.

But don’t add them all to your reading list. Instead, just pick one – whichever one you think will give you the best chance to change your life for the better. And then go and do what you learn.

Deep Work by Cal Newport

The ethos of this book is similar to what I just said. You’ve got to focus if you want to get more out of your time. Fractured attention hurts the quality (and Cal argues, the volume) of your work, and as science has shown, is bad for your brain. So after making a case for why you should focus, Cal gives some practical advice for how to do it. Thankfully, he doesn’t tout a one-size-fits-all approach. He suggests 4 different ones for us to experiment with, depending on our own personal circumstances.

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

A critical reading of this book will reveal a number of issues, but nevertheless, it’s a classic with relational techniques that have now become common knowledge. The principles are quite sound, though in hindsight we can see how some of them can be twisted by less-than-conscientious salespeople. But the straightforward, folksy how-to approach is endearing, and it’s good to be reminded of implicit knowledge by having it spelled out once in a while.

Multipliers by Liz Wiseman

Are you a Multiplier or Diminisher? It’s something easy to spot in others, but sometimes we need someone to ask the hard questions for us to be able to see it in ourselves. Multipliers amplify the intelligence of those around them. Diminishers drain the intelligence, energy, and capabilities of others. Lest you answer too quickly, this book is a gut punch to help you really see what you’re made of, and what you do to those around you.

Challenger Sale by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson

This book describes the findings of one of the largest sales studies in history, and how it bucks the conventional wisdom on who makes the best salespeople. It describes 5 sales profiles (Hard Worker; Lone Wolf; Relationship Builder; Problem Solver; Challenger), and shows that the top performers were overwhelmingly situated in the Challenger category. (Not the Relationship Builders, as was supposed.) What do Challengers do that sets them apart? In a nutshell, they teach, tailor, and take control. If you want to learn how to do that, read this book.

Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard

It’s not a business book per se, but a it’s a good reminder about how business is part of the larger ecosystem that is our world. The book reads a lot like a biography, but in many ways it is a biography of Yvon’s company, Patagonia. It reveals the company’s values and how dedication to such values can turn a company into so much more for its employees – a cause they can believe in.

Killing Marketing by Joe Pulizzi and Robert John Rose

Marketing doesn’t have to be a cost; it should be viewed as an investment. But brands are now taking it a step further and using marketing as its own revenue generator as they embrace providing valuable content and not just widgets. Whereas traditional marketing was about describing value, today’s content marketing is about creating value. Successful business is largely about building an audience and then consistently creating value for that audience. That’s what content marketing is all about.

Essentialism by Greg McKeown

Here’s another book about focus. It’s about doing less, but better. We do so many things each day, but how many of those things would you deem really and truly important? Not many. Ultimately in life, you get to choose what you want to expend your time and energy on. So you might as well spend it on things that are important to you. Of course, there are problems associated with every choice you make. But the real question is: Which problems do you want?

Building a Storybrand by Donald Miller

People are drawn to story. It’s how we make sense of the world and our place in it. That’s a powerful thing. But most brands aren’t thinking about that. And if they are, they are too wrapped up in being the hero. But customers don’t want a hero; they want to be the hero! Don’s book shows brands how to connect with that desire in a way that translates into huge returns.

The Effective Manager by Mark Horstman

There’s no shortage of management books, but what I like about this one is that it is simple and practical. It’s based on the claim that managers are responsible for two main things: results and retention. It then describes 4 basic behaviors (one-on-one meetings; feedback; coaching; and delegation) that managers should perform with their direct reports to these ends. The book has some good instruction on how to start implementing these tools, and is a good starting place for aspiring managers.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

This book hinges on the idea that you are what you do, and if you want a better life, you need better behaviors. About 40% of what you do is on autopilot. These are your habits, and they are made of 3 things: cue, routine, and reward. The book shows us that we can replace ‘bad’ habits with ‘good’ ones by simply changing the routine. In other words, the same cue, plus a different routine, can still give us the same mental reward. Yeah, but what about willpower? You can build that as a habit as well. You’ll have to read the book and try it out to be sure.

So there you have it, a little taste of the best business books I’ve read this year. Pick one, read it closely, and apply what you’ve learned before you even think of picking up another one.

5 Softwares Every Small Business Needs to Use

Running a small business is big work. Fortunately for you, there are some stellar tools out there that can make that work a little more manageable. Here’s our list of the 5 Softwares Every Small Business Needs to Use:

GSuite: Everything you need in one packageGoogle’s been providing the world with solid business solutions since Britney Spears got married… the first time. With GSuite, you can connect to your clients and colleagues via Gmail, create collaborative documents with Google Docs and Google Sheets, access and store files in the cloud with Google Drive, and control your data by managing users and devices. Google designed these tools with business in mind.

Trello: Make lists not warThis productivity management software helps you efficiently move projects from concept to completion. Time’s a limited resource, and unless you’re Hiro Nakamura, you only have 24 hours in a day. So make those hours count, with Trello.

Hubspot: Close deals faster by selling smarter not harderThis handy little tool is more than just a customer relations manager. It’s an inbound marketing and sales platform that allows you to attract strangers, convert them to leads, and make them your customers. And without customers, this whole business thing’s just busy-ness.

Quickbooks Online: Smarter business tools for the world’s hardest workers. With over 4.3 million users, QBO knows a thing or two about making accounting more tolerable. Whether you need to track income and expenses, digitally invoice and accept payments, or maximize your tax deductions, you can with Quickbooks Online.

MailChimp: Build your brand. Sell more stuff. Small businesses need marketing automation, and people around the world are sending 1 billion automated emails every day using MailChimp. Whether you want to build your brand or sell products via the internet, you need to spread the word. Because as Derby Brown always said, “The business that considers itself immune to the necessity for advertising, sooner or later finds itself immune to business.” Build your business with MailChimp.

10 Reasons to Incorporate Video Into Your Marketing

It’s no secret why YouTube has more than 1 billion users (over ⅓ of the internet), is the world’s 2nd largest search engine, and is the world’s 3rd most visited website.

Content may be king, but video content is divine.

If that alone isn’t enough to convince you, here are 10 more reasons why you need to be doing online video marketing now.

The internet is becoming the vid-ternet. By 2019, 80% of all internet traffic will be video. If you’re not doing video marketing, you’re not marketing.

Get ranked 1st on Google. Content that includes video is 50 times more likely to rank 1st in Google search results. (That’s the first link below the paid ads…you know, the one you click on.)

Get more site visitors. Videos in search results have a 41% higher click-through rate than plain text results.

Increase site engagement. The longer people spend on your page, the better. And visitors stay on web pages with video 2.8 times longer than those without.

Move people to purchase. This is the main idea, right? So remember this: 64% of consumers buy after watching a branded social video.

People are more likely to link to your page. Your off-site SEO is arguably more important than your on-site SEO. Blog posts with video get nearly 3 times as many inbound links as plain text posts.

Your customers will spread your message.  If you create videos your core customers love, they’ll share them with everyone they know. 92% of viewers of mobile videos share them with friends.

People prefer video. 72% of people would rather use video to learn about a product or service than read about it. If you don’t give those people what they want, someone else will…and that someone will get the sale.

Executives prefer video. (Yes, executives are people too!) If you think video advertising isn’t for business-to-business sales, think again. 59% of company executives would rather watch a video than read an article.

Move people to purchase! I know I already said that, but it’s worth saying again. Videos on a landing page can increase conversions by 80%. That’s huge! Video marketing works. Plain and simple.

Don’t Be an Ass. Take The Kindness On Purpose Challenge.

I used to be a news junky. I mean, I was seriously addicted. All news. All networks. All the time. I was consuming information quickly and frequently. Most of it sensationalized. All of it monetized. It was as though I was watching a tragic Shakespearean play unfold before my eyes. Each headline more insane than the previous. Nations at war, politicians infighting, and people killing one another for seemingly no reason. I had seen too much. I hit a wall and realized it was time for me to step away from the computer before I started to believe mankind was a lost cause.

It’s been years since I burned myself out on the news, but every now and again I see something that makes me wonder why some people are just so damn mean. Today, while picking my children up from daycare I watched a lady repeatedly bump her car door into mine. No biggie. The spaces are small, and the damage was minimal. I let her know I was going to move my vehicle so she could have more room to get her child situated. As I pulled my truck into another spot, words poured from this mother’s mouth that would make a seasoned barkeep blush. It seems what I thought was a kind gesture, was offensive to her. She was furious and it was pointless for me to explain that I was simply trying to help. Perhaps she thought I was calling her to the carpet, and that made her feel disrespected in front of her son. Or, maybe she was in a hurry and me moving my vehicle further exacerbated the anxiety felt by time slipping away. Either way, she unleashed a verbal lashing on me.

We humans are silly creatures. We’ve cloned organic matter, perfected flight, and can, occasionally, predict the weather. However, we’ve yet to master our pride, and our pride again and again causes us to be disrespectful to or feel disrespected by others.

So, what does this have to do with websites or software or video production or business consulting? Well, nothing. And everything. While we may not feel like we can do something as grand as get the political right and left to realize they’re individual parts of the same body, or bring peace to nations who’ve been at war for generations…we can. But, let’s start small. Treat those in your sphere of influence with kindness. Everyday. No matter what. Sometimes you may get a verbal lashing, however more often than not you’ll motivate others to be kind to those they encounter.Without kindness we’d all be devils. As business leaders, we have an opportunity to share kindness with people in many stations in life. At Greyphin, we’re going to spend the next 30 days trying to out-love those in our world. It may improve our revenue, it may not, but it will certainly improve the lives of those we encounter.

Take the Greyphin Kindness On Purpose Challenge today. Post pictures of you or someone you know committing intentional acts of kindness to your social media platforms with the hashtags #Greyphin and #KindnessOnPurpose.

Good Copy Bad Copy

How do you know which one you’re writing?

Good sales copy is about connecting and collaborating with customers. It focuses on truly meeting their needs. Contrary to popular belief, the goal is more than just to get you lots of sales. It’s to get you lots of sales from people without them regretting doing business with you.

Bad copy, on the other hand, is primarily focused on you and your company’s needs. It is about getting what you want out of the customer. But before long (in the words of a wise colleague), “They’ll see right through that shit.”

So here are some key features of good and bad copy for you to compare yours against. And for fun, just like in all those police dramas, we’ll start with the bad cop…y.

Bad Copy

  • Boring: The worst thing your copy can be is boring. No one cares about your “commitment to excellence and customer service”. I promise, we’ve heard it all before and we have no reason to believe you more than anyone else.
  • Technical/Complicated: I know that you’re really jazzed about the inner workings of your products and services, but most of us…won’t be. Plus, we don’t want to feel stupid when we encounter your marketing messages. And I don’t want you to bore me.
  • Outlandish/Misleading: There’s a reason we all cringe when we think about politicians and used-car salesmen. Yes, their tactics work in the short-term, but people grow to hate them. I can assure you that you don’t want people to hate your company.
  • Flowery: You’re not Emily Dickinson, and you don’t want to be if you’re trying to sell me office supplies…or toys…or lawn care…or software…or art. I mean, she barely sold any of her own poems. Keep that in mind.
  • Meaningful only to insiders: It’s possible for your marketing messages to make perfect sense to you and your team but not to your customers. This happens to a lot of businesses because, unlike you, the customers are not living and breathing your company vision, mission, and values. They simply may not have the context and experience to speak your language. You’ve got to speak theirs.

Good Copy

  • Straightforward: I have to understand what you’re selling me and how it will solve my problems if I’m going to bother to pay for it. But I don’t have to understand how it works. Make it as easy on me as possible, but pretty, pretty please, don’t bore me.
  • Creates intrigue: Your sales copy should show how your product or service solves your customer’s immediate problem. But it should also invite them to be a part of your community.  What are the defining characteristics of that community? Is it exciting? A place of safety? Exclusive? Show your customer what it means to belong.
  • Art that works: Artistic flair in your sales copy is like salt in your recipe. You need it, but you don’t want too much. Remember, you’re not writing art for art’s sake. You’re trying to communicate.
  • Relatable to your customers: You first have to know who your customers are, and then you have to connect with their concerns. What are they after? How do they want to be treated? What are they afraid of? If you don’t speak to that, they won’t believe that you can help them.

Good sales copy is, above all, about the customer… and not boring. Did I mention that already?

5 Ways to Make Your Website Not Suck

Message. Know your target audience and how to communicate with them in a way they’ll understand. Your marketing message might make sense to you, but does it make sense to your customers? Find out by sharing it as often and with as many people as possible, asking for their feedback. This process can be painful, but it’s worth it. Once you’ve distilled your marketing message down to its best version, post it above the fold on your home page. Be bold. Be concise. Be understood.

Design. Think of web design the way Martha Stewart thinks of home design; inviting, clean, and practical. A house becomes a home when people want to spend time there. And, to get people to want to be in your home, every element must entice your visitors to take their shoes off and stay a while. Make the most important rooms the most rewarding rooms to visit. Whether it’s through the added value of a bowl of bon bons tastefully placed in the center of the credenza, or the free product offer on your homepage, leave your visitors feeling pampered.

Lead Generator. Speaking of free product offers, don’t forget to collect your visitors’ contact info when you’re giving those bon bons away. You can do this with a simple pop out form, but don’t get too nosy. Try not to ask for more than you would want to give if your were the customer. Maybe start with just their name and email. If you want to do more than dip your toe into the lead generation pool, read Inbound Marketing and learn how to become a pro at generating inbound leads.

Call to Action. Don’t be afraid to ask for the business. We recommend placing a call to action button on every page and panel of your website. Each call to action should pertain to the content listed in the specific area of the site the customer is visiting. This will help you keep your call to action relevant and your customers from feeling like you’re a slime ball.

SEO. Search Engine Optimization refers to the techniques used to help people find your website more easily when searching for you via an internet search engine. This tip takes a little more time and discipline to carry out, but if you’ve got the GAS (gumption and stamina) you’ll crush your competition. Here’s a great starting point. Blog weekly, tweet daily, and tell your friends to follow you. Put links in all of your blogs and social media posts that direct people to your website. If you don’t start building an audience today, you’ll wish you would have tomorrow. For more info on SEO, checkout a beginner’s SEO course.

If you want to conquer the internet, or you just like what you read please leave us a comment below or sign up for our newsletter and get a free gift.

Bad Bosses

You ever had a bad boss? Of course you have. We all have. You know what they say, “People don’t leave jobs, they leave bosses.” We know this instinctively, but the data also backs it up. Gallup research shows that over 50% of Americans have left a job because of a manager. So what gives? Why are there so many bad managers?

Well, think about it. Where do managers come from? (Hint: it’s not the stork.)

Most of the time people become managers because of their past work performance. Maybe they were the most responsible or have been there the longest, you get the idea. Then they assume their new job consists of trading some grunt work for some “managerial” duties, whatever that means. Oh, and telling people what to do, of course.

News flash: that’s not the point.

And that’s why there are so many bad bosses. Managers don’t know what their primary role is, nor how to fulfill it.

This leads to what we call wild west management. Managers may know their team’s basic goals, but each manager uses whatever tactics they’ve learned from the manager who went before them, both good and bad. And the cycle continues without any underlying ethos. Management is assumed to be something that has to do with personality, something that can’t be taught. You either have it or you don’t.

That’s not a strategy for success. That’s a crapshoot. And your company deserves better than that.

At Greyphin, we know that management is a science. To us, the goal is clear: Develop your team to deliver results. And so is the path. There are specific, teachable, skills that your managers can use to draw the most out of their teams to achieve results you didn’t think possible. But I’ll have to save that for future posts.

In the meantime, if you’re interested in digging further into the science of good management, you can download our free infographic: 5 Proven Tactics for Managing a Stellar Team.

 

If you’re really ready to get out of the wild west and start doing something serious, and proven to boost productivity, employee engagement, and profits, contact us to schedule a free consultation to see if our POP Program is right for you.

Don’t Be The Problem. Solve It.

I don’t like the word problem. I mean, it’s not blatantly offensive like the c-word, or decaf. But I hate what it has come to signify.

What do you hear when someone says, “I have a problem.”

I’ll tell you what I hear. I hear, “I have a problem and I need you to handle it, because I can’t.”

When someone says they have a problem, it’s like they’re implying that they’ve got some obstacle that is insurmountable and they’ve abdicated their responsibility to overcome it.

I have little appetite for such problems.

So I apply a general rule of thumb: Do not come to me with a problem unless you can also provide a potential solution. It doesn’t have to be the right solution. Just show me that you’re trying.

Teddy Roosevelt shared this sentiment when he said, “Complaining about a problem without proposing a solution is called whining.”

Because, it’s easy to find fault. It’s easy to see that things aren’t perfect and that there are important questions that need to be addressed. And it’s easy to hand difficulties off to others. In fact, we’ve been conditioned to do so, first by our mammalian upbringing, and then later by numerous other authoritarian institutions.

This “passing the buck” becomes the default for people once the discomfort elicited by any problem reaches a certain threshold. The fight-or-flight reflex kicks in and many choose flight, rushing to their “superiors” for salvation.

In the workplace, there are a couple of lessons to be learned from this.

The most obvious is to resist the urge to run to your boss with a problem without first giving your best effort at coming up with possible solutions. Always have something constructive to present.

In the rare case that you just can’t seem to figure it out (after, like, days of working on it), walk your boss through your attempts to do so; it’ll show that you’re at least trying. But seriously, with the right information, YOU can solve almost any problem.

The second lesson is for leaders. You, like me, may get annoyed at all of the problems that people bring your way. But, it can also be quite gratifying to be the Fireman, the Answer Girl, the Savior. It’s that feeling when the lowly frontliners are running around frantically, and you my friend, have what it takes to restore peace and unity to the world. (Cue trumpet sound.)

Don’t do that.

Because in doing so, you weaken your workforce; you arrest their development. Encourage your people to take more responsibility by giving them more opportunities to solve their own problems. And that will be much more gratifying.

To Be or To Do?

“To be somebody or to do something. In life there is often a roll call. That’s when you will have to make a decision. To be or to do? Which way will you go?” (Col. John Boyd)

John Boyd, considered by some to be “the most influential military theorist since Sun Tzu,” would pose this question to his mentees when confronted with major life decisions that pitted institutional success against their values. For Boyd, deciding to be was about focusing on institutional success, becoming part of the club, being somebody. But to do was about doing the right thing, doing things that make a difference, and being true to yourself.

This is an idea that feels familiar to us. It’s the dilemma of Faust. It’s the temptation of Christ. It’s Robert Johnson at the crossroads. It’s a real thing that most everyone has to confront at various points in their lives. And many choose to sell their souls. I mean, just this week I was confronted with a situation of this sort, and it was a harder decision than I’d like to admit.

For those of us interested in living moral, principled lives, it’s easy to see the potential pitfalls of success. If the classic cautionary tales aren’t enough, celebrity gossip columns are there to remind us. It’s etched into our social psyche. But what is a bit more difficult, is to see the dangers of “being a good person”. There aren’t many cautionary tales written about that. So let me explain.

Most of us want to be a good person. But our actions don’t always line up with our stated values. We give ourselves a pass because, well, at least we’re trying. In a thousand different little habits, we compromise, believing that it’s a few big things that really set us apart from “bad” (or lost, or misguided, or whatever) people.

That’s why some people would never vote Democrat (or Republican) no matter how good a particular candidate’s ideas or track record is. They could never bear to be associated with those commies (or fascists). That’s why others would never drive a big new SUV, even if it got better gas mileage than their old VW bus. How would that look to my freegan friends? It’s also why many people shy away from giving honest feedback. We don’t want to “be mean”.

Sometimes it’s harder for us to care about the actual impact of our choices than the perceived meaning of those choices. Even when it’s goodness we’re shooting for, we often prefer (to appear) to be good, rather than to do good. Col. Boyd’s question still applies.

Consider this analogy.

Swords are made from steel. Swords are made to kill. I don’t want to kill, or be associated with those who do, so I’m not going to use steel.

You can see the breakdown in logic. But what’s less obvious is this: If I don’t use steel, then I’m giving up dominion over steel to those who want to use it to make swords to kill people. If I really care about life, I’ll do what I can to wrench that power from those who use steel in that way. I’ll buy mines and steel mills. I’ll buy the swords (gasp!) myself.

And then I’ll beat them into plowshares.

I’ll reimagine the use of the steel and thereby redefine its meaning into something life-giving. If people want to lump me in with my opponents in the meantime, so be it.

Screw being good. Do good.