Archive for September, 2010

If all you have is a hammer… everything looks like a nail

Posted by Chuck Bankoff On September - 22 - 2010

No I didn’t make that up, but I can’t think of a better way to say that as an Internet Marketing Professional it’s essential to have the right tools for the job.
In preparation for our Excellence & Innovation Conference this week in Miami, I will be sharing a variety of my most useful tools that my team uses to give our clients a competitive advantage. In particular I want to highlight one of my favorite analytical tools, the WSI WebScan™.
Individual tests cover many areas, including spelling, broken links, speed, optimization of keywords and much more – over 30 tests in total.

Results are summarized into 5 areas:

  1. Search: how well optimized the website is for search engines like Google and Yahoo
  2. Content: how well written the content is
  3. Quality: how well built the website is
  4. Accessibility: how accessible the website is to users with disabilities
  5. Site: overall, how good the website is

The technology behind WebScan was originally developed for FORTUNE 100 companies to test thousands of high-profile websites worldwide. WSI has since acquired exclusive access to this technology and made it available to our clients.
WebScan is now used to test over 10,000 websites each month in over 10 countries. The technology continues to be used by a huge range of websites, from corporations to small businesses, and is updated monthly with the latest in best practice.

All of our consultants are familiar with this tool, but I will be sharing unique ways to utilize the data in combination with other tools that I will be highlighting to the network.

If you would like to see a sample WebScan™ or request one, contact your WSI consultant, or just click here.

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Your Website is a 3-Leged Stool!

Posted by Chuck Bankoff On September - 21 - 2010

OK… I can explain this…sort of;

A successful Internet marketing campaign is like a 3-legged stool. It needs all 3 legs to remain balanced… and useful:

  1. The Internet is a very visual medium. It requires a reasonable degree of artistic aptitude to ensure that even at a sub-conscience level you are positioned as a professional organization.
  2. The internet is a technical medium. New technology is constantly providing us with new opportunities to market our clients more effectively…The more technically sophisticated the Internet becomes, the more opportunity there is to focus on the third leg of the stool, which is BUSINESS.
  3. The Internet Means Business. Face it, the internet is nothing if it isn’t the greatest commerce engine ever conceived.

If all 3 legs don’t measure up you’re going to have a pretty rocky situation. The issue is that most individuals are either left brained or right brained… They either have a creative aptitude or a technical aptitude. Few individuals posses both. That’s why most successful projects have historically been done by teams… not individuals.

The problem is that sometimes even teams with talented individuals covering all three legs have a hard time knowing where the hand-offs are. At the risk of forcing this analogy…that’s where the “seat” of the stool comes in (work with me here). Te “seat” is a systematic approach tomanaging a website development, landing page implementation, and Internet marketing projects.

WSI Internet Solutions Lifecycle

Before aligning yourself with any digital marketing company, make sure they have a standardized procedure with repeatable steps. Such as (you guessed it), the WSI Internet Solutions Lifecycle.

If they have a cool graphic like ours over there on the right, they may have actually put some thought into developing a viable system. If not, they may have a systematic approach but I would be sure to ask about their procedures for managing a project before I (here it comes) sit on their stool.

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Are you crazy? Why should I bid on my own name?

Posted by Chuck Bankoff On September - 20 - 2010

We run a tremendous amount of Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaigns for our clients. Sometimes it’s part of an integrated marketing strategy, sometimes it’s for initial data collection prior to launching an organic Search Engine Optimization Campaign, and sometimes it is a standalone strategy.

Sooner or later our clients discover that they show up on the search results for their own name and they want to know why we are bidding on something that no one else would want. Well there are actually two reasons:

Search Engine Marketing
Reputation Management

We run hundreds of search marketing campaigns and view just as many analytics reports, and I can tell you a good portion of searches are for their own business name and even the names of individuals in their business.

Why? Because it is the fastest, easiest way to locate your contact info or to research your company. It is also the easiest way to run a free background check on your business (or on you). What shows up on those search results is also known as your online reputation and can persuade a consumer to purchase your product or service, or buy from one of your competitors.

Bidding on your business category is obvious when it comes to search engine marketing (ex: Los Angeles maid service) if you want to show up in a paid ad when someone is looking for your type of products or services. However it’s just as important to bid on your own business name keywords (ex: “Mary’s maid service”). Here are some reasons why:

Your Competition:
Why should you bid on your own name? Because your competition is! By some accounts leading brands only receive about 87% of traffic from their business name keyword searches. The remaining 13% are “poached” by their competitors. Why? Because a popular brand name makes for great search bait! Even if you are not yet a household name, there are people searching for you. Do you really want them to find your direct competitors instead?

Search Page Domination:
There is a good chance that you will show up towards the top of the organic search results for your own business name simply because your business name is probably prominent throughout the website content. However Google tells us that when you show up in both the natural results and the paid results the click-through-rate (CTR) is expediential… not just the sum of both. Why? Well for one thing every time you show up on the first page, you just displaced someone else. But more importantly you just branded the page with your presence.

Manage the Message:
Paid listings offer a precise degree of control over exactly what the search results say, and exactly what page on your website it links to. Someone searching for your business by name can now be directed to a special landing page promoting a seasonal special, new product or services or even a rewards or discount program. If they were looking for you in the first place, controlling what they see is a huge opportunity to convert them in to your next customer.

Common Business Names:
I just searched for “john smith productions” and there were well over 9,000,000 search results! Unfortunately for John Smith number eleven, only the first 10 guys will ever get any traffic. But there is hope for John Smith eleven… there was absolutely zero paid search results. That means even John Smith number nine million could jump to the head of the line for just pennies per click.

Cost Effective Placement:
Lots of businesses in your space are bidding on the same business category keywords, but only a handful of devious competitors may bid on your name. In most cases the search engines will realize that it is actually your name, and give you the best position at the best price because they deem you more relevant.

Reputation Management:
A negative review looks worse when there are lots of them. The trick it to dilute negative results with more positive results to diffuse the overall impact. Bidding on your name (and variations thereof) is a no brainer.

The Big Boys Know why:
Well if you are not convinced by now, consider that even the biggest brands such as Walmart, Apple and Verizon bid on their own keywords. It’s not like they wouldn’t show up on the top of the organic results for their own brand names. Yet they understand the value of locking out their competition by dominating the search engine results page. They’ve paid marketing companies millions of dollars to figure this out. Now you didn’t have to pay anything…

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What do you want to be when you grow up?

Posted by Chuck Bankoff On September - 9 - 2010

While I’ve been waiting for that call from the NY Yankees to shore up that third base position, I managed to carve out a pretty good living in the Internet marketing world over the last decade or so. I didn’t really do it all myself. I did it with the help of about 1500 of my closest friends.

WSI is an Internet Marketing franchise that I’ve been with since 1999. They asked me to do a webinar for a few of their candidates who are considering the opportunity. I thought I would share that with you:

https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/432600209

If this is something that you truly interested in, give me a call at (949) 481-0728, and I’ll walk you through it. If the phone is busy, it’s probably just the Yankee front office. I’ll get back to you.

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Internet company cuts franchise deal for vets

Posted by Chuck Bankoff On September - 8 - 2010

By Danielle Walker
danielle.walker@insidebiz.com

After his last day of active duty on Oct. 31, 2006, Darren Kincaid stumbled upon a good lead while doing a job search – one that led him to his current job with long-time friend Mark D’Etcheverry.

Since January 2007, the duo has worked for a Toronto-based company called We Simplify the Internet. They bring in about $750,000 a year through their WSI franchise in Virginia Beach. Now they want to spread the word to retired vets looking for job opportunities, like they were.

WSI, an Internet marketing solutions company founded in the mid-1990s and serving small to medium-sized businesses, is hoping to recruit fresh talent through its program, Investing in America.

The program was designed to encourage young entrepreneurs to franchise and also give back to their communities. Franchisees in the program will be required to participate in “various charitable acts,” according to a WSI press release.

WSI also established a deal that slashes the cost of franchising in half for veterans - from $49,700 to $24,700. Due to Kincaid and D’Etcheverry’s success story, the company will offer 30 franchise opportunities for vets.

“It’s really designed to go after people that may be financially disadvantaged,” said Kincaid about the recruit program. “As they separate from the military, they may not be able to afford a franchise opportunity. It’s really aimed at bringing in high-quality people for a reasonable cost.”

Kincaid is the CEO for their WSI franchise; D’Etcheverry is the CFO. The business partners have seven employees, including their Virginia Beach operation, where they work from home, and locations in Massachusetts and in the Philippines.

Kincaid and D’Etcheverry are licensed to operate under WSI from Fredericksburg to Southeastern Virginia. Their partners are licensed to operate in other areas their business covers.

Kincaid said one of the best things about the business is the flexibility it affords employees.

“Through technology these days you can basically work from anywhere,” he said. “Mark and I even worked off our sailboat for a week. We enjoy skiing vacations and take our work with us.”

While business has been good for the two, D’Etcheverry admitted they’ve faced challenges, like most entrepreneurs coming into a business new to them.

“Our business model is based on a slow-growth concept,” D’Etcheverry said. “One of the things that WSI is promoting is depth-of-network support.

“Although we both came out of a technology-related element of the military, there was some experience devoid in our skill set.”

D’Etcheverry and Kincaid both worked in the information technology and electronic communications sectors of the Air Force.

Still, D’Etcheverry said that over the last year and a half, they have not had to go out and solicit clients. Business has, for the most part, come to them through referrals.

Tammy Glover, the vice president of Tidewater Custom Modular Homes Inc., heard about the team’s WSI services about three years ago through a local insurance agent that recommended them.

“They designed our website,” Glover said. “We had a website previously to that, but they helped us pinpoint areas where the site was being slowed down.”

TCMH builds custom modular homes, and is a Carrollton-based contractor for Handcrafted Homes Inc. in Henderson, N.C.

Since most of TCMH’s business comes from the Internet, Glover said that WSI’s services made a significant impact on the company.

“We’ve been very pleased with our business,” Glover said. “I’d say 90 percent of our business comes from our Internet site. The presentation is nice and it loads quickly, which is what people want.

“Without the Internet I don’t know how our business would be. It’s kept us afloat even in the slow market.”

Kincaid mentioned other business challenges including staying within a set budget and the time it took to gain the skills to be considered expert in Internet marketing. The upside to franchising, he said, is there’s always a network behind you.

“Any early shortfalls or limitations in knowledge or skill is offset by the WSI network,” Kincaid said, “which has highly skilled people and a network to help out.”

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Ron Packer – Army Vet

In the spirit of WSI’s one-of-a-kind franchise opportunity – the “Investing in America” Program – we are recognizing some of the extraordinary individuals who are already a part of the WSI Franchise Network. And since one of the exclusive groups that this special program is available to is American Military Veterans, one particular WSI Consultant that comes to mind is Army Veteran, Ron Packer.

Based out of California, Ron welcomed the challenge to open a WSI franchise back in 2003 and has since been able to build and maintain a profitable Internet Consulting business. Notably, Ron’s success continues, even in the face of the economic challenges across the United States. And comparatively, helping to re-build the economy is one of the very philosophies behind the creation of Investing in America. Ron is one of the exceptional entrepreneurs who have recognized a formula for success that will excel even in difficult economic circumstances.

“WSI continues to provide additional tools and knowledge that help me update my business model, and they’ve given me the opportunity to work cooperatively with other franchisees and vendors. WSI definitely provides the framework for success.” – Ron Packer

And in relation to the group of US Military veterans that this WSI franchise opportunity is geared toward, Ron has an admirable history with 5 years on active duty in the Army and 21 in the Reserves. It was this experience that acted as a large contributing factor in his path to owning a WSI franchise. You might even say that his Military background instilled in him essential experience to be successful in the world of digital marketing.

“My experience in the Military gave me the skills I needs to operate a WSI franchise. I had the ability to work with disparate teams of people, help identify specific goals and objectives, and develop, implement and coordinate projects.” – Ron Packer

Though this program speaks to the unique abilities of Military veterans, and works to improve the poor economy, Ron is also the perfect example of someone who has fulfilled the third objective of the Investing in America Program: he continuously aims to “pay it forward.”

“All you have to add is personal initiative, ethics and the ability to work with people. As a small business owner, I am more closely aligned with the local community than at any other time in my career.” – Ron Packer

It is individuals like Ron Packer and the success they’ve accomplished as a WSI franchisee that have inspired us in this program’s creation and has assured us that a program like Investing in America has been a long time coming!

If you are a young entrepreneur or a military veteran and are interested in receiving more information regarding the Investing in America Program, please visit our site.

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